Friday, 13 August 2010

Spoils of war

This week Zimbabwe put some blood diamonds on sale, after a ban had been lifted by the regulatory body. The trade watchdog, under the eye of the UN, has a system called The Kimberley Process to ensure every diamond-producing nation can show its diamonds are from legitimate mining sources. Zimbabwe, as you'll probably know, is a bit of a mess of a country and their army took diamond mines by force some time ago.

Other countries under close scrutiny include Sierra Leone, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola. Hard to miss the horribly inconvenienced Naomi Campbell in the news this week after she had been given some dodgy rocks by Liberian dictator and all-round-unpleasant man Charles Taylor at a party thirteen years ago. She was disappointed because they were all grubby, but did she know their history? Best to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she's as slow-witted as her public pronouncements and behaviour suggest.

So what are blood diamonds? Are they red? Does Leonardo DiCaprio have some? Basically, they are diamonds mined in war zones and sold to finance insurgency or other conflict. Very often there is forced labour involved in their collection, and - as in the case of Zimbabwe - the mines are often taken violently from their commercial owners in the first place. So - all in all - they are not something that should be encouraged. The Kimberley Process has helped, though, and the World Diamond Council now estimates that around 1% of the stones on the world market are suspiciously obtained. Still too many, but at least the worst of it is under control.

1 comment:

Matt Dale said...

The American-based Rapaport Diamond Trading Network has said it will exclude dealers that trade in diamonds from two Zimbabwean mines. Child slavery has been used and it's thought more than 200 miners have been murdered by the military overseers. So it's exactly a warm welcome back to the Zimbabwean diamond trade.