The United Nations banned diamonds from Liberia in 2001 because of “blood diamonds” use to fund atrocities of the 1989 to 2003 civil war. The U.N. lifted the ban in April when Liberia agreed to adhere to the Kimberley Process for exporting diamonds. While the first shipment was small in terms of value ($220,000), it was a big step for Liberia’s financial future.
Liberia is struggling to recover from the devastating economic implications of the brutal wars that ravaged that region of Africa the since the early 1990’s. The Liberian government receives three percent of diamond sales directly but also benefits from the renewed infusion of resources as the diamond industry renews its efforts in the country.
The Kimberley Process is the multi-national mechanism established to curb and possibly eliminate conflict diamonds by requiring governmental documentation for diamonds to show they came from legitimate sources.
The United Nations has over 9,000 troops in Liberia to maintain stability during the rebuilding process. The troops are scheduled to be withdrawn over the next three years as the government rebuilds is state institutions, solidifies its judicial system, and reestablishes its infrastructure of roads, schools, and health care.
Lifting the ban on diamonds provides job opportunities, which are so critical for this country’s quest to alleviate poverty and restore quality of life to its citizens.