WDC Proposes Annual Reports to Monitor Kimberley Compliance

April 1, 2004

WDC Proposes Annual Reports to Monitor Kimberley Compliance

The World Diamond Council will recommend all its members submit an annual report detailing how they are implementing measures to prevent "conflict diamonds" from being sold in the world's jewelry stores, according to the Financial Times of London.

The proposal, revealed at the close of the WDC's annual meeting in Dubai on March 31, is a response to added pressure on the industry in the wake of a report released on March 30 by Global Witness, the human rights organization. The group surveyed a number of luxury jewelers, jewelry chains and other retailers in the U.S. and found most did not appear to have policies in place demanding warranties from suppliers that their diamonds were conflict-free – though Zale Corp., Sterling Jewelers and Tiffany & Co. did.

"We proposed for consideration an annual reporting mechanism by all members, patterned on the system currently in place for governments," Matthew Runci, WDC executive director, told FT yesterday. "We will have discussions on the merits of this idea, but I am sure there will be a positive response from members."

WDC, representing all areas of the diamond industry from mining to retail, has been a driving force of the Kimberley Process, a United Nations-backed scheme to halt illicit trading by compelling all trading or producing countries to issue a certificate of origin for every diamond, to guarantee it does not come from a conflict zone.

But the spotlight at the summit turned on WDC, accused by Global Witness of not doing enough to implement the voluntary system of warranties the diamond and jewelry industries agreed to put in place in late 2002.

WDC accepted Global Witness's criticism that it's not doing enough, but strongly rejects the accusation that the industry's commitment to the Kimberley Process is "not much more more than a public relations maneuverwith little credibility behind it."

Both Global Witness and WDC yesterday reiterated support for the process.

Tim Martin, chairman of the Kimberley Process, yesterday praised the United Arab Emirates for volunteering to be the first country to be reviewed for compliance by a mission made up of government, industry and human rights groups.

Half of the 61 member countries have already put themselves forward for a "peer review" and 19, including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo-Brazzaville, where problems implementing the Kimberley Process have been mnetioned, will be inspected in the next year.v The willingness of nations to be inspected showed the process was working even if the monitoring process was not mandatory, says Martin.

by Peggy Jo Donahue

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