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IVORY COAST TO URGE UN TO LIFT DIAMOND EXPORT BAN
06 March 2014

Ivory Coast will appeal to the United Nations to lift its ban on the country's rough diamond exports next month, reports Reuters, citing an unnamed government official.

Last year, the UN Security Council said it would review the export ban in line with the Ivory Coast's progress towards compliance with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). At its November plenary in Johannesburg, the KPCS recognized that Ivory Coast had, indeed, fulfilled the KPCS minimum requirements "as possibly could be achieved under the UN embargo."

After Ivory Coast's 2002-2003 civil war, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution in November 2004 to impose various sanctions on the country, including a ban on its rough diamond exports. A second civil war erupted in 2011 after the country's then-president, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to concede defeat upon losing the 2010 presidential election to Alasanne Ouattara. In May 2013, the Security Council unanimously voted to extend for another year its embargo on rough diamond exports from Ivory Coast, among other sanctions. They remain in effect until April 30, 2014.

Fatimata Thes, the official in charge of the diamond sector at Ivory Coast's Mining Ministry, told the news source that President Alassane Ouattara's government had put a system in place to register diamond workers and track production.

"In April, we'll be in New York with the ministers of Industry and Mines to show what efforts we've made and demand the lifting of this embargo which is hurting our population," Thes said, as quoted by Reuters.

According to Thes, since a traceability system was launched in May, some 10,000 carats had been stockpiled by collectives in preparation for the lifting of the embargo. Removing the ban would help Ivory Coast to fight poverty, she further said.

"The miners are poor and as long as the embargo is not lifted there will be no financing to develop the mining sector which is still artisanal," she added, as cited by the news source.

Before the embargo, Ivory Coast produced about 300,000 carats of diamond a year, worth $25 million, Reuters reports.

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