I watched the film ‘Blood Diamond’ at the weekend which actually inspired this post. It’s something that I had a vague idea about but the film shed light on the subject and lead me to go on a little researching mission. I thought I’d write this post mainly to shed awareness on a subject that a lot of people are totally unaware of. I know my girlfriend hadn’t heard of the term ‘blood diamond’ before and I’m sure a lot of readers will probably be in the same boat. Well, I guess I hope to change that in this post. So leading on from my post how ethical are you when it comes to fashion? I’m going to explain what the deal is with blood diamonds.
What is a blood diamond?
Blood diamonds are also known as “conflict diamonds” and are usually produced in areas controlled by rebel forces that are opposed to governments. The rebels use violence to force men, women and children into slave labour to mine the diamonds. They then use the diamonds to purchase arms and fund their military actions. Through out the entire operation violence, threats and bribes are used hence the term ‘blood diamond’.
The diamonds are smuggled onto the international diamond trade and then sold as legitimate stones. The flow of conflict diamonds originated mainly from West Africa in places like Sierra Leone, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Ivory Coast.
You may have recently remembered Naomi Campbell was in the News as it was alleged she accepted ‘blood diamonds’ from the former Liberian warlord Charles Taylor.
What’s being done?
Eight years ago an international body, backed by the UN, was founded to make sure traders and consumers could identify blood diamonds and prevent them being traded. This was known as The Kimberley Process. The Kimberley Process requires each nation to prove their diamond exports are produced legitimately. The diamonds also have to be accompanied by a certificate to certify that they are not blood diamonds. Any nation that is part of The Kimberley Process cannot trade with non members. This process has helped to dramatically cut down on the number of blood diamonds finding their way onto the international market.
Conflict Diamonds on the Market
As I mentioned The Kimberley Process has helped cut down on conflict diamonds in the international market, however there are still some issues. Zimbabwe has no ban on the sale of their stones even though they are mined under serious human rights abuses. The Kimberley Process regards blood diamonds as those mined by oppressive rebel groups, not governments. So diamonds from Zimbabwe are accompanied with a “conflict free” certificate even though they have funded murders, oppressive labour and rape.
In addition there are still African countries like Cote d’Ivoire and The Democratic Republic of Congo that are either too hard to monitor due to unrest or still have active rebel groups that are involved in diamond mining. In 2008 Venezuela withdrew from The Kimberley Process for not complying. However, it still has an active mining industry even though it can’t officially export them meaning they have been smuggled out illegally.
So it’s evident that although The Kimberley Process has done a lot to curb the exporting and trading of conflict diamonds they are still finding their way onto the market. So if you’re buying diamonds it’s crucial to make sure you get some sort of documentation that the diamond your buying originated from a conflict free source.
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