Diamonds Luxury or Curse

May 9, 2011
By Bennetta BRONZE, Wilsonville, Oregon
Bennetta BRONZE, Wilsonville, Oregon
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

The saying “Diamonds are forever” did not account for human lives in the Countries of Sierra Leone and Angola. Africa is loaded with precious natural resources like diamonds, oil, and other minerals. The vast resources mixed with Africa’s meager economy are a perfect combination for illegal elicits diamond mining. These raw, rough, and illegal diamonds are called conflict or blood diamonds. Conflict diamonds are extremely hard to police and track; because once they are taken out of the mine they are impossible to track. These diamonds are trades and the profit from the diamonds help to pay for rebel armies and terrorist attacks on the African government. Rebel armies invade small civilizations and take men, women, and children as slaves and make them mine diamonds for little or no pay.
Different things have been put in place to prevent conflict diamonds like the Kimberly Process. The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme is a process introduced by the United Nations, and is designed to certify the origin of rough diamonds from sources which are free of conflict and fueled by diamond production. However, more needs to be done to prevent the trade of illegal diamonds; for example the Kimberly Process needs to be stronger and the World Diamond Trade Administration needs to be more active in diamond rich zones that are at risk for Civil War. Also, the United States needs to track and be able to certify diamonds that are mined from this region.
Illegal diamond mines are run by rebel armies that use the diamond profits to pay for guns, and other means of war. And a small amount of diamonds could fuel a small terrorist attack. These attacks are forced toward the government and the unstable government is unable to stop the rebels. The Rebel Armies invade African communities and take people from their homes and force them to mine for diamonds. Men that are taken are used to work in the mines and women and children are turned into child soldiers or sex slaves. The people who mine for diamonds have to find diamonds and may only receive .50 cents a day which doesn’t provide enough food for their families.
Many people believe that this issue is over, and that there is too much money and resources being put into this issue. According to Facts on File, “Conflict Diamonds” say that only 1% of diamonds that are mined are for violence. However this statistic only records the diamonds that are caught for illegal trading, and diamonds are extremely hard to track and police. So this statistic is not as accurate as it sounds, and the number of diamonds traded for violence should be zero. Also diamonds are a major part of Africa’s economy and the country relies on this income to help enhance the government. Nevertheless Africa’s economy would flourish more if there were no rebel run mines and then Africa’s true government could produce more diamonds and create more money for the economy. An editorial on Issues and Controversies state that without rebel armies, Africa’s economy would bring in 1.7 billion dollars a year.
Even though there is a major hit on Africa’s economy with violent conflict diamonds, the worst effect is the lives that are lost or severely altered when rebels invade their community. Rebel armies invade communities and take people for slaves. A majority of the people that are taken is children and they are forced to mine diamonds and become child soldiers to help invade other communities. Many children are beaten and brainwashed with drugs and other forms of mental and physical punishments. The boys that are taken and made into soldiers and start fighting at the young age of seven and girls that are taken are brought up as sex slaves for the rebels. Also many kids that are taken are dismembered and have missing arms or legs as punishment for not obeying the rules or disapprove of the rebels.
Opponents of the diamond industry say that child soldiers are extremely high in places of war and they say that Sierra Leone and Angola have been neutral since 2002 “How diamond Industry can do Good for Africa” (Global Databases and Issues). But the only reason that Sierra Leone said that they had resolved the issue is so the United States would lift the band off diamond trading. There is still a mass amount of tension between these two countries and another civil war may break out at any moment. Also on the database Global databases and issues, “How Pressure on the Diamond trade can do Good for Africa”; state that only 5% of people that mine diamonds are children. However child labor laws state that no children should mine in dangerous, risky diamond mines and this violates child labor laws of Africa.
Even though the Civil War between Angola and Sierra Leone is officially over, the people of Africa are still living in a war torn zone that could become violent any day. If this happens illegal diamond mines will double and more violence between the rebels and civilians will become more prominent. More needs to be done now in case of war to prevent illegal conflict diamonds. The Kimberly Process needs to become a larger part of the law and needs to be enforced in the law and there needs to be a larger fine for people who break this law. Also the National Diamond Administration needs to keep a closer eye on these countries and more evaluations need to be done to insure that our diamonds are real and not diamonds of war. The biggest thing that can be done to stop this issue is a stronger tie with the African communities and more evaluations on the diamond mines to confirm that they are legal mines. If this is done, Americans and other countries will be more confident that the precious diamonds that they are buying are legit, and not mined at African people’s expense.

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