The UAE has proposed setting up permanent independent financing for non-governmental organisations in the diamond industry, and launched the fund with a US$25,000 contribution, roughly a quarter of the total estimated cost.
The scheme was announced at the annual plenary meeting of the Kimberley Process (KP), the organisation that represents diamond-producing countries, the mining industry and NGOs. It was estimated at the meeting that about $105,000 per year would be required to fund the attendance of a 10-strong team of NGO representatives at key KP events throughout the year.
Australia, which will chair the organisation in 2017, is expected to match the UAE’s launch sum.
Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman of the KP for the year in which the UAE holds the seat, called on the rest of the multibillion-dollar diamond industry to fund the balance.
Setting up an independent fund for NGOs has been welcomed by many in the industry who are concerned that increasing levels of government funding could jeopardise their independence. The biggest African NGO organisation, the Civil Society Coalition (CSC), gets an increasing proportion of its funding from western governments.
The CSC was not represented at the Dubai meeting, having called a boycott last year when the UAE was named as chairman in protest at alleged abuses in the UAE diamond trading centre in the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre.
However, other African NGOs - from the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa – did attend the plenary.
In his opening speech, Mr bin Sulayem said: “The CSC has offered support for the major initiatives that the working groups and we ourselves have been working on so hard. It is good to have that support, but a written paragraph is no substitute for presence.”
Mr bin Sulayem said he had contacted the governments of America, Australia, Canada and the European Union seeking clarification of their position regarding the CSC boycott, and had so far received a favourable response from the EU.
The KP plenary is being asked to approve the new funding scheme, as well as a proposal to set up a permanent secretariat for the organisation under the auspices of the United Nations.
In addition, the meeting discussed the pressing issue of valuation for rough diamonds, where the UAE has proposed a new international standard, as well as proposals to use Blockchain technology to track diamonds to establish they do not originate in conflict zones, from which export is banned under KP rules.
The KP began in 2000 when African diamond-producing countries met in Kimberley, South Africa, to discuss ways to stop the trade in conflict diamonds and its financing of violent rebel movements.
Yesterday, the $63 million Constellation colourless diamond, the most valuable ever discovered, was displayed during the KP plenary meeting.
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