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Diamond More Than Just A Pretty Gem

Aug 30, 2008
When someone says 'diamonds are forever', they very often refer to a De Beers advertisement or product used for many years to promote this product as an exquisite gift for their loved ones. However the diamond gem has been a subject of much controversy and struggle, especially for the people in Africa. As the movie 'Blood Diamond' will summarise, it has been a product of mush bloodshed, conflict and a high number of death tolls.

Since diamonds are girl's best friend, many people are unaware of its importance in the world. This is not merely just a pretty little gem nested onto an expensive metal ring. These are something that has seen much historical controversy in the war torn parts of Africa. However, on the flipside, where diamonds are mined legally, they have played a part in improving the quality of life in Africa, more specifically in funding for education for young people, health education, and livelihood for many of the African people and create developmental projects.

Where the term conflict diamonds is used is when the diamonds are traded illegally, which is believed to fund conflict and military weapons in war torn areas, such as central and Western Africa. The first known instances of conflict diamonds came about during the early 1990's in Sierra Leone, whereby illicit mining of diamond were performed funding the conflict ridden country. Other areas of conflict were notable in Liberia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Ivory Coast.

Sierra Leone was one of the countries which had suffered a brutal civil war for over ten years, from 1991 through 2002. This had sparked the Revolution United Front (RUF) who had terrorized the population, taking control of the diamond trading and using the funds to prolong the war. Approximately half a million of Sierra Leones people were forced to flee the country, with thousands missing and numerous killed.

The UN had established one of the biggest Peacekeeping group (UNAMSIL), sending a mission to Sierra Leone in order to disarm and demobilise the illegal trading. By 2002 the mission had succeeded in their goal, abolishing the conflict diamonds trade. The mission had also enabled peace in Sierra Leone, with the country becoming a Democratic country. However, the diamond mining now plays a crucial part in developing the country, with the funding enabling a more stable future for the country. This is done through Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS).

The KPCS was set up in 2003 to prevent the illegal trading of rough diamonds, by creating a non-conflict rough diamond trading. In order for countries to participate they must ensure that the diamond gems are traded legitimately and are not used to fund any rebel group of any sort. These countries will need to become a member and must go through a strict procedure to warrant them as legal trading. This has contributed to the abolition of conflict diamond trading.

In November 2006, 71 countries had become members of this organisation making it possible to stop conflict diamond from entering into the trading process. Since this process has been in place and actions have been taken to counter conflict diamond trading, countries like Namibia, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Angola have received the benefits of the diamond trade. This has enabled improvements in the healthcare system, with Sierra Leone exporting three percent of the worlds diamond in 2006.

Diamond manufacturers in the UK now trade with conflict free diamond, making sure that they provide sufficient certification to prove it is conflict free. The Kimberley Process functions on the basis of safely trading diamonds, continuing to reduce the level of illegal diamond trading to less than one percent (a dramatic decrease) and investigating into any suspicious trading that may be operating.

For people looking for that extra special diamond, it is worth researching into whether this is conflict free through ensuring they have legitimate certification, are able to answer your questions on the subject of conflict free diamond and hold a conflict free diamond policy. The certification is warranty free and must be cleared through the Kimberley Process and/or System of Warranties. Never be afraid to ask questions about this, as you want to walk away reassured that the special diamond ring is benefiting the country and not funding conflict.
About the Author
Anna Stenning has studied the historical background of diamonds, the conflicts over diamond mining and the devastating affects it has had on parts of Africa.
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