Fatal Transactions

Global Witness
November 23, 2001

Industrialized countries have two standards where terrorism is concerned: one for themselves, and another for Africa. That is the concern of NGOs that have been participating in the inter-governmental 'Kimberley Process', initiated by the Government of South Africa 18 months ago in an attempt to end diamond-fuelled wars in Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Kimberley Process was mandated by a unanimous UN General Assembly resolution to give 'urgent and careful consideration to devising effective and pragmatic measures to address the problem of conflict diamonds.'

After ten meetings in Africa and Europe, attended by as many as 38 governments, diamond industry executives and NGOs, the Kimberley Process could fail to meet it's obligations as mandated by the UNGA resolution. The current working document describes an agreement 'in principle' on general statements of intent. But there are still disagreement with key provisions by key governments. Several countries object to the independent verification and compliance of the scheme. Most worrying is the promotion of a parallel system for countries that do not wish to become members of the system. African countries, which produce almost 70% of the world's diamonds, and which bleed from diamond wars, are eager for an agreement. The diamond consuming nations of the world only produce statements of principle.

Recently United States President George W. Bush told the United Nations that 'There is no such thing as a good terrorist. No national aspiration, no remembered wrong can ever justify the deliberate murder of the innocent. Any government that rejects this principle, trying to pick and choose its terrorist friends, will know the consequences.' The countries that are blocking an effective certification system are ignoring the tens of thousands of innocent Africans who have lost their lives in the bloody terrorist pursuit of diamonds over the past ten years.

The Kimberley Process must succeed. To do so, it must produce a strong and effective plan at its forthcoming meeting in Botswana, for presentation to the United Nations General Assembly in December. Less would be a mockery of blood diamonds' innocent victims and a travesty of the current international resolve on terrorism.

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