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Kimberley Process Meeting Ends Without Consensus on Reforms

The Kimberley Process intercessional meeting in Washington D.C. concluded Thursday with chairwoman Gillian Milovanovic commending participants, including member countries and non governmental groups, for working hard towards developing an agenda for the watchdog's November plenary meeting.

The most contested subject debated was the issue of expanding the organization's definition of "conflict diamonds" to include human rights.

The U.S. and other Western nations want the definition to also cover the scope of rights abuses. The original definition only focuses on rebel groups using diamond proceeds to fight sitting governments.

Zimbabwe is leading other African and Asian nations in resisting the proposed changes.

Milovanovic, representing the U.S., said the reform agenda was not solely based on a Western agenda, but a part of a broader review of the Kimberley Process that was agreed to last year.

"The Kimberley Process itself mandated the creation of a review committee and gave it a list of things to examine and to report on, and to advance; and listed amongst those are the core definitions of the Kimberley Process," she said.

"The issue of examining the matter, debating the matter, exploring different avenues and possibilities--that is not subject to discussion as to whether it can happen, as the whole organization has already made that decision.''

Milavanovic said the U.S. had laid out the groundwork for redefining conflict diamonds from which future discussions could be built upon.

"I can say that it was a very positive meting where a lot of work was accomplished," she said, adding "the intercessional, as you know, is not a time for making decisions, for presenting proposals and having decision made," said Milavanovic.

World Diamond Council president Eli Izhakoff applauded Milavanovic for handling the meeting well, especially after previous contentious meetings debating Zimbabwe.

''I would like to applaud the chair for holding the meeting in such a spirit that we did not have in the last couple of years because of the issue of Zimbabwe," said Eli Izhakoff.

"There was a lot of mistrust and everyone was doing their own thing. Since she took over with her very elegant style, she succeeded in bringing everyone together, and while people have voiced different opinions, it was done in a very cooperative spirit."

Nothing was finalized at the intersessional meeting with decisions expected to be taken at the November plenary.

Tafadzwa Musarara is the chairperson of Resources Exploitation Watch. He told VOA in Washington only the United Nations can change the definition of blood diamonds and not the Kimberley Process.

Kimberley’s focal point person in Zimbabwe, Shamiso Mtisi, who was attending an artisnal mining conference following the Kimberley meeting, said he was happy discussions for the November plenary had gone well, adding he stands with those calling for the expansion of the term blood diamond.

Zimbabwe's Mines Minister Obert Mpofu said he was also happy with the outcome of the meeting.