There are no clean diamonds in a dirty system

Conflict diamonds, or blood diamonds, are rough diamonds mined in conflict zones that are used by armed groups to finance conflict and commit grave human rights abuses.

Conflict diamonds have originated from Angola, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Diamonds have also sustained the conflict in Liberia and are a potential revenue source for future conflicts if the trade in rough diamonds is not effectively managed and monitored. However all countries that trade and sell diamonds are complicit in the misery and terror associated with conflict diamonds, including Canada.

Frequently asked questions

International agreements: keeping diamonds conflict-free?
Is the Kimberley Process necessary if the conflicts end?
What is the Canadian government doing?
Where can I buy a conflict-free diamond?
What about Canadian diamonds?
Facts about conflict diamonds.

International agreements: keeping diamonds conflict-free?
The Kimberley Process is a joint effort between the diamond industry, governments and civil society that aims to end the trade in conflict diamonds through an international certification system.
To date, over 50 diamond producing, trading and marketing countries have joined the voluntary scheme, including Canada, the US, the European Community and major African producing countries. The Interlaken Declaration, adopted by members of the Kimberley Process in November of 2002, committed member countries to simultaneously launching the scheme at national levels beginning January 1, 2003.

However, the Kimberley Process as it currently exists will not keep conflict or illicit diamonds out of the trade. A lack of regular, independent monitoring leaves huge loopholes for conflict diamonds to continue to enter the trade. Unethical members of the diamond industry will take advantage of these loopholes, slipping conflict diamonds into the legitimate trade and continuing to make huge profits trafficking in conflict diamonds.

Is the Kimberley Process necessary if the conflicts end?
"The sad reality is that further conflicts in Africa or anywhere else on our troubled planet, are probably inevitable."
- Rory More-O'Farrall, De Beers Director of Public and Corporate Affairs

The Kimberley Process is also a preventative measure. The Process will, if effectively implemented, stop armed groups from using diamonds as a source of funding for future wars.

What is the Canadian government doing?
The Canadian government has played a leadership role in efforts to end the trade in conflict diamonds, motivated by both humanitarian concerns and a desire to protect the rapidly growing Canadian diamond industry.
In order to meet its obligations under the Kimberley Process, the Canadian government passed Bill C-14, the Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act in December 2002. A Kimberley Process office under Natural Resources Canada has been set up to issue Kimberley Process certificates.

Where can I buy a conflict-free diamond?
Because of a lack of monitoring in the Kimberley Process, conflict diamonds can continue to enter the diamond trade. Once a diamond is polished, it is impossible to identify its origin through scientific methods. This means that when conflict diamonds enter the diamond trade, there is no way of distinguishing them from legitimate diamonds.

Without regular, independent monitoring of the Kimberley Process, any diamond may be a conflict diamond. No jewellery retailer can guarantee that the diamonds they're selling are conflict-free.

What about Canadian diamonds?
Canada is currently the fifth largest producer of diamonds in the world. It is projected that Canadian diamonds will make up as much as 15% of the diamond trade, and possibly much more, by 2010.

Consumers are increasingly looking to the "clean" reputation of Canadian diamonds - diamonds that are marketed as conflict-free and produced with ethical environmental and labour practices. The jewellery industry in Canada has produced a Voluntary Code on Authenticating Canadian Diamonds. At present, the code cannot guarantee that Canadian diamonds are truly Canadian. All Canadian-mined diamonds leave Canada; some are then re-imported for cutting and polishing in Canada. When Canadian diamonds leave the country, conflict diamonds can be slipped into the supply chain and passed off as Canadian.

Without regular, independent monitoring in Canada and all other Kimberley Process member countries, there is no way of knowing whether conflict diamonds have been kept out of the system - and no guarantees that a diamond advertised as Canadian is truly Canadian.

Facts about conflict diamonds
• The diamond industry estimates that conflict diamonds represent 4% of the total trade in rough diamonds. Others have estimated that conflict diamonds could amount to as high as 15% of the total trade.

• In 2001, the diamond industry produced rough diamonds with a market value of US $7.9 billion. At the end of the diamond chain, this was converted into jewellery worth US $54.1 billion.

• Diamond production from Canadian mines will reach almost 10% of the world trade in rough diamonds by the end of 2003. It is projected that Canadian diamonds will make up as much as 15% of the trade, and possibly much more, by 2010.

• Sierra Leone's decade-long civil war left upwards of 50 000 dead, half a million refugees, and thousands of amputees. Sierra Leone is currently ranked last on the UN's Human Development Index.

• A UN Expert Panel report published in December 2000 estimated that in Sierra Leone, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF)'s diamond trade amounted to $25 million to $125 million in diamonds per year in the late 1990s.

• Angola's civil war left half a million dead and 86 000 maimed. $3.7 billion in diamonds was pocketed by UNITA, the rebel movement in Angola, between 1992 and 1999 alone.

• The Democratic Republic of the Congo's war continues today, with rebels and armies from neighbouring countries and the DRC committing atrocities. The on-going violence has left 2.5 million dead and millions of people displaced or refugees to date. Hundreds of millions of dollars in diamonds are stolen or smuggled out every year.

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