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This week’s brace of revealing United Nations reports into the breaking of Angolan and Sierra Leonian diamond and arms embargoes have proved that there is a continued and profitable link between the sale of conflict diamonds and the provision of illicit arms on the international market to rebel organisations.

The reports detail a network of traders and dealers and highlight significant loopholes in the trading system for diamonds that facilitate the movement of conflict diamonds within the legitimate market place and shows the unwillingness of the diamond trade to ‘name and shame’ the members of its ‘respectable’ trade that are continuing and are known to be trading in these stones of death.

Both reports contain detailed recommendations for the diamond trade and international community, such as the establishment of a global certification system for the import and export of diamonds, the imposition of sanctions on countries proven to be involved in this trade and stiff penalties for any traders proven to be involved in trading conflict diamonds. The diamond trade and international community must implement these recommendations if there is to be any chance of ending the human devastation in war-torn Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The United Nations has now built up considerable expertise on the issues and should now create a permanent body of experts to oversee the implementation of diamond and arms sanctions and embargoes as has been repeatedly suggested.

For the last 18 months the diamond industry has been engaging the international community with solutions to the scourge of conflict diamonds. They have been attempting to take the moral high ground by declaring that they are doing ‘all they can’ to eradicate them from the market and force these so called ‘rogue traders’ into the gutter. However these two detailed reports prove that the diamond industry has little intention of seriously addressing the issue of conflict diamonds and that it really is business as normal.

‘When will the diamond industry understand that their business and the economies of several countries are seriously under threat from consumer action if they do not begin to stop dealing in conflict diamonds? With just a few days to go before Christmas consumers will not be encouraged to buy diamonds knowing that they could have funded the purchase of weapons used in Angola or Sierra Leone, said Alex Yearsley of Global Witness.’

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