Global Policy Forum

Southern Africa to Draft Policy on Conflict Diamonds

August 1, 2000

Southern African countries are preparing a joint position on the restriction of trade in so-called conflict diamonds, which finance many of Africa's long-running civil wars, a regional official said Tuesday. There is increasing international pressure for measures to end the illegal trade in conflict diamonds, also known as blood diamonds.

``The campaign against conflict diamonds could cause a consumer reduction, which could contribute negatively to the economies of diamond producing countries,'' John Chanda, coordinator for the Southern African Development Community's (SADC) mining sector, told a news conference Tuesday.

Diamonds play an important role in wars in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, both SADC members. ``The issue was tabled to mining ministers, who met to explore ways in which we can intervene. They have to come up with a joint position on this,'' Chanda said in a briefing ahead of a summit of leaders of the 14-nation community Monday. He said recommendations would be considered and tabled at a meeting of SADC mining ministers in September.

Diamond industry groups meeting in Antwerp, Belgium, in July proposed a system of international certificates and called for laws in countries exporting and importing diamonds to ensure penalties and bans on individuals trading in conflict diamonds.

Conflict diamonds are estimated to account for about four percent of the $6.8 billion worth of diamonds produced each year, feeding a retail industry worth more than $50 billion. Mining accounts for about 60 percent of foreign exchange earnings in the SADC region and contributes about 10 percent to the region's GDP. The industry also employs about 1.5 million people.

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