Bloodstream Diamonds: A Never Solved Africa Drama

Simply concealed, immensely valuable and mainly untraceable, stones from rebel-held mines have raised billions of dollars on world markets to finance insurgencies in several african countries against the genuine governments.

The United Nations defines conflict diamonds as ‘diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or even factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those government authorities, or in contravention of the choices of the Security Council’. These expensive diamonds are also referred to as ‘blood diamonds’.

For years these illegal market has allowed rebel leaders to arm and equip 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 diamond fields of these countries in order to finance wars of insurgency. Alluvial diamond jewelry, unlike those mined in the heavy kimberlite ‘pipes’ of Botswana, The ussr and Canada, are found over vast areas of territory, often only a few inches or feet below the surface of the world. 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 corruption in the global diamond market, alluvial diamonds became a ready target for rebel armies.

The trade in conflict diamonds began in the early 1990s with Jonas Savimbi’s National Partnership for the Total Independence of Angola, but was quickly copied by the Groundbreaking United Front in Sierra Leone, with assistance from Liberia’s warlord president, Charles Taylor, who is now becoming tried in The Hague for battle 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 industries used to inscribe the commerce associated with conflict diamonds in an optimistic 4% figure, NGOs involved in the fight against this particular trade like Partnership Africa Europe stated that as much as 15% from the world’s $10 billion annual tough diamond production fell into the category of conflict diamonds in the late 1990s.

A most important trade sector to get South Africa

Today diamonds are mined in about 25 countries yet roughly 49% of diamonds result from central and southern Africa, whilst significant sources of the mineral have already been discovered in Canada, India, Russia, Brazilian and Australia. South Africa is the fourth diamond producer country in the world by value.

The story of diamonds in South Africa begins in 1866, whenever 15-year-old Erasmus Jacobs found a transparent stone on his father’s farm, on the south bank of the Fruit River and Kimberley, the present funds 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 diamond rush was the De Beers Corporation, founded by Cecil Rhodes. The De Beers empire was started on a farm owned by two Boer War settlers, brothers D. A. and J. N. Sobre Beer. Around 1873 the Sobre Beer brothers sold out to a group of mining syndicates who later merged with Cecil Rhodes’ pumping firm to form ‘De Beers Consolidated Mines’.

Today De Beers alone mines about half the world’s annual gemstone output. It also controls as much as 80% of global diamond sales by means of its Central Selling Organization, which purchases and stockpiles diamonds from other suppliers to keep availability low and prices high. De Beers had been known to be a major purchaser of issue diamonds from Angola, Sierra Leone and other African conflict zones.

Over time, Kimberly lost its relevance within the production of diamonds, but remains the De Beers’ headquarter as well as the start point of the movement which involved the major diamond companies plus was aimed to put an end towards the trade of conflict diamonds.

The particular Kimberley Process Certification Scheme

Given that 1998, UN’s Security Council provides mounted a determined campaign to prevent the trade in conflict diamonds, launching investigations into the illicit trade in uncut diamonds, naming individuals plus countries suspected of trafficking within the stones and pressuring the secretive diamond industry to adopt measures to keep the gems out of the international market.

Against a widening debate in regards to the humanitarian and economic impact associated with comprehensive trade sanctions on civilians and neighbouring states, the Council’s diamond campaign was part of an ongoing UN effort to make sanctions a lot more selective, better targeted and more carefully enforced instruments for the maintenance of international peace and security.

It is extremely difficult to distinguish one uncut diamond through another, making it easy to mix illicit diamonds with legal stones. Furthermore, the principal world market for uncut diamonds, Antwerp, is legendary for the laxity of its regulations on the handling of the stones. According to a study upon diamonds and conflict in Sierra Leone by Partnership Africa Canada, Antwerp dealers routinely settle multi-million dollar transactions in cash and rarely offer receipts.

Since the Southern African leading cartel De Drinks had successfully resisted boycott challenges from anti-apartheid activists in the 1970s and 1980s, there seemed small reason to believe that the UN would be more successful.

In contrast to previous efforts, however , there was growing consumer awareness of the link between diamonds and African conflicts in the US and Europe, where the mind-boggling majority of diamond jewellery is sold. NGOs, including Partnership Africa Canada plus 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.
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The industry wanted to avoid backlashes such as those against the fur market in the 1990s and was more receptive, therefore , to Security Council calls for a global tracking system regarding uncut diamonds that would identify the particular origins of the stones, confirm their legal export from the country of origin and establish a paper trail of ownership. Addressing industry commanders at the World Diamond Congress in Antwerp on 18 July 2k, UN Ambassador Robert Fowler emphasized that the Council was eager to avoid damaging the legitimate diamond industry but ‘the diamond industry should take the lead, and be seen to be taking the lead, in demonstrating widely that its products are conflict-free’.

Within the following day the two principal industry organizations, 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 issue is a moral imperative above all others’.

In 2002, the UN accepted the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) aimed at preventing conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate tough diamond market. Yet major diamond-producing countries remain worried about the effect of the conflict diamond campaign for 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 for an international treaty on diamond sales. The reason for her absence, South African UN Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo told the UN commission Africa Recuperation in early December the same year, is that ‘the London conference was known as to discuss a formal treaty’ on conflict diamonds.

‘If you go the particular [UN] treaty path you open it up to 189 nations, most of whom have nothing at stake. ‘ For South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Angola, he continued, ‘the diamond industry is our lifeline. Many thousands of people are affected. So it is important for us to protect the industry since such’.

How effective the Kimberly regulations has been in keeping conflict diamonds off the fingers of consumers is also a subject of debate. Ambassador Fowler told Africa Recovery that, while simply no controls can be 100% effective in blocking items as small and as beneficial as gems, they would help. The campaign, he asserted, has already hurt the rebels. ‘The traders know we are watching, and those who still buy are demanding a higher risk superior. ‘

On the other hand, Mr Jakkie Cilliers, head of the South African Start of Strategic Studies, told the particular media that the real issue is definitely arms, not diamonds. ‘If the powers were serious about ending Africa conflicts they would halt the trade in arms. But the major power produce arms, so they go after diamond jewelry instead. They have a conflict of interest. ‘

Failure or success?

After the implementation of the Kimberley Scheme, the trade of conflict diamonds provides swollen to less than 1% from the entire market. ‘Through the globally implementation of the Kimberley Process Accreditation Scheme – said in a declaration Ambassador J. D. Bindenagel, Previous U. S. Special Negotiator intended for Conflict Diamonds – we have started to fulfil the international community’s obligation to those who have suffered within 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 proceeds from the diamond trade to benefit the people of Sierra Leone, Angola and Liberia as well as all other diamond producing countries such as Botswana to assist themselves support economic development of their countries. ‘