Israel was one of the first countries to raise awareness of conflict diamonds. We were one of the first to play a part in establishing the Kimberley Process.
Israel’s right of reply in debate on UNGA draft resolution: “The role of diamonds in fuelling conflict: Breaking the link between the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict as a contribution to prevention and settlement of conflicts” (document A/68/L.29).
For many decades, the reputation of the diamond industry was tarnished by conflict diamonds. Used as a tool for warfare and cash flow for warlords, these precious gems ignited wars, fueled slavery and enflamed entire countries. Lightweight, valuable and easy to smuggle, rough diamonds drove some of the worst armed conflicts in Africa – from Angola to Liberia and from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Sierra Leone.
Ten years ago, an alliance of governments, NGOs and the diamond industry united to address this crisis. They established a certification process to assure buyers that the diamonds they purchased were free from violence and human rights abuse.
Since the Kimberley Process was established in 2003, conflict diamonds have fallen from 15% of the global trade in rough diamonds to less than 1%. This success is proof of what can be accomplished when a global commitment is matched by global action.
I may be biased, but I believe that Israel is the jewel of the Middle East and the diamond industry is the jewel of the Israeli economy. In addition to Mumbai, Dubai and Shanghai, Israel is at the forefront of developments in the diamond industry. As the world’s leading exporter of diamonds and the third largest trading center for diamonds, Israel is committed to demonstrating that a sustainable economy can be sustained by values like integrity, honesty and trust.
Israel regards the fight against conflict diamonds as an expression of tikkun olam – the obligation of every person to make this world a better place.
For this reason, Israel was one of the first countries to raise awareness of conflict diamonds. We were one of the first to play a part in establishing the Kimberley Process. And we were the first country to issue a certificate when the Kimberley Process went into effect in 2003.
When Israel served as Chair of the Kimberly Process in 2010, it formed a partnership with the World Customs Organization and forged ties with countries that were not yet part of the Kimberly Process.
Diamonds are assessed by four C’s – cut, color, clarity, and carat. Today, I propose that the international community assess its success in addressing the illegal diamond trade through the adoption of a different four C’s. Namely: conscience, conviction, credibility, and confidence.
We must act on our collective conscience and raise awareness of the horrors and tragedies of the illegal diamond industry. We must show conviction to end the rampant human rights abuses that go hand-in-hand with conflict diamonds. We must demonstrate our credibility by further strengthening the Kimberley Process and ensuring that every single diamond is certified conflict free. And we must ensure that buyers have confidence that they are buying diamonds that were responsibly mined, cut and polished.
Legally mined diamonds can contribute to Africa’s growth and prosperity, but only if the industry is responsibly regulated. Our dedication to this cause must have the same clarity as the diamonds we seek to certify.
Thank you, Mr. President.