- Despite legislations and mountains of promises by the world, diamond companies still don't do enough to prevent the stones from being used to purchase weapons, fuel wars and create havoc in countries where poverty is endemic, campaigners claim. A new movie shaming the diamond business using the Sierra Leone example will now hit cinemas in Africa and beyond.
Anti-blood diamond campaigners are now going an extra mile to shame the diamond-in-exchange-of-arms industry that has killed thousands of Africans. It is against this background that World Vision launched a new film on the subject. As it now hits theatres, advocacy groups remind consumers about the four Cs of diamond buying - carat, cut, clarity and conflict.
The film, which will again bring illegal, unethical and immoral diamond trade to the public attention, has been released today, World Vision says in a statement.
"Diamonds are a US$ 60 billion a year business, and even if only one percent of the retail market includes gems that fuel conflicts in African nations, that is US$ 600 million worth of cheap assault rifles and rocket launchers killing thousands of people every year," says Rory Anderson, an expert on the illegal diamond trade with the Christian aid agency World Vision. "It is unconscionable."
"In Sierra Leone, where 'Blood Diamond' is set, the conflict ended years ago, and diamonds are coming under legitimate control," he adds. "But there are still countries, like the Democratic Republic of Congo, where diamonds and other resources are being sold illegally, and diamond warlords use proceeds to fund rebel conflicts."
The solution to the problem, according to World Vision, is not a diamond boycott, but rather consumer pressure where the industry will feel it most: at the jewellery store and in Western parliaments.
"The legitimate diamond industry in countries like South Africa, Botswana and Namibia provide livelihood and vital public services," said Mr Anderson. "We don't want to hurt their efforts in the process of stopping the illicit trade elsewhere."
Before buying diamonds, Mr Anderson says, consumers should ask retailers about their policies on "blood diamonds" and whether they can certify their diamonds are not funding conflict. "If such certification cannot be presented, inquire about other retailers who can," he advices.
Americans buy two-thirds of the diamonds on the global market, and according to a 2004 study by Amnesty International and Global Witness, 58 percent of diamond retailers in the US and the UK had no policy on conflict diamonds.
In 2000, over 150 organisations urged the diamond industry to develop a system that ensures that all diamonds in the global market were no longer funding conflict and human rights abuses.
Negotiations with the diamond industry lobbyists culminated two forms of regulation: the international Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and the US Clean Diamonds Trade Act.
The Kimberley Process is an international system that certifies unpolished or "rough" diamonds that come from sources not fuelling conflict. However, the process only covers stones that have not yet been cut. This "mine-to-factory" coverage still allows rebels and other groups to make minor changes to the stones that easily exempt them from the Kimberley Process, according to activists. Civil society organisations are asking for certification of the entire process, tracing diamonds "from mine to finger."
The US Clean Diamond Trade Act requires all diamonds entering the United States to bear Kimberley Process certification. However, the Washington government has delegated oversight of the process to the diamond industry. Enforcement by the US Department of Commerce, mandated in the law, "has fallen far short of expectations and must be fully implemented," according to the activists.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.