August 8, 2001
Companion Conflict Diamond Bill Introduced in the House
On Aug. 2, 39 members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced and cosponsored a companion bill to The Clean Diamonds Act (S. 1084), the compromise conflict diamond legislation introduced in the Senate June 21 [see related article]. The new House bill, H.R. 2722, was necessary to make it simple for a conference committee to combine the bills once they pass in their respective chambers. All the groups who support this legislation express hope there will be swift passage of a final law.
The new bill was immediately endorsed by Jewelers of America, which also endorsed S. 1084. In addition, H.R. 2722 has the support of the Campaign to Eliminate Conflict Diamonds, a 100-member human rights group coalition that recently began working with the jewelry and diamond industries to quickly enact legislation. The bill was introduced by U.S. Reps. Amy Houghton (R-NY), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Tony Hall (D-OH) and Frank Wolf (R-VA) with 35 other cosponsors. Hall and Wolf also sponsored other conflict diamond legislation in the House.
Like the Senate bill, H.R. 2722 supports the work of the Kimberley Process, an international effort to establish a global certification system to end the trade in conflict diamonds. A report containing recommendations to the United Nations by the Kimberley participants is expected before the end of the year.
"Conflict diamonds are a worldwide problem. But the legislation before Congress will go a long way toward solving that problem by imposing strict rules on the import of diamonds and diamond jewelry in the U.S., which is the world largest diamond market," says JA President and CEO Matthew Runci, who is also executive director of the World Diamond Council, the international industry group formed to combat the conflict diamond problem. "These import rules, coupled with severe penalties for violators, are needed to assure jewelers and their customers that their diamonds are conflict free and there is no link between their diamonds and violence."
- by Peggy Jo Donahue