Conflict Diamonds: The Uncut Truth
In Sierra Leone, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and the Ivory Coast the sale of conflict diamonds continues to thrive for many reasons. Rebels make large profits due to the fact that they use free labor. They threaten villagers at gunpoint, forcing them to dig for diamonds. If villagers refuse to follow the soldiers’ orders their limbs are amputated as punishment. Rebels sell the diamonds they obtain on the black market for less than an average diamond.Therefore, wholesalers are able to make a bigger profit. The rebels use the money gained from the diamonds to fund wars.
In 2003, The United Nations Security Council enacted The Kimberley Process to create a system for guaranteeing conflict-free diamonds. The diamond blog states that “The Kimberley Process is a voluntary system that places stringent guidelines on its participants, who account for 99.8% of the world’s diamond producer.” This document requires that diamonds be certified as conflict free before leaving the country. Countries that participate are only allowed to trade with each other. “ As of 2010, 75 governments were taking part] in the KP.” says Global Witness.
Despite the efforts of the United Nations, Global Witness states, “The Kimberley Process does not prevent the trade of all conflict diamonds. The governments of some participant countries are corrupt. Furthermore, the Kimberley Process is not adequately funded, making it impossible to investigate suspected violations.” As a result, smugglers are still able to sell blood diamonds on the black market, and rebels continue to force innocent people to mine. Thousands of people continue to suffer in Central and West African countries. However there are actions you can take to stop this tragedy.
Complying with the Kimberley Process, many companies have decided not to use conflict diamonds. On Zales’ website they guarantee that all of their diamonds are “conflict-free.” The website states, “We take the issue of conflict diamonds very seriously. Zales is making every effort to bar conflict diamonds from its inventory and provide assurances to our customers that the diamonds we sell are from legitimate sources.” #
Kay, a competitor of Zales, also assures potential customers that they only use conflict-free diamonds. Tiffany & Co. even owns their diamond mines just to make sure that they do not use conflict diamonds.
Since buying conflict-free diamonds is so much more expensive, many companies do still use conflict diamonds. Furthermore, conflict-free diamonds are obtained through paid labor, another added expense, while conflict diamonds are obtained illegally and cheaply. For this reason, in order to profit from the sale of conflict-free diamonds retailers need to charge significantly more.
What can you do to help stop the use of conflict diamonds? To start, you can help inform the public. At our school (Beaver Country Day school in Boston, MA), our English class painted dots on a wall to represent the number of slaves in the world. Although we did not come close to reaching our goal of 27,000,000, the sheer amount of space the dots takes up still has that wowing effect that makes people want to know more about the topic. We have also hung posters around our school’s halls with links to sites that raise awareness about slavery.
On an individual level, you can only buy diamonds from the companies listed above or other companies that do not use conflict diamonds. Many companies such as Kay, Zales, and Tiffany & Co. do not use conflict diamonds. If you are wondering if a company uses conflict diamonds, visit their website, many have a section on conflict diamonds.
You can also email companies that do use conflict diamonds and tell them about the topic. Make your governor or state representative aware as well and maybe he or she will help out. You can find how to contact your governor and representatives at http://www.conservativeusa.org/mega-cong.htm. Together, we can stop the use of conflict diamonds.