How the African Diamond Trade Works

Experts claim that the illegal sale of blood diamonds has produced billions of dollars to fund civil wars and other conflicts in various African nations. Most of the time, the people behind these civil wars and rebellions oppose legitimate governments and desire 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 until they were able to take control of the mines in the area. Then the group moved on to the next villages. Roughly 20,000 innocent people suffered bodily mutilation, 75,000 were killed, and 2 million fled Sierra Leone. All of these conflicts combined have displaced millions and resulted in the deaths of more than 4 million people.

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was created in 2002 to regulate diamond trading and keep 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 not containing an authentic certificate.

Supporters of the Kimberley Process claim that 99.8 percent of the world's diamonds are now legitimate and conflict-free. Critics, however, claim that the program doesn't prevent diamonds from being easily 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 a laboratory setting, 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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