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An Introduction to Conflict Diamonds and the Kimberley Process

NGOs and movies have helped raise awareness of conflict diamonds, and governments have taken steps to stop their trade. How effective are these measures?

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Blood Diamond takes place in war-torn Sierra Leone in 1999, with the countryside overrun by rebels terrorizing and enslaving locals to harvest diamonds subsequently sold to finance their war efforts. While the characters are fictionalized, atrocities like those depicted in the film do occur around diamond mining in war-torn countries. Furthermore, combatants did use diamonds to fund the Sierra Leone civil war as well as other conflicts.

The First Steps Against Conflict Diamonds

Due to the lack of transparency in the diamond industry at the time, consumers might never know if their diamonds were conflict or “blood diamonds.”

Around 1998, the prominent NGO Global Witness published A Rough Trade, a report on conflict diamonds and the Angolan civil war. Soon after, the United Nations passed a Security Council Resolution condemning the Angolan political faction UNITA for using diamonds to fund its civil war.

In 2000, southern African diamond-producing countries meet in Kimberley, South Africa to address the conflict diamonds issue. (This is the location of the famous Kimberley diamond mine, also known as the Big Hole). That same year, the World Diamond Congress in Belgium called for the creation of an international certification scheme to regulate diamond…

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