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Roger Weller, geology instructor                     

Conflict Diamonds
Elizabeth Cruz
Physical Geology
Fall 2006    

Conflict Diamonds

Photo Credited to R.Weller/Cochise College



What are Conflict Diamonds?

Conflict diamonds are diamonds mined in war zone areas.  The diamonds sold and the money earned from the diamonds help with the cost of war and can be payoffs for higher officials.   The war conflict diamonds help with can be for or against a government, but civilians are the ones generally caught in the middle of these wars.  The diamonds are generally smuggled illegally to neighboring countries and sold.


Common Names for Conflict Diamonds

Terms such as “Blood Diamonds”, “Conflict Diamonds”, and even “Gem-o-cide” are used to describe these diamonds.


Dangers for the Workers

Conflict diamonds have been the main source of money for funding war zones in Africa.  Rebels fight for diamonds not only to pay the cost of war, but also for the control of the diamond mining industry as well.  Other problems are the fumes the workers inhale or eat while working in conditions where water can be knee deep.  Generally, civilians are the ones caught in the middle of these wars.  Wars over conflict diamonds lead to thousands of deaths, and millions of people who have lost their homes.  Even though diamonds bring in billions of dollars in profit, hardly any of that money has reached ordinary civilians leaving them poor.


Photo Credited to Chris Hondros and The Epoch Times


Where are Conflict Diamonds and the Countries Current Status?

We find most problems with conflict diamonds in Africa since most of the diamonds mined in the world are found there. 

Angola: Between 1975 and 2002, conflict diamonds led to the death of over 1.5 million lives.  During the 1990’s, a civil war broke out in Angola killing over 300,000 civilians.  During these civil wars, conflict diamonds funded the rebels.  The UN in 1999 placed a ban on the illegal trades.  Today, Angola is still suffering the after affects of from the civil wars.  Angola is currently apart of the Kimberley Process which is an international agreement to stop conflict diamonds from entering diamond supply chains.


Photo Credited to Vardion


Sierra Leone: Sierra Leone had Liberian President Charles Taylor after the purchase of conflict diamonds in exchange for illegal firearms, which he used to train rebels.  The illegal trade led to the deaths of over 50,000 people, rape, torture, and deliberate amputations of limbs on adults and children.  In 2003, Sierra Leone joined the Kimberley Process.


Photo Credited to Vardion


Liberia: Civil war in Liberia occurred from 1989 to 20003.  In 2003, UN sanctions were placed on Liberia while Charles Taylor (former president of Liberia) pleaded not guilty to war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Netherlands at The Hague in April 2006.  Currently, Liberia is petitioning to join the Kimberley Process.


Photo Credited to Vardion


Ivory Coast: Around the 1990’s, the Ivory Coast joined with the wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone to export diamonds.  Currently, the Ivory Coast has suspended all official exports of rough diamonds.


Photo Credited to Vardion


Other places include the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, and Namibia. 


Photo Credited to Diamond Producers Map Source: BBC



Stopping Conflict Diamonds


Currently, there are many steps being taken to stop the use of conflict diamonds.  In 2003, sixty-one countries set out for harsh regulations for importing and exporting rough diamonds causing suppliers to have documentation proving where the diamonds came from.  The United States has passed a Clean Diamonds Act with the support of the UN.  The Clean Diamonds Act (2003) currently is to take over the World Diamond Council’s proposed legislation (2000).


The Kimberley Process is a government and international diamond industry initiative to stop the purchases of conflict diamonds.  It was founded in May 2000 in Kimberley, South Africa where Southern African diamond producers met to find a way to stop the trade and sale of conflict diamonds.  The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme is a voluntary system that requires the participants to certify all of their rough diamonds are free of conflict diamonds.  The Kimberley Process is composed of forty-five different countries and accounts for 99.8% of the production of diamonds. 


There are currently three main observers for the Kimberly Process:

1)       World Diamond Council which represent industry

2)       Global Witness which represent civil society

3)       Partnership Africa Canada which represent civil society

The observers are groups that monitor certification of the diamond, provide technical and administrative expertise to the secretariat, working groups, applicants and participants.

We would like to acknowledge Mr. Beat Frei for designing the Kimberley Process logo.

Photo Credited to Mr. Beat Frei and Kimberley Process


Other ways to stop the trade and sale of conflict diamonds are guides made for consumers to buy clean diamonds.  However, these diamonds are a little more expensive.  Finally, other places have been producing their own manufactured diamonds such as Adia Diamonds that chemically and physically look identical to natural diamonds.


Photo Credited to Adia Diamonds



Photo Credited to Adia Diamonds


Works Cited