The World Diamond Council has retained a leading international trade law firm to develop model legislation to stop the trade in conflict diamonds, a WDC press release says. The firm, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP, is expected to complete a draft in 90 days.
"This is a crucial element in our campaign to eliminate conflict diamonds entirely," says WDC Chairman Eli Izhakoff. "This is a complex global challenge. To meet it effectively, we must have an international framework allowing all nations involved to coordinate their efforts. That includes countries in which diamonds are extracted, those in which stones are processed and major polished diamond importing countries, starting with the largest importer, the United States."
Once the legislation is drafted, WDC will ask the governments involved in diamond trade to consider the proposal on a priority basis, Izhakoff says. "There is a broad agreement among all interested parties including our industry and non-governmental organizations concerned with the issue on the principles to be followed. Now we have to agree on strong, workable measures and get the job done quickly," he says.
The model legislation will provide a legal basis for a comprehensive system to track stones from the mine to the major diamond processing centers. With the system in place, importing countries such as the U.S. will be able to bar entry to any shipment of suspicious origin.
The attorneys in charge of the WDC project have expertise in trade legislation. Warren Connelly heads the firm's international trade practice group, and S. Bruce Wilson served as a negotiator in the U.S. Trade Representative's office and as staff director of the Subcommittee on Trade of the House Ways & Means Committee.
- by Julia M. Duncan