U.S. National Security Adviser Sandy Berger said Wednesday Africa's conflict diamond trade is a national security problem because it makes the continent unstable, the Associated Press reports. Berger spoke at the White House Diamond Conference, hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The conference focused on exploring ways to identify where rough diamonds are mined.
According to AP, Berger said, "Conflict diamonds are fueling instability in Angola and Sierra Leone and escalating the fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are undermining human rights because the groups that profit from this illicit trade are responsible for the most violent atrocities we've ever seen and the slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent people.
"Diamonds are of inherent beauty, but today trade in diamonds by insurgent groups in Africa presents an ugly threat to that continent's security and is forcing all of us to rethink the economies of war," he said.
Berger told attendees an international diamond certification program is crucial. "The international community needs to develop a certification regime that will work right now. Not one that is perfect, but one which will significantly raise the cost of trading in conflict diamonds," he said. He also told the group the U.S. has a moral obligation to fight the problem because Americans are the leading consumers of diamonds, AP reports.
- by Julia M. Duncan