round the globe, professionals in the mining, trading, manufacturing and retailing sectors are mobilizing to confront the conflict diamond issue from both an ethical and public relations standpoint. As retailers report increasing numbers of consumers inquiring about the origins of the diamonds, politicians are putting pressure for governmental monitoring of the diamond trade. In response to the global spotlight, both the World Diamond Council and the Diamond High Council made the issue the priority in their recent meetings. “Although the diamond industry is more like a prisoner of war in this conflict, we want to contribute to ending the conflicts,” said Peter Meeus, managing director of the Diamond High Council.
The World Diamond Council, meanwhile, stresses that 96% of the world rough diamond production is within the legitimate diamond industry. The council urges governments to enforce measures to eradicate trade in conflict diamonds and initiate an international embargo on the trade in weapons that is fueling the rebel war.
“The World Diamond Council, representing the entire international diamond industry, pledges to continue to work in a spirit of cooperation with governments, civil societies and the United Nations to eliminate trade in conflict diamonds,” said Eli Izhakoff, chairman of the council.
Within Africa, also, government officials are trying to curb the illicit diamond trade, fearing that the conflict diamond problems in a few countries will taint an industry vital to the entire continent.
Legislation, meanwhile, is pending in the U.S. Congress by Rep. Tony P. Hall, D-Ohio. The new bill, called CARAT, would require diamonds’ origin be certified. Hall urges action before the situation becomes full blown by activist groups, consumer campaigns or even, “Benetton ads” showing a diamond bracelet on a Sierra Leone amputee. He also stresses the possibility of a consumer boycott of the entire industry. The act would require diamonds to be sold in sealed containers with a certification of origin.
Jewelers of America, is urging member retailers to send their vendors’ statements asking them for a commitment to not knowingly sell illicit diamonds.