Quickly concealed, immensely valuable and generally untraceable, stones from rebel-held mines have raised billions of dollars on world markets to finance insurgencies in several african countries against the reputable governments.
The United Nations defines conflict diamonds as ‘diamonds that result from areas controlled by forces or even factions opposed to legitimate and worldwide recognized governments, and are used to account military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the choices of the Security Council’. These gemstones are also referred to as ‘blood diamonds’.
For years these illegal market has allowed cool dude leaders to arm and provide their armies in violation of UN weapons and financial sanctions. Rebel armies in Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo exploited the alluvial gemstone fields of these countries in order to finance wars of insurgency. Alluvial diamond jewelry, unlike those mined in the heavy kimberlite ‘pipes’ of Botswana, Spain and Canada, are found over huge areas of territory, often only a few in . or feet below the surface of the planet. Alluvial diamonds have proven difficult to manage and to regulate. Because of their high weight-to-value ratio, the ease which they can be mined, and endemic file corruption error in the global diamond market, alluvial diamonds became a ready target regarding rebel armies.
The trade incompatible diamonds began in the early 1990s with Jonas Savimbi’s National Partnership for the Total Independence of Angola, but was quickly copied by the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone, with assistance from Liberia’s warlord chief executive, Charles Taylor, who is now getting tried in The Hague for war crimes and has recently showed up within western newspaper for having allegedly talented top-model Naomi Campbell with a few illicit stones.
Even if the diamonds sectors used to inscribe the commerce of conflict diamonds in an optimistic 4% figure, NGOs involved in the fight against this particular trade like Partnership Africa Nova scotia stated that as much as 15% of the world’s $10 billion annual tough diamond production fell into the group of conflict diamonds in the late 1990s.
A most important trade sector regarding South Africa
Today diamonds are mined in about 25 countries yet roughly 49% of diamonds result from central and southern Africa, while significant sources of the mineral are actually discovered in Canada, India, Russia, Brazilian and Australia. South Africa is the fourth diamond producer country in the world simply by value.
The story of diamonds in South Africa begins in 1866, whenever 15-year-old Erasmus Jacobs found the transparent stone on his father’s farm, on the south bank of the Fruit River and Kimberley, the present capital of Northern Cape, became ground-zero for the South African diamond business.
The largest company to operate a gemstone mine in South Africa during the gemstone rush was the De Beers Business, founded by Cecil Rhodes. The De Beers empire was began on a farm owned by two Boer War settlers, brothers Deb. A. and J. N. De Beer. Around 1873 the De Beer brothers sold out to a group of mining syndicates who later merged with Cecil Rhodes’ pumping company to form ‘De Beers Consolidated Mines’.
Today De Beers alone mines about half the world’s annual diamond output. It also controls as much as many of these of global diamond sales via its Central Selling Organization, which usually purchases and stockpiles diamonds from other suppliers to keep availability low plus prices high. De Beers has been known to be a major purchaser of turmoil diamonds from Angola, Sierra Leone and other African conflict zones.
Through the years, Kimberly lost its relevance in the production of diamonds, but is still the De Beers’ headquarter as well as the start point of the movement which usually involved the major diamond companies plus was aimed to put an end to the trade of conflict diamonds.
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme
Given that 1998, UN’s Security Council offers mounted a determined campaign to prevent the trade in conflict diamonds, starting investigations into the illicit trade in uncut diamonds, naming individuals plus countries suspected of trafficking in the stones and pressuring the secretive diamond industry to adopt measures to maintain the gems out of the international market place.
Against a widening debate about the humanitarian and economic impact associated with comprehensive trade sanctions on civilians and neighbouring states, the Council’s diamond campaign was part of a continuous UN effort to make sanctions more selective, better targeted and more rigorously enforced instruments for the maintenance of worldwide peace and security.
It is extremely hard to distinguish one uncut diamond from another, making it easy to mix illicit diamonds with legal stones. Furthermore, the principal world market for uncut diamonds, Antwerp, is legendary for that laxity of its regulations on the dealing with of the stones. According to a study on diamonds and conflict in Sierra Leone by Partnership Africa North america, Antwerp dealers routinely settle multi-million dollar transactions in cash and rarely offer receipts.
Since the South African leading cartel De Drinks had successfully resisted boycott stresses from anti-apartheid activists in the 1971s and 1980s, there seemed little reason to believe that the UN will be more successful.
In contrast to previous efforts, nevertheless , there was growing consumer awareness of the link between diamonds and African issues in the US and Europe, where the frustrating majority of diamond jewellery is sold. NGOs, including Partnership Africa Canada and Global Witness, had begun to campaign against blood diamonds within industrialized countries. Graphic press reviews tying diamonds to the brutal insurgency in Sierra Leone began to come in fashion magazines, threatening the industry’s expensively nurtured image in its core consumer base.
The industry wanted to avoid backlashes such as those against the fur market in the 1990s and was more receptive, therefore , to Security Authorities calls for a global tracking system regarding uncut diamonds that would identify the origins of the stones, confirm their own legal export from the country associated with origin and establish a paper trail of ownership. Addressing industry market leaders at the World Diamond Congress in Antwerp on 18 July 2000, UN Ambassador Robert Fowler stressed that the Council was eager to prevent damaging the legitimate diamond business but ‘the diamond industry must take the lead, and be seen to become taking the lead, in demonstrating publicly that its products are conflict-free’.
In the following day the two principal industry associations, the World Federation of Diamond Bourses and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association, adopted a joint proposal to establish a global certification programme for uncut diamonds. They declared that ‘the solution to the conflict diamonds is actually a moral imperative above all others’.
In 2002, the UN authorized the Kimberley Process Certification Structure (KPCS) aimed at preventing conflict precious gems from entering the legitimate tough diamond market. Yet major diamond-producing countries remain worried about the influence of the conflict diamond campaign around the legitimate trade.
Former South Africa Minister of Minerals and Power Affairs Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka did not attend a meeting in London in October 2002 to discuss UK proposals to have an international treaty on diamond product sales. The reason for her absence, South African-american UN Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo informed the UN commission Africa Recovery in early December the same year, is that ‘the London conference was called to discuss a formal treaty’ on conflict diamonds.
‘If you go the particular [UN] treaty route you open it up to 189 countries, most of whom have nothing on the line. ‘ For South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Angola, he continued, ‘the diamond industry is our savior. Many thousands of people are affected. Therefore it is important for us to protect the industry as such’.
How effective the Kimberly regulations has been in keeping conflict diamond jewelry off the fingers of consumers is also a topic of debate. Ambassador Fowler informed Africa Recovery that, while no controls can be 100% effective in blocking items as small and as valuable as gems, they would help. The campaign, he asserted, has already harm the rebels. ‘The traders understand we are watching, and those who still buy are demanding a higher risk high quality. ‘
On the other hand, Mr Jakkie Cilliers, head of the South African Institute of Strategic Studies, told the particular media that the real issue is definitely arms, not diamonds. ‘If the major powers were serious about ending African-american conflicts they would halt the trade in arms. But the major forces produce arms, so they go after expensive diamonds instead.
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They have a conflict of interest. ‘
Failure or success?
Following the implementation of the Kimberley Scheme, the particular trade of conflict diamonds provides swollen to less than 1% of the entire market. ‘Through the worldwide implementation of the Kimberley Process Accreditation Scheme – said in a declaration Ambassador J. D. Bindenagel, Former U. S. Special Negotiator to get Conflict Diamonds – we have begun to fulfil the international community’s obligation to those who have suffered in Africa’s wars by banning the particular trade in conflict diamonds. We have eliminated conflict diamond financing in Sierra Leone and are committed to bring the arises from the diamond trade to benefit the people of Sierra Leone, Angola and Liberia as well as all other gemstone producing countries such as Botswana to help themselves support economic development of their own countries. ‘
Sierra Leone, which usually exported less than $2 million well worth of diamonds legally in 2000, now exports between $100 plus $150 million annually, earning the concomitant tax revenues (PAC Annual Review 2009). There have been similar beneficial changes in other countries.