Is WDC Really Biased in its Dealing?

India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) and Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB) along with seven other industry organizations including World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) boycotted the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of World Diamond Council (WDC) held in Antwerp recently.

Issue behind the boycott was a ‘survey’ conducted recently by the WDC which the opposing member organizations allege to be ‘bias’. In a joint letter signed by the seven organizations addressed to the Chair of the WDC, they say that the survey and study commissioned by the WDC recently which they describe as “biased”, pointing out that it is conducted “without consulting 98 % of the industry, represented by the signatories. The letter said that the organizations “would not support any entity under the parentage of the WFDB which had appeared to take arbitrary decisions in absence of transparency.”

All the seven organizations are said to have resorted to boycott the AGM to express their disappointment and concern at the actions the WDC has taken recently during past few months. The group has asked for a satisfactory explanation to the direction that the sitting WDC leadership wants to take.

The other organizations which have joined the boycott include the Federation of Belgian Diamond Bourses (WFDB), the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE), the Israel Diamond Institute (IDI), the Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE) and CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation.

India’s two organizations GJEPC and BDB apparently do not wish the controversy to take an ugly turn. So they have offered to organize a global ‘Brainstorming Session’ over the issue in near future. In a news item published on the official website of the GJEPC, Mr. Vipul Shah, Chairman GJEPC and Mr. Anoop Mehta, President BDB say that the two organizations have decided to take the initiative to host such a meet quite soon. Invitees would include the entire Board of the WDC.

“Our aim would be to try and achieve a common consensus over the issues raised by the WFDB and seven industry organizations,” said Mr. Mehta. Mr. Shah argued, “All industry organizations have a clear directive and role to play and they must focus on doing what they were set up for.”

Explaining the ‘boycott’ decision, GJEPC & BDB sources said that the WDC was formed over a decade ago as an ‘incorporated industry platform’ to facilitate participation in the development of the Kimberley Process (KPCS). Consequently, WDC is the organization that represents the industry in interactions with governments and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in matters related to the KPCS.

Recent changes in the organizational structure of WDC as well as suggestions to widen the scope and focus of its activity (which to some extent are based on the disputed survey) are said to have kicked off the discussions. Besides, many industry people believe that changes to the role of the WDC could lead to a clash with the existing leadership organizations like WFDB and IDMA. The industry bodies which have boycotted the recent AGM of WDC want a more transparent and participatory decision-making process that also gives appropriate importance to the vast majority of the industry.

So, is the WDC really biased and un-transparent in its dealing? The global diamond industry should welcome the initiative taken by GJEPC and BDB to stage a ‘Brainstorming Session’ to sort out issues emerged from the alleged style of functioning adopted by the WDC. Consensus over all issues would be more in favor of the global diamond industry.

Posted by Suresh Chotai