The KP’s Newest Challenge: The Ivory Coast

With the Côte D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
politically unstable, new attention is being brought to the conflict diamond
situation here.

Côte D’Ivoire is, as Stephane Chardon,
chairman of the KP’s Working Group of Monitoring, told The Christian Science
Monitor
this week, the only place in the world that technically still produces
“conflict diamonds.” With a rebel
group controlling many of the country’s diamond areas, gems from the country
have been subject to U.N. sanctions since 2006.

And yet despite this, as the Monitor
writes: 

…diamond
extraction is booming in the north-central Ivorian district of Séguéla, where
new deposits have “significantly increased” the country’s rough
diamond production, a group of experts concluded in a report for the UN
Sanctions Committee in April.

The total
value of diamond production in Ivory Coast has been estimated at between $18
million and $20 million, says Mr. Chardon. He stresses that the figure
represents only a fraction of a percent of the $9 billion global trade in the
stones.

Because of that small percentage, the KP
has generally been concerned with bigger productions, and thornier issues, like
Zimbabwe. But with the Ivory Coast voliatile, that is changing. 

KP sources say that the World Customs
Organization has issued a notice to be on the lookout for increased smuggling
of diamonds from the area. The Kimberley
Process is looking into issuing a similar advisory. This is a potentially very serious situation that we
probably won’t hear the last of….

JCK News Director