Antwerp Fights Conflict Diamonds

June 27, 2000

Antwerp Fights Conflict Diamonds

The Antwerp Diamond Bourse in Belgium has released a statement outlining efforts against the trade of conflict diamonds.

Earlier this month, Antwerp called on the 22 diamond bourses worldwide to implement sanctions against dealers trading in conflict diamonds. Since then, Antwerp's diamond trade has taken a number of steps to prevent conflict diamonds from entering its market. The Diamond High Council, which represents many diamond dealers and cutters in Antwerp, has reorganized its operations to achieve optimal standards of rough diamond processing, shipment handling and monitoring of goods. It also has worked with the United Nations and other authorities to solidify Belgium's zero-tolerance policy for conflict diamonds. The council, which oversees Belgium's diamond imports and exports, also promises to implement regulations to ensure all diamonds entering the country are properly documented. Meanwhile, the banking industry in Antwerp has agreed to withhold services from clients who trade in diamonds originating in conflict areas.

The Antwerp Diamond Bourse has proposed a code of conduct for the diamond industry and will circulate it to all major associations before the World Diamond Congress in July. The code proposes, among other things, that individuals and companies with any link to arms trade be barred permanently from the diamond industry. In addition, all producer countries that allow diamonds channeled through these sources would be banned from the world industry. Antwerp hopes the industries in other countries will adopt these guidelines to eliminate any association of arms dealing with the diamond industry.

These guidelines are in addition to new certificates of origin and importation the Diamond High Council and the government of Angola agreed to earlier this year after United Nations diplomat Robert Fowler of Canada accused the Antwerp diamond trade of allowing rebels from Angola and Sierra Leone to sell billions of dollars worth of diamonds on the international market to pay for arms.

- by Julia M. Duncan