African Diamond Producers Urge Fight

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(Rapaport…September 20, 2000) Ministers from diamond producing countries and diamond exporters met in Pretoria, South Africa September 19 to 21 for a conference aimed at stopping illegal diamond sales that have been fuelling civil wars in some African nations.

A dozen foreign ministers and 150 representatives from the diamond industry are attending the event. The countries represented include Angola, Belgium, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Namibia, Sierra Leone, United Kingdom, United States and Zambia. The South African Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is sponsoring the event.

On the first day participants called for the implementation of a global certification program. The program would require countries to import only those rough diamonds that are accompanied by a forgery-proof certificate confirming their origin and legitimacy.

Ministerial advisor to DTI, Nchakha Moloi, told the Financial Times that the proposals were intended to contribute to the current international deliberations on formulating an inter-governmental agreement against illicit diamonds.

Participating countries were urged to punish those trading in conflict diamonds Moloi said that when conflict gems are confiscated they should be allocated toward a development fund to rehabilitate communities which have suffered from violence.

The BBC in South Africa reports that that while efforts to stop the trade in conflict diamonds are commendable, analysts believe change will only occur once these countries have full control over areas where the richest diamonds mines are situated.

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