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Conflict Diamonds

The illicit trade in diamonds has funded brutal wars and human rights abuses for decades. Despite significant progress, the problem has not gone away. Read more

Consumers want to buy ‘clean diamonds.’ It is not hard to understand why. Diamonds have funded brutal wars in countries such as Angola, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, resulting in the death and displacement of millions of people. There is a reason they are dubbed ‘Blood Diamonds’.

TEMPLO bullet resizeGlobal Witness was the first organisation to bring the world’s attention to this problem. Our groundbreaking report, A Rough Trade, released in 1998, exposed the role of diamonds in funding the civil war in Angola. It also highlighted a global problem. It thrust the secretive practices of the global diamond industry into the spotlight for the first time and prompted governments and industry to take action to eliminate conflict diamonds from global markets.

This had huge implications. The trade in diamonds was understood to have a key role in funding conflict.  An international governmental certification scheme, known as the Kimberley Process, was set up to prevent the trade in conflict diamonds.

But despite these positive steps, the issue has not gone away.

Profits from diamonds helped fund the current conflict in the Central African Republic, which has left hundreds of thousands of people displaced from their homes. In Zimbabwe, Global Witness has exposed links between mining companies operating in the Marange area and members of the military and secret police. The involvement in the diamond sector of security forces raises concerns over diamonds being used to finance human rights abuses.

Global Witness wants to break this link. We want the citizens of diamond-rich countries, not corrupt elites, to benefit from their country’s natural resources. The Kimberley Process is not going to clean up the trade alone. Companies involved in the trade of diamonds must act responsibly. They must check their supply chains to ensure that conflict diamonds do not enter global markets. Then they must report on their findings. This process, known as due diligence, is essential if we want to stamp out the trade in blood diamonds.

As for consumers, let jewellers know you care by asking a few simple questions. Ask to see how they know they are sourcing diamonds their responsibly. Then ask to see their human rights due diligence report. All responsible companies should have one. Together, let’s stress: diamond-fuelled violence should no longer be tolerated.