Diamonds are a woman’s most cherished friend. Women all over the world treasure these sparkling wonders as they believe that diamonds enhance their beauty manifold. Ultra-rich and sophisticated women love to flaunt their diamond jewelry but do these socialites ever stop to think about the origin and legitimacy of these pretty baubles?
At one point of time the world market was flooded with what we call today conflict diamonds. These were diamonds that were mined forcefully in war-affected areas and traded illegally in the underground markets to finance conflicts launched by the rebels, militia or warlords against recognized governments. Innocent people and even helpless children were forced to mine these diamonds under inhuman working conditions, often at very low or no wages at all. These blood diamonds were then traded for staggering amounts to fund illegal activities.
The blood-stained history of conflict diamonds
Angola got its independence from the colonial Portuguese rule in November 1975. However, there were uprisings since 1974, which led to the birth of Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA). These were involved in a civil war that started in 1974 and continued till 2001. UNITA traded illegally in diamonds worth US$3.72 billion during the period 1992-98. This huge amount was used in the funding of the rebellious outfits. However, in 1998 the UN Security Council passed a resolution banning the dealing of conflict diamonds in Angola.
Liberia was also involved in a bloody civil war from 1989 to 2001. The then President of Liberia, Charles G Taylor, supported the Revolutionary United Front, which carried out gory and inhuman terrorist activities in Sierra Leone, a neighbor. The Liberian president helped the outfits by supplying them with weapons and training in return for conflict diamonds. The UN once again came in to the picture and put a stop to the illegal diamond trade there.
Benefits of non-conflict diamonds
Non-conflict diamonds are really beneficial to the people of the countries where these are found and mined. Millions of people enjoy healthcare benefits as a result of the income generated in the diamond sector. In Botswana, children up to the age of 13 get the benefit of free education from the profits generated by diamonds. More than 10 million worldwide benefit from the diamond industry in some way or the other.
The ban on conflict diamonds
In 2000, the World Diamond Congress came up with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) that empowered the diamond industry to stop the sale of conflict diamonds. The scheme envisaged the following:
- Issuing international certificates for the export and import of diamonds
- All countries to opt for only sealed packages of diamonds.
- Trafficking in conflict diamonds to be treated as a criminal offence.
- Imposition of ban on anyone dealing in conflict diamond diamonds.
As a result of the movement against the trade in conflict diamonds, more than 99% of the global supply is now certified to be non-conflict diamonds.