Conflict Resolution

What is a Conflict Diamond?

Shlomit G asked:

Who hasn’t heard of the slogan "A diamond lasts forever"? Diamonds have always occupied a very high status in the world of jewelry. Fueled by tradition and intense marketing campaigns, diamonds have achieved incomparable status. Starry eyed young men present gorgeous diamond rings to their girlfriends. Married couples exchange diamond studded jewelry over the years as symbols to their undying love. Celebrities and personalities don fabulous diamond jewelry whenever they go out in public. There is absolutely no doubt as to how valuable and sought after diamonds are.

As with most things in life, there is always something bad mixed with the good. A diamond may be a woman’s best friend but a diamond can also be the bane of some people’s existence – and I am not talking about the man’s pocket here. The term conflict diamonds, or blood diamonds as others call it, became quite well-known to the average person in 2002 when the James Bond movie "Die Another Day" was released. This contribution to the legendary James Bond saga revolved around the idea of smuggling blood diamonds.

So what is a conflict diamond? The UN formally defines a conflict diamond as a "diamond that originates 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." In short, a conflict diamond is any diamond that is mined from an area in which there is war, or armed conflict. The idea is that diamonds are very much in demand and that they fetch such a high price in almost any market. If you mine diamonds and sell them to other countries – of which there is definitely no shortage – you can get a large amount of money for them. Where does the profit from these sales go?

You guessed it – to finance wars and other forms of armed conflict in the affected areas. The manner of mining and selling blood diamonds is usually done in secret. You can just imagine what the reaction of the (average) buyer would be if he learned that he was financing a war somewhere in Africa with his transaction. Thus, people involved in the conflict diamond business do not really advertise what they are doing.

Although these activities have been going on for quite some time, it was only in 2000 that the international community formally recognized the gravity of the situation. In December of that year, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the role of rough diamonds in furthering the conflicts in specific areas in Africa. The General Assembly came up with a resolution aiming to severe the connection between the illegal sales of diamonds and wars in concerned areas.

With this resolution in place, countries that buy diamonds from Africa became more aware of the illicit trade. International sanctions were then put in place. In addition to these sanctions, individual countries set up their own methods and processes to curb the practice of trading conflict diamonds. The idea is that if no one will buy, then no one will sell. People who take advantage of conflict diamonds would have no market and thus the practice would stop.

We all know however, that in the real world, things are never as simple as they usually seem to be.

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