U.N. backs ‘conflict diamonds’ accord

The United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution strongly supporting a worldwide accord between governments and the diamond industry to stop trade in diamonds from conflict zones, The Associated Press reports.

By a unanimous vote Tuesday, the council said the accord would make a “valuable contribution against trafficking in conflict diamonds,” and welcomed the voluntary system of industry self-regulation”—an element of the deal criticized by some advocacy groups that claim the accord has no legal muscle to ensure its enforcement, the AP reports.

The accord, reached Nov. 5, went into effect Jan. 1. Under the plan batches of exported rough diamonds must be accompanied by government certification that they do not come from territory held by rebels. No gems can be imported into another country without the certificate. A purchaser can demand a retailer prove the origin of diamonds on sale.

Anyone who breaks the rules, whether a private exporter or importer, would lose their trading license. Exporting countries that fail to respect the deal also would be barred from selling diamonds and could face international sanctions.

The 52-nation agreement sealed 2 1/2 years of discussions launched after disclosure that diamond production was financing deadly conflicts in nations like Angola and Sierra Leone. A U.N. embargo on exports from Africa’s war zones did not keep the diamonds off the market.

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