Stopping Blood DiamondsHow You Can Help Stop Blood Diamonds and the human slavery and
torture that is part of the mining and processing
What is a conflict diamond?
(conflict or blood diamond)
Introduction: What is a conflict diamond? Who hasn’t heard of the slogan “A diamond lasts forever”? Diamonds
have always occupied a very high status in the world of jewelry. Fueled by tradition and intense marketing
campaigns, diamonds have achieved incomparable status.
Starry eyed young men present gorgeous diamond rings to their girlfriends. Married couples exchange diamond
studded jewelry over the years as symbols to their undying love. Celebrities and personalities don fabulous diamond
jewelry whenever they go out in public.
There is absolutely no doubt as to how valuable and sought after diamonds are. As with most things in life,
there is always something bad mixed with the good. A diamond may be a woman’s best friend but a diamond can also be
the bane of some people’s existence – and I am not talking about the man’s pocket here.
The term conflict diamond, or blood diamond as others call it, became quite well-known to the average person in
2002 when the James Bond movie “Die Another Day” was released. This contribution to the legendary James Bond saga
revolved around the idea of smuggling conflict diamonds. So what is a conflict diamond? The UN formally defines a
conflict diamond as a “diamond that originates from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate
and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those
governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council.”
In short, a conflict diamond is any diamond that is mined from an area in which there is war, or armed conflict
(which includes modern-day human slavery, rape, amputation and torture). The idea is that diamonds are very much in
demand and that they fetch such a high price in almost any market. If you mine diamonds and sell them to other
countries – of which there is definitely no shortage – you can get a large amount of money for them. Where does the
profit from these sales go? You guessed it – to finance wars and other forms of armed conflict in the affected
areas. The manner of mining and selling conflict diamonds is usually done in secret.
You can just imagine what the reaction of the (average) buyer would be if he learned that he was financing a war
somewhere in Africa with his transaction. Thus, people involved in the conflict diamond business do not really
advertise what they are doing. Although these activities have been going on for quite some time, it was only in
2000 that the international community formally recognized the gravity of the situation. In December of that year,
the United Nations General Assembly recognized the role of rough diamonds in furthering the conflicts in specific
areas in Africa.
The General Assembly came up with a resolution aiming to severe the connection between the illegal sales of
diamonds and wars in concerned areas. With this resolution in place, countries that buy diamonds from Africa became
more aware of the illicit trade. International sanctions were then put in place. In addition to these sanctions,
individual countries set up their own methods and processes to curb the practice of trading conflict diamonds. The
idea is that if no one will buy, then no one will sell. People who take advantage of conflict diamonds would have
no market and thus the practice would stop.
We all know however, that in the real world, things are never as simple as they usually seem to be. Everyone can
do his share in the effort to stop the mining and trading of blood diamonds. Whether you are a consumer or a
jeweler, you have it in your power to do your part. What is needed is your realization of the situation and a
determination to take part in the worldwide effort to put a stop to blood diamonds.
Consumer Awareness about Blood Diamonds
As a consumer, you can share you awareness with other people. Let the whole world know about the situation in
Africa and how people are suffering because of conflict diamonds. Ultimately, the power lies in your hands as you
are the end target of the rough diamonds. The buyers indirectly put the money in the hands of the producers.
If you don’t
patronize their product, then there will be no market for them and they would be left with essentially worthless
goods. Be Proactive About Stopping Blood Diamonds.
How consumers can help stop blood diamond trade.
Most Retailers cannot guarantee that the diamond you purchase is not a conflict diamond. As consumers, we have
the power to change that by demanding details about the diamonds we buy. Demanding proof that a diamond is
conflict-free sends a powerful message to the world that we will not support an industry or nation that helps fund
terror groups. Change won’t happen overnight, but it will happen if we are persistent.
How do you share your awareness? Take advantage of the Internet. Information has never been more accessible than
today. Create a blog or make use of your own blog to promote knowledge about blood diamonds. Learn about measures
that your country has put in place in stopping blood diamonds. Then share this information with everyone you
A lot of people are already doing this and more and more consumers are becoming concerned with the source of
diamonds. You can also take part in campaigns that NGOs and other institutions are carrying out. These
organizations can only do so much. They need the support of the general population to make their efforts
Finally, be discriminating when you buy your diamonds. Ask for certification papers and ensure that your jeweler
has anti-blood diamond buying policies. It may seem a tiny effort but big things are born out of little things.
The Kimberley Process
After much media attention and public outcry, the Kimberley Process was created in 2003 to address the problem
of conflict diamonds funding civil wars. A voluntary and self policing international certification system, the
Kimberley Process established standards for certifying the origin of rough diamonds with member countries pledging
not to import or export rough diamonds tainted by conflict.
Unfortunately, the Kimberley Process does not oversee other human rights abuses including child labor, state
sanctioned violence, and worker exploitation and poverty. Currently, it only addresses the narrow UN definition of
conflict diamonds as diamonds used to fund conflicts against recognized governments -- despite the fact that some
recognized governments, in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo for instance, have shown little regard
for the human rights of their citizenry.
To date, the Kimberley Process also ignores cutting and polishing centers as an entry point for conflict
diamonds to enter general circulation. Global Witness documents how inadequate government regulation over cutting
and polishing factories can allow conflict or illicit diamonds to enter legitimate channels of trade. Because the
Kimberley Process only oversees diamond mines and has no oversight in cutting and polishing facilities, child labor
and other documented human rights violations in manufacturing centers remain unregulated.
The Kimberley Process is still undergoing improvements to strengthen its system of oversight. Meanwhile, violent
groups across the world continue to exploit the loose controls of the Kimberley Process to traffic illicit diamonds
for profit. In its October 2007 report, Global Witness estimates that an illegal trade in rough diamonds worth
$10.2 million may be taking place between Kimberley Process participant and non-participant
Conflict Diamonds in the US
In September of 2006, the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report confirming that
many avenues exist for conflict diamonds to enter the US. The GAO states that "domestically, the U.S. systems for
reporting rough diamond statistics and for controlling imports and exports of these diamonds are vulnerable to
illicit trade…" Lacking an effective system for confirming diamond imports, the United States does not follow the
Kimberley Process requirements for avoiding possible diversions of rough diamond imports -- a violation of the
Clean Diamond Act. Each year, the US reports exporting more diamonds than it receives, despite the fact that no
diamonds originate from the US.
Sadly, US control systems do not deter illicit rough diamonds from entering the legitimate diamond trade. As
reported in July of 2007, federal agents seized 957 diamonds in Wilmington, Ohio in the second conflict
diamond-related bust in the span of a few months. The shipment, allegedly imported in violation of the 2003 Clean
Diamond Trade Act, did not conform to regulations specified by the Kimberley Process... Source:
ConclusionPlease do not take foregranted your next diamond purchase. You may actually be
giving your money to profit the traffickers in diamonds and human beings and contributing to someone's continued
Did Someone Die for That Diamond?
Some diamonds have helped fund devastating civil wars in Africa, destroying the lives of millions. Conflict
diamonds are those sold in order to fund armed conflict and civil war. Profits from the trade in conflict diamonds,
worth billions of dollars, were used by warlords and rebels to buy arms during the devastating wars in Angola, the
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sierra Leone. Wars that have cost an estimated 3.7 million lives.
Source Amnesty International.
Get involved in stopping blood diamonds
- Ask jewelers about their policies on conflict diamonds and for clarification about whether
their diamonds are mined and sold legitimately.
- Pray that the diamond industry and governments do more to protect the legitimate diamond trade
and bring to a halt the horrific practice of "conflict diamonds."
Contact Congress. Ask our U.S. government leaders to better enforce the diamond trade law so that conflict
diamonds do not continue to fund wars in African countries, like the Democratic Republic of the Congo...from
Critical Mass is real. What can one person do? Spread the word like wildfire and become part of
the critical mass that begins to turn the tide by holding Merchants accountable to more than just the bottom-line!