Diamonds Still Drip Blood:

Amnesty International
November 4, 2002

This week was meant to mark an end to the flow of conflict diamonds from war zones to retail stores. Consumers around the world, concerned by the possibility that their diamond jewelry could have financed terrorism, rape, torture and mutilation, have been waiting for regulation and oversight of the international diamond industry to offer some guarantees and reassurance that the diamonds they want to buy would be conflict free.

Sadly, the Kimberley Process -- a joint diamond industry and government effort that will be given final governmental approval at a meeting in Interlaken, Switzerland tomorrow -- has been weakened from a system of control into a system of concealment.

"While we welcome the important first steps taken by the industry and more than 40 diamond importing and exporting governments, the bottom line is that as currently constituted the Kimberley system cannot and will not do what it is supposed to do. It will neither end the trade in conflict diamonds nor restore consumer confidence," said Adotei Akwei of the US Campaign to Eliminate Conflict Diamonds.

The Kimberley system has no independent monitoring mechanism to assess performance or compliance by any of the member countries. It does not cover polished stones or diamond jewelry -- which account for the bulk of all US diamond imports. And it does not currently address diamonds that continue to fuel conflict in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo or diamonds that finance the activities of groups like al-Qaeda.

Further, in an effort to assure consumers their diamonds are 'clean,' the industry had agreed to track the gems from mine to retail display cabinet through an auditable 'chain of warranties.' However, the industry's recently revealed 'warranty' consists solely of an "affirmative statement" that diamonds are from "legitimate sources". That they are "conflict free, based on personal knowledge and/or written guarantees provided by the supplier of these diamonds."

"Empty gestures will not do the job," said Akwei. "The Interlaken meeting offers governments and industry one more opportunity to get this right. Let's hope they take advantage of it. As the holiday season approaches the US Campaign will step up its consumer education efforts to raise awareness about the flaws in the Kimberley Process and on the need for continued pressure to eliminate conflict diamonds once and for all."

More Information on the Kimberley Process
More Information on Diamonds in Conflict

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