Eli Izhakoff, Chairman of the World Diamond Council
Israel was today elected Deputy Chairman of the Kimberley Process (KP) for the coming year by the Sixth Plenary of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme currently being attended in New Delhi by over 70 member countries. This means that Israel will become Chairman of the Kimberley Process, a highly coveted and respected position, in 2010.
This important international development comes in the wake of the recent election of two Israeli Diamond Industry leaders – Avi Paz and Moti Ganz – as Presidents of the WFDB and IDMA respectively.
World Diamond Council (WDC) Chairman and CEO Eli Izhakoff regards all of these steps as a vote of confidence in the Israeli Diamond Industry: “These developments all serve to underscore the importance of the Israeli Diamond Industry within the global diamond industry. It shows confidence in the Israeli government and the relevant authorities vis-a-vis the Kimberley Process.”
Izhakoff notes that Israel played a crucial role in the founding and development of the Kimberley Process: “When the Kimberley Process was first conceived, getting so many countries on the bandwagon was not an easy task. Israel, together with the NGO’s and WDC, came up with a breakthrough proposal that enabled the passing of a resolution acceptable to all of the member countries.”
The position of KP Chairman might be prestigious but it is also very demanding, particularly at a time when the world economy is reeling and turbulent. Israel, notes Izhakoff, has the wherewithal and leadership capabilities needed to leverage the Kimberley Process to new levels.
And it is clear that there are still major obstacles to overcome: Just recently two NGO’s (Partnership Africa Canada and Global Witness) accused the Kimberley Process of ineffective handling of non-compliance in countries like Cote d’Ivoire and Venezuela, where the trade in conflict diamonds still thrives.
Izhakoff explains that the Kimberley Process is exactly that – a process. “The system works, but we cannot achieve miracles overnight. This is why we are convened here in New Delhi – to seek ways to improve the system and eliminate loopholes. This is also why we elect countries like Namibia and Israel to chair the process.”
Izhakoff stresses that the controls must be tightened, from the chain of warrantee within the industry to government oversight.
He cites Venezuela as an example of a country that is doing its best to be reinstated in the Kimberley Process: “Venezuela voluntarily withdrew from the Kimberley Process due to non-compliance. The country just hosted a high-level KP delegation which reviewed the situation there. We hope that they will put their house in order soon so that they will be able to rejoin the process, and we have offered them technical assistance to facilitate the required changes. It is in everyone’s interest for Venezuela to be reinstated.”
The Israeli Diamond Industry will undoubtedly face significant challenges as Chair of the Kimberley Process. But let us not forget that it is an industry that has always prided itself on its unwavering integrity as well as its ability to adapt to difficult situations, two qualities it will doubtless need to draw upon in its new role.