Global Witness Questions Progress in Conflict Solution

150 150 Rapaport News

PRESS RELEASE

27th April 2001: Brussels

Kimberley Process Stalled?

Concern at lack of progress towards a conflict diamond certification system

Civil society organizations attending the June 25-27 meeting of the

Kimberley Process in Brussels were profoundly disappointed and deeply concerned with the lack of progress in efforts to end the trade in conflict diamonds. Despite strong South African and Belgian leadership many government representatives stated that they had come to the meeting with no mandate to agree to anything, including even the most vague of wordings on issues that have now been discussed at five previous meetings.

The next meeting of the Kimberley Process will be held in Moscow in June.

There is no indication that governments will go to that meeting any better prepared to reach consensus. More than half an hour was spent at the Brussels meeting, for example, debating whether those assembled had reached a broad consensus concerning an international diamond certification system, or simply an emerging consensus. Acceptance of the latter wording, after pressure from the US, Russia, Australia and the European Commission, is an indication that the process is in grave danger of becoming stalled.

Civil society representatives also sensed a strong element of frustration at the lack of progress among industry representatives and some African governments.

The whole process is in danger of unraveling. The time for hiding behind vague bureaucratic wording and platitudes is over. The forthcoming Moscow meeting will be the true test of government resolve on conflict diamonds.

As mandated by the United Nations governments must act to create an international certification system that will put an end to the trade in conflict diamonds. Further stalling and inaction will damage the credibility and the viability of the diamond industry, and the jobs it provides for hundreds of thousands of people. More importantly, it will allow rebel armies in Angola, Sierra Leone and DRC to continue their brutal wars against innocent men, women and children.

This press release is issued on behalf of more than 70 non governmental

organizations in Europe, Africa and North America.

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