Friday

21st Jan 2022

EU to lead global fight against blood diamonds

The European Commission has been assigned to lead the global fight against the conflict diamond trade, believed to have financed some of the most devastating civil wars in Africa during the past decade.

Brussels will serve as vice-chair of what is known as the Kimberly Process - an international body aiming to eradicate trade in illicit diamonds - under Botswana's chairmanship in 2006 before taking over as chairman in 2007.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

A commission spokesperson said that next year will be a good opportunity for the commission to watch and learn how to be effective in the leading role.

Conflict diamonds, also called blood diamonds, are gems used to fund conflicts or human rights abuses, often handled by rebel groups in civil wars, as in the cases of Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

A coalition of governments, diamond producing countries, diamond-industry representatives and civil society created the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) in 2002 in response to the problem.

The EU will as chairman be responsible for ensuring compliance throughout the business with the KPCS regulations, controlling international shipments of rough diamonds from Africa, making sure they come with a certificate of legality.

Brussels must also act as intermediary in disputes between other members and monitor all activities in the diamond trail.

Kimberley Process participants account for 99.8 percent of global diamond production. It has 45 members out of which the EU member states, lead by the commission, accounts for one.

Initiative does not convince watchdogs

But the commission will face a hard task.

Two weeks ago, investigative NGO Global Witness released a report called ‘Making it Work: Why the Kimberley Process Must Do More to Stop Conflict Diamonds’, which strongly criticised the Kimberly Process members for "lack of action".

"Controls in the diamond trade from mining to polishing are still inadequate and poorly enforced due to the lack of effective monitoring capacity and political will. Some members of the diamond industry continue to trade in conflict diamonds," the report stated.

A year-old Amnesty International survey among over 800 diamond retailers in Europe showed that only 19 of the companies providing customers with a certificate that the diamonds they bought were legal, with contestants saying "we are not touched, we have more important things to think about."

The external relations commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said in a press release on Thursday (17 November) that the EU would commit to breaking the link between the illicit exploitation of natural resources and armed conflict.

"Our primary objective as Chair will be to promote the fullest possible implementation of the KPCS by all participants."

MEPs urge inclusion of abortion rights in EU charter

MEPs have recalled their demands to include the right to legal and safe abortion into the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, a day after French president Emmanuel Macron pledged to open such a debate in the EU Council.

EU orders Poland to pay €70m in fines

The case is one of many disputes between the EU and Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which have started to cost money for Warsaw.

Dutch mayors protest strict lockdown measures

Thirty Dutch mayors have asked the national government to rethink its corona pandemic measures amid protests from museums and cultural centres against continued lockdown.

Macron promises strong EU borders

Obligatory detentions, more security-screening, and faster deportations - these are the French EU presidency's migration priorities.

MEPs to crackdown on digital 'Wild West'

MEPs will vote on new rules setting out transparency obligations for online players and holding Big Tech giants accountable. But some issues proved to be divisive after EU lawmakers tabled over a hundred amendments on the file.

Macron calls for new security order and talks with Russia

Emmanuel Macron also took hits from French political opponents, including the Green party presidential challenger MEP Yannick Jadot in the European Parliament ahead of the upcoming presidential elections in France in April.

News in Brief

  1. 'No embargo' on meetings with Putin, EU says
  2. Austria to fine unvaccinated people €3,600
  3. MEP: Airlines should start paying for CO2 sooner
  4. Twitter forced to disclose what it does to tackle hate speech
  5. EU watchdog calls for ban on political microtargeting
  6. MEPs adopt position on Digital Service Act
  7. Blinken delivers stark warning to Russia in Berlin
  8. Hungary's Orbán to discuss nuclear project with Putin

Opinion

Macron's vision will hit EU Council veto buffers

President Emmanuel Macron's address to the European Parliament championed a bold and ambitious pro-European agenda. There is one problem though - the plans rely on a system of governance that has gridlocked the EU for over a decade.

Column

An EU-Africa 'equal partnership' must tackle past and present

Competition is fierce and getting African leaders' attention is no easy task. US president Joe Biden has his own Africa summit, and Turkey, Japan, Russia and - most importantly - China, also have Africa forums up and running.

Latest News

  1. MEPs urge inclusion of abortion rights in EU charter
  2. EU orders Poland to pay €70m in fines
  3. Dutch mayors protest strict lockdown measures
  4. Macron promises strong EU borders
  5. MEPs to crackdown on digital 'Wild West'
  6. Macron calls for new security order and talks with Russia
  7. Macron's vision will hit EU Council veto buffers
  8. Hydrogen - the 'no-lose bet' for fossil-fuel industry?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us