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A Jewel of a Deal

When corporations, advocacy groups, and governments all can benefit, they cooperate. Although it took nearly two years of talks, that's just what happened last week in Gaborone, Botswana, as some 30 countries, diamond dealers, and human rights groups agreed that all shipments of rough diamonds must contain unforgeable certificates of origin.

More than symbolic, the move should actually help stop the trade in "conflict diamonds" - those stones used to provide money to fight civil wars in Sierra Leone, Congo, Liberia, and Angola. For instance, the rebel UNITA group in Angola sold $3.7 billion in diamonds in Belgium during the 1990s - something analysts say will be nearly impossible to do with this new measure in place.

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Since US authorities have identified diamonds and tanzanite as possible sources of financing for Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda terrorists, the agreement also should help in the fight against terrorism.

According to the deal, diamonds also must carry re-export certificates as they move from country to country to their final destination.

The agreement should especially benefit the diamond industry, which has come under increasing criticism for turning a blind eye to the conflict- diamond trade and for ignoring multiple human rights violations.

The US House of Representatives should be duly credited for passing a bill giving President Bush authority to impose sanctions on countries that have no system for tracking diamonds. Its step no doubt gave the agreement much needed impetus.

The Senate should now follow suit.


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