About a month ago my friend Paul was posting about the upcoming blockbuster Blood Diamond and wondering why Diamond Facts – the website set up by the diamond industry to dispel the film’s central idea that the diamond trade might be fuelling conflict in Africa – wasn’t linking to Global Witness, the NGO that has been at the forefront of much of the (often risky) research on the issue.
Well, here‘s why. Global Witness, Amnesty International USA and… er… Warner Bros have joined forces to launch a new website, Blood Diamond Action, where Diamond Facts’ claim that more than 99% of diamonds are now from conflict-free sources is bluntly contested:
It is extremely difficult to estimate the current percentage of conflict diamonds as smuggling can easily take place outside government controls, creating a trade in illicit diamonds. Illicit trade, thought to represent up to 20% of global trade, shows that there are serious loopholes in the Kimberley Process. Any type of diamond smuggling highlights weak spots in a system through which conflict diamonds can potentially infiltrate. Poor government controls also allow some conflict diamonds to be certified as ‘conflict-free’. Some members of the diamond industry are knowingly flouting international and national law, yet the lack of industry oversight and willingness to find and expel unscrupulous members of the trade allows these traders to operate with impunity. [The Truth About Diamonds, downloadable PDF]
De Beers must be very unhappy about this…