Global Policy Forum

African Diplomat Moves UN


By Jerome Hule

PANA – PanAfrican News Agency
December 1, 2000

The UN General Assembly Friday adopted a resolution calling for an international certification scheme for rough diamonds with the aim of excluding rebel groups from the diamond market. The resolution, sponsored by a host of countries involved in the diamond business and introduced by South Africa's ambassador, Dumisani Kumalo, noted that the certification arrangement should be based on national certification schemes. The resolution also calls on all countries involved in the diamond business to ensure that their national business conduct meets internationally agreed minimum standards.

Falling short of being a final binding document for all parties in the diamond industry, the resolution urges for a follow up workshop of leading diamond exporting, processing and importing countries that will consider the technical aspects of the envisaged international certification system for rough diamonds. Namibia, one of the diamonds producing countries, has offered to host the workshop.

In May, the South African City of Kimberly, where diamonds were first commercially mined in 1879, hosted the first conference of the diamond industry to set off a process towards establishing an international certification scheme. While the aim of the resolution is ostensibly to prevent illegal involvement of rebel groups in the diamond business, many see it as an attempt by the diamond industry to protect itself from the negative consequences of a likely boycott of diamonds following the increasing realisation that the precious stone is a major cause of conflicts, particularly in Africa.

Introducing the resolution to the General Assembly, Kumalo said its sponsors believed that the UN must take steps to address the issue of conflict diamonds which have been associated with wars and its atrocities, including human mutilations, massacres and rapes in countries like Sierra Leone and Angola.

Noting that conflict diamonds account for only four percent of the total world diamond market, the South African envoy however stressed the need to protect the legitimate diamond business from the negative consequences of the conflict diamonds. Already, he said, his country, Namibia and Botswana have designed systems for monitoring the production and marketing of diamonds originating from their territories. He also said Angola and Sierra Leone have introduced similar control measures. South Africa is the home country for the world's biggest diamond company, De Beers.

The General Assembly's resolution follows similar efforts by the Security Council earlier in the year to cut off conflict diamonds from the market.

More Information on Diamonds in Conflict


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