Kimberley Process: Liberia enters the diamond trade
As chair of the Kimberley Process in 2007, the European Community, today admitted Liberia as a participant following an assessment made by an expert mission sent to the country. The mission, led by the European Commission together with representatives from Botswana, industry and civil society, went to Liberia in March 2007 and concluded that it met the conditions for admission. Following the UN Security Council’s decision on 27 April to lift its diamond embargo on Liberia and today’s admission to the Kimberley Process, Liberia will now be able to export its rough diamonds legally to other Kimberley Process Members. The Process will continue to support and monitor Liberia closely post-admission. This leaves Côte d’Ivoire as the only country subject to UN diamond sanctions.
Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner welcomed today’s developments, saying “This first concrete achievement of the Kimberley Process in 2007 demonstrates the Commission’s commitment to move forward in ensuring that diamond trade promotes peaceful development rather than fuels conflict. Liberia’s admission into the Kimberley Process shows the confidence of the international community in Liberia’s new path. The Kimberley Process community has worked closely with the Government of Liberia and the United Nations to get to this important milestone, and I am sure I speak for the entire Kimberley Process community, when I say that we are committed to continue working closely with Liberia to ensure its diamonds never again cause conflict.”
Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel added: “This is a very important step for the development of Liberia, paving the way towards the country’s reintegration into the international diamond community and marking the very end of any potential future financing of the war by blood diamonds. Moreover it is a formal recognition by the International Community that the efforts deployed by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in the field of Governance are producing the expected results and I praise such efforts.”
Liberia has been subject to UN diamond sanctions for six years, as a result of its civil war, financed in large part by the smuggling of conflict diamonds from Liberia and neighbouring Sierra Leone.
Kimberley Process experts visited Liberia in 2005, 2006 and 2007 to advise Liberia on implementing effective controls on diamond production and trade designed to prevent conflict diamonds. The most recent team, led by the European Commission, found that Liberia had designed effective controls in line with Kimberley Process requirements, and reported its findings to the UN Security Council. Based on the progress made by Liberia, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1753 (2007) lifting the diamond embargo, on 27 April. The team made a number of recommendations to Liberia and Kimberley Process bodies to ensure conflict diamonds are excluded from Liberia’s trade, as well as recommending to continue providing support and training to Liberia.
Kimberley Process participants and observers, including the USA, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Canada, Sierra Leone and the World Diamond Council, as well as the UN Mission in Liberia and the UN Development Programme, have worked closely with the Government of Liberia to advise, train and equip the Government Diamond Office and its officials.
The European Commission is committed, as Chair of the Kimberley Process in 2007, to support effective implementation of controls by all participants and to deepen its already close co-operation with the UN to promote peace and security in Africa.
The Kimberley Process grew out of discussions in May 2000 in Kimberley, South Africa among interested governments, the international diamond industry and civil society, as a unique initiative to combat ‘conflict diamonds’ – rough diamonds used to finance devastating conflicts in the 1990s in some of Africa’s diamond-producing countries. The Kimberley Process is backed by the United Nations; in December 2000, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution supporting the creation of an international certification scheme for rough diamonds, renewed most recently in December 2006.
In November 2002, an agreement was reached on the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS): an innovative system imposing extensive requirements on all Participants to control all imports and exports of rough diamonds and to put in place rigorous internal controls over production and trade to ensure that conflict diamonds could not enter the legal diamond trade. In four years, the Kimberley Process has helped to reduce the amount of conflict diamonds to a fraction of 1% of world trade.
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme now has 46 Participants (with the European Community counting as a single participant), totalling 72 countries including all major diamond producing, trading and polishing centres, and counts on the active participation of civil society and industry groups.
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