Blood Diamond in UK

Blood Diamonds: The Conflict Continues

In the late 1990’s the entire world’s attention was captured during the extremely brutal conflict in Sierra Leone. Rebels used illicit rough diamonds to fund wars, purchase arms and they took illegitimate control over diamond mines.

During these conflicts a rebel group known as the Revolutionary United Front killed 75,000 innocent humans, chopped off arms and caused severe bodily mutilations to 20,000 people who worked in diamond mines or lived in diamond villages and all in all around 2 million people fled Sierra Leone in seek of asylum.

This is just one example of the number of lives lost to conflict diamonds; the amount of blood shed over diamonds is unimaginable to our minds.

2006 saw the release of the German-American political war thriller film “Blood Diamonds”. For many of us this was the first glimpse into the “real” diamond trade. The truth behind what funds the wars and conflicts in Western & Central Africa.

So what is being done about it?

In all honesty, nothing. In 2003 a process commonly known as The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) was established in order to prevent “conflict diamonds” from entering the mainstream diamond market. The main aim was to ensure that purchasing diamonds would not fund violence by rebels. However, the scheme has many flaws and has failed to uphold its purpose.

The Kimberley Process has been used as the perfect cover story for the blood diamond and conflict diamond trade.

The main flaw of the Kimberley Process is how loosely they have defined what a conflict diamond is. The conflict diamond definition according to the Kimberley process is a “Rough diamonds mined in an area controlled by insurgent forces whose sale is used to finance anti-government military action”. This clearly ignores the other on-going issues faced with diamond mining. For example, Zimbabwe despite being a notorious country for child slavery, rape, murder and political conflict has its mined diamonds accepted under the Kimberley process.

The broader issues around diamond mining such as poor health & safety, child labour, slavery and unfair pay is not taken into consideration under the Kimberley Process. This is because despite the horrid conditions they are mined under they would still pass as “conflict-free” diamonds as it was not used to fund the armed forces. These “filthy” diamonds are then passed onto consumers who believe they have purchased a conflict free diamond and no blood has been shed.

The second flaw is that the certificate does not apply to any single stone, it applies to a batch of rough diamonds, these are then shipped around the world to be cut and polished. There is no trail to any mined stone and without a tracking system, it is impossible to seek the source of origin of a diamond. You cannot even trace it back to the country of origin let alone the mine the diamond was sourced from.

The Kimberley Process also fails to identify the disastrous environmental effects of diamond mining. You can read more about the environmental impact of diamond mining here