German President Horst Kohler called on Wednesday for an international code for trade in precious commodities to help prevent wars over resources in Africa.
He said that national and multinational companies should be governed by a similar system of controls that restrict trade in so-called "blood diamonds". Speaking at the African Union in Addis Ababa, Kohler said that the Kimberley Process certification scheme for diamonds "is beginning to yield some positive results".
"Armed conflicts generally have more than one causal factor," Kohler told African Union officials, politicians and members of the diplomatic community. "Unfortunately, a common bone of contention is the issue of who controls the commodities that fetch high prices on the global markets. In the past such valuable assets have often proved more of a curse than a blessing."
He criticised the international community for its slow response to the crisis in Sudan's troubled western region of Darfur, where violence has forced more than 1.65 million people to flee their homes.
"The African Union has now decided to intervene," said Kohler. "I commend this decision. Unfortunately, the mission in Darfur is starting pretty late in the day - the expulsions, rapes and murders that have taken place cannot be undone."
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