Conflict Diamonds - Still a Problem

by Keith Thompson - Date: 2006-12-02 - Word Count: 560 Share This!

With all the hype lately concerning the film "Blood Diamonds" releasing in the US on December 8th, maybe it's time to examine whether or not the conflict diamond trade is still a source for major diamond manufacturers, or has the movie used this controversial subject as fodder for film. This is not intended as a movie review; indeed I have not seen the movie as yet; but more an examination of where the diamond markets are at the moment, and whether or not the use of conflict diamonds is still prevalent today.

So what exactly are conflict diamonds. Simply put, conflict diamonds are diamonds that have been mined from and within countries that were using the profits from these sales to further aggression towards their own people or neighbors. The UN defines conflict diamonds as " that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council." Hence the title of the movie, "blood diamonds." Specifically, most of the attention regarding conflict diamonds has focused on central and western Africa, with most of the diamonds in question coming from countries such as Sierra Leone, Angola, Botswana and the Congo. The terrible conflicts in Sierra Leone and Angola in the 90's were fueled in part by conflict diamonds. At one time conflict diamonds accounted for 4% of the world's rough diamonds.

While at it's height in the 1990's, trade in conflict diamonds has been a subject of intense international scrutiny since then, leading to the formation of the Kimberly Process, a certification of authenticity designed to keep conflict diamonds out of the diamond markets, and thus reduce their appeal to those who would attempt to profit from them from doing so. Created in the early 2000's, and now ratified by over seventy countries, the Kimberly Process certificate attached to a diamond shipment certifies that each shipment of rough diamonds leaving a country must be in a tamper-proof container, accompanied by a government- certified Kimberly Process certificate, numbered and contents properly identified. They can only be shipped to another Kimberly Process country and failure to adhere to these rules can lead to sanctions, confiscation and eventual exclusion from the diamond trade altogether.

So what has been the effect of the Kimberly Process on the practice of using conflict diamonds? Certainly the diamond manufacturers of the world have every incentive to make their house as clean as possible, and by tightening their ranks and joining together, it has made a difference. Kimberly Process participating countries account for 99% of the world's production of rough diamonds. The remaining 1% that still has a conflict diamond problem can be traced to small hot spots in the Republic of Congo, Liberia, and The Ivory Coast, along with some concerns on South America. Indeed, the retail diamond industry has an obvious vested interest to see that it's diamonds are conflict-free and without taint. In a ultra-competitive business such as the diamond trade, reputation is everything.

In short the Kimberly Process has made great strides in helping rid the world diamond trade of conflict diamonds. While not totally eradicated, the world's diamond traders have gone a long way toward erasing a stain that threatened their industry. It sill may make for an exciting movie, though!

Related Tags: blood diamonds, blood diamond, conflict diamonds, diamonds, kimberly process, sierra leone, congo

Keith Thompson is a diamond devotee and the owner of, where you can find loads of useful information on Diamond Jewelry

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