The Antwerp diamond industry, represented by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), is stepping up its efforts to combat conflict diamonds. The city of Antwerp, largely owing its reputation as the most transparent and strictly controlled diamond trade center in the world that rigorously controls diamond imports and exports at the Antwerp Diamond Office, is determined to continue its strong commitment toward the Kimberley Process. According to the AWDC, the increased vigilance and intensified controls have already resulted in the detection of a shipment likely containing conflict diamonds from the Central African Republic (CAR).
In June 2013, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme banned rough diamonds originating from CAR. Because of the ban, any import of rough diamonds coming from CAR, even accompanied by a Kimberley Process certificate from CAR would not be allowed to enter the Antwerp market and would be confiscated.
Apart from the strict controls that are applied in Antwerp and the 100 percent physical control of each and every shipment that enters or leaves Antwerp, the Diamond Office procedures go even further. Each suspicious shipment is verified, comparing the contents of the parcels with the so-called production footprints of mining operations in conflict areas. Rough diamonds that are imported legally in Antwerp via other diamond trade hubs will be cross-checked on typical characteristics such as color, assortment and size using visual material from a typical rough production of a certain area, such as the CAR. Thus the Diamond Office experts can assess whether or not diamonds are likely originating from a specific conflict area.
By implementing these strict controls, Antwerp, the industry’s leading trade hub in terms of compliance and transparency, aims to give a strong signal and to prohibit conflict diamonds from entering Antwerp. According to a recent report from the Enough Project, today diamonds from CAR are still illegally entering the market in certain countries. These conflict diamonds enter the legal circuit, mostly through forged Kimberley Process certificates that are insufficiently controlled via other diamond hubs.
The recent discovery of a suspicious shipment of rough diamonds and the strong indications these diamonds originated from CAR, led the AWDC to raise the alarm. The AWDC calls upon all diamond centers to implement the same strict controls on import and export procedures and Kimberley Process requirements. It is clear that the Kimberley Process can only be a powerful tool if all participants take responsibility in the fight against conflict diamonds.
In the Antwerp Diamond Office, the FPS Economy discovered a suspicious shipment of rough diamonds that could potentially originate from CAR, where a civil war is raging. Two weeks ago, during the physical inspection of imports and exports by the experts of the FPS Economy, a suspicious shipment of rough diamonds was discovered. Upon request of the Belgian Kimberley Process authority, the FPS Economy and the working group of diamond experts were immediately asked to advise, comparing digital images of the shipment and images of the CAR footprint, concluding there is a high probability that the shipment of rough diamonds originated from CAR. The FPS Economy immediately notified the judicial authorities.
The European Commission appointed the FPS Economy as the official authority charged with controlling the international Kimberley Process Certification Scheme requirements on rough diamonds. One of those requirements states that each shipment of rough diamonds that is exported or imported worldwide needs to be accompanied by a valid Kimberley Process certificate, issued by an officially authorized body in one of the participating countries.
View the press release issued by the Belgian Federal Public Service Economy