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The KPCS has faced a wave of scrutiny over the past year, beginning with a perceived ‘lack of action’ in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022. | Source: Kimberley Process
The KPCS has faced a wave of scrutiny over the past year, beginning with a perceived ‘lack of action’ in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022. | Source: Kimberley Process

Asscher mounts defence of Kimberley Process

Outgoing president of the World Diamond Council (WDC), Edward Asscher, has defended the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) amid scrutiny over its response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Asscher is currently serving his second term as president of the WDC and was once the owner and operator of the Royal Asscher Diamond Company.

Established in 2003, the KPCS is a coalition of 85 members from governments and industry stakeholders with stated the aim of preventing diamonds of unethical origin – namely those sold for the purposes of financing conflict – from reaching retail markets.

The KPCS has faced a wave of scrutiny over the past year, beginning with a perceived ‘lack of action’ in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022.

The criticism was heightened following the appointment of the United Arab Emirates to the position of chair for 2024 given the country’s history of human rights controversy.

Edward Asscher
Edward Asscher
"Today, through the KP and the work that we all do, I am convinced that 99.9 per cent of all diamonds in the global marketplace are conflict-free,"
Edward Asscher, World Diamond Council

Speaking at the World Federation of Diamond Bourses Congress in Israel, Asscher said that while the KPCS may not perfect, it still has an important role to play.

"Today, through the KP and the work that we all do, I am convinced that 99.9 per cent of all diamonds in the global marketplace are conflict-free," Asscher said.

"Is the KPCS perfect? No, it is not. In a rough diamond market worth $US13-$US15 billion, there will always be individuals who will try to circumvent the system."

Rafael Marques de Morais, an Angolan journalist and author of Blood Diamonds, was recently critical of reforms in the Angolan and international diamond trade.

He suggested that the KPCS is being abused to appease critical voices.

"This is the problem with the Kimberley Process — it acts according to the strategic interests of some countries," Marques de Morais told Deutsche Welle.

“Locals in diamond-rich communities in Africa are far from seeing any benefits as the rocks are taken to international diamond hubs like Antwerp and Dubai. It is enough to say that the diamonds are presented as clean to justify everything. But they are not clean because they continue to be violently exploited.”

Asscher will soon depart the WDC and is expected to be replaced by Feriel Zerouki of the De Beers Group.

"We cannot be indifferent to the tragic loss of many lives in Ukraine, as well as the loss of property and livelihoods, and the displacement of millions of people," Asscher said.

"Over and above the law, which is a red line we cannot cross, each businessperson needs to act according to his or her conscience."

The Responsible Jewellery Council recently appointed Asscher as vice chairman, serving alongside Melanie Grant. Zimbabwe is the chair of the KPCS this year.

More reading
Asscher elevated at Responsible Jewellery Council
Reputations at stake as Russian diamond trade survives sanctions
UAE to chair Kimberley Process in 2024
Turmoil at Kimberley Process over future leadership
Fight continues over "blood diamond" definition
The Russian Question: deciphering the diamond disruption
Kimberley Process adopts words but not action, some say

 











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