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Blood Diamond: Origin and the story behind its existence

Diamond is, and always have been, a girl’s best friend since time immemorial. It’s a Greek word, “Adamas” which means unconquerable. Being the hardest natural substance known to man, it’s purely made up of carbon. Since a long time, they have been a symbol of wealth and fortune. They come in different colours like blue, green, yellow, or brown. Now you must be wondering what this ‘blood diamond’ signifies? To understand the concept, let’s take a look of its origin and history.

Blood Diamonds: what are they?

Blood diamonds are also known as conflict diamonds. The name traces its origin back to the way these diamonds were obtained and the purpose for which the sellers used it. In South Africa, illegal miners risk their life for a share of the diamond that contributes to the continent’s economy. Mostly, they are used in the illegal trading of diamonds financing civil wars, conflict and human right abuses in Africa. The main purpose for which they are used is for buying weapons.

Origin and story behind its existence

  • Brutal civil wars broke out during the 1990s in parts of central and western Africa. Three regions were involved in the conflict- the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola and Sierra Leone. The conflict was caused by the rebel groups located in diamond-rich areas of their country.
  • This war brought the world attention to the extent of destruction that diamonds can inflict. In rebel-controlled areas, the diamonds mined were smuggled to neighbouring countries or directly sold to the merchants. Then they were mixed with stocks of legally mined diamonds and then openly sold in the market.
  • Earnings made from the diamond sale were used to buy war material and arms for the rebel groups which caused violent campaigns and brought suffering to the civilians. Customers were not able to distinguish between the illegal diamonds and the real ones. Diamond traders became worried that the revulsion against blood diamonds will lead to the boycott of all the gems.
  • De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd., an Anglo-South African company controlled about 60% global trade of rough diamonds. The UN Security Council issued a report where it criticized, the world’s largest diamond market, in Belgium for not verifying the origin of their diamonds.

In 2003, the UN established a certification scheme under the Kimberley Process, to verify whether the diamonds exported are “conflict-free” or not. As a result, the central government was able to assert control over the rebel areas terminating the African civil wars. The global trade of diamond fell from 15% in the 1990s to much lower than 1% in 2010.

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