06 August 2003

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Malta stricken from Kimberley Process list

By David Lindsay
Any company or individual importing rough diamonds to Malta should expect to find it increasingly difficult to get their hands on the small but extremely lucrative commodity in the near future, as a result of Malta being stricken from the Kimberley Process’s list of participating countries.
The Kimberley Process is an international initiative backed by the United Nations aimed at eradicating the trade in ‘conflict (or blood) diamonds’.
It was revealed last week that Malta has failed to meet the Process’s tolerance period deadline of 31 July and was accordingly removed from the list, along with 23 other countries.

In an interview published last week, Kimberley Process Chairman Abbey Chikane explained that those countries left out of the Kimberley Process "will not be in a position to trade in rough diamonds with those states and regional economic integration organisations that have been accepted as participants.
"It also means that the 53 participating countries will not import rough diamonds to or export from those who are not participants."
Also struck from the list were fellow EU applicant countries Cyprus, Czech Republic and Estonia. EU member state Norway was also stricken along with a number of known conflict diamond trading countries.
It is not known at present why Malta had failed to meet the 31 July deadline for inclusion in the Process.
The Kimberley Process is an international initiative aimed at breaking the link between legitimate trade in diamonds and conflict diamonds. Conflict diamonds are rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments.
The Kimberley Process was launched in May 2000 in the city of Kimberley, South Africa. It started out as a consultative process, later becoming a negotiating process which culminated in the adoption of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). The KPCS sets an international benchmark for national certification schemes to be implemented by each participant country through national legislation.
Although conflict diamonds constitute a very small percentage of the global rough diamond trade, they compromise international peace and human security and hamper economic and social development in affected countries. The trade in conflict diamonds has resulted in gross human rights violations in the affected areas. Consumer awareness of the situation led to actions which could have endangered the entire diamond trade, thereby jeopardising the economies of many countries which rely heavily on the diamond trade. This pointed to the need to find a solution which could balance the need to stop conflict diamonds while promoting diamonds that contribute to economic development.
By effectively controlling the trade in rough diamonds through national certification schemes, the trade in polished diamonds will be more transparent and secure, thereby giving consumers the confidence that the diamonds they buy are clean. The situation will be monitored constantly to ensure that he effectiveness of the KPCS is maintained.
The main beneficiaries of the effective implementation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme are the countries affected by rebel activity, which is financed by trade in conflict diamonds. The broader diamond industry benefits because the Certification Scheme provides a consistent and stable framework for the trade, and offers a reasonable assurance that polished diamonds are conflict-free. This has significant benefits for developing countries, as well as other countries that have an interest in the diamond industry worldwide.
The simultaneous implementation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme began on 1 January 2003 and Malta had originally formed a part of it.
The initial focus of the Kimberley Process is to ensure that the certification scheme is implemented in full at the national level by each participant. This will pave the way for systematic monitoring of adherence to the scheme by all participants. Participants meet at least once a year in plenary to review progress.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
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