Central African Republic Denies Reports of Rampant Conflict Diamond Smuggling
London, United Kingdom—A recent report from Global Witness, the nongovernmental organization (NGO) that brought conflict diamonds to the world’s attention and was instrumental in the development of the Kimberley Process, says conflict diamonds are still coming out of certain regions of the Central African Republic (CAR). (At left, an image of rough stones from the CAR sent by a smuggler to an undercover Global Witness agent posing as a diamond buyer.)
In 2013, the country was suspended from the Kimberley Process for three years following violations of the agreement, but last year one small section of the country, the Berbérati mining area in the southwestern part of the country, was designated a “green zone” and diamond trading was allowed to resume from that region only.
But the conflict between government and rebels in the CAR is more stalled than ended, says Global Witness, and while the CAR government and the international diamond community are working to establish legitimate supply chains, smugglers and traders are thriving in a parallel black market that funds violent armed groups that still control large swaths of the country’s diamond-rich eastern regions.
Global Witness believes stones from those areas are being smuggled into neighboring countries, given Kimberley certificates with those countries listed as their origin, and released into the global pipeline as legitimate. The organization went undercover as an international diamond buyer to create its report, which also addresses the potential export of stones it believes were stockpiled during the three-year suspension.
Government officials in the CAR have categorically denied all the allegations, and in a letter detailed all the steps being taken to ensure the country’s diamond exports are legitimate and untainted by conflict stones.
Global Witness says CAR needs a diamond trade, but it needs a responsible diamond trade. Despite its rich alluvial diamond beds and gold-rich soil, the CAR ranked last in the UN 2016 Global Hunger Index, second to last in the UN’s Human Development Index, and almost half of its population are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
MJSA Introduces Premier Associate Membership
Attleboro, MA—MJSA has introduced a new membership tier for smaller jewelry companies. The Premier Associate membership is available to companies with one to three employees, and builds on the foundational benefits of MJSA's Associate membership: a free subscription to the monthly MJSA Journal, unlimited access to the MJSA library of technical and business articles, discounts on technical books and media, and a free MJSA Buyer's Guide, a resource for jewelry-making supplies and services.
The Premier Associate membership offers several additional benefits to help those companies to better promote their products, source suppliers, and find the expertise needed to expand their businesses:
"The new Premier Associate membership offers a middle ground for those companies that need more promotional and sourcing assistance but aren't quite ready for our full Premier Professional membership," says David W. Cochran, MJSA president and CEO. "In pricing the membership at $295 annually, or less than $25 per month, we've tried to ensure maximum value. The promotional opportunities alone offer an especially significant value—just mailing a small postcard to 20,000 people would cost thousands of dollars."
Premier Associate members who want to upgrade to a Premier Professional membership—which includes a full, robust package of benefits that range from trade show discounts and research services to full "concierge" sourcing assistance and cost-saving discounts—can apply their dues toward the upgrade.
To learn more, contact MJSA at 1-800-444-MJSA, or visit MJSA.org.