On Friday, the United Nations General Assembly backed an international certification plan to stem the flood of conflict diamonds. The action was initiated by South Africa.
The resolution called for assembly members to give "urgent" consideration to creating a "simple and workable international certification scheme for rough diamonds."
"For much too long, our response to this problem was weak and wholly inadequate," U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke said to the assembly. "Today let us make a new beginning." The non-binding measure was cosponsored by Belgium, Botswana, Canada, Cyprus, Democratic Congo, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Britain and the U.S.
The U.N. endorsed the plan to negotiate a government and industry-backed process to ensure diamonds come from legitimate sources, cutting out the rebels who sell diamonds to fund wars and human-rights offenses. Russia and India warned that its markets might be adversely affected. A progress report on the global certification process is due within a year.
- by Liz Smutko