What is a conflict diamond?
A blood diamond is a diamond mined in a war zone and sold to finance an insurgency, invading army’s war efforts, or warlord’s activity. The time period of the conflict was 1975-2001. Conflict Diamonds are un-cut or rough diamonds that have been used by rebel movements or their allies to finance “conflict” aimed at undermining legitimate governments. These diamonds are mined particularly in Africa, where two-thirds of the world’s diamonds are extracted. The proportion of conflict diamond has always been very small and has been shrinking dramatically in recent years because of a variety of factors —including cease-fires in the Sierra Leone and Angola regions as well as reforms and new practices adopted by the diamond industry. Other names for conflict diamonds: blood diamond, converted diamond, hot diamond, or war diamond.
Throughout the 1990s, most of the world’s diamonds came from Africa, particularly regions undergoing civil unrest. Rebel armies in parts of Africa were exploiting alluvial diamond fields to fund their wars against established governments, putting people and the environment in the middle of their conflicts. Alluvial diamonds are found just inches to a few feet below the surface, making them easier to mine, but having an adverse impact on the environment. The people working these fields were often very young and subject to exploitation, with some losing their lives or becoming permanently maimed as wars raged around them. Hence, the term blood diamonds came into being to describe these types of gems.
The Kimberley Process
Today, 80 governments have adopted a system to control the export and import of rough diamonds mined from 2003 onward. Known as the Kimberley Process, it requires that each shipment of rough diamonds –before cutting and polishing – be placed in a tamper-resistant container and accompanied by a government-validated certificate. Each certificate is uniquely numbered and contains data describing the shipment’s contents.
Participating countries have pledged to impound shipments of rough diamonds from any nation that fails to subscribe to the standard. Shipments lacking proper certification will be treated in a similar way. The U.S. Customs is responsible for enforcement at American ports of entry.