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Mark Devenport
The BBC's Mark Devenport
"Diplomats hope the ban will have an impact on the rebel campaign on the ground"
 real 28k

Sir Jeremy Greenstock talks to the BBC
"Only a dealer with a certificate will be able to sell a diamond"
 real 28k

Andrew Bone of De Beers
"We welcome it very warmly indeed"
 real 28k

Thursday, 6 July, 2000, 03:07 GMT 04:07 UK
Sierra Leone diamonds banned
RUF rebels in Sierra Leone
The illegal diamond trade has funded the rebel campaign
The UN Security Council has imposed a worldwide ban on the export of diamonds from Sierra Leone, where the trade is helping to pay for weapons used in the civil war.

The embargo is intended to crack down on the illegal trade in diamonds exported through neighbouring countries which has funded the campaign of the Revolutionary United Front rebels (RUF) in the east of the country.

The measure will prohibit the export of all diamonds except those whose origin is certified by the government in Freetown.


So-called "blood diamonds" from Sierra Leone are making some people's lives a misery

UN ambassador Jeremy Greenstock

It was proposed by the UK, and the British Ambassador at the UN, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, said the system would make it more expensive and more difficult for traders to deal in illicit diamonds from Sierra Leone which some people, he said, called blood diamonds.

The resolution, which includes a tightened arms embargo on the RUF, will stay in place for an initial period of 18 months.

The RUF rebels, who have a record of brutality and mutilation of civilians during their long-running civil war, currently control the diamond-mining areas of the country.

In May, they took hundreds of UN peacekeepers hostage, and are still holding about 200 in the east of the country.

Angola

A Security Council committee, which will police the embargo, will hold a hearing on the link between diamonds and the Sierra Leone conflict.

Representatives of the international diamond industry are expected to attend the hearing.

Sierra Leone girl
Civilians have suffered most
One African member of the Security Council, Mali, abstained from the vote in protest at the specific mention of Liberia as a country through which illegal diamonds transit.

It is widely believed that much of the trade goes through Liberia, whose President Charles Taylor is a close ally of RUF chief, Foday Sankoh.

Mali, however, said West African nations had not yet completed an investigation into the allegations that Liberia was a conduit for rough diamonds.

Similar sanctions are already in place in Angola, in the diamond-producing areas controlled by the rebel group Unita.

Earlier this week, countries and businesses involved in the diamond industry agreed on a series of proposals to end the trade in so-called "blood diamonds".

The measures include an international certification scheme, sanctions against rogue dealers and plans to ensure the diamonds are not traded for arms.

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See also:

28 Jun 00 | Business
'Blood diamonds' crackdown deal
26 May 00 | Africa
Still open for diamond business
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