Press Release / Dec. 12, 2005

Open Statement to UN Security Council on sanctions on diamonds from Cote d'Ivoire

Open statement to United Nations Security Council members calling for the imposition of sanctions on diamond exports from Côte d’Ivoire

12 December 2005 - As the United Nations Security Council meets to review the current sanctions on Côte d’Ivoire, Global Witness, Partnership Africa Canada and the World Diamond Council call upon the Security Council to place sanctions on diamond exports from Côte d’Ivoire.

Diamonds are being mined in northern Côte d’Ivoire in areas outside government control, and in 2002 the government placed a ban on diamond exports from the country. The UN Panel of Experts on Côte d’Ivoire, and Global Witness, have undertaken investigations that show diamonds are being mined in rebel-held areas. These diamonds are being smuggled out through neighbouring countries, and the UN Panel has stated that millions of dollars in revenues from these diamonds are returning to the Forces Nouvelles.

While the Forces Nouvelles continue to benefit from diamonds and other resources under their control, this jeopardises security in the country, and undermines commitments to move towards a sustainable and workable peace.

In November 2005 at its Moscow Plenary Meeting, the Kimberley Process -- the international diamond certification scheme -- passed a declaration outlining the steps its participants and the diamond industry should take to stop diamonds mined in Côte d’Ivoire from entering the legitimate diamond trade. Neighbouring countries that are participants of the Kimberley Process are being requested to implement stringent controls to make sure that they are not exporting diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire.

However, the Kimberley Process has no effect in countries that are not participants in the scheme, countries that may be serving as a transit for these diamonds. An investigation by Global Witness in September 2005, for example, found that some diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire are being smuggled to Mali. In Mali, the diamonds are sold to international buyers. Other countries that are not Kimberley Process Participants may also be receiving diamonds smuggled out of northern Côte d’Ivoire.

Placing and enforcing an embargo on diamond exports from Côte d’Ivoire will support the government’s own ban on diamond exports, and will complement and enhance action taken by the Kimberley Process, to ensure that revenues from diamonds do not fuel instability and conflict in Côte d’Ivoire.

Yours sincerely,

Susie Sanders, Global Witness, +44 207 561 6397, [email protected]

Ian Smillie, Partnership Africa Canada, +1 613 728 9725, [email protected]

Eli Izhakoff, World Diamond Council, +1 212-575-8848, [email protected]

See Global Witness report, ‘Making It Work’, November 2005. See pp.10-16