African officials are meeting in South Africa for three days to try to agree on ways to stop the illegal trade of conflict diamonds. According to Reuters, officials are expected to finalize proposals to begin a certificate-of-origin program which will ensure diamond exporters and importers know their diamonds are from legitimate mines.
Large diamond-producing countries including South Africa, Botswana and Namibia are concerned that failing to take significant steps toward guaranteeing exports are conflict-free could lead to a consumer boycott, which would result in an economic disaster for all three countries. The push by many U.S. lawmakers to pass a law requiring a certificate of origin for all diamond imports has increased the urgency of this meeting.
Also, at the meeting, the South African government is expected to press the diamond industry to put more effort into helping alleviate poverty and stimulate employment in Africa, Reuters reports.
In related news, United Nations Security Council members commended the Sierra Leone government last week for developing a diamond certifying system. Council members said they are looking forward to more information on how the system will be implemented and hope the country can begin exporting diamonds using this system soon.
- by Julia M. Duncan