May 1, 2003
Kimberley Nations Make Some Progress
The yearly meeting of delegates to the Kimberley Process, held April 28-30 in Kimberley, South Africa, agreed to set a firm deadline of July 31 for nations to finish implementing a certification system to vet rough diamonds or lose the right to trade with countries participating in the Kimberley Process. All major diamond producing and trading nations are part of Kimberley, so non-participants would be cut off from trading their gems. "The most effective sanction is total isolation from the diamond industry," said Abbey Chikane, chairman of the Kimberley Process.
The idea behind the Kimberley system is that each country which produces or trades rough diamonds must issue certificates stating that the diamonds come from legitimate sources and have not been used to fund conflict.
Initial news reports did not mention whether the group had made firm decisions on several issues called vital to the certification plan's effectiveness, namely, an independent monitoring system, a statistical databank or a fund to help countries with weak governments control their diamond trade more closely to prevent manipulation by criminals. Both industry and human rights groups have said such elements are critical to Kimberley's success.
Delegates did decide to dispatch the schemešs first inspection mission to evaluate whether the Central African Republic, which was suspended from the Kimberley Process after a March coup, is now capable of effectively monitoring its diamond sales, according to the Rapaport Report.
by Peggy Jo Donahue