Blood diamond

Blood diamond
Panning for diamonds in Sierra Leone.

In relation to diamond trading, conflict diamond (also called a converted diamond, blood diamond, hot diamond, or war diamond) refers to a diamond mined in a war zone and sold to finance an insurgency, invading army's war efforts, or a warlord's activity, usually in Africa[1] where around two-thirds of the world's diamonds are extracted.[2]




Angola, a colony of Portugal, gained independence on November 11, 1975. Although independent, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), and the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) fought in a civil war from 1974 to 2001. Between 1992 and 1998, in violation of the 1991 Bicesse Accords, UNITA sold diamonds, valued at US$3.72 billion,[3] to finance its war with the government.[4] The UN recognized the role that diamonds played in funding the UNITA rebels and in 1998 passed United Nations Security Council Resolution 1173 and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1176, banning the purchase of conflict diamonds from Angola.[4][5][5] Resolution 1173 was the first resolution by the UN which specifically mentioned diamonds in the context of funding a war. Reports estimated that as much as 20% of the total production in the 1980s was being sold for illegal purposes and 19% was specifically conflict in nature.[6] By 1999, the illegal diamond trade was estimated by the World Diamond Council to have been reduced to 3.06% of the world's diamond production.[7][8] The World Diamond Council reported that by 2004 this percentage had fallen to approximately 1%.[6][8]

Despite the UN Resolution, UNITA was able to continue to sell or barter some diamonds in order to finance its war effort. The UN set out to find how this remaining illicit trade was being conducted and appointed Canadian ambassador Robert Fowler to investigate. In 2000, he produced the Fowler Report, which named those countries, organizations and individuals involved in the trade. The report is credited with establishing the link between diamonds and third world conflicts,[9] and led directly to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1295, as well as the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.

Liberia and Sierra Leone

From 1989 to 2001, Liberia was engaged in a civil war. In 2000, the UN accused Liberian president Charles G. Taylor of supporting the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) insurgency in neighboring Sierra Leone with weapons and training in exchange for diamonds.[citation needed] In 2001, the UN applied sanctions on the Liberian diamond trade. In August 2003, Taylor stepped down as president and, after being exiled to Nigeria, faced trial in The Hague. On July 21, 2006 he pleaded not guilty to crimes against humanity and war crimes.[4]

Around the time of the 1998 United States embassy bombings, al-Qaeda allegedly bought gems from Liberia as some of its other financial assets were frozen.[10]

Having regained peace, Liberia is attempting to construct a legitimate diamond mining industry. The UN has lifted sanctions and Liberia is now a member of the Kimberley Process.[11]

Côte d'Ivoire

Côte d'Ivoire (also known as the Ivory Coast) began to develop a fledgling diamond mining industry in the early 1990s. A coup overthrew the government in 1999, starting a civil war. The country became a route for exporting diamonds from Liberia and war-torn Sierra Leone.[4][12] Foreign investment began to withdraw from the Ivory Coast. To curtail the illegal trade, the nation stopped all diamond mining and the UN Security Council banned all exports of diamonds from Côte d'Ivoire in December 2005.[4] Despite UN sanctions, however, the illicit diamond trade still exists in Côte d'Ivoire. Rough diamonds are exported out of the country to neighboring states and international trading centers through the northern, Forces Nouvelles controlled section of the country, a group which is reported to be using these funds to re-arm.[13][14]

Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) has suffered numerous civil wars in the 1990s, but has become a member of the Kimberley Process and now exports about 8% of the world's diamonds.[4] One of De Beers' most celebrated and priceless diamonds, the flawless D-colour 200 carats (40 g) Millennium Star was discovered in the DRC and sold to De Beers during the height of the Civil War that took place in the early to mid-nineties.

The Republic of Congo

The Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) was expelled from the Kimberley Process in 2004[15] because, despite having no official diamond mining industry, the country was exporting large quantities of diamonds, the origin of which it could not detail. It was also accused of falsifying certificates of origin. The Republic of Congo was readmitted in 2007.[15]


Zimbabwean diamonds are not considered conflict diamonds by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. In the past, the chaotic production at Marange and smuggling resulted in monitoring by the World Diamond Council.[16]

In July 2010, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme agreed that diamonds from the country's disputed Marange Diamond Fields could be sold on the international market,[17] after a report from the Scheme's monitor a month earlier described diamonds mined from the fields as conflict-free.[18]

Conflict diamond campaign

Global Witness was one of the first organizations to pick up on the link between diamonds and conflicts in Africa in its 1998 report entitled "A Rough Trade".[19][20] With the passing of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1173 in 1998, the United Nations too identified the conflict diamond issue as a funding for war. The Fowler Report in 2000 detailed in depth how UNITA was financing its war activities, and in May 2000, led directly to the passing of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1295 and the diamond producing countries of southern Africa meeting in Kimberley, South Africa to plan a method by which the trade in conflict diamonds could be halted, and buyers of diamonds could be assured that their diamonds have not contributed to violence.[21][22] In this resolution the Security Council wrote:

Welcomes the proposal that a meeting of experts be convened for the purpose of devising a system of controls to facilitate the implementation of the measures contained in Resolution 1173 (1998), including arrangements that would allow for increased transparency and accountability in the control of diamonds from their point of origin to the bourses, emphasizes that it is important that, in devising such controls, every effort be made to avoid inflicting collateral damage on the legitimate diamond trade, and welcomes the intention of the Republic of South Africa to host a relevant conference this year[23]

Kimberley Process Certification Scheme

On July 19, 2000, the World Diamond Congress adopted at Antwerp a resolution to strengthen the diamond industry's ability to block sales of conflict diamonds.[24][25] The resolution called for an international certification system on the export and import of diamonds, legislation in all countries to accept only officially sealed packages of diamonds, for countries to impose criminal charges on anyone trafficking in conflict diamonds, and instituted a ban on any individual found trading in conflict diamonds from the diamond bourses of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses.[25] The Kimberley Process was led by the diamond-producing African countries themselves. Also in tourist states like Dubai, before gemstone could be allowed through their airport to other countries, the Kimberley Certification must be presented by the gem's owner.[26]

On January 17–18 of 2001, diamond industry figures convened and formed the new organization, the World Diamond Council. This new body set out to draft a new process, whereby all diamond rough could be certified as coming from a non-conflict source.[27]

The KPCS was given approval by the UN on March 13, 2002,[28] and in November, after two years of negotiation between governments, diamond producers, and Non-Government organizations, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS.) was created.

The Kimberley Process has done more than just curtail the flow of conflict diamonds, it has also helped stabilize fragile countries and supported their development. As the Kimberley Process has made life harder for criminals, it has brought large volumes of diamonds onto the legal market that would not otherwise have made it there. This has increased the revenues of poor governments, and helped them to address their countries’ development challenges. For instance, some $125 million worth of diamonds were legally exported from Sierra Leone in 2006, compared to almost none at the end of the 1990s.


The Kimberley system increases governments' transparency by forcing them to keep records of the diamonds they are exporting and importing and how much they are worth. This shows the governments their finances so that they can be held accountable for how much they are spending for the benefit of the country's population.

American policy

On January 18, 2001, President Bill Clinton issued Executive Order 13194 which prohibited the importation of rough diamonds from Sierra Leone into the United States in accordance with the UN resolutions.[29] On May 22, 2001, President George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13213 which banned rough diamond importation from Liberia into the United States. Liberia had been recognized by the United Nations as acting as a pipeline for conflict diamonds from Sierra Leone.[30]

United States enacted the Clean Diamond Trade Act (CDTA) on April 25, 2003,[31] and implemented on July 29, 2003 by Executive Order 13312.[32][33] The CDTA installed the legislation to implement the KPCS in law in the United States. The implementation of this legislation was key to the success of the KPCS, as the United States is the largest consumer of diamonds. The CDTA states: 'As the consumer of a majority of the world’s supply of diamonds, the United States has an obligation to help sever the link between diamonds and conflict and press for implementation of an effective solution.[31]

Canadian policy

During the 1990s diamond rich areas were discovered in Northern Canada. Canada is one of the key players in the diamond industry. Partnership Africa Canada was created in 1986 to help with the crisis in Africa. This organization is also part of the Diamond Development Initiative. The Diamond Development Initiative helps improve and regulate the legal diamond industry.

The Kimberley Process was initiated in May 2000 by South Africa. Canada was a major supporter of passing this. Canada has passed several laws that help stop the trade of conflict diamonds. The laws deal with the export and import of rough diamonds, and also how they are transferred. In December 2002 the Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act was passed by the Canadian government. This act acts as a system that helps control the importing, exporting and transporting of rough diamonds through Canada. The Export and Import of Rough Diamonds also states that the Kimberley Process is the minimum requirement of certifying rough diamonds and a certificate is also required for all shipments of diamonds. This certificate is called the Canadian Certificate, it gives permission for an officer to seize any shipment of diamonds that don't meet the requirements of the Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act.[34]

The Government of the Northwest Territories of Canada (GNWT) also has a unique certification program. They offer a Government certificate on all diamonds that are mined, cut, and polished in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Each diamond is also laser inscribed and recorded in a database. To obtain this certificate one must cut and polish the diamond in the NWT.

Popular culture

  • The origins of the Kimberly Process were dramatized in Ed Zwick's 2006 motion picture Blood Diamond. The film helped to publicize the controversy surrounding conflict (blood) diamonds and led to worldwide awareness of the horrors in western Africa involved in the diamond trade.
  • The James Bond film Die Another Day uses conflict diamonds as a central plot point throughout the film.
  • The music video for the Kanye West song "Diamonds from Sierra Leone" from the album Late Registration is about the illicit conflict diamond trade. The song samples the theme from another Bond film, Diamonds Are Forever.
  • The video game Far Cry 2, set in an unnamed Central African country in the midst of civil war, uses diamonds as currency.
  • In the webcomic Least I Could Do, when shopping with a friend for engagement rings, Rayne specifically asks the jeweler for blood diamonds. It's not clear whether or not he is being serious.
  • The book Diamonds in the Shadow by Caroline B. Cooney involves a refugee family smuggling blood diamonds into the United States from Africa.
  • In the Nicolas Cage film Lord of War, blood diamonds are used as currency to purchase firearms.
  • "Soldier of Fortune," a twelfth-season episode of Law & Order, was devoted to the issue of conflict diamond importation and trade.



  1. ^ Conflict Diamonds United Nations Department of Public Information, March 21, 1807, accessed online December 26, 2006
  2. ^ "Global Summary 2008 ", Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.
  3. ^ Guy Arnold (2000). The New South Africa. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 131. ISBN 0312235178. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Conflict diamonds World Diamond Council website -, accessed November 5, 2006
  5. ^ a b Security Council Resolution 1173. United Nations. 1998. 
  6. ^ a b The Kimberley Controls: How Effective? Partnership Africa Canada Website accessed January 7, 2007
  7. ^ Diamond Production Estimates - 1999 World Diamond Council website, accessed November 5, 2006
  8. ^ a b Conflict diamonds World Diamond Council website -, accessed November 5, 2006
  9. ^ Arthur V. Levy (2003). Diamonds and Conflict: Problems and Solutions. N ova Publishers. pp. 5–6. ISBN 1590337158. 
  10. ^ Lucy Jones , Al-Qaeda 'traded blood diamonds', 20 February 2003, BBC News Online, Retrieved on 30 October 2007.
  11. ^ . [dead link]
  12. ^ The Heart Of The Matter Sierra Leone, Diamonds & Human Security Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), accessed November 5, 2006
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ a b "Blood Diamonds No Longer Congo-Brazzaville’s Best Friend". IPS. 30 Nov 2007. Retrieved 2010-08-11. 
  16. ^ "Diamond Industry Calls for Clampdown on Zimbabwe Smuggling". Rapaport. 12 Oct 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  17. ^ "Zimbabwe gets go-ahead to sell diamonds again", The Independent, July 17, 2010.
  18. ^ "Monitor to Clear Zimbabwe Diamonds", Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2010.
  19. ^ Dan Brown (1998-12-01). "A Rough Trade: The Role of Companies and Governments in the Angolan Conflict". Global Witness. Retrieved 2011-04-11. 
  20. ^ Janine P. Roberts (2003). Glitter & Greed: The Secret World of the Diamond Empire. The Disinformation Company. p. 233. ISBN 0971394296. 
  21. ^ Robert Fowler (2000-03-10). "Final Report of the UN Panel of Experts ("The "Fowler Report")". Global Policy Forum. Retrieved 2010-03-20. 
  22. ^ Resolution 1295 (2000)PDF
  23. ^
  24. ^ Fact#6 World Diamond Council website - Diamond, accessed December 8, 2006
  25. ^ a b Diamond leaders in pact to ban 'conflict gems' funding African wars, July 19, 2000, accessed online December 9, 2006
  26. ^ [Diamonds, Development, and Democracy by Nicky Oppenheimer]
  27. ^ Eli Izhakoff, Chairman's Report of the World Diamond Council 1st Annual Meeting World Diamond Council Website, accessed November 6, 2006
  28. ^ UN Resolution 56/263 - The role of diamonds in fueling conflict: breaking the link between the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict as a contribution to prevention and settlement of conflictsPDF UN 96th plenary meeting, 13 March 2002, accessed online November 6, 2006
  29. ^ Clinton, William FR Doc. 01–2140 - Executive Order 13194 of January 18, 2001 - Prohibiting the Importation of Rough Diamonds From Sierra LeonePDF The White House, January 18, 2001, accessed online December 24, 2006
  30. ^ Bush, George W. FR Doc. 01–13381 - Executive Order 13213—Additional Measures With Respect To Prohibiting the Importation of Rough Diamonds From Sierra LeonePDF The White House, May 22, 2001, accessed online December 24, 2006
  31. ^ a b Public Law 108–19 - An Act To implement effective measures to stop trade in conflict diamonds, and for other purposes. Apr. 25, 2003PDF (42.1 KiB) 108th Congress of the United States, April 25, 2003, accessed online December 24, 2006
  32. ^ Bush, George W FR Doc. 03–19676 - Executive Order 13312 of July 29, 2003 - Implementing the Clean Diamond Trade ActPDF (26.3 KiB) The White House, July 29, 2003, accessed online December 24, 2006
  33. ^ Conflict Diamonds: Agency Actions Needed to Enhance Implementation of the Clean Diamond Trade Act, September 2006 United States Government Accountability Office website, accessed online December 8, 2006
  34. ^ Stop Blood Diamonds - Creating a Conflict Free Diamond World


  • Bell, Udy (2000). "Sierra Leone: Building on a Hard-Won Peace". UN Chronicle Online Edition (4). Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  • Bergner, Daniel (2003). In the land of magic soldiers: a story of white and Black in West Africa. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 0-374-26653-0. 
  • Campbell, Greg (2002). Blood diamonds: tracing the deadly path of the world's most precious stones. Boulder, Colo: Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-3939-1. 
  • Cilliers, Jakkie; Christian Dietrich (2000). Angola’s War Economy. Pretoria: Institute for Security Studies. ISBN 978-0620266451. 
  • Epstein, Edward Jay (1982). The rise and fall of diamonds: the shattering of a brilliant illusion. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-671-41289-2. 
  • Billon, Philippe Le (2005). Fuelling War: Natural Resources and Armed Conflicts. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-37970-9. 
  • Levy, Arthur V. (2003). Diamonds and conflict: problems and solutions. New York: Hauppauge. ISBN 1-59033-715-8. 
  • Le Billon, Philippe (2006). "Fatal Transactions: conflict diamonds and the (anti)terrorist consumer". Antipode 38 (4): 778–801. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8330.2006.00476.x. 
  • Reno, William (1995). Corruption and state politics in Sierra Leone. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-47179-6. 
  • Roberts, Janine. Glitter and Greed: the Secret World of the Diamond Cartel. ISBN 978-1932867603. 
  • Tamm, Ingrid J. (2002). Diamonds In Peace and War: Severing the Conflict Diamond Connection. Cambridge, Mass: World peace foundation. ISBN 0-9721033-5-X. [1]PDF (673 KiB)
  • Zoellner, Tom (2006). The Heartless Stone: A Journey Through the World of Diamonds, Deceit and Desire. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-33969-0. 0

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