Professional Jeweler Archive: U.S. Can Enforce Kimberley Rules Without Legislation

November 2002


U.S. Can Enforce Kimberley Rules Without Legislation

A November meeting of Kimberley participants in Switzerland will spur the new worldwide diamond certification system

The Bush administration says U.S. legislation will no longer be necessary to enforce the Kimberley global diamond certification system, scheduled to go into effect in early 2003 to halt trade in conflict diamonds, says Matthew Runci, president of Jewelers of America and executive director of the World Diamond Council.

Post-Sept. 11 emergency powers now available to U.S. government agencies allow them to carry out Kimberley’s terms. WDC and human rights groups had lobbied the U.S. Congress to pass conflict diamond legislation, saying new laws were necessary to enforce the Kimberley system. But with the energies of Congress focused on other national and international issues, the chances of passing such legislation were basically nil, says Runci.

The Kimberley system is designed to bar conflict diamonds from the legitimate diamond trade. After the system is enacted, the U.S. and other participating governments will allow imports of diamonds and diamond jewelry only from nations with diamond controls in place. Diamond mining nations will be required to certify and seal rough diamond exports; diamond manufacturing nations will be required to import only sealed, certified rough diamonds. After they are cut and polished, certified diamonds will continue to be tracked through the jewelry manufacturing process and on to retailers. This system of warranties will be monitored by each company’s auditors to guarantee a clean diamond flow.

Reported Terrorist Links Help Kimberley

“The Bush administration has now enthusiastically embraced adherence to the system,” says Runci. This change from last year, when the government often seemed to be fighting diamond controls, is probably due to its frustrating efforts to track terrorists’ funds, which sometimes have been linked to diamonds. “Terrorism has added an urgency and a cachet to the Kimberley Process,” says Runci. While the industry is still chagrined at unproven links between diamonds and terrorists, he says, the continued reporting of them may have influenced the Bush administration’s endorsement of the diamond certification system.

A Kimberley Process meeting Nov. 4-5 in Interlaken, Switzerland, will allow all countries participating in the system, including the U.S., to declare adherence to an implementation schedule, says Runci. The actual system is scheduled to go into effect early in 2003. The exact date is pending.

The U.S. special negotiator for conflict diamonds, J.D. Bindenagel, told a meeting of the Diamond Dealers Club in New York City in October the U.S. government will go to the Interlaken meeting ready to announce the country can begin enforcing the Kimberley system in January 2003. The U.S. Customs Service will be the agency to bar any diamonds that don’t come from Kimberley-participating countries.

– by Peggy Jo Donahue

Copyright © 2002 by Bond Communications