Australia calls for inclusion of 'blood diamonds' in UN definition

The Australian government has called for the inclusion of "blood diamonds" into the international definition of conflict diamonds, reports Sydney's Herald Sun (subs. required).

A foreign affairs department spokesperson said the country has indicated to the Kimberley Process membership that it should consider expanding the definition.

The Kimberley Process is an international certification scheme for controlling rough diamond production and trade created by the United Nations in the early 2000s with governments, civil society organizations and the global diamond industry. Members include 80 countries. The scheme is meant to outlaw the movement of diamonds from sites where there is armed conflict and prevent them from entering the legitimate trade.

Australia suspects diamonds from mines where human rights abuses occur — a.k.a. "blood diamonds" — may have entered its borders for use in jewellery.

Since 2009, the country has imported A$1.47 million in gems from Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire, Angola, Liberia and the Congo, which are known to have mines demonstrating major abuses of human rights and corruption.

Additionally in 2012, Australia imported $170 million in loose diamonds just from India, including an indeterminate number believed to be from Zimbabwe, where the military controls the diamond fields and 200 civilians were killed during a struggle for control in 2008.

As well, during 2011-2012, Australian customs officials seized four small shipments of rough stones which breached the KP scheme, although they were not identified as conflict diamonds.

The Diamond Guild of Australia supported the call for an expanded KP definition and any moves to tighten international regulations saying this would benefit legitimate business.

Image courtesy Kimberley Process