Industry and Hall Call for Embargo on Congo Diamonds

Rep. Tony Hall (D-Ohio) recently introduced a “Sense of Congress” resolution calling for a United Nations embargo on conflict diamonds from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Hall noted that at least eight other resources in addition to diamonds were fueling the war in Congo, but he said diamonds in particular should be controlled because they “are one of Africa’s most liquid resources, the world’s easiest commodity to smuggle, and readily available to anyone with power.”

He added, “I sometimes have disagreed with the diamond industry’s leaders, but I know them to be honorable people. Ending the exploitation of this industry’s product by those whose crimes mock all it represents is as important for Africa as it is for the diamond industry, but it will be the industry’s continued vigilance that determines whether this effort succeeds or collapses. I must reserve my own evaluation of the industry’s promises until they are tested by practice; however, I hope that history will judge kindly its response to this scourge. I hope it will prove to be a model worthy for other industries to use and expand upon. And I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the diamond industry for its commitment to finishing this work.”

U.N. embargoes currently are in place on diamonds mined by Sierra Leone and Angolan rebels, and on all diamonds from Liberia.

The World Diamond Council and Jewelers of America issued a statement supporting Hall’s resolution.

“This resolution addresses a remaining leak point in the supply chain for rough diamonds,” said Eli Izhakoff, chairman and CEO of the WDC. “Until the provisions of the Kimberley Process agreement and its companion system of warranties have been fully implemented, sanctions on rough diamonds from the DRC that have not been certified as to their origin would serve a very useful purpose.”

Hall’s motion was co-sponsored by Rep. Edward R. Royce (R-Calif.), Rep. Amo Houghton, (R-N.Y.), Rep. Donald M. Payne, (D-N.J.), and Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.).