General Assembly Adopts Resolution Stressing Need for Greater Participation in Kimberley Process to Prevent Conflict Diamonds Entering Market

Texts on Oceans Conference, Disaster Risk Reduction among Other Items Passed

The General Assembly reaffirmed its strong commitment today to the Kimberley Process and its certification scheme, an international initiative launched by the United Nations in 2003 to break the link between rough diamond purchases and armed conflict.

Adopting a wide-ranging resolution without a vote, the Assembly stressed the need for the widest possible participation in the initiative � which worked to prevent conflict diamonds used by rebel movements to finance military activities from entering the mainstream rough diamond market. The text recognized how international efforts to that effect had been instrumental in settling armed struggles and consolidating peace in Angola, CAte d'Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Furthermore, the Assembly welcomed the commitments by Belarus, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Lesotho, Sierra Leone, Turkey and the United Republic of Tanzania, which Kimberley Process members had visited in 2016, to continuously open their certification systems to review and improvements. The Assembly called upon review process participants to continue to articulate and improve rules and procedures to further enhance the scheme's effectiveness.

Introducing the text, the representative of the United Arab Emirates said that as Chair of the Kimberley Process in 2016, he had visited more than 20 countries, including both current and prospective members. He led a monitoring team to the Central African Republic that declared the sub-prefectures of Berberati, Boda, Carnot and Nola compliant zones � a decision welcomed by the draft. His Government's proposal to set up a permanent secretariat for the Kimberley Process was also included in the draft, he said, as well as its call for stronger civil society participation as a key factor in achieving success.

The representative of Australia, Chair for 2017, said his Government would focus on strengthening implementation, including ways to enhance the security of certificates and rough diamond shipments, and it would conduct a comprehensive review to strengthen the scope, integrity and implementation of the Kimberley Process to ensure its continued relevance.

Angola's representative said the Kimberley Process served as a model for combatting natural-resource-based conflict. I strongly believe Angola would not have faced a painful three decades of civil war � one of the longest conflicts in the history of mankind, mainly fuelled by illicit rough diamonds � if such a powerful mechanism would have been implemented earlier, he said. He stressed the importance of the Kimberley Process' tripartite nature and called for bolstered collaboration with diamond industry associations, international organizations and enforcement agencies, as all benefitted from the open exchange of information.

Likewise, the speaker from Botswana, a founding Kimberley Process member State, remained committed to safeguarding its tripartite character, as the involvement of civil society was integral. For us, diamonds are our source of life, he said. They brought food to the table and helped invest in children's education, create human capital, promote inclusive development and build infrastructure. The challenges facing some participants, particularly those whose sanctions had been lifted recently, must be addressed. We cannot afford to expect countries without the institutional capacity to adhere to Kimberley Process standards without a robust established process of assisting them to do so, he said.

By another text, the Assembly declared 12 December the International Day of Neutrality, inviting all Member States, United Nations system organizations and others to educate people about the Day through various events and proposing that the Secretary-General continue to cooperate closely with neutral States, with a view to implementing the principles of preventive diplomacy and utilizing them in mediation activities.

The Assembly adopted another resolution, welcoming the report of the open-ended intergovernmental expert working group on indicators and terminology related to disaster risk reduction, acknowledging the group's conclusions and endorsing its recommendations in section IV and V. Chile's representative, who introduced the draft, said implementation of the indicators would make it possible to effectively measure progress in achieving the seven global goals set out in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Adopting a draft decision, the Assembly decided to accredit the Commission for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission and invite them to participate in the work of the United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development and its preparatory meeting.

Also today, the Assembly took note of the appointment of Guyana as a member of the Committee on Conferences effective immediately and ending on 31 December 2018, and it appointed Sukai Prom-Jackson (Gambia), Jean Wesley Cazeau (Haiti), Gopinathan Achamkulangare (India) and Nikolay Lozinskiy (Russian Federation) as members of the Joint Inspection Unit for a five-year term beginning 1 January 2018.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Assembly took note of a 25 January 2017 letter from the Secretary-General addressed to the Assembly President (document A/71/764). The document lists the 14 Member States currently in arrears in their respective financial contributions to the Organization, and the minimum payments each one would need to pay in order to remain below the gross amount assessed for 2015 and 2016 � the threshold required to maintain their right to vote in the Assembly in 2017, per Article 19 of the United Nations Charter.

The representatives of the European Union also spoke.

The General Assembly will reconvene in plenary at a time and date to be announced.

Introduction of Drafts

AKSOLTAN ATAEVA (Turkmenistan) introduced a draft resolution titled International day of neutrality (document A/71/L.56) noting the link between the preservation of peace and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Peace, justice and broadening economic opportunities were interrelated, and neutral States served a vital role as stabilizers in achieving sustainable peace.

By the text, the Assembly would decide to declare 12 December the International Day of Neutrality and invite all Member States, United Nations system organizations, international and regional organizations, and non-governmental organizations to mark the day through education and events aimed at enhancing public knowledge about it. The Assembly would also propose that the Secretary-General continue to cooperate closely with neutral States, with a view to implementing the principles of preventive diplomacy and utilizing them in mediation activities.

The draft was adopted without a vote.

Next, the Assembly took up a draft decision titled Accreditation and participation of intergovernmental organizations in the United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development and its preparatory meeting (document A/71/L.57). By its terms, the Assembly would decide to accredit the Commission for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission and invite them to participate as intergovernmental organizations in the work of the Conference.

The Assembly adopted the draft without a vote.

CRISTIA�N BARROS MELET (Chile), introducing a draft titled Report of the open-ended intergovernmental expert working group on indicators and terminology related to disaster risk reduction (document A/71/L.54), said the text resulted from extensive negotiations begun in March 2015. That was just the beginning; implementation of the indicators was the next step and they would make it possible to effectively measure progress in achieving the seven global goals set out in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. He stressed his Government's commitment to continue supporting efforts to reduce disaster risk and form strategies to implement the Sendai Framework.

By the terms of the text, the Assembly would acknowledge the conclusions of the work of the open-ended intergovernmental expert working group, welcome the group's report by the same name as the draft (document A/71/644) and endorse the recommendations in section IV and V.

The draft was adopted without a vote.

AHMED BIN SULAYEM (United Arab Emirates) then introduced the text titled The role of diamonds in fuelling conflict: breaking the link between the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict as a contribution to prevention and settlement of conflicts (document A/71/L.55) as well as a note verbale from his country's Mission (document A/71/665) transmitting the Report of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme to the General Assembly for 2016. As Chair of the Kimberley Process in 2016, he had visited more than 20 countries, including both current and prospective Kimberley Process members, and he had met with officials that regulated the diamond trade. He had led a monitoring team to the Central African Republic. The draft resolution noted the progress in that country towards the resumption of diamond exports and welcomed the monitoring team's decisions to declare the sub-prefectures of Berberati, Boda, Carnot and Nola compliant zones. It was important to help the Central African Republic meet its Kimberley Process requirements, he stressed.

During its tenure as Chair, the United Arab Emirates had proposed to set up a permanent secretariat for the Kimberley Process; that suggestion was included in the draft, he said. Also included in the text was his Government's call for stronger civil society participation as it was key to the Kimberley Process' success, as well as references to workshops it had initiated to develop a uniform methodology on the valuation of rough diamonds.

By the text's terms, the Assembly would, among other things, reaffirm its strong, continued support for the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and the Process as a whole, stressing that the widest possible participation was essential; recognize how international efforts to address conflict diamonds had been instrumental in settling conflicts and consolidating peace in Angola, CAte d'Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone; and recognize those efforts' importance in promoting economic development. The Assembly would welcome the commitments by Belarus, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Lesotho, Sierra Leone, Turkey and the United Republic of Tanzania, which received visits in 2016, to continuously open their certification systems to reviews and improvements, and call upon review process participants to continue to articulate and improve rules and procedures to further enhance the scheme's effectiveness.

Further, the Assembly would welcome the monitoring team's decisions to declare the sub-prefectures of Berbati, Boda, Carnot and Nola compliant zones. It would encourage the Kimberley Process authorities of the Central African Republic to continue implementing both the administrative decisions and the recommendations in the monitoring team's report on its field missions to those areas in March and August 2016 as well as ensure the traceability of rough diamonds from all the zones.

ADEBAYO BABAJIDE, of the European Union, said that during its Chairmanship of the Kimberley Process in 2018, it would seek to build on its experience of actively engaging in Kimberley Process committees and working groups and review visits in order to improve the process for the benefit of all those involved in the supply chain. That chain included from diamond miners and traders to consumers. He thanked countries that had invited review visits in 2017 and welcomed the significant progress in the Central African Republic and the readmission of Bolivia in the Kimberley Process as an important first step in ensuring compliance with minimum requirements.

Further, he welcomed recent steps by the Mano River Union countries in West Africa to implement the regional approach initiative set forth in Security Council resolution 2153 (2014), which lifted the embargo on rough diamond exports from CAte d'Ivoire, and the fact that the issue of valuation of rough diamonds, particularly the development of a uniform methodology, had been given high priority in the last 12 months.

GILLIAN BIRD (Australia) noted the important work of the Central African Republic monitoring team and supported continued collaboration by Mano River Union countries to address challenges in West Africa. As Chair of the Kimberley Process in 2017, her country was committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure its continued effectiveness. Australia would focus on strengthening implementation, including ways to enhance the security of certificates and rough diamond shipments, and it would conduct a comprehensive review to strengthen the scope, integrity and implementation of the process to ensure its continued relevance. Australia would continue the practice of holding special forums to canvass broad matters pertinent to the diamond trade, such as sustainability reporting, alluvial and artisanal diamond mining, synthetic diamonds and valuation. It would hold a special session to share lessons learned from cooperation between the country's indigenous community and mining sector.

MARCIO SANDRO ALEIXO PEREIRA BURITY (Angola) said the Kimberley Process served as a model for combatting natural-resource-based conflict. I strongly believe Angola would not have faced a painful three decades of civil war, one of the longest conflicts in the history of mankind, mainly fuelled by illicit rough diamonds, if such a powerful mechanism would have been implemented earlier, he said. Angola firmly supported the Kimberley Process' aims and its certification scheme, which demonstrated that Governments could achieve meaningful outcomes when they worked with the private sector and civil society. He stressed the importance of the Kimberley Process' tripartite nature and called for bolstered collaboration with diamond industry associations, international organizations and enforcement agencies as all benefitted from the open exchange of information.

NKOLOI NKOLOI (Botswana), a founding Kimberley Process member, remained committed to safeguarding its tripartite character. Civil society participation in the Process must be respected and recognized as integral. For us, diamonds are our source of life, he said. They brought food to the table and helped invest in children's education, create human capital, promote inclusive development and build infrastructure. That was why Botswana worked to redefine the story of diamonds as it related to human life, while placing a high premium on integrity and high ethical standards for sustainable development. He welcomed the report of the Kimberley Process' fourteenth plenary session and noted with satisfaction the significant strides in regulating the rough diamond trade. The challenges facing some participants, particularly those whose sanctions had been lifted recently, must be addressed. We cannot afford to expect countries without the institutional capacity to adhere to Kimberley Process standards without a robust established process of assisting them to do so, he said.

The Assembly adopted the text without a vote.

Source: United Nations