Global Policy Forum

Conflict Diamonds Under Discussions


By David Kashweka

Panafrican News Agency
February 15, 2001

An international meeting on conflict diamonds opened Thursday morning in the Namibian capital of Windhoek with participating countries ready to unite with the international community to effectively stem the trade in the conflict gem.

The meeting comes in the wake of concerted efforts by the UN and other concerned western governments to find a final solution to stop the illegal sales of the precious stones from states still under civil strife such as Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Namibia's Minister of Mines and Energy, Josiah Nyamu, who officially opened the meeting, reminded the delegates that only four per cent of the total quantity of diamonds produced in the concerned areas are "conflict" gems and that the rest are "prosperity gems" contributing to development in the region.

As it is the first time most of these countries have been involved in addressing the problem of conflict diamonds, the Namibian minister warned his fellow delegates to avoid the temptation of "re-inventing the wheel as a lot of hard work has already gone into this process."

Almost a year ago concerned countries gathered at the Investing in Africa Mining meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, to discuss the problem of conflict diamonds.

"My understanding is that deliberations have now matured to a very technical level and that the focus is to put some nuts and bolts to an envisaged scheme," said Nyamu.

Namibia's relatively new Diamond Act enacted in 1999, has been described as a controversial piece of legislation.

Critics argue that the law was too draconian, as diamonds appeared to receive more protection "than women and abused children."

Although the new legislation stiffened maximum penalties considerably, Namibia has been listed as a "sensitive country" in regard to conflict diamonds in a recent report to the UN.

The minister condemned such a listing and called upon the author to retract what he called "baseless, harmful and unfair accusations."

Namibia's contribution and commitment towards global efforts to stem the trade in conflict diamonds are unquestionable, said Nyamu.

He urged delegates not to prejudice an unexpected announcement in the USA by certain non-governmental organisations and congressmen concerning new measures against conflict diamonds in general.

"We cannot support any general campaign against diamonds that would put millions of the citizens of this region and continent at risk," said Nyamu as he warned delegates that there was no quick fix to the problem.

More Information on Diamonds in Conflict


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