General Assembly Reaffirms ‘Strong and Continuing’ Support for Kimberley Process Certification Scheme Aimed at Eliminating Conflict-Diamond Trade


Sixty-sixth General Assembly
94th Meeting (AM)

Also Extends Terms of 12 Judges on Rwanda Criminal Tribunal

Recognizing that the role of diamonds in fuelling armed conflict remained a matter of serious international concern, with a devastating effect on affected countries, the General Assembly this afternoon reaffirmed its strong and continuing support for the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which aimed to eliminate conflict diamonds from the legitimate trade.

Unanimously adopting a draft resolution (document A/66/L.34), the Assembly encouraged all Member States to participate in and comply with the Process, a voluntary alliance of representatives from the diamond industry, civil society and diamond producing and trading countries set up in 2003 to help cut off the global trade of so-called “blood diamonds”. It certifies rough diamonds originate from sources not involved in armed conflicts funded by diamond production.

The Assembly recognized the Kimberley Process’ important contribution to settling conflicts and consolidating peace in Angola, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and it thanked Botswana, Lesotho and Ukraine for receiving visits in 2011 to review their certification systems. It called upon Kimberley Process participants to submit consistent, substantive annual reports on implementing the Scheme and to improve its rules and procedures.

Further to that resolution, entitled “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”, the Assembly called for full implementation of existing Security Council sanctions targeting the illicit trade in rough diamonds, particularly conflict diamonds.

Introducing the draft, Zenon Mukongo Ngay (Democratic Republic of Congo), whose country chaired the Kimberley Process in 2011, noted that while the Assembly failed to reach consensus on the text during its 20 December 2011 meeting on the subject, today’s document represented a consensus compromise and translated the aspirations of a variety of Member States. (See Press release GA/11199)

The text, he said, included information from and described administrative decisions made during the most recent plenary meeting of the Kimberly Process, held in Kinshasa, from 31 October to 3 November 2011. It also reaffirmed the tripartite nature of the Kimberly Process forum, and welcomed the decision to involve civil society in its future plenary sessions.

Before action on the text, Rofina Tsingo Chikava (Zimbabwe) lauded the Scheme’s decision last November in Kinshasa to certify Marange diamonds, enabling Zimbabwe to freely sell them on international markets. He noted that the African Diamond Producers Association had certified that the Marange diamond operations in eastern Zimbabwe complied with the Scheme following visits to the area.

“We would like to reiterate our stance that the Marange diamonds are not ‘blood diamonds’ by any standard,” he said. He expressed grave concern that some Kimberley Process participants continued to deny Zimbabwe the right to benefit from those jewels by slapping sanctions on mining companies excavating the area. Decisions made by the Scheme must be upheld and respected and its founding statute, rules and mandates must be adhered to.

Alfredo Fernando Toro-Carnevali (Venezuela) drew attention to operative paragraph 20 of the draft, which mentioned his country’s participation in the Kimberley Process. Although the version in English accurately reflected the consensus achieved in negotiations, the Spanish version introduced inaccurate language that changed the meaning of the paragraph, he said, asking for an amendment to the text.

After the action, Jeffrey DeLaurentis (United States), whose country chairs the Kimberley Process for 2012, noted tangible progress in breaking the link between the illicit trade in rough diamonds and armed conflict. But much more must be done. He called for integrated solutions involving the private sector and non-governmental organizations to development and enforcement challenges. The United States would work to ensure that all stakeholders committed to the Kimberley Process and that civil society, which was absent at last year’s meeting, returned to the initiative.

The commitment of local producers, traders and consumers was essential, and all stakeholders had a responsibility to ensure that as the Kimberley Process approached its tenth anniversary it continued to be relevant, he said. It was important to determine whether changes to the original mandate were needed. He also advocated discussions on how the Kimberley Process could progress on other Government enforcement and development issues, particularly on improving outcomes for artisanal miners.

Also today, the Assembly adopted a draft decision (document A/66/L.35) by which it decided to extend the terms of office of 12 judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda until 30 June 2012 or until the completion of the trials to which they were assigned.

They included four permanent judges serving on the Trial Chambers: Charles Michael Dennis Byron (Saint Kitts and Nevis), Khalida Rachid Khan (Pakistan), William Sekule (United Republic of Tanzania), and Bakhtiyar Tuzmukhamedov (Russian Federation). Also included were eight ad litem judges of the International Tribunal: Florence Rita Arrey (Cameroon), Solomy Balungi Bossa (Uganda), Robert Fremr (Czech Republic), Vagn Joensen (Denmark), Gberdao Gustave Kam (Burkina Faso), Lee Gacugia Muthoga (Kenya), Seon Ki Park (Republic of Korea), and Mparany Mamy Richard Rajohnson (Madagascar).

On that matter, the Assembly had before it identical letters dated 16 December 2011 from the Secretary-General addressed to the Assembly President and the Security Council President (document A/66/620-S/2011/780) and identical letters dated 20 December 2011 (document A/66/620-S/2011/781).

Also before the Assembly was a letter dated 16 January 2012 from the Council President addressed to the Assembly President (document A/66/660), by which the former drew the latter’s attention to the text of resolution 2029 (2011), adopted at the Council’s 21 December 2011 meeting.

In other business, the Assembly took note of document A/66/668, in which the Secretary-General informed the Assembly President that 21 Member States were in arrears in their financial contributions to the United Nations under the terms of Article 19 of the Charter. Under that Article, a Member State in arrears would have no vote in the Assembly if the amount of its arrears equalled or exceeded the amount of the contributions it owed for the preceding two full years.

At the outset of the meeting, the Assembly observed a minute of silence in memory of Malam Bacai Sanh, President of Guinea-Bissau, who passed away on 9 January 2012.

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