DDC Takes Stand on Conflict Diamonds
Dealers support prohibition of imports
In a recent hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on Africa, Eli Haas, president of the Diamond Dealers Club of New York City, outlined DDCs stand on conflict diamonds. He emphasized DDCs abhorrence of the trading and commerce of diamonds to finance civil wars in Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Haas strongly supports United Nations Resolution 1173, which prohibits the direct or indirect import of diamonds from Angola unless theyre traded through Angolas government.
He also praised the intent but noted the shortcomings of a bill proposed by Rep. Tony Hall (D-OH) in November 1999. The bill sought to require certificates of origin for diamonds imported into the U.S. The Hall proposal, however well-intentioned, would neither lead to the successful implementation of the U.N. sanctions nor end the ongoing civil wars and the deaths of innocent civilians, Haas told the committee. "Rather, it would harm the diamond industry worldwide and have serious implications for stable and developing countries in southern Africa.
Haas cited a lack of technology to correctly identify a diamonds country of origin. Even it were possible to identify origin, he said, it would be impossible to sort out legitimate diamonds from illegitimate ones. He also said the bill would substantially harm countries, such as Botswana, whose gross domestic product depends on diamonds and whose diamond industry is legitimate.
A better approach, he said, is to establish a direct relationship between African diamond mining nations and the U.S. diamond cutting industry. This would promote stability, accountability and transparency in diamond trading, he said.
by Robert Weldon, G.G.