Conflict (Blood) Diamonds

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Conflict diamonds, also called blood diamonds, are diamonds mined, and then sold to help fund rebel groups working to overthrow legitimate governments, or groups of governments that violate human rights. Specifically, the United Nations and Amnesty International point to cases involving UNITA rebels in Angola, the Revolutionary United Front rebels in Sierra Leone and rebel forces in The Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Kimberley Process

In 2002, The Kimberley Process was agreed on by diamond producing nations and the diamond trade. It was subsequently fully implemented by August 2003.

Essentially it establishes a "chain of non-conflict guarantees", from diamond producing countries right down to the consumer. In order for diamond producing nations to participate, they must ensure:

  • that any diamond originating from the country does not finance a rebel group or other entity seeking to overthrow a UN-recognized government.

  • that every diamond export be accompanied by a Kimberley Process certificate.

  • that no diamond is imported from, or exported to, a non-member of the scheme.

In addition to this, a committee was established consisting of a Chair and various working groups that monitor participants and enforce compliance with the scheme.

Drawbacks Of The Kimberley Process

As The Kimberly Process is essentially self enforced, there has been some concern over the effectiveness of the scheme. As Amnesty International wrote in 2006:

Under this system, known as the Kimberley Process, even the government of the Democratic Repubic of the Congo, a country torn apart by diamond-funded war and political violence, can simply declare that its diamonds are clean.

Effectiveness of The Kimberley Process

Whilst diamondfacts.orgExternal Link is now reporting that 99% of the world's diamonds are non-conflict diamonds, in September 2006, The US Government Accountability Office reportedExternal Link that conflict diamonds are still being sold in The United States.

In addition to this, The Ivory coast was found to be supplying conflict diamonds, and was subsequently banned from exporting diamonds. However, in October 2006, the BBC reportedExternal Link that diamonds from the Ivory Coast were still being sold through smuggling them into neighbouring Ghana.

Other Concerns

The Ultimate Field Guide to the U.S. EconomyExternal Link states that apart from concerns regarding conflict diamonds, there other issues that consumers should consider such as:

  • Miners being exposed to HIV/AIDS

  • Environmental impact of mines

  • Diamond mines violating indeginous land rights

  • Slave labour being used to cut diamonds, especially in India

On the other hand, diamondfacts.orgExternal Link states that:

  • Money from the sale of diamonds goes toward helping HIV/AIDS.

  • Sale of diamonds greatly benefit many African nations, making up a large proportion of their GDP, and providing benefits such and education and employment.

  • Over one million people in India are employed by the diamond industry

Ethical Alternatives

In the last few years, there has been a number of "ethical alternatives" being promoted that guarantee the diamond originated from a non-conflict source. Such alternatives include certificates of origin (eg Canadian produced diamonds), synthetic and cultured diamonds.

External Links

Martin Rapaport Interview on Conflict DiamondsExternal Link
Conflict DiamondsExternal Link (Wikipedia)
Amnesty InternationalExternal Link
ConflictDiamonds.comExternal Link (HRD)