33 posts categorized "Conflict Diamonds"

Are Diamonds Propelling Wars in Africa?

It is generally accepted that Africa has had its own fair share of bloodiest wars globally that have nothing to do with liberation struggles.

Unlike the bloody wars on the European continent where the fights have been over power and economic influence, the African situation remains tied around the control over economically advantaged regions.

The fights over such mineral-rich tracts of land were usually instigated after colonial powers left the countries.

From the time of the cold wars to the present time, these wars have not been completely divorced from external economic interests that fueled wars that have ravaged the continent leaving millions of displaced while other have taken refuge in foreign lands.

Among the many theories attempting to explain these wars is the theory of conflict diamonds, which as the name may suggest are diamonds illegally mined or sold to finance some of Africa's worst civil wars.

And for a long time, the world watched while in some cases, major economic powers of the world greatly benefited from the sad African situation at the expense of the indigenous people whose huts were built on top of the huge diamond deposits and yet remained on the extreme side of the poverty equation. The situation in Zambia's northern neighbour, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Angola, Sierra Leone and Liberia are some of the living testimonies of the atrocities that besieged the continent just because it has a rich mineral resource capable of starting the continental economic boom but only when they were used to the benefit of the locals in peaceful manner.

But after years of such devastating wars, movements have emerged aimed at addressing this problem with a clear realisation that it is the rough diamonds mined by rebel movements in the war torn countries that were used to fuel conflicts.

Read the rest of the story at http://allafrica.com/stories/200503150018.html

Angola to double diamond production in 2006

Angola's national diamond company Endiama has announced that it expects to double its production capacity in 2006. Endiama's current capacity is about 6 million carats of diamonds per year. If the state company reaches its target, Angola will surpass South Africa and become Africa's third largest diamond producer, after Botswana and Congo Kinshasa (DRC). The industry however still faces many problems.

According to information released by the Angolan government's Agência Nacional para o Investimento Privado (ANIP), the national diamond mining sector is experiencing a boom-like revival. During the last decade, diamond production has been around 3 to 5 million carats annually, recovering to an estimated 6.5 million carats currently, following the end of the civil war.

Angola's diamond production is mostly controlled by the state-owned Empresa Nacional de Diamantes de Angola (Endiama). Endiama's current capacity is about 6 million carats of diamonds per year, but the company has now announced plans to double its production capacity during the next year. By end-2006, Endiama thus plans to produce 12 million carats annually.

Read the rest of the story at http://www.afrol.com/articles/15888

ANGOLA: New report alleges blood still stains diamonds

Angola's diamond industry is beset by murders, beatings, arbitrary detentions and other human rights violations, alleges a new report, and the international community should boycott these gems.

'Angola's Deadly Diamonds', produced by human rights activists who recorded the abuses in the diamond-rich provinces of Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul throughout 2004, said such violations against both Angolans and foreigners had become the norm.

Since the Angolan government launched its crackdown against diamond smugglers in the area known as the Lundas, there have been reports of unrest and violence at the hands of both the national police and diamond company security firms.

The report's authors - journalist and civil rights campaigner Rafael Marques, and lawyer Rui Falcao de Campos - said in a statement that they "link the violence to lawlessness and corruption that ensure only a privileged few benefit from the region's diamond wealth".

Government and police representatives were not immediately available for comment on the report, which called on the international community to reconsider the objectives of the Kimberley Process, and include stones from areas where diamond mining "is based on the systematic violation of human rights" in the category of 'conflict diamonds'.

The Kimberley Process seeks to end the trade in illegal 'blood' diamonds through an international certification system.

Read the rest of the story at http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=46053&SelectRegion=Southern_Africa

Diamond miners to be 'conflict free'

The diamond industry wants to bring a million small-time diamond miners worldwide into line with the international process to keep diamonds conflict free.

This would remove opportunities for stones to be sold to fund wars.

In 2003 the Kimberley Process came into force to regulate the big players in diamond mining.

In London, in January 2005, the first meeting of the Diamond Development Initiative looked at the issue of artisanal alluvial miners involved in small, sometimes subsistence, mining of diamonds from riverbeds.

"The meeting addressed the viability of establishing a development and regulatory environment in which alluvial rough diamonds can be mined and distributed," De Beers said in a statement on Wednesday.

Read the rest of the story at http://www.sundaytimes.co.za/zones/sundaytimesNEW/business/business1110429540.aspx

Groups Call on Jewelry Industry to Combat 'Conflict Diamonds' and 'Dirty Gold'

LONDON, March 8, 2005 - Oxfam America, EARTHWORKS, and Global Witness are calling on jewelers to provide consumers with meaningful guarantees that the jewelry they buy is not tarnished with human rights abuses, environmental destruction, or conflict. The global jewelry industry held its annual meeting in Hong Kong from March 3-6 2005. Organized by the World Jewelry Confederation (CIBJO), the meeting's theme this year was "Maintaining Consumer Confidence."

"The jewelry industry must take stronger steps to ensure customers that diamonds are never again linked with conflict, human rights abuses and terrorism." said Corinna Gilfillan of Global Witness. Diamonds have fuelled conflicts in Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone, contributing to the death and displacement of millions of people.

"The symbol of one's enduring love should not have to come at the expense of clean drinking water or respect for human rights," said Payal Sampat of EARTHWORKS. Gold mining has been called one of the world's dirtiest industries, with the production of a single gold ring generating an average 20 tons of mine waste. Irresponsible gold mining practices have polluted water and soil with toxic chemicals, endangering the health of people and ecosystems.

Read the rest of the story at http://www.greenbiz.com/news/news_third.cfm?NewsID=27754

Angola's diamonds still deadly

Three years after sanctions against “conflict diamonds” helped end Angola’s civil war, the country’s diamond industry continues to thrive on violence and corruption, according to a report to be released next week by Angolan human-rights activists.

Entitled Angola’s Deadly Diamonds, the report details incidents of murder, beating, detention without trial, extortion and rape attributed to the Angolan police in the gem-rich north-eastern Lunda region throughout 2004.

Read the rest of the story at http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=198877&area=/insight/insight__africa/

Sierra Leone: Good Progress, But a Long Way to Go

Sierra Leone, which for a decade was regarded as a byword for conflict diamonds, has made great strides in cleaning up its diamond trade dealings although government revenues from the business are minimal and the vast majority of the country's citizens are not benefiting from its exports of gems, according to a new report.

The report was produced by the Ottawa-based Partnership Africa Canada and the Freetown-based Network Movement for Justice and Development.

Official diamond exports showed an almost 100 percent rise to $126 million last year from $74 million in 2003, but according to the report this was overwhelmingly due to the Kimberley Process which compels the legal sale of diamonds and the improved security situation rather than efforts by the Sierra Leone government to crack down on diamond smuggling.

"Hardly anyone, including government officials, attributes (the rise in diamond exports) to internal curbs on illicit diamonds mining and smuggling, both of which continue to thrive," wrote the report's authors.

In an estimate based on information from other sources, the report believes $30 million-$170 million of diamonds were smuggled out of Sierra Leone last year.

The report pays tribute the transparency of the operations of Sierra Leone's Gold and Diamond Department which values diamonds for export and levies export taxes.

It points out, though, that the direct taxes the government receives from the diamond mining industry is tiny. The government's three percent tax on diamond sales brought in less than $4 million last year. During the 1991-2001 civil war, almost no diamond income made its way to government coffers.

Diamonds were used to pay for the arms that kept the war going, aided by the fact that Sierra Leone's shallow alluvial deposits can be mined with the most basic of tools, such as a pick and shovel, while smuggling the gems out was a simple matter due to the country's largely unguarded borders.

The report points out that the smuggling of diamonds, as with the legal gems trade, is largely controlled by members of Sierra Leone's Lebanese community which "dictate the price of rough diamonds, reap most of the economic rewards and exploit those in the production chain below them".

The report says that deep mining operations, of which there are few, could provide the key for increased job opportunities and increased government revenue.

Koidu Holdings, a company 60 percent owned by the Steinmetz Diamond Group, has invested more than $20 million in opening two kimberlite mines. Up to August last year, the firm exported 46,000 carats worth $9 million.

In stark contrast to the largely ungovernable artisanal diamond mining industry, a full 40 percent of profits from underground mining operations go to the government in corporation tax, surface rent and royalties.

As the Partnership Africa-Canada report says: "Clearly, Sierra Leone requires the investment that such companies can bring in order to develop the diamond deposits buried deep in kimberlite pipes. Most of the problems of today's diamond industry in Sierra Leone boil down less to willful corruption and mismanagement than to challenges of governance and procedure."

Government Loses Millions to Illegal Diamond Prospecting

The Angolan State loses millions of US dollars as a result of illegal prospecting of diamonds, mainly by foreign citizens, in various regions of the country, a National Police source said Thursday.

Speaking in Dundo city, notheastern Lunda-Norte province, the deputy commander of the National Police unit for Protection and Intervention, Commissioner Paulo de Almeida, said the amount lost could help the national reconstruction and improve people living standards

Read the rest of the story at http://allafrica.com/stories/200502180530.html

Group seeks to curb sale of conflict diamonds

Valentine's Day was a day of flowers, chocolate, candy and, if consumers were careful, conflict-free diamonds.

Univeristy of Texas' chapter of Amnesty International hosted a day of action on Monday, posing a question for local diamond retailers: "Did someone die for that diamond?"

The "Valentine's Day Call-a-thon" was stationed on the West Mall where chapter members donated cell phone minutes for students to call local retailers to show concern about conflict diamonds - diamonds sold to fund civil wars, conflict and human rights abuses.

Read the rest of the story at http://www.dailytexanonline.com/news/2005/02/15/University/Group.Seeks.To.Curb.Sale.Of.Conflict.Diamonds-864126.shtml

Read more about conflict diamonds at http://www.diamondsourceva.com/Education/DiamondIndustry/diamonds-conflict.asp

Russian Prepared to Fight Bloody Diamonds

Russian Finance Minster Aleksey Kudrin recently confirmed the makeup and powers of the secretariat of the Kimberley Process, as part of the worldwide struggle against “bloody” diamonds. Russia, which became the chairing country of the process on January 1, has legally formed its working body. The secretariat's first task will be to prepare a report to the UN Security Council on removing sanctions from Liberia.
The Kimberley Process received its name from a place in the Republic of South Africa where the first conference on “bloody” diamonds. On January 1, 2003, about 70 countries, including Russia, agreed to introduce a global system to control the diamond trade. That measure is meant to prevent diamonds used to finance terrorist movements (1-1.5 percent of all those sold) from reaching the market.

The secretariat of the Kimberley Process was founded by the Ministry of Finance as a working body whose task will be to ensure Russia's activities as the chairing country of the group. Kommersant was informed on Thursday at the Finance Ministry that Andrey Kutepov, first deputy head of the State Depository of Valuables, has been appointed leader of the secretariat. Russia will chair the Kimberley Process for one year. The function of its chairman was assigned to President of Yakutia Vyacheslav Shtyrov, who now has a staff.

Kutepov told Kommersant on Thursday that the first plan of the secretariat will be to coordinate the activities of the mission of the Kimberley Process in West Africa. In addition, he said, the secretariat will prepare for an inter-session meeting of the member countries in Russia in the first half of June. “On February 15, a working group will be dispatched to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea led by former Kimberley Process chairman from the Republic of South Africa Abbey Chikane. At the beginning of March, he will give a detailed account of the groups work in Moscow, on the basis of which a report by Vyacheslav Shtyrov will be presented to the Security Council at the end of March,” Kutepov recounted.

Last year, the UN Security Council requested that the Kimberley Process make a report on the situation in Liberia. International sanctions were imposed on that country by Security Council Resolution No. 1521 of December 22, 2003. Russia joined in the sanctions last spring. However, a trade embargo was effectively placed on the regime of former president Charles Taylor, who set up the “bloody” diamond business with Sierra Leonean rebels.

In exchange for arms, the rebels controlling the diamond mines of Sierra Leone shared the profit from those mines with Taylor. However, the Taylor regime fell a year and a half ago, and he is now in hiding from a UN tribunal on war crimes in Nigeria. Now, the Kimberley Process must assess contemporary Liberia's fulfillment of the requirements for international certification of raw diamond and the possibility of removing the sanctions.