Only one day after the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution hailing the conflict diamond certification scheme, the European Union‘s member states have decided they cannot yet live up to their obligations. Due to commercial reasons the implementation of what the UN called a ‘valuable contribution against trafficking in conflict diamonds‘, will not be implemented by the 1st of February 2003.
Under this Kimberley Agreement, diamond producing and trading countries have to establish national control systems to stop blood diamonds from entering the legitimate diamond trade. The system was supposed to come into full force on 1st February 2003 However, important diamond producing and trading countries like Russia, Switzerland, Botswana, Angola, and the United States have not been able to get the system in place in time. In due course, this would exclude these countries from the international diamond trade. Reason enough for the EU to postpone the implementation within its borders. According to the Dutch Ministry of Economic affairs, implementation of the Kimberley Process at this moment would mean that at least 50% of the European diamond trade would grind to a halt since hardly any diamond would enter. ‘We are seriously disappointed’, says Judith Sargentini, International co-ordinator of the Fatal Transactions campaign. ‘It is truly unbelievable that countries that pledged commitment to the struggle against blood diamonds last November, now keep us waiting till the cows come home’. EU Member states now push for a meeting of Kimberley participants on short notice, to decide upon further steps. We can only hope that this will result in concrete action. Lack of commitment to the Kimberley Process will be a betrayal of the trust placed in the process, not only by NGOs, but also by the civilians of Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. More information Fatal Transactions is an international consumer campaign consisting of Novib-Oxfam Netherlands, Medico International Germany, Intermón-Oxfam Spain, NiZA and IBIS, Denmark calling on the public and other interested organisations to ask governments and companies involved in extractive industries to implement effective controls to ensure that the trade in natural resources does not finance or otherwise support conflict and economic injustice in Africa. You can contact Ms Judith Sargentini, International Campaign Co-ordinator at mobile phone 31.6.19626029 or Ms Kirsten Hund at NiZA, 31 20 5206210