The Kimberley Process is considering new definitions of conflict, and human rights issues are "clearly implicated in such situations," according to a FAQ accompanying a statement by the KP chair, Ambassador Gillian Milovanovic.
According to the document, "An updated definition could apply to diamond-related conflicts that meet generally agreed-upon standards of armed conflicts, such as a resort to armed force between States or protracted armed violence between governmental authorities and organized armed groups or between such groups within a State."
"This would also apply to circumstances of systematic violence, such as protracted and violent internal disturbances and tensions, grave acts of violence or acts of a similar nature over an extended period."
The FAQ goes on to clarify that "Such a definition would not apply to individual or isolated cases. Neither would this apply to violence that is unrelated to diamonds."
This clarification is apparently in response to concerns by countries worried that internal issues may be used as an excuse to exclude them from KP on political grounds. Among them are most large diamond countries – Russia, China, Israel and most African countries – all mine, trade or manufacture rough or polished diamonds.
Milosevic states that a number of ideas were presented at the Intersessional, adding that she anticipate that "others will surface" by August 24 deadline.
The U.S. has been pushing forward a change to the definition of conflict diamonds for some time, and the latest documents reflect that. However, people close to the talks on these and other changes state that the chance that a changed definition will be adopted this year is slim at best.
The U.S. is therefore trying to propel the issue to the top of the agenda, working closely with the next KP chair, South Africa, with the aim of seeing this completed next year.
Milosevic added that she is also considering an option to ban from KP regions, rather than countries, in conflict situations. "This would build on a range of KP precedents, such as in the Central African Republic, where the KP identified in September 2011 areas of concern in eastern CAR in a manner that did not affect production from other areas of the country."
Accordingly, "The KP does not need to exclude a Participant from the KPCS entirely in order to adopt this type of change."
Some of the suggestion are controversial, others seem to raise more questions, for example, KP certificates were until now based on countries. How will costumes officials know how to handle a parcel of rough from a country that has one region under sanctions, and another free to trade.
One change that is expected to be adopted this year is the formation of a permanent administrative body, one that would make the annual transition between chairs smoother.