Brussels Conference Continues Efforts for Rough Controls

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(Rapaport…April 27, 2001) Delegates from 38 governments that produce, process and import diamonds, joined the World Diamond Council (WDC) and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) at a meeting in Brussels, Belgium on April 25 through 27 to continue detailed deliberations on the minimum acceptable standards for an international certification system for rough diamonds.

The meeting, one of an ongoing series known as the Kimberley Process, is a follow up to a gathering held in Windhoek, Namibia in February. Discussions focused on the elements necessary to create an effective and workable system for keeping conflict diamonds out of legitimate supply chains. The group is on track to formally adopt the minimum acceptable standards for certificates at the next meeting to be held in Moscow in July. Plans call for four more sessions before the end of 2001, when the group reports back to the United Nations.

Initial discussions concentrated on the national certification systems currently active in Angola and Sierra Leone, as well as the preliminary results of a detailed questionnaire submitted by countries concerning their import and export controls for rough diamonds. The Diamond High Council (HRD) evaluated the certification programs in Angola and Sierra Leone. Members also received a report on Sierra Leone’s certification system from Global Witness, the London-based NGO.

Delegates broke into two working groups to examine different aspects of the certification issue. One group considered certification questions such as producer country certificates of origin and pre-export controls. The second examined issues from the perspective of importers, manufacturers and re-exporters of rough diamonds; and considered the minimum standards on specific issues such as free zones and goods of mixed origin.

A number of papers are being prepared for the Moscow meeting, covering topics such as the minimum standards for alluvial diamonds, problems facing countries that produce and import diamonds and bureaucratic burdens that certification systems may impose.

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