Summary: May 15, 2003: EU welcomes WTO green light for Kimberley System to block blood diamonds (Brussels)
The WTO has today given its green light to the Certification Scheme for rough diamonds implemented under the auspices of the Kimberley process. A number of Kimberley participants, to which the EU had associated itself, had requested the WTO to grant a waiver, ensuring the full compatibility between the Kimberley system to block trade in blood diamonds and WTO rules. EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy noted: “The WTO green light should be welcomed as a clear demonstration of coherence among international rules. It shows that WTO rules are sufficiently flexible to accommodate the implementation of a UN mandated activity. Carefully drafted trade measures can and do support development.”
While there is no reason to believe that a conflict between WTO rules and UN activities would have occurred - and indeed numerous implementing measures, including the EU ones, have already been put in place without raising doubts of WTO compatibility, the waiver eliminates any such risk beyond doubt.
The Kimberley Process is a unique initiative by government authorities, the international diamond industry and NGOs to stop the flow of ‘conflict diamonds’, i.e. diamonds which are used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments, and which have contributed to fuelling many devastating conflicts in Africa. The mechanism put in place to this end by the Kimberley Process - the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme - has been in operation since January 2003, and now has some 70 Participants (including the European Community). The Scheme seeks to ensure that no conflict diamonds are traded by requiring that all diamond shipments are accompanied by special certificates, by banning all trade in rough diamonds with non-Participants, and by requiring all Participants to respect certain minimum standards in diamond production and trade. The implementation of the Scheme by the European Community is governed by a Council Regulation (No 2368/2002 of 20 December 2002, OJ L 358, 31.12.2002) directly applicable in all Member States of the EC.
The "Kimberley" waiver allows the Participants in the Kimberley process to take the necessary measures to prohibit the import and export of rough diamonds to non-Participants in the process, for the period between 1 January 2003 until 31 December 2006. In doing so it recognises the importance of the Kimberly process for controlling the trade in illicit diamonds and recalls the relevant UN resolutions supporting the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.
The adoption of the waiver was decided by consensus by the WTO General Council on 15 May 2003.
Further information on the Kimberley process:
Further information on the EU's conflict prevention policy:
Further information on trade in diamonds: