EU Plans Tough Conflict Diamond Rules

August 8, 2002

EU Plans Tough Conflict Diamond Rules

Rough diamonds will not be allowed into the European Union unless they have a certificate stating they are from non-conflict countries if a tough new EU rules goes into effect, reports the Financial Times.

The EU's requirement of a certificate of origin for each gemstone helps it conform to the global system of warranties laid out by Kimberley Process. The Kimberley plan is intended to crack down on diamonds sold to fund criminal or other nefarious causes. It calls for diamonds to be tracked from mine to retail store.

The EU's decision is significant. Two European Union countries, England and Belgium, account for the vast majority of the worldwide trade in uncut diamonds, so tough EU rules will help track the greatest number of diamonds. Also, nations that are part of Kimberley Process must pass rules or legislation to comply with the Kimberley system and few have done so thus far. Supporters of the fight against conflict diamonds hope the EU's move will prompt other countries to get moving, since the system is planned to operate fully by November.

In the U.S., for example, the Campaign to Eliminate Conflict Diamonds – consisting of human rights groups and the World Diamond Council – is putting pressure on Congress and the Bush administration to pass legislation allowing the U.S. to be a full partner in enacting the Kimberley system. So far, the campaign has met with little interest, but the EU move could attract some notice within the U.S. government.

Under the commission's plans – which the Financial Times says it has seen – rough diamonds imported into any EU nation will be required to have a certificate of origin stating the country of extraction. Diamonds coming from conflict zones or those without a certificate will be refused entry.

The EU rules will go beyond the Kimberley Process, reports the Associated Press, by requiring re-export certificates be issued for each subsequent movement of diamonds until cut into finished jewels. The Kimberley Process calls for a voluntary system of warranties enacted and tracked by the industry itself, after diamonds are vetted conflict-free with certificates by the exporting and importing nations.

by Peggy Jo Donahue

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