Global Policy Forum

Africa Should Mull Oil and Diamond Union

Agence France Presse
July 10, 2000

Africa should consider forming an economic union covering the oil and diamond trades in the same way that post-war Europe formed a steel and coal union to stop trade fueling war, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Monday. Speaking to the opening session of a three-day summit of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), Annan praised the development of the European Union as "the world's most successful conflict prevention mechanism."

Africa, he noted, is the only continent where the number of armed conflicts is increasing and reversing this trend would require African leaders to tackle the economic and political root causes of the wars, he said. "Is it unthinkable ... to have an African oil and diamond union?" he asked. The UN Security Council last week approved an embargo on so-called blood diamonds from rebel-held areas of Sierra Leone and earlier this year the UN issued a report on the trading in diamonds fuelling the war in Angola.

Ironically, one of the principle countries blamed for that trade is Togo, and its leader President Gnassingbe Eyadema, host of the OAU summit and new chairman of the organisation. The summit is expected to discuss plans aired last year by Libya's Moamer Kadhafi for an African economic and political union.

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