U.S. Government and NGOs Urge Kimberley Process Forward

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(Rapaport…July 3, 2001) Delegates from 38 governments that produce, process and import diamonds, joined the World Diamond Council (WDC) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at a meeting in Moscow on July 3 through 5 to formally adopt the minimum acceptable standards for a certification system that will stem the trade in conflict diamonds.

The meeting, one of an ongoing series known as the Kimberley Process, is a follow-up to a gathering held in Brussels, Belgium in April.

Seven authors of U.S. legislation to curb the trade in conflict diamonds released an open letter to participants in the Kimberley Process urging them to complete their work soon.

“We believe your work in 2000 and 2001 will contribute to lasting peace in Africa,” the senators and members of Congress wrote. “But its value will be significantly diminished if the solution you devise comes after more war and suffering, or after diamonds become tainted in the eyes of consumers.”

The letter was signed by sponsors of all three U.S. legislative proposals on conflict diamonds — HR 918, S. 787, and S. 1084 – sponsored by Congressman Tony Hall (D-Ohio), Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Virginia), Senator Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), Senator Russell D. Feingold (D-Wisconsin), Congresswoman Cynthia A. McKinney (D-Georgia) and Senator Judd Gregg (R-New Hampshire).

The U.S. Campaign to Eliminate Conflict Diamonds, an 80-member coalition of U.S. human rights, religious and medical organizations, also called on the participants in the Moscow conference to reach swift agreement on “tough, transparent standards for instituting a clean stream of diamonds from mine to export.”

“The American campaign is dismayed by the slow pace of the Kimberley process and by its failure to develop and adopt meaningful minimum standards for assuring mine-to-export transparency and security,” said Bernice Romero of Oxfam, America. “We are amazed that detailed technical standards for diamond packaging have been developed and that countries are poised to use them without any agreement on what that packaging actually entails.” Oxfam America represented the Campaign at the Brussels meeting of the Kimberley process.

Holly Burkhalter of Physicians for Humans Rights and coordinator of the campaign said that the NGOs are very pleased to join the diamond industry in supporting a tough American trade regimen, “and we have every reason to hope that our compromise bill will be passed and signed into law this year.

“But the bill, which explicitly links U.S. import controls to the Kimberley process, can be only as effective as the Kimberley process itself is. If governments and the diamond industry fail to build a tough and effective regimen to prevent conflict diamonds from reaching legitimate markets, then this bill will be ineffective in protecting the American jewelry trade from taint. If that occurs, we in the U.S. diamond campaign will have to find another legislative approach and develop the appropriate grassroots pressure on the industry to support it.”

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