Global Policy Forum

Angola, Sierra Leone Introduce


By David Kashweka

Panafrican News Agency
February 19, 2001

Angola and Sierra Leone have taken the lead to introduce a certification scheme to strengthen sanctions against diamonds coming from rebel-controlled areas in those countries. A joint communiqué released Sunday following a weeklong international meeting on 'conflict diamonds' said both countries had introduced identification marks for their diamonds.

It said representatives from 26 countries established a task force to draft a proposed agenda for the next meeting and to co- ordinate detailed working papers for each meeting. The task force comprised of diamond producing, exporting and manufacturing countries within the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the World Diamond Council and the European Union (EU) with several civil organisations as observers. Representatives at the meeting agreed to work on identifying minimum standards for the envisaged international certification scheme, based on agreed minimum standards and macro-statistics on rough diamonds.

Namibia's minister of Mines and Energy, Jesaya Nyamu, who chaired discussions, condemned the listing of Namibia in the recent UN report on conflict diamonds, saying it was "baseless and unfair". He said the accusations contained in the report were meant to tarnish the good image of Namibia nationally and internationally, and called on the author to retract Namibia's name from the list.

He noted that Namibia's contribution and commitment towards global efforts to stem the trade in "conflict diamond" was unquestionable. "It is time to get into the driver's seat in order to come up with practical, workable solutions without hurting the legitimate diamond industry," he urged.

Nyamu pointed out that statistics showed that only four percent of all diamonds were 'conflict diamonds', adding that the rest were prosperity diamonds, which contributed to the development of the continent. He warned Africans not to support any general campaign against diamonds that would put millions of Africans citizens at risk.

The communiqué said the next meeting, which will be held in Belgium in April and would concentrate on a detailed analysis of existing systems of export and import controls for rough diamonds and current practices and experiences of existing national certification schemes for rough diamonds in Angola and Sierra Leone. Another meeting will be held in the Russian Federation in June to discuss a definition of proposals for minimum standards, while in September another meeting would take place in Britain to develop detailed proposals for international certification schemes for rough diamonds, based on the agreed minimum standards.

A meeting, which will finalise detailed proposals for the international certification scheme and consolidate input for report back to the UN General Assembly, will take place in Angola in October 2001. A ministerial meeting in Botswana, which is scheduled for November, will follow that.

More Information on Diamonds Conflict
More Information on Sierra Leone and Liberia
More Information on Angola


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