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I know the political realities of any large-scale U.S. involvement in Africa, but we should take at least this minimal step. As Mr. Hall said, we are not going to send troops and we ought not send troops. We are not going to cut off humanitarian supplies and we ought not do it. But Mr. Hall's bill is something that we could really make a difference.
So in closing, Mr. Chairman, I thank you for the hearings. I thank your staff. I would also like to remind the subcommittee that on September 26 at 9:00 a.m., Mr. Royce will be sponsoring with Mr. Hall and others several children whose hands were amputated by the rebels. They will be in a briefing in Room 2172 and from there they are going to go to see doctors in New York who are going to help with prosthetic devices.
Again, thanks for the hearing and thank you to your staff. [The prepared statement follows:] Statement of Hon. Frank R. Wolf, a Representative in Congress from the
State of Virginia Thank you Mr. Chairman. I would also like to thank the committee including the staff for organizing and conducting this hearing on this extremely important issue.
First, I must acknowledge my fellow panel member and good friend Congressman Tony Hall for doing so much to bring attention this important global matter. He has been out front on this issue as long as anyone, and deserves the credit for moving the process forward to address this immediate problem.
Mr. Chairman, millions of people have died in Africa because of the bloodshed surrounding conflict diamonds. Rebel groups and military forces in Sierra Leone, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have committed horrible atrocities to gain control of and to profit from diamonds. At least $10 billion in diamonds have been smuggled from these countries over the past decade.
In the Congo, some 1.7 million people have died because of the fight to control Congo's natural resources, primarily diamonds. Thirty-five percent of these deaths are to children under the age of 5. There are currently eight countries involved in this terrible conflict-many with a direct interest in the diamond trade.
Many in this room are familiar with the sad story of Angola, where the rebel movement UNITA pays for weapons and kills people in order to maintain control of Angola's diamonds.
In Sierra Leone, aside from the shocking reality of live amputations and children soldiers, an estimated 75, 000 people have died because of the rebels vicious campaign to control the country's diamonds.
Mr. Chairman, sometimes we speak in numbers and figures on the atrocities of Africa and the reality just doesn't sink in. The thought of a million deaths-it doesn't seem real. Rebel atrocities is a term that may not sink in until we actually see it. The picture behind me is of a 2 year old Sierra Leonean girl. She asks her mom whether her arm will grow back. She will likely never wear a diamond ring. To this little girl, diamonds have a very different meaning than we are used to. Can you imagine if this image was connected in the American consumer's mind to diamonds—the symbols of eternal love and commitment?
Sierra Leone is a country that is blessed with diamonds and an abundance of other natural resources, a scenic coastline and beautiful people, yet today it is cursed as one of the worst place in the world. The average life span is now about 25 years, the citizens are terrified and as one periodical described, it is a place where angels fear to tread.
I would like to focus on Sierra Leone and West Africa. .where the scramble for diamonds and the link between diamonds and atrocities is the most direct.
Mr. Hall and I visited Sierra Leone last December and met and talked with hundreds of people who had their arms, legs or hands cut off by Sierra Leonian rebelsall to scare and intimidate the local population so the rebels could gain control of Sierra Leone's diamond producing region.
Certain countries surrounding Sierra Leone play a major role in facilitating this chaos. Many of these countries surrounding Sierra Leone have few to zero diamond mines. Yet countries such as Liberia, Burkina Faso, Togo, and the Ivory Coast have exported millions of carats of diamonds—Sierra Leone's diamonds-billions of dollars in value to the diamond cutting centers in Antwerp, Israel, India, Holland, and New York.
While officially denied by representatives of these governments, the U.S. Intelligence community and numerous other sources possess a wide array of evidence that documents this illicit diamond smuggling. As of now, certain leaders have a direct financial incentive to keep the “rebellion” in Sierra Leone going, to prevent peace and therefore sustain their access to Sierra Leone's precious stones.
Liberia and its president, Charles Taylor, supply weapons to the rebels in exchange for diamonds. In 1998 Liberia, whose natural resources would allow the exportation of approximately $10 million worth of diamonds, exported $297 million worth of diamonds. Other countries in the area have either served as direct arms suppliers or transit points for diamonds and arms into and out of Sierra Leone. This incentive structure also existed for weapons exchanges between governments and diamond stealing rebel groups in the case of Angola and the Congo.
The industry has long maintained that conflict diamonds account for only about 4 percent of the world trade. If this were true I still believe that this is 4 percent too much. There are others that will testify today that this figure is likely higher. Plain common sense tells us that these diamonds are going somewhere---someone is buying them and somehow the rebels are gaining access to arms and supplies.
Whatever the figure, we believe that the industry has a responsibility to stop this revenue incentive for African atrocities. Also, the legitimate industry has a strong, financial incentive to remedy this situation. The U.S. consumes over 65 percent of the world's diamonds. A U.Š. consumer boycott, similar to the fur industry, would cripple diamonds. Legitimate diamond-producing countries such as Botswana and South Africa could become seriously destabilized and the many of their citizens' livelihoods jeopardized. I joined Congressman Tony Hall in introducing the Consumer Access to a Responsible Accounting and Trade Act of 2000. This legislation, which combines elements of Congressman Hall's earlier diamond certification legislation with language that was in the FY 2001 Treasury/Postal Appropriations bill combines import restrictions from known conflict diamond areas in West Africa with a implementing a certification scheme for diamond origin, something the industry has already expressed an interest in achieving. This legislation also goes further than previous legislation by creating a permanent representative within the executive branch to deal with conflict diamonds.
Mr. Chairman, this legislation is urgently necessary. It is flexible and takes into account the technical realities of tracing diamond origin. This panel will hear testimony today on some of the specific implementation issues that are involved and the feasibility of enforcing any import restriction. I am not hear to testify about the technology that could potentially be used for enforcement.
However, I will say that a failure to do anything will have disastrous consequences for all involved. The status quo will mean more death, more suffering and more instability on a continent that has suffered too much.
Mr. Chairman, in closing I would like to make one more comment. The issue of conflict diamonds goes to the larger issue of Africa. The problems of Africa, the misery of Africa, is our misery. We cannot in the year 2000 ignore the tragedies that go on there. For hundreds of years this continent has been exploited and the people have suffered more than anyone should have to suffer. This beautiful and vast continent has been cursed by its abundance.
Places like Sierra Leone, the Congo and others I haven't mentioned like the Sudan seem distant from the confines of this room. I know the political realities of any large scale U.S. involvement in Africa, but shouldn't we at least take minimal steps to alleviate massive suffering? Addressing conflicts diamonds is one such step. Our affluence should not be someone else's nightmare.
I want to again thank you, Mr. Chairman, and the committee for holding this hearing, and I look forward to helping in any way I can to keep the process moving to bring an end to this urgent problem.
Chairman CRANE. Thank you, Mr. Wolf.
Mr. Payne? STATEMENT OF HON. DONALD M. PAYNE, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY Mr. PAYNE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for allowing me to present my testimony here today. I would like to commend my colleagues Hall, Wolf, and McKinney for their longstanding support for the right thing to do.As the ranking member on the Subcommittee on Africa, the issue of conflict diamonds is one I have been concerned about in our committee for many years. The Subcommittee on Africa held a hearing entitled, “Africa's Diamonds: Precious, Perilous, Too" on May 9 of this year. At that hearing, we heard from a number of witnesses, including Mr. Holoi, Special Advisor to the Minister for Minerals and Energy of the Republic of South Africa. We extended an invitation to the representatives from DeBeers, but they declined our offer to participate.
I wanted to participate in this hearing for a couple of reasons, but mainly to bring attention to the issue of dirty or conflict diamonds. I am very concerned, however, that legitimate markets of Botswana, South Africa, and Namibia that depend almost exclusively on the diamond revenues to sustain their local economies do not experience backlash from the boycott of illegal diamonds of Sierra Leone, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
As you already know, the RUF, a brutal rebel army, has committed egregious violations of human rights by maiming, injuring, and killing many of the innocent men, women, and children living in Sierra Leone. The RUF receives its revenues from neighboring countries, but the real commodity driving the war comes from diamonds inside the country. The rich diamond areas of the Kailahun, Kenema, and Bo are controlled by the RUF and the so-called West Side Boys. In Angola, UNITA, headed by Jonas Sivimbi, controls Lundi, Malange, and Bie.
I am pleased, though, that the United Nations passed a resolution on July 5 banning the sale of and exportation of diamonds being bought from Angola's UNITA, Sierra Leone's RUF, and hopefully one will be introduced that condemns Zimbabwean soldiers' excavation in Mbuji Maya in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Let me say that I agree with the reports that getting control of the diamond mining areas only ends the conflict. We have to deal with several other issues, including sustainable poverty. We must deal with these tremendous issues that Africa is faced with and debt relief.
Several African countries have made substantial changes to their mining laws to try to attract private sector investors. Botswana is one country that has done just that. On a recent visit in July to Gaborone, Botswana, I had an opportunity to tour the main operating diamond facility in the heart of downtown. At independence in 1966, this patch of the Kalahari Desert in Southern Africa was one of the world's poorest countries. Botswana, nearly as big as Texas, now is one of the few real democracies in Africa, richer than Russia in per capita income and boasting to have the second-fastest-growing economy in the world. Diamond mining was and still is a primary driver of its boom, and former President Masire and now President Mogae said at the visit recently that in order for Botswana to survive long term, though, they need to diversify.
With the passage of the Growth and Opportunity Act this year, the United States will be importing and trading more with our African partners. The diamond regime needs a major overhaul so it does not affect our industry or the industries of those countries I previously mentioned, the countries that are dealing in this industry the way they should not, the conflict diamonds.
At the subcommittee hearing, Eli Haas, president of the Diamond Dealers Club, said that "while there is discussion of the development of a technology to come up with identifying marks or fingerprints to determine particular countries of origin of diamonds, no such technology is currently available." I find it hard to believe that the central selling organization of DeBeers, an organization that Botswana supplied over $2.05 billion to last year and whom South Africa supplies over $850 million, cannot develop the technology to mark the origin of diamonds.
New diamond fingerprint technology is being developed in consultation with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The RCMP states that the potential difficulties in applying the technology are reduced, however, by the fact that the bulk of the rough diamonds trade is centralized in only two organizations and two locations, the HRD in Antwerp and DeBeers' CŠO in London.
In conclusion, I agree that there is a need to be sure that these rebel groups cannot continue to acquire diamonds and sell them to fuel home-grown wars. Also, we need to have the fact that proliferation in diamonds and other mercenary groups who are also benefitting, like Executive Outcomes and Sandline, who are mercenary groups who also get their pay from the diamond industry. This all must end.
I would just propose, one, a permanent independent international standards commission should be created under the United Nations in order to establish and monitor codes to regulate the global diamond industry, and a more effective auditing system is desperately needed to control where the flow of these diamonds come from. Presently, the CSO audits itself. It needs to have external auditing
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate this opportunity.
[The prepared statement follows:) Statement of Hon. Donald M. Payne, a Representative in Congress from the
State of New Jersey Good morning. Thank you Mr. Chairman for allowing me to present my testimony today before this Committee. As the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Africa of the Committee on International Relations, the issue of conflict diamonds is one that I have been concerned with for many years now. The Subcommittee on Africa held a hearing entitled, “Africa's Diamonds—Precious, Perilous Too?” on May 9th of this year. At that hearing, we heard from a number of witnesses including Mr. Nchakna Moloi, Special Advisor to the Minister for Minerals and Energy of the Republic of South Africa, and Ms. Gooch, Director from Global Witness. We extended an invitation to the representative from De Beers but they declined our offer to participate.
I wanted to participate in this hearing for a couple of reasons but mainly to bring attention to the issue of dirty or conflict diamonds. I am very concerned, however, that the legitimate markets of Botswana, South Africa, and Namibia that depend almost excessively on the diamond revenues to sustain their local economies, do not experience backlash from the boycott of illegitimate diamonds of Sierra Leone, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
As you already know, the Revolutionary United Front, a brutal rebel army, has committed egregious violations of human rights by maiming, injuring and killings many of the innocent men, women and children living in Sierra Leone. The RUF receives its revenues from neighboring countries but the commodity driving the war comes from diamonds within the country. The rich-diamond areas of Kailahun, Kenema and Bo are controlled by the RUF and the so-called West Side Boys. Similar to Angola, I am pleased that the United Nations passed a resolution [5 July 2000] banning the sale and exportation diamonds from being bought from Angola's UNITA's, Sierra Leone's RUF and hopefully one will be introduced that condemns Zimbabwean soldiers excavation into Mbuji Mayi. Let me say that I agree with the reports that getting control of diamond mining areas only ends the conflict; it is not a catalyst for real democratic change. That requires a great deal more.
Mining is the most important economic sector in several African countries, and it is vital to the economies of many others. For example, the minerals sector accounted for 10 percent of South Africa's gross domestic product and 51 percent of its export earnings. Several African countries have made substantial changes to their mining laws to attract private-sector investment. Botswana is one country that has done just that. On a recent visit in July to Gaborone, Botswana, I had an opportunity to tour the main operating diamond facility in the heart of downtown. At independence in 1966, this patch of the Kalahari Desert in Southern Africa was one of the world's poorest countries. Botswana, nearly as big as Texas, had 2 paved roads, one public secondary school and life expectancy for its people of 40 years. Now it is one of the few real democracies in African-richer than Russia in per capita income and boasting to have the second-fastest economy in the world. Diamond mining was and still is the primary driver of its boom and former President Sir Ketumile Masire and now President Festes Mogae-told me during my visit-in order for Botswana to survive long term, we need to diversity our economy from being overly dependent on our mineral revenue. He said that he understood that nations in which a single mineral dominates production have proven especially vulnerable to cyclical drops in world prices.
According to a recent survey by the Mineral commodity, 25 percent of African cobalt, the main substance in diamonds, is imported to the United States. With the passage of the Growth and Opportunity Act this year, the U.S. will be importing and trading more with our African partners. The diamond regime needs a major overhaul so it does not effect our industry and the industry of the countries I previously mentioned. At the Subcommittee hearing Eli Haas, President of the Diamond Dealers Club, said that “while there is discussion of the development of a technology to come up with identifying marks or fingerprints to determine particular countries of origin of diamonds, no such technology is currently available.” I find it hard to believe that the Central Selling Organization (CSO) of De Beers, an organization that Botswana supplied over $2.05 billion to last year and whom South Africa supplies over $850 million can not develop the technology to mark the origins of the diamonds. New Diamond fingerprinting technology is being developed in consultation with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The RCMP state that the potential difficulties
in applying the technology are reduced, however, by the fact that the bulk of the rough diamond trade is centralized in only two organizations and two locations, the HRD in Antwerp and De Beer's CSO in London.
In conclusion, I would like to submit for the record the testimony of Ian Smillie from Partnership Africa Canada. I agree that there needs to be oversight from rebel groups acquiring diamonds fields to fuel their home grown wars and also we need oversight from the proliferation of diamond revenues to pay international security firms such as Executive Outcomes and Sandline, mercenaries groups operating in Africa. This is short-term. In the long-term, the international community must establish:
• A permanent Independent International Standards Commission should be created under the United Nations in order to establish and monitor codes to regulate the global diamond industry and.
• A more effective auditing system is desperately needed. Presently, the CSO audits itself.
Thank you once again Mr. Chairman for allowing me to testify before this Committee today.
Chairman CRANE. Thank you, Mr. Payne.
STATEMENT OF HON. CYNTHIA A. McKINNEY, A REPRESENTA
TIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF GEORGIA Ms. MCKINNEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Levin, other members of the committee. I want to thank you for scheduling this very important hearing on the role diamonds play in the conflicts of Sub-Saharan Africa. I would also like to thank Congressman Hall for his leadership, as well, in introducing the