NGOs, participants differ on ”conflict diamonds” solution

Non-government organizations (NGOs) say development of a certification system to track conflict diamonds is ”in danger of unraveling,” following a meeting of governments and trade in Brussels. 

”Civil society organizations.were profoundly disappointed and deeply concerned with the lack of progress in efforts to end the trade in conflict diamonds,” said a statement signed by 70 NGOs. ”The time for hiding behind vague bureaucratic wording and platitudes is over.” 

The statement added that ”Further stalling and inaction will damage the credibility and the viability of the diamond industry, and the jobs it provides for hundreds of thousands of people. More importantly, it will allow rebel armies in Angola, Sierra Leone and DRC to continue their brutal wars against innocent men, women and children.”

However, participants continued to insist that the certification system was on track, and they hoped to have it in place by the end of the year. 

”It is not an easy task building an agreement among 38 governments,” said the head of the South African delegation. ”In the end, we hope to get a document bringing together importers, producers and consumers.” 

The statement followed a meeting held August 25-27 in Brussels, Belgium, to discuss the creation of an international certification system to stop illegal trafficking in conflict diamonds. Representatives of 38 governments, NGOs, the World Diamond Council, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the European Commission, the World Customs Organization, and the chairmen of the United Nations (U.N.) Sanctions Committees for Angola and Liberia attended the meeting.  

The meeting was part of the Kimberly Process, named for the South African locale where the process of developing a diamond certification system began. At the end of the year, the organizations will provide a report to the U.N., which adopted a resolution in December 2000 calling for development of solutions to the conflict diamonds problem.