With the Blood Diamonds are For Never campaign, One Sky and campaign participants worked hard to end the trade in conflict diamonds by strengthening the Kimberley Process. Ensuring the success of the Kimberley Process is one step - and an important one. If effectively implemented, the Kimberley Process will ensure that diamonds cannot be used to finance war and atrocities. NGOs and the public need to watchdog its implementation and encourage countries to sign up for voluntary independent monitoring. But the question remains…

Is your Diamond considered clean?

In November 2003 One Sky, Friends of the Earth Sierra Leone (FOESL) and the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL) travelled on a fact finding delegation to the Northern war-torn region of Sierra Leone into the heart of the diamond mining region of Kono. It was here that diamonds were the focal point for a brutal and vicious civil war that resulted in forced amputations, human rights abuses and the displacement of the vast majority of Sierra Leone's rural population by the Revolutionary United Front, a rebel group armed and financed by Liberia's infamous Charles Taylor. The area has only recently opened up after the signing of peace accords to NGO and relief efforts as well as the return of refugees from nearby Guinea.

The week-long delegation revealed a landscape devastated by indiscriminate alluvial diamond mining during which miners, many of them only children, have dug up the riparian valley bottoms in search of diamonds. The result has been the wholesale loss of rich agricultural soil and farming fields to mining debris. Today the land is scarred with tens of thousands of unregulated mining pits, overturned soils and pools of stagnating mosquito- infested water. The nearby forests, having been exploited heavily for fuel wood and charcoal production are now the only source of agricultural land. The sight of so much devastated land, in a nation that ranks 173rd out of 173 countries on the U.N. Quality of Life Index darkens even the most hardened aid workers mood. In the words of a local paramount chief the discovery of diamonds "has not been a blessing but a curse".

Northern Sierra Leone is marked by Kimberlite pipes (diamondiferous deposits) that millennia ago delivered their precious cargo from the earth's core toward the surface. The Kimberlite pipes themselves can only be exploited through modern open pit mining methods while the numerous fissures and fractures in the earth's surface are exploited by sifting through valley bottom gravel by hand. It is along the rivers and in the richest flattest valley bottoms where traditional rice fields and subsistence agriculture predominated that diamond mining has taken the greatest toll. Today farmers have been moving into the nearby, forested hillsides in search of arable land which in turn has led to deforestation and the loss of biodiversity. They have been replaced by tens of thousands of miners, many of them former combatants who are searching for some means to eke out a living. Local NGOs have documented more than 1500 children who continue to mine in slave like conditions most of whom will not make more than 50 cents a day… the going rate for a full grown man working a 12 hour day in the heat and the sun.

Our delegation travelled to the region and visited diamond mining operations and spoke with several key people (the paramount and local chiefs, relevant Ministries, relief workers, miners, a coalition of NGO workers associated with diamond mining and children, etc.). A special meeting was convened with the Peace Diamond Alliance (PDA) and the key groups involved in environmental work to discuss appropriate strategies regarding development and environment. Several key needs were identified:
· There is a need for alternative income generating activities to replace diamond mining and ensure local food security.
· It is important that traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) be respected
· There is a need to educate parents, guardians and miners regarding child labour, environmental protection and appropriate mining methodologies.
· There is a need to rehabilitate the existing lands for agricultural use or reforestation and to protect these areas from future mining by increasing their value to the local chiefs (without whom nothing can or does get done).
· Women, who are the drivers behind agriculture and local food security, need to be involved at all decision-making levels.
· The solutions need to be locally driven and owned yet coordinated with other agencies.
· There is a need for collective, networked environmental action.

While One Sky is going to monitor the implementation of the Kimberley Process, we are also going to work on the ground in Sierra Leone rehabilitating mining sites into organic agriculture cooperatives run by women's groups. In addition, we are looking into the feasibility of fair trade diamonds. It's clear that there is still much to be done to ensure that diamond mining benefits the people of Sierra Leone and that consumers in Canada can buy diamonds that are truly "clean".


Campaign Updates:

One Sky response to recent Kimberley Process meetings.

Statement from the CJA given to One Sky at World Jewellery Expo held in Toronto August 10-12.

In industry news, de Beers Chair Nicky Oppenheimer states support for an effective monitoring system in the Kimberley Process.

Diamond pit in the Kono district of Sierra Leone where alluvial mining needs to come 'clean'.


Alluvial diamond miners in Sierra Leone working for 50 cents a day.

Join One Sky to encourage the global trade in clean diamonds.



One Sky's participation in this program has been undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)