Enabling legislation in support of the Kimberley Process of certifying diamonds was introduced in Canada's House of Commons on Oct. 10. The certification scheme is designed to curb the global illicit trade in "conflict" or "blood" diamonds. Trade in these stones has a devastating impact on peace development in Angola, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia.
The international certification scheme, which Canada wants to have implemented by the end of 2002, was negotiated through the Kimberley Process, a South African-led initiative to prevent conflict diamonds from entering legitimate markets. The Process includes the governments of 48 countries, as well as representatives from the diamond industry and non-governmental organizations.
"By exercising control over the global exports and imports of conflict diamonds, the international community will cut off sources of rebel funding in affected African countries. This will help reduce violent conflicts and prevent their recurrence," said Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham.
"Canada has played a leadership role in developing measures to curb trade in conflict diamonds," said Herb Dhaliwal, Minister of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). "By supporting the process to ensure the security and sustainable growth of this industry in developing countries in Africa, we will help ensure that Canada's industry continues to prosper."
Among other measures included in the certification scheme, participating countries will be required to export rough diamonds in tamper-resistant containers and provide a certificate, validated by the government of the export country, confirming that the diamond exports are conflict-free. Participating countries will also be prohibited from importing rough diamonds from countries not engaged in the Kimberley Process.
Under proposed Canadian legislation, NRCan will be the Canadian authority for the import and export of rough diamonds. As such, it will ensure that Canada meets its inspection and enforcement obligations under the international certification scheme. The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade will continue to oversee the co-ordination of Canada's participation in international agreements related to the Process.
More on the problem of conflict diamonds is provided by the UN Security Council at www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/diamond