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Conflict Diamonds
Nicknamed 'blood diamonds', conflict diamonds originate from countries embroiled in civil wars between militia groups and governments. Diamonds from these areas are often used to finance such rebellions, and the workers who mine them are commonly subjected to severe human rights violations. Conflict diamonds became an international issue in the early 1990s in Sierra Leone; however, their production and sale by rebel groups has also occurred in The Republic of Congo, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Liberia, and The Ivory Coast. As it is difficult to trace a diamond’s origin once it has entered the market, the identification and eradication of conflict diamonds continues to challenge the diamond industry.

The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme

The United Nations established the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in cooperation with governments, human rights organisations, and the international diamond industry in 2000. This scheme is designed to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the marketplace through a globally recognised and widespread tracking system. Ratified in 2003 and now supported by 74 governments globally, this contract requires participating governments to keep a record of every rough diamond from when it is mined to its export.

Each participating government must meet these requirements:

- Rough diamonds travelling internationally must carry an authenticated Kimberley Process Certificate that's uniquely numbered, with the contents of the shipment clearly outlined.
- Certified diamond shipments may only travel between countries with participating governments.
- Certified diamond shipments must be transported in containers that are impervious to tampering.
- Sales of rough diamonds must be individually and privately audited.
- Each participating government must keep an accessible record of their diamond import and export activities, as well as their diamond values.
- Participating governments are subject to periodic reviews and monitoring of their diamond manufacturing and shipping processes.
- Participating countries found to be in breach of the contract may be sanctioned by the Kimberley Process.

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme also encompasses the System of Warranties, which monitors the movements of diamonds once their certified international shipments have taken place. Each diamond will typically move between a merchant, cutter, polisher, jewellery maker and retailer, before it is finally sold to a consumer. Every time the diamond changes hands between these stages, each invoice issued must include a warranty that declares the diamond is conflict-free. These invoices must be kept on record for at least five years.

Conflict Diamonds Today

More than 99% of the world's diamonds available for sale are currently sourced from conflict-free zones, according to the World Diamond Council. Part of that reason is that some of the countries that were previously funding wars through conflict diamonds are now at relative peace, and have joined the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in the effort to rebuild their economies. The Ivory Coast is still banned from diamond mining and trading by the international diamond industry, and has been under a UN Security Council Resolution to prohibit the extraction and trade of diamonds since 2007.

In general, the continent of Africa should not be considered a place that produces illegitimate and untrustworthy conflict diamonds, with peaceful African countries building legitimate diamond industries that help improve their communities through jobs, economic benefits, community service programs, healthcare, and educational initiatives.

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