JULIE BISHOP: Mr President, it is with great pleasure that I am here today, on behalf of Australia in our role as immediate past chair of the Kimberley Process during 2017.
The Kimberley Process makes a valuable contribution to the United Nations agenda for international peace and security, development and human rights.
Fifteen years ago, when the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was established, the global diamond trade looked very different to that of today. Together, the members of The Kimberley Process have achieved most of what we had, at that time, dared to hope.
The statements that were made before this Assembly, back in 2003, have inspired real change. Diamonds were being mined in conflict zones, and the proceeds from the sale of those diamonds supported the continuation of those conflicts and insurgencies.
At the far end of the supply chain, consumers had little or no way of knowing where the diamonds they were buying had come from – whether or not, in purchasing a particular item of jewellery or fashion apparel, they were inadvertently contributing and sustaining some far distant, deadly conflict.
We have cut the flow of diamonds to insurgencies and to rebel groups, who would sacrifice peace and development for their own power.
We have drained their finances.
We have removed or, at the least, greatly reduced this threat to peace and development.
By safeguarding the legitimate trade in diamonds, we have improved the livelihoods of those who rely on it to feed and to educate their families. We have raised awareness.
According to a 2016 survey, millennials are three times more likely than older generations to avoid diamonds unless they have been responsibly sourced. This is the future of our world, and while it is moving in the right direction, we in turn must do our part to move with it, we must support the standards that future generations seek to uphold.
Last year, during our chairmanship, I urged us all, and I remind us now, that even after all that we have achieved, we can and should do more in preventing trade in conflict diamonds. For example we must look at other ways in which the diamond trade can align with and support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and sustaining peace.
We hope to see a market free from human rights abuses, free from forced labour. The outcomes we have achieved so far are too valuable for the Kimberley Process to be rendered slowly irrelevant, a victim of its success to date.
We draw upon the aspirations that we remember from 2003, and we find inspiration from the vision and the values that this Assembly had back then.
The Resolution we have before us today is the critical link between the excellent work of the Kimberley Process so far, and its potential to contribute to the broader agenda of the United Nations in the years to come. Today, we ask for a system through the Kimberley Process based on pragmatic action and targeted reform.
Strengthening the purpose and intent of the Kimberley Process, establishing a dedicated secretariat, supporting participation through a multi-donor trust fund – a practical, stable system to ensure that the Kimberley Process can live on and can bring us ever closer to our aspirations for 2030 and beyond.
Our world no longer accepts practices which, fifteen years ago, defined the lives of millions. The underpinning ideologies of the United Nations – what we stand for, who we are – are mirrored in our collective vision for the broader role that the Kimberley Process has to offer.
Australia has played a role in preparing this next step, and Australia will work with each of you to build on the important achievements of the Kimberley Process.
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