September 18, 2002
U.S. Can Enforce Kimberley Rules Without Legislation
The Bush administration says U.S. legislation will no longer be necessary to implement the Kimberley global diamond system, scheduled to go into effect in early 2003, says Matthew Runci, president of Jewelers of America and executive director of the World Diamond Council.
Post-Sept. 11 emergency powers are now available to U.S. government agencies that allow them to carry out Kimberley's terms. WDC and human rights groups had been lobbying the U.S. Congress to pass conflict diamond legislation, saying new laws were necessary to enforce the Kimberley system. But with the energies of Congress focused on many other national and international issues, the chances of passing such legislation were basically nil, says Runci.
The Kimberley system is designed to bar conflict diamonds from the legitimate diamond trade. After the system is enacted, the U.S. and other participating governments will only allow imports of diamonds and diamond jewelry from nations with diamond controls in place. Diamond mining countries will be required to certify and seal rough diamond exports while diamond manufacturing nations will only import sealed, certified rough stones. The certified diamonds will continue to be tracked after they are cut and polished, through the jewelry manufacturing process and on to retailers. A system of warranties monitored by auditors will link everyone in the distribution pipeline.
The Kimberley Process scored another victory in the U.S. "The Bush administration has now enthusiastically embraced adherence to the system," says Runci. This change from last year, when the government often seemed to be fighting diamond controls, is probably due to its frustrating efforts to track terrorists' funds, which sometimes have been linked to diamonds. "Terrorism has added an urgency and a cachet to the Kimberley Process," says Runci. He says that while the industry is still chagrined at unproven links between diamonds and terrorists, the continued reporting of them may have influenced the Bush administration's endorsement of the diamond certification system.
A Kimberley Process meeting in Interlaken, Switzerland, Nov. 4-5, will allow all countries participating in the system, including the U.S., to declare adherence to an implementation schedule, says Runci. The actual system is scheduled to go into effect early in 2003, though the exact date is pending.
by Peggy Jo Donahue