(Rapaport… August 8, 2002) The European Commission (EC) is expected to announce a rule imminently, that rough diamonds will only be allowed into the European Union (EU) if they have a certificate stating they do not come from conflict zones, reports the Financial Times.
The EU’s decision to become the first country to propose strict rules is significant since London and Antwerp account for more than 85 percent of the worldwide trade in uncut stones.
Supporters of the fight against conflict diamonds hope the EU’s move will prompt other countries to comply with the Kimberley Process.
In March, more than 50 governments agreed on a global certification system to implement the process from next January, but so far few have taken concrete action. The industry estimates that conflict diamonds make up 4 percent of the market in rough stones.
At present, diamonds imported into the EU are accompanied at best by a document showing where the stones were last exported. Campaigners have warned that “blood diamond” smugglers get around this system by ensuring the stones go through at least one other country before being exported.
The Commission’s proposals also aim to abolish the practice of mixing conflict diamonds with “clean” stones before being sold onto the market. Under the plans, which are expected to be approved by national governments in the next few months, diamonds will have to be imported in a sealed, tamper-proof package accompanied by official paperwork.