Conflict Diamond Develpments Continue

November 16, 2000

Conflict Diamond Develpments Continue

The United Nations has asked India, the world's largest diamond cutting and polishing center, to take more care to ensure conflict diamonds from Sierra Leone do not enter the country, Reuters reports.

According to Reuters, Harjit Sandhu, one of two members of the U.N. Security Council's panel on Sierra Leone visiting India, said India's government should check the credentials of importers of expensive diamonds. The two members of the U.N. panel also want the Indian government to keep better records of diamond imports.

Indian diamond industry representatives say they have already put their own safeguards in place. The country doesn't import diamonds directly from conflict countries in Africa. Most diamond imports come from trading centers in Antwerp, Israel and London, but officials admit it's possible for conflict diamonds to enter India indirectly through one of the trading centers. However, Sanjay Kothari, chairman of India's Gems and Jewelry Export Promotion Council, told Reuters, "We have already made it mandatory for all importers of diamonds to get their suppliers abroad to certify they are not supplying blood diamonds." In addition, he says the diamonds that come from Sierra Leone are more expensive while Indian industry focuses on lower-end and smaller diamonds.

In other conflict diamond news, Liberian President Charles Taylor told French reporters that British diamond interests were to blame for Sierra Leone's civil war. According to Reuters, Taylor told reporters for the French newspaper Le Monde, "The war in Sierra Leone is a war over diamonds, but not because Liberia wants diamonds. This war is happening because the British want the diamonds. There are British officials who own diamond mines in Sierra Leone through companies with shares based in Vancouver." Taylor has been accused by British officials of supporting the RUF rebels in Sierra Leone, but he has repeatedly denied the accusations.

- by Julia M. Duncan