Global Witness Suggests Conflict Diamond Solutions

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(Rapaport…June 20, 2000)

Global Witness Press Release:

Global Witness’ report “Conflict Diamonds: Possibilities for the Indentification, Certification and Control of Diamonds,” highlights some of the practical and enforceable solutions to controlling the flow of conflict diamonds in the International diamond industry. Increasingly, the diamond industry is being forced to change the way it does business. Global witness is suggesting realistic solutions to the deep-rooted problem of diamond-funded conflict.

Global witness has been working on this issue for the last eighteen months, during which time it has been brought to the forefront of International attention. Illegal diamonds mined and marketed by rebel factions in Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo have been instrumental in the funding of conflict and the breakdown of peace agreements. The lack of sufficient controls in the diamond industry has allowed conflict diamonds to provide the financial muscle essential to maintaining these devastating conflicts.

Global Witness has challenged the diamond industry to present practical solutions to this problem. The situation has recently become ever more critical for the industry and the mood had begun to change significantly. Companies and governments are now offering practical and feasible solutions. But there is still a long way to go, especially with regard to the actual implementation of those solutions.

The South African diamond producers’ initiative, led by the South African government in Kimberley in May 2000, coupled with an initial meeting of the diamond industry taskforce in Luanda, Angola in June 2000, has enabled the international community to support these initiatives. Many recommendations, first put forward by Global Witness in December 1998, are now being seriously considered. The introduction of a global certification system grounded in an improved system of import and export controls and the verifiable declaration of a rough diamond’s country of extraction, together with punitive measures, legislative changes, industry self-regulation and independent verification, will go a long way to guaranteeing to the consumer that his or her diamond has not funded the conflict in Angola or Sierra Leone.

As the commercial sector of the trade is set to meet in Antwerp in July at the World Diamond Congress, the eyes of the world will be on it to see what measures it will put in place to ensure that the consumer can rely on his or her diamond being conflict free and that the industry is serious about reform.

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