Illegal diamonds that finance civil wars in Africa would be banned from America under legislation that Congress approved Friday, according to wire services reports.
The House gave final approval by voice vote to the legislation, which would bring the United States under an international agreement that bans the export or import of so-called conflict diamonds. The Senate passed the bill Thursday. The bill was sent to President Bush for his approval.
The international agreement, known as the Kimberley Process, has the support of representatives of the diamond industry and human rights groups. More than 50 nations are participating in the certification process—which is intended to track each diamond from the mine to the jeweler’s window and to block the trade of diamonds mined and marketed illicitly.
Traded diamonds would have to come with certification they were mined from legitimate sources.
“This is a trade issue, a consumer issue and most of all, a human rights issue,” Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Senate Finance Committee chairman, reportedly said. “This bill sends a strong message that the benefits of trade in valuable natural resources like diamonds should accrue to the legitimate governments and their people in Africa.”