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The Hard Facts about Conflict Diamonds from Africa and India

Aug 29, 2007
Diamonds are small, easily transportable and command high prices. These characteristics have made diamonds a good source of funds for coup leaders in Africa and elsewhere. These smuggled diamonds have been labeled "conflict diamonds" and many consumers are wary about using a product that they think may be related to the suffering of innocent people.

However, before you skip buying diamonds it is important to understand the safe-guards that have been adopted by the UN and the actual role that diamonds play in the economic life of the developing countries.

In 2000, a coalition of governments, non-governmental organizations and the diamond industry worked together to address issues related to diamond mining.

In 2002, established they established the Kimberley Process Certification System. This is a UN-backed process that virtually eliminated the trade in conflict diamonds. Over 99% of the world's supply of diamonds is now from conflict-free sources. In addition the Kimberley Process Certification System is dedicated to presenting the facts about conflict diamonds.

Conflict diamonds have been reduced from approximately 4% to considerably less than 1% since the implementation of the Kimberley Process in 2003. In July 2000, the global diamond industry announced its zero-tolerance policy towards conflict diamonds and continues to drive this policy. For example, Sierra Leone is now at peace and exported approximately $142 million diamonds in 2005.

More than 99% of diamonds are currently from conflict free sources and traded under the UN-mandated Kimberley Process. Under this system, rough diamonds can only be exported and imported when accompanied by a certificate from the exporting country.

At this moment, 71 governments and the legitimate diamond industry are all committed and legally bound to eradicating conflict diamonds. The diamond industry has introduced a system to help give greater assurances to retailers and to provide consumers with the reassurance that their diamond is from a conflict free source.

Diamonds and Development

Like the gold that is used in gold jewelry, diamonds are driving economic growth and prosperity in many countries around the world.

An estimated 65% of the world's diamonds come from African countries and approximately $8.4 billion worth of diamonds a year are exported from Africa. An estimated five million people have access to appropriate healthcare globally thanks to revenues from diamonds and an estimated 10 million people globally are directly or indirectly supported by the diamond industry.

The diamond mining industry generates over 40% of Namibia's annual export earnings and diamond revenues enable every child in Botswana to receive free education up to the age of 13. Diamonds account for 33% of the GDP (approximately $3 billion) of Botswana. Since diamonds were discovered in Botswana, GDP annual growth rate has averaged 7%. In addition, the revenue from diamonds is instrumental in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Besides the mechanized diamond mining activities in Africa, it is estimated that one million people work in the informal alluvial diamond digging sector. The Diamond Development Initiative was established to improve the working conditions of these artisanal miners.

The major role of diamond mining in several African countries has been pointed out by several world leaders - including Nelson Mandela - who have cited the importance of diamonds to the lives of African people.

So, the next time you are buying jewelry you can be sure that your diamond is not only conflict-free but is helping the poorest economies of the world get back on their feet.
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