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                                                 Salim Tabansi is a peaceful farmer who is content with this life. He sends his young 12 year old son to school every day so he can learn English and grow up to make a life of his own. One day, terror hits his village when rebels come and kidnap his son to work in one of many diamond mines in Africa. This is a typical story of how rebel militia's recruit people to work as slaves and scavenge diamonds to fund their wars against the government. These diamonds in popular terminology are called conflict diamonds or sometimes a blood diamond. Conflict diamonds are therefore those diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council. (“United”) The procurement of these diamonds to further the prospects of war in these under developed countries has resulted in a massive socio-political instability in these regions.
                              The causes of this soaring blood diamond trade can be traced to the ongoing conflicts in the Sub-Saharan African region. In countries like Sierra Leone, Angola, the Republic of Congo and Liberia, the sale of these diamonds is used to fund the insurgency against the government. Therefore, these conflicts have served as the major supply incentive for the trade of these conflict diamonds. For instance, in the Angolan civil war, the United Nations estimates that one of the warring faction known as the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) earned between three to four billion dollars in blood diamond trade to further their cause. (“Roberts”) Moreover, Terrorist organizations including al-Qaeda and Hezbollah also use conflict diamonds to finance global violence and terrorism. Furthermore, Hezbollah uses Lebanese networks in Sierra Leone to raise funds through blood diamonds.
                Conflict diamonds continue to exist as a major black market commodity. Despite a ban by the United Nations and other attempts by the international community to block the sale of blood diamonds, porous central and West African borders have allowed the diamonds to reach major markets. U.S.A and London are among the largest markets in the global context for the sale of these blood diamonds. Similarly, it was reported that Belgian judicial authorities had confiscated 14 million Euros (21 million dollars) worth of illegal diamonds of Ivorian origin. (“Cronin”)
                                                           In July 2000, after millions of deaths fueled by diamonds, immense pressure was applied on the global diamond industry and they were forced to create a policy towards "Conflict diamonds" in collaboration with NGOs, governments, and the UN. Thus the diamond industry agreed on a simple and effective system called the Kimberley process. “The Kimberley Process (KP) is an international initiative to stop criminals who profit from the illicit trading of rough diamonds. Under the KP's global diamond certification scheme, participating countries must provide a written certificate that identifies the origin and target countries for all diamond imports and exports. Otherwise the diamond shipment must be impounded and reported to the KP. Secondly, KP-member countries must ban diamond trade with all non-member nations. Moreover, participating countries must provide diamond production and international trade statistics that help the KP Secretariat to monitor the trade flow of rough diamond”. (Workman)
                                                    So far, the Kimberley Process has proven to be a crucial and effective tool in combating the scourge of conflict diamonds to some extent. Blood diamonds have been reduced from approximately 4 percent to a more tolerable figure of less than 1 percent since the implementation of Kimberley process in 2003. (“Diamond facts”) As a result, the ability of rebels and terrorists to finance their activities has decreased substantially.
          Unfortunately, the Kimberley process does not supervise the human rights violation including poverty, child labor, and worker exploitation. Currently, it only takes into account the narrowly UN defined blood diamonds as diamonds that are used to finance the conflicts against recognized government. Since Kimberley process only oversees diamond mines and has no supervision over the child labor and other human rights violations in these mines remains unregulated. Some recognized governments like Angola and the republic of Congo have shown a very trivial regard for the human rights abuses of their citizenry.
                                   To date, Kimberley process also neglects different kind of polishing and cutting centers that act as an entry point for the blood diamonds to enter global circulation. While the diamond industry has convinced the consumers that the Kimberley process certification system is keeping conflict diamonds off the market supply chain, recent events exemplify how this system has failed to relate itself to different violent conditions under which a major portion of world's diamonds are produced.
                            While diamonds have been used to finance conflicts and terrorist activities, the problem is not the diamonds themselves but the governments, rebels and individuals who exploit diamonds, and violate human rights to further their illegitimate goals. However, eradicating the possibility of trading these blood diamonds lies at the crux of ensuring lasting peace in the troubled African region. Therefore, the global community requires individual nations to set aside personal agendas and work towards a solution that is for the greater good. A process that encompasses not only the regulation of the diamond market but also gives solutions for the human rights violations being committed. We need to remind ourselves that diamonds may be forever but bloodshed in their pursuit can never be recovered.

          Written By: Hamza Orakzai ( Bsc Student LUMS )

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