26th May 2020

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

Support quality EU news

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."

EU data protection rules abused to censor media

This week the EU's data protection rules (known as the GDPR) are two-years old. While the controversial GDPR was intended to offer greater privacy rights, it has also been abused by some authorities to muzzle a free press.


Draft EU 'green recovery' plan amid clash over natural gas

The European Commission's recovery plan from the coronavirus pandemic gives priority to building renovation, renewables and hydrogen. However, eight member states have insisted that gas plays a crucial role in the transition from fossil fuels to renewables.


Clock is ticking: 300,000 vs 3.3m Covid-19 Africa deaths?

With the exception of South Africa and some parts of West Africa, the continent has been relatively untouched, including (quite surprisingly) highly-connected Ethiopia. Namibia, Burundi, Botswana, Seychelles, Zimbabwe only count a dozen of cases, and Lesotho is a virus-free country.


Recovery plans unveiled This WEEK

Tough negotiations start this week on both the EU's recovery fund and its revised long-term budget, which are likely to determine the entire future of the bloc.

News in Brief

  1. Johnson: Shops in UK will reopen on 15 June
  2. German doctors: Summer holidays could cause second wave
  3. EU forced to choose between China and US: Borrell
  4. Spain to lift two-week arrival quarantine from July
  5. Germany gives Lufthansa €9bn bailout for equity stake
  6. Volkswagen ordered to pay in landmark 'dieselgate' case
  7. 40 million health workers urge more G20 investment
  8. Jourova: Budget rule-of-law link 'more needed than ever'


That German court ruling hurts EU rule-of-law fightback

The short-term damage to financial markets may be smaller than feared. The damage to democracy is considerable because it weakened the ECJ - the most effective institution to stop attacks against democracy and rule of law in EU member states.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  3. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic co-operation on COVID-19
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic research collaboration on pandemics

Latest News

  1. How Kaczyński ruined Poland, judges tell MEPs
  2. EU data protection rules abused to censor media
  3. Draft EU 'green recovery' plan amid clash over natural gas
  4. Clock is ticking: 300,000 vs 3.3m Covid-19 Africa deaths?
  5. Recovery plans unveiled This WEEK
  6. EU and UK stumbling into Irish border crisis
  7. Malta patrol boat 'intimidates' capsized migrants
  8. How coronavirus might hit EU defence spending

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us