World Diamond Council Makes Progress on Conflict Diamond Issue

January 8, 2001

World Diamond Council Makes Progress on Conflict Diamond Issue

The World Diamond Council's plan to help eliminate the trade of conflict diamonds is moving forward rapidly, say Chairman Eli Izhakoff and Executive Director Matt Runci. WDC has completed detailed recommendations for a system to control rough diamonds. Runci says the controls are easy to understand and evaluate by all parties interested in stopping the flow of conflict diamonds, including governments, non-governmental organizations, banks and diamond dealers. The WDC will present the plan at a De Beers-hosted meeting on Jan. 17-18 in London.

The WDC's plan now moves to a second phase involving the WDC's intergovernmental committees, finance committees, banking and legal entity committees and United Nations liaison committees. The committees' work will enable WDC to work more closely with governments and NGOs around the world, says Runci.

WDC also has a draft of model legislation prepared by the international trade law firm Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP, intended to speed the passage of laws worldwide to enact the control system. "With the legislation enacted quickly in the United States, it's hoped that other countries will get on a fast track to pass similar legislation," says Izhakoff. "Everyone sees the need to rid ourselves of the scourge of conflict diamonds as soon as possible, so we hope that the program can be in place within a few months," he says.

To help meet that goal, all nations that developed similar plans for a control system during a series of meetings last year, which began in Kimberley, South Africa, will meet again in early February in Namibia to iron out technical details and meld the Kimberley and WDC proposals, says Izhakoff. Then, a technical report covering all aspects of a working certification system for diamonds will be introduced to the U.N.

- by Robert Weldon, G.G.