The realization that there is always something bad mixed with good hit her like a tornado as she watched the movie Blood Diamond. Unconsciously she fingered the stone on her finger and wished she had not worn it. She had to blink back the tears stinging her eyes as she saw children being put to work at alluvial mines, and other workers being amputated and killed for sport. I almost choked with guilt when I remembered how I had gaily remarked, ‘Diamonds are forever,’ when my friend showed me the diamond ring her boyfriend had gotten her.
We were not giggling anymore when we saw a World Vision quote… ‘amputation is forever. ’ On seeing the movie, we decided that we had to do something about the conflict diamond issue. We felt so bad about not getting information concerning the origin off the diamond my friend wore, we would never know for sure whether it was a conflict diamond or not. Blood diamond and conflict diamonds are more or less synonymous terms. The UN defines a conflict diamond as a “diamond whose origin is an area which is controlled by forces that are opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments.
The diamonds are used to finance military action to oppose the government of the day or to contravene the decisions of security council (UN,www. un. org/peace/Africa/Diamond html) Most of these diamonds have their origin in Africa with countries like Sierra leone, Liberia, Angola and DR Congo being among those most affected. Though diamonds are mined in Liberia, it offers more of a marketing and ‘supporting point’ role for the Blood Diamond trade. Civil wars in Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone are funded with diamonds that have been smuggled into Liberia which are later sold and the cash is used to purchase ammunition, guns and other weapons.
Liberia has imposed some violence of its own lasting 8 years killing around 200,000and displaying thousands more (Stop Blood Diamond Organization, 2007). Reports by Amnesty International and Global Witness show that there are areas in Liberia where diamond are still mined and traded which are controlled by rebels. Worse, these have been report of links between the infamous alqaida and Liberia (Amnesty USA,2007). The 9/11 attacks have been linked to funds and weapons associated with the diamond mines of Sierra Leone.
The diamonds are usually mined by civilians who are used as slaves after being caught as prisoners. The civilians, children included, work in poor conditions and are punished brutally for the slightest error. Killing for sport and amputation are regular occurrences. (Stop Blood Diamonds Organization, 2007). Some of the abducted children eventually become child soldiers. John Lahia, a 15 year old child soldier was among the victims of the war that has led to starvation, disease and war wounds for many refugees.
He was wounded by an exploding rocket-propelled geradeand died of a tetanus infection, far away from medical aid that would have otherwise saved his life. The Revolutionary United Front(RUF) medics left him lying in a backwater hospital with his wounds taped for lack of better medical means to treat him. This too will be the likely fate of other combatants and all this because of the greed for diamond (Campbell,2007). A sure way to eradicate conflict diamond is to end conflict areas. Peacekeeping that aims at apprehension and removal of rebels without violation of human rights of civilians can be used to achieve this.
Inernational agencies need to focus on ending hostilities so diamond production can return to the hands of the government; this will enable the countries in question to benefit from rather than be torn apart by their diamond mines. In 1999, the UN deployed a mission to deal with the problem of conflict diamonds. The Kimberly cerrtification scheme requires provision of a certificate of origin for diamonds. The aim is to cut off flow of diamonds from illegitimate sources. This process however has several shortcomings.
The certificates can be forged, many diamonds can be smuggled into a dean country and even when certificates are real the officials may have been bribed. This is a reality especially because in most of the war torn countries poverty and suffering are rife. Most people will only be too glad to line their pockets with the bribes offered. Sensitizing the American Public on issues to do with conflict diamonds is another strategy. This has already began especially in the entertainment industry with such movies as Dicaprios Blood Dianond and James Bond Die another Day and Kanye West’s song, ‘Diamond are Forever’.
Further flooding of the public with more information through as many avenues as possible will ensure that people are aware of the origin and human terror and suffering that comes with some diamonds. This will in turn create a low market for the diamonds, slowing down the flux of diamonds into the country. In the present situation, supply of diamond and human suffering in the country of origin have a direct correlation, decreasing supply from illegitimate sources will consequently lead to a decrease in suffering of the Africa children and civilians affected.
US contributes 70%of the worlds diamond trade making it a leading customer of diamond. (VOA News, 2007). The US therefore has a role in spearheading the fight against conflict diamond. The government should insist on strengthening the Kimberley process and the Clean Diamond Trade Act. By providing more forceful support, technical aid and financial aid. African countries can be assisted to develop the Kimbeley process such that its effect is felt by the corrupt officials and rebels overseeing mining of blood diamond.
The Government Accountability office has had several proposal which include spot checks of diamond companies and tracking of rough diamonds inside and outside the country of origin. (Globalwitness, 2007). These need application and immediate application. Regular checking of the progress of US wagh diamond trade statistics Is an important evaluation tool for the effect of blood diamond and assessment of how the problem is being combated. Though my friend and I are not sure of the origins of the diamond she wears on her finger we are more knowledgeable about conflict diamonds.
As a result our circle of friends also know more and now most of our college is no longer ignorant about the issue. Through our campaigns we encourage people to ask about the origin of the diaomonds they are just about to buy. This means that as a nation we are thinking about and doing something in consideration of the people whose lives have been lost in the diamond trade. REFERENCES Amnesty USA Conflict Diamond retrived from www. amnestyusa. org/new/doc/diamonds-survey-text. pdf Campbell G. Blood Diamonds, Amnesty Magazine retrieved from www. amnestyusa. org/amnestynw/diamond s. html Conflict Diamond retrieved from
Www. un. org/peace/Africa/Diamond. html Globalwitness, Combating conflict Diamonds,retrieved Sep 1 2007 from http://www. globalwitness. orga/pages/en/conflictdiamonds. html Stop Blood Diamond Organization, Stop Blood Diamond, conflict Diamond in Africa retrieved from www. stopblooddiamonds. org/children-of-Africa. asp VOA News US cogress Tackle Blood Diamond trade retrieved sep 1, 2007 from www. voanews. can/english/archive/2002-02/a-2002-02-4-2-us. cfm. World vision, Stop the Trade in Blood Diamond, retrieved sep 1 2007 from Worldvision. org/worldvision/stable/globalissues-conflictdiamond.