How the African Diamond Trade Works

Experts claim that the illegal sale of blood diamonds produces billions of dollars to pay for civil wars and other conflicts in various African nations. Often the people leading these civil wars and rebellions oppose legitimate governments. They want control over the area's profitable diamond industry. For example, in Sierra Leone, a group known as the Revolutionary United Front killed, threatened, and even cut off the arms of people living and working in diamond villages in order to take control of the mines in the area. Then the group moved on to the next villages. Roughly 20,000 innocent people were mutilated, 75,000 were killed, and 2 million fled the country. All these conflicts combined have resulted in the deaths of more than 4 million people and displaced millions more.

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was created in 2002 to regulate diamond trading and prevent blood diamonds from entering the legitimate diamond market. More than 70 countries participate in the Kimberley Process. Each shipment must have a government-validated certificate that promises the shipment does not contain conflict diamonds. The countries must agree to refuse any diamond shipments that don’t have an authentic certificate. Supporters of the Kimberley Process report that 99.8 percent of the world's diamonds are now legitimate and conflict-free. Critics, however, claim that the program does not prevent diamonds from being smuggled from war-torn countries and then sold as legitimate.

Not all African diamond mines are corrupt. For example, the African nation of Botswana has a successful diamond mining industry.

Scientists have been trying to create real diamonds in laboratories, hoping to end the need for naturally occurring diamonds. These stones are not yet gem quality. They are used for industrial purposes, such as cutting tools.

Experts recommend purchasing diamonds from Australia and Canada, even though there are legitimate diamond mines in Africa.

Source: How the African Diamond Trade Works
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