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clude all conflict stones from the international diamond trade, the global certification scheme instead creates a certification and delivery system for legitimate exports and bars all others from certified cutting and finishing centers. No country is permitted to import rough diamonds unless packets of these uncut diamonds have forgery-proof certificates of origin granted by governments and are in tamper-proof packaging. The rough exports are logged in an international computer database when they leave a country and when they enter, so that discrepancies between exports and imports from any country would immediately be apparent. An international monitoring authority, the proposed International Diamond Council, would conduct oversight of the entire system, and violators would be prosecuted and banned from the trade.
It is important to note that once rough packets have been accepted into legitimate, certified cutting and finishing centers (largely based in Belgium, India, and Israel) the packets of rough diamonds would be broken up and the country-of-origin certification would be lost. The industry insists that it is absolutely impossible to retain such documents for individual stones once they are cut, polished, traded, exported, and sold. (And, it is only fair to note that the diamond industry's most prominent critics, Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada, agree with that assessment.) If the global certification regimen is in place and operating properly, the industry maintains that it is not necessary to know the country of origin of stones coming out of its cutting centers because all stones in legitimate cutting centers will themselves be legitimate. Countries importing cut and polished diamonds will not be required to source them to country of mined origin, 8 but rather to impose strict prohibitions on the entry of stones from any country where diamonds are finished that does not itself have rough controls in place.9 Weakness in the Proposed Plan of Rough Controls:
Mr. Chairman, the diamond industry can justly be praised for moving quickly in recent months to create a global system to squeeze out the trade in conflict diamonds in a far-reaching, comprehensive way. Nonetheless, Physicians for Human Rights is deeply concerned about what appears to be a significant weakness in the industry's proposal: transshipment and export by other countries of rough stones mined in rebel-controlled Angola and Sierra Leone. The industry's proposed global certification scheme requires tamper-proof packaging and double-entry booking in a computer registry. But what is to prevent a country from officially packaging and sealing diamonds smuggled from Sierra Leone or Angola as their own, and exporting them openly and transparently through designated, monitored exit points? Only in cases where exports grossly exceed the transshipping State's own capacity (which in the case of Liberia was so negligible that the country's role in laundering others' diamonds was immediately apparent) would the counterfeit be obvious.
The diamond industry has pledged not to deal in conflict stones, and we welcome that pledge. On August 7, for example, Indian government officials announced that they will require Indian traders who import uncut diamonds to declare that they do not originate from Sierra Leone, Angola, or the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is an important statement, given that India is reportedly responsible for finishing over 55 percent of the world's cut diamonds. But to my knowledge, neither the key countries that import rough diamonds for cutting and finishing nor the diamond industry itself has taken action to bar the importation of rough diamonds from Liberia, Burkina Faso, or Togo. Since virtually all of Sierra Leone's diamonds are coming from those countries, not from Sierra Leone itself, commitments not to import from Sierra Leone are not especially useful in actually stopping the trade in blood diamonds and the flow of money and weapons to the RUF.
One measure to deal with this issue has been proposed by Ian Smillie, the leading non-governmental expert on conflict diamonds who is now a member of the U.N. Security Council's expert panel to review the effectiveness of the Sierra Leone diamond embargo. Mr. Smillie has called for an immediate cap or exclusion from world markets of those exports of diamonds that significantly exceed a country's known resource base. 10 This provision is included in the working document to be considered
8 At this time the technology does not exist to source the mined origin of a cut and polished diamond. Experts are often able to ascertain the source of a run of diamonds in the rough. But once the alluvial material and other distinctive geological features are removed in cutting and polishing, it is said to be impossible to identify the gem's mined origin.
9 The United States does not import rough diamonds. Almost all the diamonds that enter the U.S. are cut and finished elsewhere. Thus the U.S. is not itself in a position to impose import restrictions on rough stones.
10 A difficulty with this proposal is the inexact nature of assessing a country's mining capacity. Huge exports from a country with almost no capacity, like Liberia, are easy to spot. But in countries like Russia, with virtually unknown but presumably vast resources, determining mining at the upcoming ministerial conference. But the diamond industry as well as the key importers of rough stones, Israel, Belgium, and India, should not wait for the establishment of a global regimen to be completed, which may take years, before announcing and implementing such a policy today.
In July of this year, some seventy American non-governmental organizations released a letter calling upon the World Diamond Congress to immediately announce that no packets of rough diamonds would be accepted into its cutting centers from Liberia, Togo, Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast, or the Democratic Republic of Congo. This action would not be a substitute for the comprehensive, global system of rough controls needed that, indeed, the diamond industry has agreed to. It is, rather, a vital step urgently required now while the global certification regimen is settling into place.
It is my understanding that the organized diamond industry firmly opposes taking this action because there is no international sanctions regimen in place against those countries transshipping conflict diamonds, only against rebel-controlled An. gola and Sierra Leone. This is a disappointing response. The role of Sierra Leone's neighbors, particularly Liberia and Burkina Faso, in laundering Sierra Leonean diamonds in exchange for weapons is well known. It should not require a United Nations embargo to persuade the diamond industry to actually carry out what it has pledged to do: cease handling rough stones from Angola and Sierra Leone. Making good on that oft-stated promise obliges the three major importers and the industry to immediately prohibit all contact with those countries that launder conflict diamonds. To date, I have not seen evidence that that step has been taken. Moreover, the bountiful exports of diamonds within the last year from non-producing Liberia make it inescapably clear that Sierra Leonean diamonds are entering the industry's cutting centers and are being traded and sold in the international market.
The United Nations Sanctions Committee's expert commission on the Sierra Leonean diamond embargo has been tasked to make its report on October 31. At that time, the United Nations may enlarge the Sierra Leonean diamond embargo to include Liberia and perhaps other countries. Let us hope that the three major importing countries and the diamond industry will then do what it should have done years ago: publicly announce that it is closing the doors of its cutting centers to all diamonds emanating from Liberia and other countries known to transship Sierra Leonean gems. Those centers concerned with their international reputation would do well to immediately develop and publicize a protocol for identifying and excluding such stones and invite the U.N.'s investigative body to regularly inspect its surveillance and vetting operations,
Physicians for Human Rights strongly supports the industry's proposed global certification regimen of rough controls adopted in Antwerp. But even under the most optimistic timeline for the plan's adoption by the international community, it seems unlikely that the program can be put in place in less than a year or two. Accordingly, it will be a very long time before these reforms choke off the RUF and UNITA's trade in diamonds and their ability to purchase weapons with the proceeds.
American officials have reported that Liberia exported $290 million in smuggled diamonds last year alone. A Swiss customs official reported on August 9 of this year that diamond imports from Liberia have soared in the past year, and estimate that many are coming from rebel-held areas of Sierra Leone. Swiss diamond imports from Liberia have totaled almost $30 million this year, compared with $15 million last year, and the quality of the stones make it clear that they did not come from Liberia. 11 Legislation:
Physicians for Human Rights and our partners in the non-governmental community applaud Representative Tony Hall and his cosponsors for highlighting the link between diamonds and human rights violations, and for proposing to take action to limit their importation into the United States. We have endorsed the original CARAT Act, and urged our physician members to encourage their own representatives in Congress to co-sponsor it.
t is my understanding that Congressman Hall's revised CARAT Act requires that diamonds entering the United States be accompanied by a certificate of mined origin, which can be waived if the rough controls regimen is in place and is effective in stopping the trade in conflict diamonds. The Act's import restrictions would not go into effect until two years after enactment.
capacity precisely will be impossible, thus allowing the possibility that such a country could serve as a transshipment base for diamonds from anywhere else in the world.
11 “Liberian Exports Flood Into Switzerland,” Associated Press, August 9, 2000.
We would welcome action on the Hall-Wolf bill this session. It presses the diamond industry to implement what it has pledged to do, and it holds out the possibility of imposing a more rigorous import regimen-country-of-origin certificationif it does not. Nonetheless, I still have concerns that neither the CARAT Act nor the global certification scheme of rough controls will have any impact in the short run on the trade in RUF and UNITA-controlled diamonds, and will do little to deprive those forces of their diamond revenue and thus their means of waging war.
Without meaning in any way to undermine either the CARAT Act or the global certification regimen, I would like to suggest that the Committee consider revising the legislation. The bill should include a prohibition on U.S. importation of any finished diamonds from countries, specifically including Belgium, India, and Israel, which have not erected effective national embargoes on the importation of rough diamonds from Liberia, Togo, Burkina Faso, and the DRC, and which have not prohibited the cutting centers that operate within their national boundaries from handling such stones if they are smuggled in. The U.S. could also prohibit the entry of finished diamonds from countries that have not set a quota on the volume of diamonds that may be imported that is commensurate with the exporting country's own mining capacity. Thus the Ivory Coast and Guinea, which have their own diamond production, could export, but they could not export amounts disproportionate to their own production, that is, launder diamonds for others.
The United States is not in a position to regulate the diamond industry, nor can it force any other government to take the actions that are required for the global certification program to become a reality. The only thing that the U.S. can do is control its own imports. By conditioning American imports of finished diamonds on the actions of the world's largest importers of rough stones—Belgium, Israel, and India—the U.S. would encourage those governments to take meaningful action in the short run that could help stem the flow of revenues to the RUF and UNITA almost immediately. Such an action is not a substitute for the global system that the diamond industry has agreed to, and which I believe is vitally needed. But it does encourage in a meaningful way very rapid action on the part of both the diamond industry and the world's leading importers of rough stones to cease importing conflict stones exported by Liberia, Burkina Faso, and others. Conclusion:
Mr. Chairman, I would not want to suggest by my testimony that diamonds alone are the problem or the answer to the heartbreaking human rights crisis in Sierra Leone. It is crucial, for example, that the United Nations and its strongest members take immediate and forceful steps to implement the international weapons embargo on the RUF, in place since 1997 and the arms embargo against Liberia, which was imposed in 1992. The United Nations Security Council must put some teeth into these measures by establishing responsible monitoring bodies and publicly report and condemn violations. Moreover, competent troops should be posted at the Sierra Leonean-Liberian border, at airfields, and other delivery points to seize shipments of weapons to the RUF. U.N. forces should take immediate action to disrupt the RUF's weapons supply lines, including on roads and waterways, airports and airfields. 12
What is needed most of all, in my opinion, is for the United Nations, generously supported by the U.S. and its allies, to implement a forceful military strategy to dislodge the RUF from the areas that it controls (including the diamond-producing regions) and defeat, demilitarize and demobilize the insurgents. International peacekeeping forces should establish security and protection for all civilians throughout Sierra Leone so that they may rebuild their shattered lives and country. Extensive humanitarian and development assistance should be provided once security is established so that Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea can return home. Those implicated in human rights abuses, particularly those in command positions, should be apprehended and turned over to the Sierra Leonean authorities, and, eventually, to the international tribunal that the United Nations is establishing to prosecute war crimes in Sierra Leone for investigation and prosecution.
Most of the members of the non-governmental coalition that Physicians for Human Rights has helped organize to work on conflict diamonds have been equally outspoken about the need for protection of the civilian population and enforcement of international human rights standards in Sierra Leone. We are very grateful for the attention that Representatives Hall and Wolf have given to the issue of human rights in Sierra Leone and the role that diamonds have played in the country's de
12 For detailed information on arms flows to the RUF, see "Neglected Arms Embargo on Sierra Leone Rebels,” a Human Rights Watch briefing paper dated May 15, 2000.
struction, and appreciate the Chairman and members of this Committee highlighting our concerns so prominently at this important hearing.
Chairman CRANE. Thank you.
DIAMOND CONSULTANCY, ANTWERP, BELGIUM Mr. JOLIS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am an American diamond dealer/consultant and have worked for 30 years in every part of the globe where diamonds are mined, bought, sold, and cut. Having for the past year or so read and heard so much about how the relatively small diamond business is responsible for funding the maniacal carnage we witness pretty much throughout Africa, I feel compelled to reply.
Let us take a look at Africa and its suddenly infamous diamond producing countries. Sierra Leone even if not a single diamond existed there, not a man, woman, or child would escape being amputated or beheaded by a rusty machete. Let us not waste valuable time talking about peacekeeping or mercenary forces in Sierra. Peacekeepers? They consist mostly of Nigerian gangsters assisted by some Guinea gangsters who are not only better armed but even more intent on killing anyone who gets in their way of putting their hands on the diamonds.
And in Sierra, there is a lovely bunch of drugged-up thugs called the KAMAJORS, who, while professing to support the current government, find themselves fighting their allies, enemies, even themselves, not for diamonds but because they are drugged and all they know what to do is fight. You think they would know how to sell an uncut diamond?
Do diamonds pay for this mayhem? I doubt it, not when you are offered, as I was recently in Kinshasa, a fully-loaded AK-47 for U.S. $10. To top it all, the Leonean government hires a bunch of quaintly named South African mercenaries called Executive Outcomes who are not only paid by the government with diamonds but are even given diamond fields to exploit, and this by a government supported by the U.N. that is bleating about their rebellion being financed by diamonds.
Angola-sure, for the time being, most of the diamond fields lie in UNITA hands, but these areas change hands according to the fortunes of war. In any case, the MPLA also have diamond fields of their own and I happen to know at first hand of many of the MPLA's generals who sell their diamonds to UNITA. The MPLA have infinitely more money, in any case, from oil to buy weapons than UNITA has diamonds, not to mention the fact that UNITA diamonds, which are mostly on the western bank of the Cuango River, are in no way distinguishable from the same diamonds found on the Congo side of the river.
There is a lot of uniformed talk of some sort of invisible infrared internal marking scheme for polished stones, which, even were it possible, which it is not, would immediately wipe out the entire category of D-flawless polished stones.
And then there is a theory about branding rough diamonds. Eh? First of all, branding a rough diamond makes about as much sense as branding a cow and then trying to determine where the resulting steak came from. And as for the notion of branding a cut diamond along its border with, say, something like “DeBeers 2001X,” any half-clever diamond cutter could do the same using the same number he might have come across a similar-sized DeBeers stone.
So there is a lot of uninformed chatter about identifying the providence of diamonds, whether cut or uncut. No can do, certainly not in any court of law. Any expert will be countered by an opposing expert.
Which brings me back to what is currently known as D.R. Congo, a country with at least three different areas producing distinctly different diamonds, some rebel, some government. Mix them together in a single parcel and the job of determining which are the clean stones becomes even more impossible.
Angola stones? Take some from UNITA-held zones, mix them with stones from the MPLA, add some stones from Ivory Coast, some others from Guinea, the Central African Republic, and what have you got? A big load of nothing that is remotely identifiable by anyone reputable.
If diamonds were the proximate cause of African tribal butchery, how can one explain the Congolese civil war of 1960? Pro-Western Moise Tschombe tried to establish independence for his copper-rich and diamond-rich province today known as Kolwezi. He was foiled by the U.N.-sponsored Kasavubu, who in turn was overthrown by the equally U.N.-sponsored Mobutu, whose people killed the communist Lumumba. But the point of all this ancient history is that at the time, nobody even uttered the word "diamond." It was all "copper."
And do you remember the civil war in Nigeria between the breakaway Biafra and the then-Federal Government? What did diamonds have to do with that butchery? Right, exactly nothing.
Of the five civil wars in the Tchad, over diamonds? Sorry, nary a one. Or even the 40-plus-year civil war in the Sudan, over diamonds? The only diamond you might find in the Sudan would be lodged between the Mahdi's cadaver's two front teeth.
And the unspeakable mangle-shambles that used to be Somalia, any diamonds involved in that particular charnel house? I do not think so. And finally, in the worst killing fields since Cambodia is the incredibly barbaric Hutu-Tutsi mutual genocide. Is it in any way financed by diamonds of the blood kind or any other kind? No.
That Africa is in a dreadful and perhaps even terminal mess is undeniable, but to fob off this horrible internecine catastrophe on the fact that diamonds, along with a heck of a lot of other stuff, abound there is to utterly lose any claim to a perspective on the problem. As I said earlier, you could take away every diamond that exists under the soil in Africa and not a single human being who is currently being killed, tortured, or maimed would be spared.
An interesting case in point is the Central African Republic, where the two major tribes, the Bayas and the Bandas, have been both at each other's throats since time immemorial, and yet diamonds are found in profusion in both these tribes' areas. They are manifestly not killing each other over diamonds.