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Diamond leaders in pact to ban 'conflict gems' funding African wars

Sean Cohen of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association, right, addresses the media in Antwerp on Wednesday on new measures to stop the trade in "conflict diamonds" used to pay for African wars  

July 19, 2000
Web posted at: 10:42 a.m. EDT (1442 GMT)

ANTWERP, Belgium (Reuters) -- The world's two largest diamond trade groups announced on Wednesday a resolution to crack down on trade in "conflict gems" used to fund Africa's rebel wars.

The resolution by the International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA) and the World Federation of Diamond Bourses came at the close of the World Diamond Congress in the Belgian port city of Antwerp, where the issue of conflict diamonds dominated the agenda.

"Over the three days of deliberations it was very clear that the feeling of everyone was conflict diamonds are not acceptable," IDMA President Sean Cohen told a news conference.

Conflict diamonds have been blamed for funding African wars that have killed and mutilated hundreds of thousands of people, including conflicts in Sierra Leone and Angola where rebels have taken over key diamond mines.


The resolution calls for an international system to certify as legal rough diamonds bound for export and a global electronic registry to monitor the export and import of these gems.

The resolution also calls for legislation by all countries importing rough diamonds that would accept only diamond parcels officially sealed and registered in the exporting country.

Diamond-exporting countries and countries buying polished diamonds would also be required to pass legislation to bring criminal penalties against any party involved in the trade of conflict diamonds.

Any individuals trading in conflict diamonds would also be banned from the 24 bourses around the globe that form the World Federation of Diamond Bourses.

IDMA's Cohen said the industry would be able to implement the measures before year-end.

"But the next step is for various governments to enact legislation," he said. "Hopefully, it can be enacted even sooner than Christmas.

"We will also be taking it up at the United Nations where all these nations sit to speed it along," he added.

The resolution was endorsed at all levels of the diamond industry, including diamond giant De Beers (DBRSn.S), which controls 60 percent of the world's diamond supply.

Belgium's Diamond High Council, which oversees the $20 billion diamond industry in Antwerp, the world's largest diamond-trading center, also endorsed it.

The resolution is due to be discussed at a meeting in London on Thursday, which is a follow-up to a series of meetings begun earlier this year in Kimberley, South Africa, on how to halt trade in conflict diamonds.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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World Diamond Congress
The Diamond High Council (Hoge Raad voor Diamant, HRD) Antwerp World Diamond Center (Belgium)
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British Foreign & Commonwealth Office
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