Monday, November 05, 2007

European Union to host key blood-diamond talks

Brussels - Experts from around the world are due to meet in Brussels next week to discuss further ways of fighting the global trade in so-called 'blood diamonds' from Africa.

The annual meeting of some 300 representatives of the diamond industry, national governments and civil society is set to strengthen the transparency of the world diamond trade, boost international monitoring and provide more funding and technical support to future operations, the European Union, which is hosting the meeting, announced.

The diamonds are known as 'blood diamonds' or 'conflict diamonds' because they are used by armed groups, particularly in Africa, to finance paramilitary coups and rebellions.

They have been a feature of some of Africa's bloodiest wars, playing a major role in the financing of conflicts in Angola, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia, among others.

The EU is home to the largest diamond-trading centre in the world: official data show that more than 80 per cent of the world's rough diamonds pass through the Belgian port of Antwerp.

In 2002, international governments meeting in the South African diamond boom town of Kimberley agreed on a series of measures to crack down on the blood-diamond trade - an agreement which became known as the Kimberley Process (KP).

Since then, experts estimate that the trade in blood diamonds has fallen from some 15 per cent of the total number of diamonds traded to just 1 per cent today.

Forty-seven countries from Angola to New Zealand now participate in the KP, with Liberia, the latest member, having joined in May. Their representatives are due to meet in Brussels on November 5-8.

The EU is the only multinational body to have joined the process.

European Union to host key blood-diamond talks - Europe