De Beers’ moves to guarantee to its sightholders and, ultimately, to consumers that it is moving away from its buying policies of the 1990s and will no longer buy or supply goods from rebel armies in Africa is a very welcome development. It shows that the company has listened to criticism from the international community and is moving to address consumer concern about the source of diamonds.
“De Beers has taken a lead that the rest of the diamond industry must now follow. De Beers has clearly understood that it is no longer acceptable to buy diamonds originating from conflict areas and we commend this move as a major first step in the difficult process of excluding conflict goods from the legitimate marketplace.” Said Charmian Gooch, of Global Witness “The focus of attention must now be on the many thousands of jewellery retailers worldwide, the key sector of the diamond market most closely in contact with consumers, to ensure that they also do not supply diamonds originating from rebel held areas.”
There are still some points that need to be clarified. Firstly, can De Beers give an absolute guarantee that it will never again buy such conflict goods from rebel areas? And secondly how will the company be able to audit its guarantee? This is likely to be an issue because De Beers and the Central Selling Organisation has spent decades claiming that it has an essential role in buying just such unofficial diamonds in order to maintain a stable world price for the commodity.
Notes to Editor:
Global Witness is a British based non-governmental organisation which focuses on the links between environmental and human rights abuses, especially the impacts of natural resource exploitation upon countries and their people. In December 1998 it published a report ,“A Rough Trade”, which raised issues about conflict diamonds and failures of the UN embargo on unofficial diamonds from Angola.
Press Release / Feb. 29, 2000