A group of African government representatives issued a statement Friday saying a new consumer campaign against conflict diamonds organized by
Amnesty International and other human rights groups (see related story) is
"counter productive and potentially damaging to the African countries that
depend on legitimate diamond exports." The group also says, "the material being circulated
threatens to undermine confidence in diamonds generally rather than focusing
on the specific problem before us."
The African group which includes representatives of South Africa, Namibia
and Botswana says it was unhelpful for the human rights groups to
regard the conflict diamonds legislative proposal announced by Rep. Tony
Hall (D-OH) as a "silver bullet" that would resolve the problem
(see related story). "In fact, the conflict diamonds problem is complex.
Legislation by the U.S. must be carefully crafted and the views of
the non-U.S. parties considered," the group says in the statement. "In attempting to compel support
for a single legislative proposal, these groups are creating needless
confrontation. Cooperation among all interested parties would be much more
The African group met with other nations that produce, process and
import diamonds, as well as the World Diamond Council, which represents the
diamond and jewelry industry worldwide. The meeting, one of an ongoing
series of meetings known as The Kimberley Process, was held in Windhoek,
Namibia. Officials from 26 governments established a joint task force with WDC to complete technical work on an international certification system
for rough diamonds.
The Kimberley Process will continue at another meeting in Belgium in April, where the group will examine existing national import and export
controls on rough diamonds. After the Windhoek meeting, WDC chairman Eli Izhakoff said, "What has been accomplished here ... is very
promising. We must also be aware that, even when a certification system is
established, our work will not be done. Lasting success depends on sound
implementation and continued scrutiny. The industry is committed to this
effort over the long run."
- by Peggy Jo Donahue