African Diamond Conference at the Egmont Palace in Brussels
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders will open tomorrow in the Egmont Palace in Brussels the first “African Diamond Conference”.
This conference is the result of a collaboration between the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and African diamond-producing countries. The initiative grew out of informal contacts years ago between AWDC and embassies of African diamond-producing countries. The organizers of the conference wish to further and deepen the dialogue over the sustainable and responsible management of natural resources in Africa. Thanks to the engagement of Belgium in Africa and to the importance of Africa in diamond trade in Antwerp, Belgium is well positioned to play a leading role. Deputy prime minister Didier Reynders and Deputy Prime Minister De Croo are fully behind this initiative. Both of them will address the conference.
The programme is articulated around three themes: (1) management of natural resources (2) marketing of a sustainable supply chain and (3) synthetic diamonds.
Close to 400 hundred participants are expected at the conference, including 10 African (Deputy) Ministers in charge of mining: Botswana, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Ghana, Guinee (Conakry), Lesotho, Namibia, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Kimberley Process (KP) Chair Robert Owen-Jones (Australia) and Deputy Chair Hilde Hardeman (European Commission) will also participate (KP is an international raw diamond certification mechanism to suppress conflict diamonds). The remaining participants are government representatives, companies or NGO’s.
With this conference, Belgium wants to broaden the debate on the sustainable and inclusive management of natural resources. The Antwerp Diamond sector, represented by AWDC, has a leading role to play as the world center of trade in diamonds. The promotion of a sustainable and transparent diamond sector is a priority of this umbrella organization.
The African Diamond Conference will also nourish the debate in other international institutions. The Kimberley Process is the first that comes to mind. Belgium stood at the cradle of the KP certification mechanism, which significantly curbed trade in conflict diamonds. The KP faces today new reform challenges. Belgium continues to be an important voice in the debate. This process will be concluded during the KP’s next plenary session which will take place in November next year. This session will also be hosted in the Egmont Palace in Brussels, under the presidency of the European Commission.
Belgium also wishes to prepare the way in other fora, including in view of its candidacy for a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council in 2019-2020 which is centered around Peace and Security. Sustainable and inclusive management of natural resources, such as diamonds, contribute to this ambition.