Diamonds have a history of fueling wars causing human right violations and death of innocent people. Major diamond producing nations are in Africa mainly Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. There are mines that produce diamonds in these nations in violation of human rights.
A conflict or blood diamond is any diamond that originates from a country where the profit from the diamond industry is used for funding arms trade or funding of military organizations in violation of the United Nations Security Council directives. They are produced under unfair labor practices like payment of low wages and employment of child labor. Rebel forces in the diamond producing nations smuggle out rough diamonds to other neighboring countries to finance their weapon purchase program and to fund conflicts in other countries. Once these diamonds are sold in the market it becomes almost impossible to identify them.
Conflict-free diamonds are those diamonds that go through a certification process. The origin of these diamonds can be traced to its origin, the mine it belongs with, its country of origin, and the consumer who owns it. This will help in distinguishing a legitimate diamond from the blood diamond.
Diamonds and the UN Security Council
Illicit diamond mining and its smuggling were the causes of wars in Sierra Leone and Angola. Sanctions of the UN Security Council (Chapter VII, United Nations Charter) has been in place against rebels in Angola, Sierra Leone and Liberia whereby mining and smuggling of blood diamonds has been banned.
Role of other Agencies
The Conflict-free Diamond Council has already issued directives for ensuring that the diamonds sold in the market are conflict-free. These guidelines also enable identification of the conflict-free diamond from a bloody diamond. According to these directives the processing of the diamond e.g., mining, cutting and polishing, should be done in the same region without crossing the national borders. The diamond should be laser-graved with a serial number and data base should be maintained. There should be a diamond identification system viz., a signature or a fingerprint for tracing the diamond to its origin. Global labor practices and fair wage laws should be in place in mines and in polishing industry and local residents must be employed at each process level. This is to avoid a situation where diamonds processed using unfair labor practices easily become bloodied although they could be conflict-free. There must be a certificate from the regional government program certifying the product authenticity.
However, more actions are needed for ensuring peace in the region. All governmental and non-governmental agencies, diamond merchants, financial institutions, Arms manufacturers and the civil society as a whole should play a major role in strict enforcement of the UN Security Council decisions.