Global Policy Forum

Congo Joins Illegal Gem Trade Fight


By Amanda Kibel

April 30, 2001

The Democratic Republic of Congo has joined the campaign to end the illegal trade in "blood diamonds." It is backing a scheme under which all diamonds will have a certificate verifying their origin and movement from mining to trading.

The agreement between the Antwerp-based Diamond High Council and the Congo is designed to stop gems originating from countries fighting civil wars and areas under rebel control being sold illegally to fund rebel activities. An electronic data exchange is also to be established and digital photographic records kept on all diamonds from the Congo.

Similar deals have already been signed with diamond producers in Sierra Leone and Angola.

The diamond industry and world governments have been under increasing pressure from human rights groups and the public to crack down on illegal diamond dealing. Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Congo are all countries where rebel forces are known to fund their armies with the sale of illegal diamonds.

Eli Izhakoff, chairman of the World Diamond Council, said that while creating a certification system did not take long, the key -- if the whole exercise was not to be in vain -- was to make sure it was effective.

To that end, 38 countries have signed up for the so-called Kimberly process -- named after the town in South Africa where it was launched last year.

More Information on Diamonds in Conflict
More Information on the DRC


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