South Africa Shines in Diamond Compliance


By Hilton Shone

Sunday Times
September 26, 2004

South Africa has apparently stolen a march on the Kimberley Process by inviting a delegation to ensure it is fully compliant and has the controls in place to ensure no trade in conflict diamonds can take place. The delegation, led by Denis Lagacé, Canada's natural resources director, was in South Africa for two days and visited various facilities, including government offices where documentation and licensing issues were checked, and various production sites. Seller and buyer details were also verified using the certificates which are required under the process.

Delegates were not available for comment on their visit, and a spokesman at the SA Diamond Board said information would be released only once the chairman of the process, Tim Martin of Canada, had been briefed. However, the spokesman emphasised that the delegation had been invited and therefore did not constitute a review mission, which is called if there is a suspicion of noncompliance by any of the process's 43 members.

A De Beers spokesman confirmed the world's biggest diamond producer had met the delegates. "We had an open and frank exchange of views and we're definitely on the same page [as the Kimberley Process]," the spokesman said. "The delegation is executing its responsibilities with vigour and obviously De Beers is 100% supportive in word and deed. It is imperative for the natural diamond industry that the Kimberley Process succeeds." The process is a joint initiative by governments, the international diamond industry and civil society to stem the flow of conflict or rough diamonds that are used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments.

Earlier this year the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) was suspended from the process after a review mission from South Africa, headed by SA Diamond Board chairman Abbey Chikane, established discrepancies in Congo's annual diamond exports of about 5.2 million carats and its geological potential of just 55 000 carats a year. The move was welcomed by Global Witness, a nongovernmental organisation that has been one of the diamond industry's most strident critics for its lack of action on the illicit diamond trade. Chikane said the decision demonstrated the diamond industry's will and ability to combat the trade in conflict diamonds.

The Canadian-led delegation left for Lesotho on Thursday and is understood to have already made trips to Botswana and Mauritius in July.

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

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