What are Conflict Diamonds?
- Conflict – also known as “blood” – diamonds have been used by rebel groups to fund brutal conflicts in
Africa, resulting in the death and displacement of millions of people
- Conflict diamonds caused rebel group Revolutionary United Front (RUF) to chop off body parts of countless innocent men, women, and children in
between 1991 to 2002 after seizing control of the diamond mines to deter locals from supporting the government Sierra Leone
- Conflict diamonds are also used by terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda to finance their activities and for money laundering purposes
- Wars fueled by conflict diamonds have killed over 4 million people, destroyed countries, and displaced millions more in
Angola, Sierra Leone, the DRC, Liberia, and now in Ivory Coast
What is the Kimberley Process?
- The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme Is an international governmental certification scheme set up in 2003 in an effort to stop conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate trade under pressure from Global Witness and other NGOs
- Flaws and loopholes in the
process as well as weak governmental controls allow conflict diamonds to continue leaking into the market today Kimberley
- What is the status of conflict diamonds today?
- $23 million in conflict diamonds from the
Ivory Coastare being smuggled into international diamond markets through Ghanaand , where they are certified as conflict free, according to a recent UN report Mali
- Conflict diamonds currently make up 15% - 20% of the total diamond trade in
according to Global Witness Sierra Leone
How has the diamond industry reacted to conflict diamonds?
- The diamond industry claims only 4% of the global diamond trade originated from conflict zones at the peak of the problem in the 1990’s, but the UN estimates conflict diamonds made up as much as 15%
- The diamond industry has a voluntary system of warranties that is more of a PR exercise than a credible system
- The diamond industry, worth $60 billion in 2005, had agreed to police itself in support of the Kimberley Process (for certifying diamonds), but it has not made a change in the way it operates to make sure that diamonds never again fuel conflict
Diamond Retailer Statistics:
In 2004, Amnesty International and Global Witness conducted a survey of 246 diamond retailers in 50 cities across 18 states. The following is an excerpt of their report:
- Only 27% of shops were able assure us that they had a policy on conflict diamonds.
- 30% of the shops that said they had a policy were unable to produce a hard copy of or explain it.
- Only 13% of shops provided warranties to their customers as a standard practice.
- 37% of the shops we visited claimed to be aware of the conflict diamonds issue. But 54% of them reported an inaccurate definition of the crisis.
- Only 28% of the shops were aware of the Kimberley Process.
- 29% of those who were aware of the Kimberley Process had only a minimal or limited understanding of it.
- When asked whether consumers inquired about conflict diamonds, 83% of respondents answered rarely or never.
- 110 shops refused outright to take the survey.
What can I do to help combat conflict diamonds?
Consumers play a pivotal role in stopping conflict diamonds in entering the market. Amnesty International suggests asking your jeweler the following questions when purchasing a diamond:
- How can I be sure that none of your jewelry contains conflict diamonds?
- Do you know where the diamonds you sell come from?
- Can I see a copy of your company’s policy on conflict diamonds?
- Can you show me a written guarantee from your diamond suppliers stating that your diamonds are conflict-free?
For more information, download the Diamond Buyer’s Guide from Amnesty International.
What if I want to do more? Where do I start?
Check out the following websites for more information and guides to help you take further action:
Global Witness – an NGO committed to “exposing the corrupt exploitation of natural resources and international trade systems, to drive campaigns that end impunity, resource-linked conflict, and human rights and environmental abuses”
Amnesty International – conflict diamond statistics and petition and survey templates
Blood Diamond Action – a collaborative website produced by Global Witness, Amnesty International, and the Blood Diamond movie. Check the “download” section for fact sheets and study guides
DiamondFacts.org – a site with a plethora of information about diamonds… but bear in mind that diamondfacts.org is actually created by members of the diamond industry and the information should be checked against other unbiased resources
African Diamond Producing Country Profiles
- Civil war from 1961–2002
- Rebel Group UNITA controlled 60–70% of diamond mines
- The war cost at least 500,000 lives
- UN Security Council diamond sanctions imposed in 1998, lifted in 2002
- Civil war from 1998–2003 and is still volatile
- Rebel groups competed for diamond-rich areas
- The war cost over 3 million lives
- UN sanctions on diamonds were never imposed
- Civil war from 1991–2002
- Rebel group RUF controlled lucrative mines, exporting as much as $125 million of diamonds exported annually
- The war cost at least 50,000 lives
- UN Security Council diamond sanctions imposed in 2000, lifted in 2003
- Conflict diamonds still make up 15% - 20% of the total diamond trade in
- Civil war from 1989–1997 and from 2000–2003
- Used as a channel for exporting conflict diamonds from neighboring
- The war cost at least 200,000 lives and displaced 1 million
- UN Security Council diamond sanctions imposed in 2001, reapplied annually and most recently in October 2006