Head of World Diamond Council Favors Broadening Definition of Conflict Stones
By Sara Toth Stub, Wall Street Journal
TEL AVIV–The president of the world body that represents the diamond industry in the process to keep conflict diamonds off the global market said Monday that the organization supports a proposal to broaden the definition of conflict diamonds.
Eli Izhakoff, president of the World Diamond Council, which represents the diamond industry in the Kimberley Process certification scheme, said members of the council will discuss in the next few days how to broaden the definition of conflict stones to include those directly connected to any sort of violence, including corruption and human rights violations. “If we do not adapt to a changing environment, we will surely lose our relevance,” Izhakoff said at the World Diamond Council’s annual meeting.
“Consumers are now demanding that diamonds be free not only from conflict [diamonds sold to fund armed conflict and civil war] but also from bloodshed and human rights abuses,” added Andrei Abramov, chief of the non-governmental organization division at the United Nations Economic and Social Council, also speaking at the meeting Monday. Abramov and others said that the diamond industry not only has a responsibility to do no harm, but also to encourage development and ensure human rights in diamond-producing countries.
The process of redefining conflict diamonds could be a long one because decisions are based on the consensus of the more than 70 member countries of the Kimberley Process. “It may be a long and frustrating process but we will reach agreement as we have done in the past,” Izhakoff said.
The World Diamond Council is a non-voting member in the Kimberly Process.
Founded in 2000, the Kimberley Process has reduced the number of conflict diamonds to 1% of the world market, down from about 15% in the 1990s. Members of the Kimberley Process don’t sell, export or import diamonds unless they are certified as free of conflict.
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