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Thursday, 8 August, 2002, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
EU to crack down on 'blood diamonds'
Unita rebel in Angola
Diamonds fuelled Unita rebels in Angola

The European Commission has announced proposals to clamp down on the trade in diamonds from conflict zones.

They are called "blood diamonds" because they have helped fuelled some of the most violent and intractable wars in Africa.

Thursday's proposals from the European Commission are an attempt to dry up that source of funds for the conflicts in Sierra Leone, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A man looks for diamonds in a river
The EU wants to certify diamonds

The plan is that European Union states will only accept diamond imports which have been certified not to have come from rebel-held areas.

Uncut diamonds would have to be transported in tamper-proof containers.

The scheme closely follows a process developed two years ago by South Africa, but which so far has not prompted much action.

The big problem will be in the monitoring.

Officials accept that the current proposals do not provide for robust supervision.

Given the fact that the European Union doesn't even trust some African countries to distribute food aid, trusting them to authenticate the provenance of diamonds may prove even more difficult.

But the proposals are, at least, a belated attempt to stem the flow of blood money - money which has caused misery and death on a vast scale.

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 ON THIS STORY
Francesco Guerrera, FT in Brussels
"Hopefully before the second half of next year we will see the new rules being implemented"
See also:

19 Jun 02 | Business
23 Apr 02 | Africa
22 Mar 02 | Business
10 Aug 01 | Africa
18 Apr 02 | Africa
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