A diamond merchant shows his wares June 15, 2001
in Kenema, Sierra Leone.
© Chris Hondros/Getty Images.
Some diamonds have helped fund devastating civil wars in Africa, destroying the lives of millions. Conflict diamonds are those sold in order to fund armed conflict and civil war. Profits from the trade in conflict diamonds, worth billions of dollars, were used by warlords and rebels to buy arms during the devastating wars in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sierra Leone. Wars that have cost an estimated 3.7 million lives.
While the wars in Angola and Sierra Leone are now over, and fighting in the DRC has decreased, the problem of conflict diamonds hasn't gone away. Diamonds mined in rebel-held areas in Côte d'Ivoire, a West African country in the midst of a volatile conflict, are reaching the international diamond market. Conflict diamonds from Liberia are also being smuggled into neighboring countries and exported as part of the legitimate diamond trade.
What's being done to stop conflict diamonds?
A major milestone occurred in 2003, when a government-run initiative known as the Kimberley Process was introduced to stem the flow of conflict diamonds. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) imposes requirements on participants to certify that shipments of rough diamonds are conflict-free.
Amnesty International USA is proud to announce its support of the film Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Edward Zwick. Set against the backdrop of the chaos and civil war that enveloped 1990s Sierra Leone, it tells the story of two African men whose fates become intertwined in a quest to recover a rare pink diamond that can transform their lives. Blood Diamond Curriculum Guide (PDF)
Help us survey diamond retailers
Despite its pledge to support the Kimberley Process and Clean Diamond Trade Act, the Diamond Industry has fallen short of implementing the necessary policies for self-regulation. The retail sector in particular fails to provide sufficient assurance to consumers that the diamonds they sell are conflict-free. That is why we need your help to find out how policies are being communicated at the shop level, and what actions, if any, are being taken to ensure that policies are more than just rhetoric. At the same time, you’ll be sending a strong message to your local jewelers that their role in diamond-fueled conflict must end. Download our action guide to find out how (PDF)
Blood Diamonds: Torture and Corruption in Angola (& here)
Video from Melissa Thompson.