WASHINGTON, DC – The World Diamond Council (WDC), representing all segments of the diamond industry in the U.S. and abroad, hailed the introduction today of legislation that would prohibit the importation into the United States of diamonds and diamond jewelry from conflict areas and impose tough penalties on those who trade in conflict stones.

“The diamond industry worldwide is committed to the enactment of strong legislation that will help establish an international system to ensure that only legitimate diamonds are traded,” said Eli Izhakoff, chairman of the World Diamond Council. “Our goal is to stop the abhorrent practices of rebel movements in Africa that use illegal diamond sales to finance their brutal insurgencies.

“We are very pleased to add our voices to those who support this legislation. It is vital to our efforts to establish an international regulatory system that will keep conflict stones from entering the supply chain, while protecting the legitimate trade.”

Ishakoff noted that the bill complements, supports and encourages the work of the Kimberley Process, which is working under UN auspices to create an international diamond certification system designed to stamp out the trade in conflict stones. Participants include 38 countries and representatives from non-governmental organizations and the industry, who will report back to the UN General Assembly before the end of the year.

The bill introduced today builds on proposals submitted by the World Diamond Council and a coalition of non-governmental organizations interested in the issue. It is compliant with World Trade Organization standards and is consistent with U.S. Customs regulations.

Izhakoff praised the efforts of the legislation’s sponsors – Senators Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Michael DeWine, R-Ohio – as well as Rep. Tony Hall, D-Ohio, for their efforts in negotiating the compromise bill.

“This is a bill with tough but fair standards that will keep illegitimate diamonds out of the U.S. while allowing legitimate diamond industries in countries like South Africa, Botswana and Namibia to flourish,” Izhakoff said. “We at the World Diamond Council strongly support its enactment and urge Congress to act on it quickly.”