The World Diamond Council has concluded its fourth Annual Meeting in Catania, Sicily. More than 100 representatives of the international diamond and jewelry industries, governments, international organizations and NGOs reaffirmed their commitment to prevent the infiltration of conflict diamonds into the legitimate diamond trade.

In his report to the annual meeting, World Diamond Council President Eli Izhakoff outlined the involvement of the World Diamond Council in the Kimberley Process Monitoring System, and called on industry leaders to redouble efforts ensure compliance with the voluntary system of warranties for polished diamonds and jewelry containing diamonds. Mr. Izhakoff also emphasized the importance of informing the general public about the industry’s efforts, so as to dispel a distorted image that sometimes is created by the popular media.

On the second day of the meeting, Mr. Izhakoff and Kago G. Moshashane, the chairman of the Kimberley Process and the deputy permanent secretary of Botswana’s Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, produced a joint letter that is being sent to Edward Zwick, the producer of The Blood Diamond, requesting that the movie provide accurate and up to date information about the conflict diamond trade in Sierra Leone, which is the country in which it is set. In their letter, Mr. Izhakoff and Mr. Moshashane noted that the period in which the movie is set predates the implementation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, and, thus, without clearly mentioning this fact, the movie could present a distorted picture of reality to the general public.

A three-year review of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme is about to get underway, the program of which was outlined by Abdul Omar, a senior policy advisor at Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Izhakoff stressed the industry’s commitment to compliance, and noted that this will be part of the wide-ranging review.

Mr. Izhakoff praised the U.A.E for being the first Kimberley Process participant country to volunteer for a ‘peer review’ visit on internal control mechanisms. Concerning the review visit, Mr. Tim Martin, Chairman of the Kimberley Process stated, “With the co-operation of DMCC and local authorities, the team, led by Dr. Florika Fink-Hooper of the European Commission, completed the review of the implementation of the Kimberley Process in the UAE. And the peer review system of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme is off to a good start and thanks go to the UAE.”

The WDC also made it clear that the industry will continue to take a firm stand when it believes that Kimberley Process procedures are being flouted and will call on governments and the international community to take swift and effective action. In particular, the WDC focused attention to the problematic areas of Zimbabwe and Venezuela while highlighting the positive outcome of past areas of issue such as Ghana and Liberia.

In his concluding remarks, Mr. Izhakoff stated that “the future provides us not only with challenges, but also with many exciting opportunities. The opportunity to build on our success, the opportunity to demonstrate greater unity, commitment and purpose. The opportunity to reflect the values of the unique and beautiful product from which we — and millions of others — derive our living.”

4th WDC Annual Meeting (February 5-8, 2006)