September 29, 2003
Consumers Asked to Sign Conflict Diamond Pledge
Global Witness, ActionAid and Amnesty International are asking consumers to sign a Diamond Pledge this fall to keep the pressure on governments and industry over the conflict diamond issue. The pledge commits consumers to raising awareness of the issue with family and friends, lobbying for independent monitoring of Kimberley Process countries and asking retail jewelers what they are doing to stop conflict diamond trading.
The groups have started the pledge in the United Kingdom, along with the Co-operative Bank, a financial institution that supports ethical spending there. Similar investment and financial institutions exist in the U.S., but so far the human rights organizations have not announced a liason with a U.S. ethical-spending group.
A larger coalition of human rights groups (including the three named above) support the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which went into full effect Aug. 31. But the coalition continues to press for independent monitoring of participating countries. In Kimberley countries with weak or corrupt governments, the fear is diamonds traded to support conflict or even terrorism can be easily slipped in with legitimate stones.
The human rights groups are also calling on consumers to press retail jewelers for conflict diamond warranties, to ensure the voluntary system set up by international diamond leaders in 2002 is being used. The industry system promises that rough diamond traders will pass on assurances their stones are conflict free to polished diamond manufacturers and diamond jewelry manufacturers, which are then expected to pass on the conflict-free assurances to retailers.
"We realize that buying a diamond is a very special occasion for most people, but that romantic moment could be so powerful in helping to eliminate conflicts which are funded by diamonds," says Corinna Gilfillan from Global Witness. "Simply asking about the origins of a diamond will demonstrate to the jeweler the importance of the Kimberley Process and that in turn will help elevate the importance of the scheme throughout the jewelry trade."
In July, Jewelers of America said it is enlisting the active support of its state organizations to encourage every member to sign a written commitment to ask for the warranties from their suppliers. Jewelers who want to learn more can go to jewelers.org.
The names of consumers who have signed the Diamond Pledge will be presented to the Kimberley Process countries when they convene next on Oct. 29-31 in South Africa.
To see the information on the Diamond Pledge campaign, go to globalwitness.org or the Co-operative Bank's Web site.
by Peggy Jo Donahue