THE ISRAELI INVOLVEMENT IN THE KIMBERLEY PROCESS
Awareness of the conflict diamond phenomenon began in the late 1990s with an increasing interest in the issue from non-governmental organizations as well as decisions from the United Nations. The global diamond community decided to unite forces and work together to maintain the good name of the diamond industry.
The State of Israel was among the first countries to work to raise awareness of the conflict diamond issue and play a part in establishing the Kimberley Process. Following is a list of events related to the Kimberley Process in which Israel played a role:
August 1999 – a Visit of Non-Governmental Organizations
Representatives of Global Witness, a non-governmental organization based in the UK, arrived for a visit in Israel. They wanted to raise awareness of the funding of civil wars via the trade in conflict diamonds, notably in Angola.
See Shira Ami’s article on diamonds and human rights from HaYahalom magazine issue 159.
April 2000 – Second International Rough Diamond Conference
The second international rough diamond conference was held in Israel in April 2000. The issue of the term ‘conflict diamonds’ being attributed to rough diamonds from conflict areas was raised for discussion. A combined announcement from the Israel Diamond Exchange and the Israel Diamond Manufacturers Association was published at the conference. In the announcement, these bodies “expressed deep concern from the role diamonds play in many conflicts in Africa … the Israeli diamond community enforces sanctions against diamonds from UNITA and, in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions 1173 and 1176, will continue to support the work of the sanctions committee of the UN Security Council…”
See Shira Ami’s article in HaYahalom magazine issue 161.
The Israel Diamond Exchange management published a decision supporting the global fight to stop the trade in conflict diamonds, whose sources were the diamond mines of rebel forces in Angola, Sierra Leone and the Congo. According to the decision, diamantaires trading in diamonds known to originate from conflict areas would be dismissed as a member of the diamond exchange and as a member of all other diamond exchanges in the world.
See Shira Ami’s article ‘Conflict Diamonds and the Kimberley Process’ in HaYahalom magazine issue 162.
September 2000 – Founding Conference of the World Diamond Council in Israel
The World Diamond Council (WDC) was established to represent the interests of the global diamond industry regarding the conflict diamonds issue. It is a body established jointly by the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA). The WDC consists of committees: the steering committee, the legal committee, the financial committee, the governmental relations committee, the producers committee, the technological committee, the legislative committee, and the banking committee.
The founding conference of the World Diamond Council took place in Ramat Gan, Israel, in 2000. Leading the WDC is President Eli Izhakoff. The WDC represents the diamond industry in the Kimberley Process
January 2003 – Israel is the First Country to Issue a Kimberley Process Certificate
After two years of international discussions concerning the ways to prevent the trade in conflict diamonds, an agreement was reached to enforce the trading of rough diamonds only between countries committed to the scheme known as the Kimberley Process.
The agreement was endorsed by the United Nations, and at this time 45 governments were involved in the Process as well as more than 60 civil organizations. The diamond industry was represented by the WDC. The Israeli Diamond Exchange held a conference to explain the subject to local diamantaires. There was a modest ceremony held in the import-export room of the diamond exchange when the first Kimberley Process certificate was issued to Vicky Elizairov from LLD.
See Shira Ami’s article ‘Kimberley Process Certification Begins’ in HaYahalom magazine issue 172.
May 17-19, 2004 – Israel is the Second Country to Undergo a Kimberley Process Review Visit
The State of Israel was the second country to volunteer to undergo a Kimberley Process review visit. The review team dedicated many hours to examining the implementation of the Scheme in the Diamond Controller’s office, and also toured diamond factories, the diamond exchange, and met with leaders of the Israeli diamond industry. Jacob Thamage, the Chairman of the team, remarked: “In Israel there is a system which others can learn from. The volumes you work with are very large… we have learned a lot here.”
See Shira Ami’s article ‘Israel Passes Kimberley Process Review Visit with Flying Colors’ in HaYahalom magazine issue 178.
2010 – Israel Heads the Kimberley Process
Israel was appointed to serve as the Chair of the Kimberley Process in 2010. The position of Chair is held by Boaz Hirsch, Deputy Director General for Foreign Trade at Israel’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. Boaz Hirsch told the HaYahalom magazine: “The more I understand about the Process, the greater the challenge seems, and greater my devotion to it.”
You can read the full HaYahalom interview with Boaz Hirsch by clicking here.