Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blood Diamonds - The Trade Continues

Problems are often swept under the carpet by supposed reforms and agreements and voluntary self-regulation . During the 1990s, diamonds were a significant factor in the civil wars that devastated Angola, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Nearly 4 billion dollars worth of diamonds are believed to have passed through the hands of the Angolan rebel group UNITA in the 1992-98 period. Since 2005 export of rough diamonds from Cote d'Ivoire has been banned by the United Nations due to violation of a ceasefire agreement between the Abidjan government and the New Forces guerrillas, which control the north of the country.

Yet the embargo does not appear to have prevented Ivorian diamonds from entering Europe. Last month it was reported that Belgian judicial authorities had confiscated 14 million euros (21 million dollars) worth of illegal diamonds of Ivorian origin. This was despite a screening system introduced by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre to block 'conflict diamonds' -- gemstones sold to fund a war effort.

"The borders of Cote d'Ivoire are porous," said Ian Smillie, research coordinator with Partnership Africa Canada, an independent group that works to build sustainable human development in Africa. "The borders of its neighbours are also porous. Diamonds don't stop in Burkina Faso, if that is where they are going. They all reach world markets in Europe, the U.S., Japan and India."

"..The diamond industry has failed to live up to its promise to create an auditable tracking system to ensure that diamonds are conflict-free." - Charmian Gooch, director of Global Witness

No comments: