Clean Diamonds Trade Act Becomes Law

President Bush has signed into law the Clean Diamonds Trade Act, which formally endorses the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. Kimberley is designed to halt trade in illicit diamonds through a certification plan that would effectively track the trade of diamonds from mine to store.

Bush reportedly said in a statement after signing the legislation that so-called “conflict” diamonds have been used by rebel groups in Africa “to finance their atrocities committed on civilian populations and their insurrections against internationally recognized governments.”

The Clean Diamonds Trade Act requires diamond dealers to keep records of all diamond shipments and make such records available to U.S. law enforcement authorities.

A broad coalition of religious, humanitarian, and human rights groups backed the legislation, which was approved by Congress in April.

Industry leaders welcomed the signing of the legislation and promised strong international enforcement.

Eli Izhakoff, chairman of the World Diamond Council, and Matthew Runci, executive director of WDC and president/CEO of Jewelers of America (JA), said in a joint statement that enactment of the Clean Diamonds Trade Act makes the United States “a full participant” in the Kimberley Process. “This participation is critical to the system’s success in excluding conflict diamonds from the legitimate supply chain.”

Diamond importing and exporting countries agreed to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme last November after more than two years of negotiations. It was slated to go into effect in January and has been adopted by more than 50 countries.

Americans buy 65% to 70% of the world’s diamonds, including rough diamonds, polished stones, and jewelry containing diamonds, according to the U.S. General Accounting Office.

The United States imports relatively few rough diamonds compared with other countries but still purchased approximately $816 million worth from 53 countries in 2000, the GAO reports.