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’.
Witness was the first organisation to bring the world’s attention to this
problem. Our ground-breaking 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.
had huge implications. It was the first time that the trade in diamonds was widely
understood to have played 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
these positive steps, the issue has not gone away. Global Witness has since documented
links between many other internationally traded natural resources and conflict
and human rights abuses, globally.
from diamonds helped fund the 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. Despite these links, diamonds from Marange flow
onto international markets.
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. The
United Nations General Assembly has encouraged strengthening of the Kimberley
Process to ensure it ‘remains relevant’.
Increasing evidence of the government-led certification scheme’s limitations
have also seen the World Diamond Council not only take up the call for KP
reform, but, critically, speak to the need for the diamond industry to change its own behaviour to ensure diamonds
are sourced and traded responsibly.
view of wide-ranging harms associated with the diamond industry, companies involved
in the trade of diamonds must act with due care. They must check their supply
chains to ensure that they do not facilitate the trade in diamonds linked to
human rights abuses and other harms and to ensure that these diamonds do not
enter global markets. Then they must report on their efforts. This process,
known as supply chain due diligence, is essential if we want to end the trade in
diamonds associated with abuse. Why should a customer pay thousands for a
luxury good when that good is linked to environmental, social and human harm?
for consumers, let jewellers and the companies in their supply chains know you
care by asking a few simple questions. Ask to see how they know they are
sourcing diamonds responsibly. Then ask
to see their human rights due diligence report (a Kimberly Process certificate
alone does not guarantee anything, unfortunately). All responsible companies
should have this report and should make it public. Together, let’s stress:
diamond-fuelled violence and harms should no longer be tolerated.