LONDON – At its meeting in the Langham Hilton, the World Diamond Congress approved an ambitious program of self-regulation that would require every link of the diamond chain—from miners to retailers—to warrant that their diamonds are conflict-free. The Congress is the biennial meeting of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association.
The resolution calls on delegates to:
· Make an affirmative statement on all invoices on the sale of rough diamonds, polished diamonds, and diamond jewelry that the stones “herein invoiced have been purchased from legitimate sources not involved in funding conflict and in compliance with United Nations resolutions. The seller hereby guarantees that these diamonds are conflict-free, based on personal knowledge and/or written guarantees provided by the suppliers of these diamonds.”
· Not buy diamonds from firms that do not list the above statement on their invoices.
· Not buy diamonds from suspect or unknown sources of supply, or diamonds originating from countries that have not implemented the Kimberley Process International Certification scheme.
· Not buy diamonds in or from any region that is subject to an advisory by a governmental authority that conflict diamonds are coming from or available for sale in such region unless those diamonds have been exported in compliance with Kimberley requirements.
· Not knowingly buy or sell or assist others to buy or sell conflict diamonds.
The Congress also agreed to expel any members who violate the above resolutions.
The self-regulation program already had been approved by the World Diamond Council and was part of the Kimberley Process. Yet, many at the Congress were taken aback by the resolution’s sweep and confused about how it would be applied to situations such as buying estate jewelry.
“[My members] felt they were presented with something [and] didn’t know what it was,” said IDMA president Sean Cohen, who nevertheless endorsed the system.
Many Congress attendees were jittery after a first-day demonstration by NGOs Amnesty International and Global Witness, a second-day bomb scare that evacuated the building (although it turned out to be a false alarm, and unrelated to the NGOs), and rumors of egg- and paint-throwing by NGOs that would greet the Congress finale. Given the tense atmosphere, most felt they had little choice but to endorse the system, especially after warnings from government officials that if the industry didn’t act, governments would impose the regulations anyway. The resolution eventually was passed unanimously, to widespread applause.
“To me, the whole conflict diamond things is a bad dream, it’s a nightmare, and we all wish it would go away,” said London bourse president Freddy Hager, the Congress’ host. “And if this resolution makes it go away, I love the resolution.”