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State Dept. says Industry a 'Good Partner' on Conflict Diamonds

By Rob Bates, News Director
Posted on January 15, 2007
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The industry has been a “good partner” on the conflict diamond issue, but the industry should prepare itself for more government oversight, Sue Saarnio, the State Department’s Special Advisor for Conflict Diamonds told the Jewelers Vigilance Committee’s annual luncheon.
 
Saarnio called the Kimberley Process “a success story when it concerns public-private partnerships. I’ve been in the diplomatic corps 20 years and I have never seen anything like it. It’s like a mini-United Nations gathering together to discuss one issue. It is not based on an international treaty and it is not based on international law. And yet 71 nations have agreed to trade diamonds under its rules.”
 
Saarnio called the “Blood Diamond” movie “a fairly accurate depiction of what happened in Sierra Leone in 1999.”
 
“If you see that movie, and you see the atrocities that were committed, you will think, yes, it’s worth a little extra paperwork to prevent those atrocities from happening in the future,” Saarnio said.
 
Saarnio noted that a Government Accountability Office report this year found flaws in America’s enforcement of the Kimberley Process.
 
“As a result, the Customs Department will be committed to inspecting rough diamond shipments in and out of the United States,” Saarnio said.
 
She noted that at the most recent Kimberley Process meeting in Botswana, Eli Izhakoff, chairman of the World Diamond Council, called for more government oversight of the industry.
 
“You should be glad to know that your industry spokespeople are so confident that what you are doing is right that they are challenging governments to increase their oversight and we will take up that challenge,” she said. “We are in this together and I’m glad we have such good partners.”
 
Also at the luncheon, Joshua M. Kapture, the regulatory policy speciality for the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, received the organization’s Stanley Schechter Award.

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