Liberia Unlikely to Join Kimberley Process Before Year End

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(Rapaport…October 4, 2004) A United Nations committee monitoring the ban on Liberia’s diamond trade has said it is unlikely that the country will become a participant in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme before the end of the year.

The reason is that the Kimberley Process assessment of Liberia would not be conducted before late November, the five-member committee said in its first progress report to the UN Security Council, which is dated September 24.

The Kimberley Process is a system of controls governing the international trade in diamonds. Its aim is to stop the flow of “conflict diamonds”, or diamonds that are used to fund wars. The Security Council imposed sanctions on Liberia in 2001 and extended them last year as the country’s 14-year civil war ended.

The UN committee commended the Liberian government for the steps it has taken to implement the Kimberley Process, saying “it has demonstrated commitment and technical expertise.”

However, it said that although diamond smuggling in Liberia was at low levels, the country needs external funding to institute the mandatory certificate-of-origin required for the trade of gemstones.

The committee warned that illegal diamond exports may rise if diggers return to mining areas in the wake of disarmament and with the onset of the dry season. It added that the government may have to introduce temporary controls to prevent an upsurge of illegal smuggling.

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