Blood Diamond Trade & The Illegal Trade of Diamonds
It is said in the modern world that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. This is mostly for their alluring and captivating rigidity, beauty, and sparkle. As diamonds played a major role in the jewelry industry for years, and has been used as fine jewelry for women in many various regions around the world that have made it a very lucrative commodity. The diamond also has the highest rigidity and thermal conductivity of any material, and it is these factors that determine the major industrial claim of diamond in cutting and polishing tools that predates history, as researchers recently found evidence that the Chinese used diamonds around 2000 years ago to polish materials (Chinese Made, 2005). However “the actual mining of diamonds as an industry can be traced back to India to around 800 to 600 b.c.” (Brennen, 1996), It is believed that India traded diamonds with china, which in turn used it as a cutting and polishing material.
However the diamond trade has been a major controversial issue for many years because the diamond industry has been funding weapons and supporting violence in disputed territories in Africa (United Nations, 2001). The illegal traders around the world buy illegal diamonds in exchange for supplying weapons to African rebels that in turn force children, men, and women to succumb into their demands by using violence. I think that through raising awareness in the consumer about the illegal diamond trade, the Kimberly process and the restrictions on diamond conflict zones, the diamond trade will become systematized and their purchase of legal diamonds may provide many benefits to various regions around the world.
The illegal diamonds that are produced in rebel controlled regions and areas that are opposed to the internationally recognized governments are called blood diamonds or conflict diamonds (Blood diamonds – conflict diamonds, n.d). These conflict diamonds are being used by rebel forces to purchase weapons and fund violence and military actions against the government and oppress the people of the region. These diamonds have been stolen during shipment, seized during mining operations from a legitimate producer, or produced by the forced labor of women, men and children. The illegal diamonds are then smuggled into international diamond trade and sold as legitimate diamonds. It is believed that many weapons dealers and dishonest diamond traders enable the actions of these violent rebellious acts (Allen, 2010).
Horrified by these findings, (Lustgarten, 2006) the United Nations and many other organizations started working on a way to control the diamond industry and impose some sort of agreements that provide the buyers with certifications that prove that these diamonds have been legally produced, sold and exported through legal channels which have been approved by an authority, and are not conflict diamonds that aid terrorist acts and promote violence in rebel regions. This control over the flow of illegal diamonds is imposed by providing a certification through what is called the Kimberly process (Blood Diamonds – Conflict Diamonds, n.d.). The Kimberly process was “Established in 2003… and requires certification of diamond exports as ‘nonconflict’ diamonds” (Kavilanz, 2006).
This regulation has helped undermine the illegal diamond trade and limit financial resources to the rebels by banning the diamonds they produced as illegal and not sellable to legal retailers, and diamond producers around the world. The legal diamonds are now provided with certifications that allow the producers to confirm that these diamonds have not been part of the illegal diamond trade, and retail customers are encouraged to be provided with such certificates upon buying diamonds from sellers. Thus, significantly reducing the number of conflict diamonds. The World Diamond Council estimates that 99% of all diamonds are now conflict free (Background – Kimberley Process, n.d.).
The Kimberly process was established for humanitarian reasons and not political reasons. For instance, the policy supports people in Africa by providing financial assistance and manpower to them in healthcare, education and many other ways. However, since “an estimated 65% of the world’s diamonds come from Africa” (Diamond facts, 2011) the Kimberly process officials believe that the way to solve the blood diamond issue is not to ban diamond trade completely because it helps develop the exporting countries. Instead they believe that through educating them and guiding them with humanitarian laws and regulations, they will prosper, and diminish or end the illegal diamond trade (Izhakoff, 2011). Many of the countries that were in conflict before the Kimberly process certification are now enjoying better living situations, access to healthcare, education, and have ended their illegal diamond trade. In addition, some like Angola (Kimberly process statistics, 2010) and Sierra Leone (Fact#7- Diamond Facts, n.d.) have been declared legal to export diamonds as they have complied with the Kimberly process certification scheme.
The diamond industry and trade provides work for over 10 million people and brings economic stability to wherever the activity occurs. If the diamond trade is made completely illegal, these people will lose their jobs and some of those regions will not prosper. The “Support of the Kimberly Process by all nations could convert slavery into jobs and smuggling into respected commerce…the efforts are working… Today, almost all of the diamonds come from conflict free sources” (Blood Diamonds – Conflict Diamonds, n.d.). This being said, the global impact on the diamond industry made by the Kimberly process is evidently successful as the diamond trade today has many rewarding benefits on African and other countries. It provides an estimated 5 million people with access to healthcare globally, enables children in Botswana to receive free education up to the age of 13, funds a community based program to care for orphans in South Africa, and generates over 40% of Namibia’s annual exports. Finally, the revenue from diamond trade is instrumental to the research and fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
In conclusion, the diamond trade helps benefits many economies and emerging countries deprived from infrastructure, healthcare and education. Further imposing sanctions on illegal trade and help make the rest of the world join the legal diamond trade and support the Kimberly process should help advance economies, help politically and economically stabilize African countries and diminish the illegal diamond trade. The diamond trade can also help educate children around the world and provide many people with free healthcare. It can generate enormous GDP for exporting countries that will benefit and develop the infrastructure and education systems of such countries. Additional education about the illegal diamond trade may lead consumers to help stop the cruel intentions of rebel forces and the oppression they are imposing on their people. Smarter consumers will help stop buying illegal diamonds that harm many nations.
Allen, K. (2010, June 14). Zimbabwean diamonds still bloody. BBC Learning. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/language/wordsinthenews/2010/06/100614_witn_diamonds.shtml
Background – Kimberly Process. (n.d.). Kimberlyprocess.com. Retrieved from http://www.kimberleyprocess.com/background/index_en.html
Blood Diamonds – Conflict Diamonds. (n.d.). Geology.com. Retrieved from http://geology.com/articles/blood-diamonds.shtml
Brennan, C. (1996). Diamond. In How products are made, Retrieved from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2896600044.html
Chinese made first use of diamond. (2005, may 17). BBC News. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4555235.stm
Epstein, E. (1982). Have you ever tried to sell a diamond. [The Atlantic, 249](2). Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1982/02/have-you-ever-tried-to-sell-a-diamond/4575/?single_page=true
Fact 7 – Diamond Facts (n.d.) Diamondfacts.org Retrieved from http://www.diamondfacts.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=102&Itemid=149&lang=en
Izhakoff, E. (2011). Kimberly process is about humanity not politics. Retrieved from http://www.worlddiamondcouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=197:kimberley-process-intercessional-meeting-2011-kinshasa-drc&catid=42:latest-news&Itemid=197
Kavilanz, P. (2006, September 11). Jewelers sweat a ‘blood diamond’ holiday. CNN Money. Retrieved from http://cnnmoney.printthis.clickability.com/pt/cpt?expire=-1&title=%27Blood+Diamond%27+has+jewelry+sellers+jittery+-+Sep.+11%2C+2006&urlID=19447984&action=cpt&partnerID=2200&fb=Y&url=http%3A%2F%2Fmoney.cnn.com%2F2006%2F09%2F11%2Fnews%2Fcompanies%2Fdiamondjewelry_movie%2Findex.htm
Kimberly process statistics. (2008). Diamond production [Graphs]. Retrieved from https://kimberleyprocessstatistics.org/static/pdfs/public_statistics/2010/2010Charts.pdf
Lustgarten, A. (2006, October 2). Diamond mines are forever. CNN Money. Retrieved from http://cnnmoney.printthis.clickability.com/pt/cpt?expire=-1&title=Diamond+mines+are+forever+-+October+2%2C+2006&urlID=19686571&action=cpt&partnerID=2200&fb=Y&url=http%3A%2F%2Fmoney.cnn.com%2Fmagazines%2Ffortune%2Ffortune_archive%2F2006%2F10%2F02%2F8387622%2Findex.htm
The Facts – Diamond Facts. (n.d.). Diamondfacts.org. Retrieved from http://www.diamondfacts.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=86&Itemid=133&lang=en
United Nations. (2001). Conflict diamonds sanctions and war. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/peace/africa/Diamond.html
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