Antwerp Diamond Conference

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PRESS RELEASE

4 October 2002

Diamond VIPs in Antwerp must finally commit to end the trade in blood diamonds

On Monday 7 and Tuesday 8 October diamond industries VIPs such as De Beers chairman Nicky Oppenheimer gather in Antwerp to discuss policies and strategy. Policies to make more money. But will they also discuss the strategy to end the trade in blood diamonds? For the last 3 years they have failed to do so. Fatal Transactions doubts if they get their act together this time.

For 3 years now, the World Diamond Council and its Antwerp based member the Diamond High Council (‘De Hoge Raad voor de Diamant’) told the world how committed they are to end trade of blood diamonds, that fuel armed conflicts in Africa. But they fail to come up with the needed industry self-regulation. Diamond dealers that transfer huge sums of money on a handshake and some trustworthy eyes, proof not to be so reliable when it comes to their promises to governments and NGOs.

The implementation of the Kimberley process to end the trade in blood diamond is scheduled for January 1 2003. Governments from producing and trading states will sign the final agreement on November 5, 2002 in Switzerland. The council of ministers of the European Union will pass the European legislation at the end of this October. All are making a huge effort to end the trade in blood diamonds that played a major role in the continuation of the conflicts in Angola, Sierra Leone and the Congo. But the industry does not deliver the crucial self-regulation that ensures a paper trail of invoices with all diamond transaction and independent auditing of diamond trading firms.

Will keynote speaker Al Gore, former vice-president of the USA, remind the delegates at the diamond cocktail and the Gala Dinner about the Africans that died in Angola, Sierra Leone the Congo and the millions that are displaced due to this trade? Can invitee Louis Michel, Belgium’s minister for foreign affairs permit continuation of an illicit diamond trade in Antwerp and at the same time try to end the war in the Congo? Will Eli Izhakoff, president of the World Diamond Council finally get his diamond traders to sign up for certification system that ends the trade in blood diamonds? We certainly hope so.

Fatal Transactions again urges the diamond trade to practise what they preach: stop the trade in blood diamonds by implementing industry self-regulation through the Kimberley process. After all a diamond is only worth its image.


Note for editors, not for publication:

For more information, please contact Fatal Transactions International Campaign Co-ordinator Judith Sargentini at the Netherlands Institute for Southern Africa, +31 20 5206210/ mobile +31.6.19626029, FT@niza.nl.

The diamond conference will take place on 7 and 8 October 2002 at the Antwerp Province House, Koningin Elizabethlei 22, 2018 Antwerp, Belgium.

Fatal Transactions is an international consumer campaign consisting of Novib-Oxfam Netherlands , Medico International Germany, Intermon-Oxfam Spain, Netherlands Institute for Southern Africa and IBIS, Denmark calling on the public and other interested organisations to ask governments and companies involved in extractive industries to implement effective controls to ensure that the trade in natural resources does not finance or otherwise support conflict and economic injustice in Africa. Website: www.niza.nl/fataltransactions.

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