Global Witness: Missed Opportunities at London Conference

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Global Witness Welcomes Continued Momentum,

However Key Opportunities Missed in London Conflict Diamond Conference

Global Witness welcomes the continued attention and the attempts by various governments and the diamond trade to maintain the momentum for the establishment of an international certification system for diamonds and the acceptance of the continued role of civil society in that process, however believes that this ‘‘wide ranging assembly” has missed several key opportunities in the continued fight against the funding of conflict through the sale of conflict diamonds.

The final communiqué’ of the meeting has excluded key points that if included cold have moved this process forward. In short the communiqué’ of the evening:

 Failed to mention the urgent need for he establishment of an international treaty or convention in order to establish the international certification scheme for diamonds;

 Failed to mention a timeframe with which to establish this scheme – this could have considerable knock on effects concerning the confidence that consumers have in diamonds jewelry. Indeed a recent consumer survey in the United States of America, which accounts for nearly 65 percent of global diamonds jewelry sales, revealed that 76 percent of those surveyed would not buy diamonds if they knew it had “come from a country where social injustice was occurring as a consequence of its production.”

 Failed to mention the need for the independent verification and monitoring of this system of controls – a vital component to the successful implementation of this system.

 Is over-reliant on existent national systems that have been proven to not be working.

In addition it seems entirely inappropriate to mention the reliance on a previously non-existent ‘tradition of self-regulation existing within the trade’. If this was the case then the diamond industry would not be in the critical situation it faces today and the financing of wars through rough diamond sales in Africa would not have taken place.

Global Witness also notes several other areas of concern – most notably the non attendance of several key countries at the meeting and also the failure to include the various civil society organizations at the London meeting, that brought the problem of conflict diamonds to international attention and who have played a critical role in forcing the diamond industry to react to this problem in such a short space of time.

“Whilst conflict diamonds are still being traded on the international marketplace, in apparently increasing amounts thus prolonging conflicts and suffering, governments and the diamond trade need to urgently set a timeframe for the establishment of an international treaty or convention that will banish conflict diamonds for ever,” said Alex Yearsley of Global Witness.

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