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Gillian Milovanovic: We want the KP to remain as effective and relevant as possible

21 may 2012

We asked our International team of reporters and editors, located in the United States, Russia, Namibia, China, Italy and Belgium, to send their questions for an interview with the KP Chair Milovanovic. We would like to sincerely thank Ambassador Gillian Milovanovic for taking her time to answer our questions.

Olga Patseva (San Diego, USA):

What do you think the KP has given to the world community?

The KP has helped bring improved governance and transparency to the trade, in countries that were previously marked by conflict, such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Angola. The KP then helped enable improvements in diamond sector governance and monitoring in the vast range of producing, trading, and consuming countries. The KP directed the collection of detailed statistics on the rough diamond trade that were simply unobtainable before the KP’s existence. These statistics help everyone understand how the trade works and can help to zero in on corruption and smuggling.

The KP continues to facilitate the development of detailed diamond footprints in producing countries, which enable Participants to assess their diamond resource potential and production capacity.  The United States has contributed significantly to these efforts through the Geological Survey, and is now spearheading a unique collaboration of geologists and rights’ monitors who will jointly monitor artisanal diamond production in Guinea.

The KP has also served as a critical platform for improving the development outcomes associated with diamond mining, including a stronger focus on local communities and artisanal miners in producing countries. The KP has made possible improved artisanal miner registration in Ghana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has enhanced understanding of diamond valuation and improved diamond mining techniques in Sierra Leone and Guyana. And it has secured land tenure and stable incomes for artisanal miners in the Central African Republic and Liberia.  Although much remains to be done in this area, we can already see many lives that have been improved by the KP’s work.

Lately, the Kimberley Process has been attracting criticism from mass media and diamond market participants. In your view, what are the main problems of the KP today?

In recent years, we have had instances in which some Participants believed the KP was holding them to a different, unfair standard. We understand where this belief came from. But the answer to the criticism is not to run from the challenge and say that no changes can be achieved and that the KP shall forever remain tied to the definitions developed twelve years ago.

Instead, the answer is to ensure the standards are applied fairly, consistently, and transparently to all, that implementation is monitored and measured in an equally consistent and transparent manner, and that technical and development assistance is available to those countries that need it. But definitions and standards must fit the challenges the diamond trade now faces; the KP must look to modernize to remain relevant and effective.

One of your ideas is to establish a professional secretariat of the Kimberley Process on a permanent basis. Previously, the KP existed without such a body. What is the need for it today? To what extent it can be an effective tool? Many KP members will not be able to fund a permanent secretariat. Who will fund this body? Companies? But this goes against the principles of the KP.

Although we strongly support this effort, it is important to stress that this is not our idea alone. The need for an administrative support mechanism, which is much smaller and less complex than a Secretariat, has been identified within the KP for some time, and the full KP Plenary mandated in November 2011 that the ad hoc KP review committee pursue this effort. We continue to believe that a more permanent support mechanism is needed for the KP to truly serve its membership – and the broader public – and we will work to support the review committee’s engagement with existing international institutions to evaluate options for this. We’re excited about improving internal communications, creating institutional memory and making the KP website up-to-date with the newest technologies. The review committee will continue to build consensus on the support mechanism and will address all questions of its operation, including funding.

Today, there are emerging new industry organizations and associations to some extent substituting for the KP functions. How do you feel about that? How do you work with them?

The KP is very interested in collaborating with like-minded organizations around the world. My staff and I regularly communicate with people from the OECD, International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, the World Gold Council, the Voluntary Principles , and other organizations. At this June’s Intersessional many of these groups will share about their experience and we’ll focus on how to work together to make the KP as effective as possible.

Being the representative of the United States, in what way are you maintaining your interaction with the representatives from African countries, which often act as a united front?

I’ve already been to Africa once as Chair and have another trip planned for this month. I’ve met with the ambassadors to the U.S. from a number of African countries. Of special importance, we work closely with South Africa, the current Vice-Chair, to communicate a shared vision. South Africa will take over as Chair in 2013, and we seek to provide a seamless transition after our Chairmanship. Actually, we look at ourselves as being part of a 24-month KP strengthening and reform effort along with the South Africans.

How do you see any further development of the Kimberley Process after the United States chairmanship in this organization will expire?

Reforming is not just something that will begin with us and end with the South Africans; it is a constant process. We want the KP to remain as effective and relevant as possible, and for that to happen, the KP will continue to have to grapple with tough issues and make changes as needed.

Vladimir Malakhov (Moscow, Russia):

Currently the Kimberley Process goes by the rule of consensus sometimes making it hard to pursue the organization’s policy. Does the KP need some kind of reform to become more efficient in this respect?

The KP’s consensus rule is a critical aspect of the initiative. It has been in place since the inception of the KP and encourages discussion in order to sort out differences and arrive at mutual understanding through compromise. The review committee will look at decision making in the KP as a whole, which includes exploring whether to seek to a more streamlined decision-making process.

Mathew Nyaungwa (Windhoek, Namibia):

You were quoted by the media as saying that India should shun Marange diamonds as they were still under sanctions for undermining democracy in the country. What do you say about concerns raised that the U.S. was "abusing" its new role as KP chair to settle old scores with Zimbabwe?

Several articles from India were misleading and did not accurately reflect what I said. I noted that the KP has authorized the export of diamonds from several sites in Zimbabwe. What I focused on in my interview was that the KP wants to implement lessons learned and increase clarity in making decisions in order to better assist countries early on before a crisis develops.

Dasha Platonova (Shanghai, China):

To date, China has not been a very active participant in addressing human rights issues under the auspices of the Kimberley Process, why do you think that is so?

Actually I just visited China and had excellent meetings with KP industry and government representatives in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. China agrees that reform and modernization are needed to deal with future challenges. China is an active participant in the KP, including in its Working Groups and we encourage China to take an active leadership role in the KP during this period of growth. China’s diamond market is growing rapidly, and industry there is facing enormous challenges. We look forward to collaborating with China throughout our Chairmanship and beyond.

Alex Shishlo (Antwerp, Belgium):

Does the Kimberly Process have any doubts regarding the transparency of diamond trade in Antwerp in the light of media reports about tax evasion by some of the local companies?

Revenue transparency is important to the diamond trade. The KP has its own area of focus and expertise. The KP’s contribution can be most effective when paired with the work of institutions such as the World Bank, the IMF, the World Customs Organization and others that help track revenue flows and ensure a corruption-free playing field around the world.

Veronica Novoselova (Rome, Italy):

Do you think that it is not sufficient for the Kimberley Process to control rough diamonds only and it is necessary to control polished diamonds as well?

This is a Process created for rough diamonds and I believe for the foreseeable future that is what it will focus on.


Olga Patseva, Editor in Chief of the American Bureau, Rough&Polished, from San Diego