Saturday, May 5, 2007
Diamonds were first discovered in Angola in 1913 and the major identified resources to date are located in the remote Lunda Norte province near the boarder with Zaire. Angolan diamonds are found in two areas, alluvial diamonds, which are washed out from volcanic pipes known as kimberlites, and kimberlite pipes. Kimberlite diamond mining is the most profitable area for large scale mining and to date more than 600 such pipes have been discovered. However, the cost of Kimberlite mining is great and therefore large mining companies have been reluctant to undertake such investments considering Angolaþs volatile economic and political history. The countriesþ diamond reserves are considered extensive and particularly marketable with approximately 70% classified as gem quality, 20% as near gem quality and only 10% as industrial.
United Nations General Assembly Adopts Resolution
on "Conflict Diamonds"
Crucial Issue in Fuelling Wars
On 1 December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly adopted, unanimously, a resolution on the role of diamonds in fuelling conflict, breaking the link between the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict, as a contribution to prevention and settlement of conflicts (A/RES/55/56). In taking up this agenda item, the General Assembly recognized that conflict diamonds are a crucial factor in prolonging brutal wars in parts of Africa, and underscored that legitimate diamonds contribute to prosperity and development elsewhere on the continent. In Angola and Sierra Leone, conflict diamonds continue to fund the rebel groups, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), both of which are acting in contravention of the international community's objectives of restoring peace in the two countries.
What is a Conflict Diamond?
Conflict diamonds are diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council.
"It has been said that war is the price of peace… Angola and Sierra Leone have already paid too much. Let them live a better life."
Ambassador Juan Larrain, Chairman of the Monitoring Mechanism on sanctions against UNITA.
How can a conflict diamond be distinguished from a legitimate diamond?
A well-structured 'Certificate of Origin' regime can be an effective way of ensuring that only legitimate diamonds -- that is, those from government-controlled areas -- reach market. Additional controls by Member States and the diamond industry are needed to ensure that such a regime is effective. These measures might include the standardization of the certificate among diamond exporting countries, transparency, auditing and monitoring of the regime and new legislation against those who fail to comply.
Crackdown on 'Blood' Diamonds
African leaders trading gems for arms must be punished, says UN panel
The United Nations is finally to mount an onslaught on the trade in "blood" diamonds from Africa, according to a report into the links between gems and arms leaked to the Guardian.
The uncompromising report recommends a series of punitive measures against west African countries linked to the civil war in Sierra Leone.
The 58-page report also points a finger of blame at Switzerland, a transit point for almost half the rough diamonds entering Britain. Switzerland is listed as "country of origin", even though it produces no diamonds of its own.
The UN panel recommends that a first-ever international embargo on diamonds should be applied to Sierra Leone's neighbours, Liberia and Gambia.
Minning map of Sierra Leone:
The report said that since the diamonds could not all have been mined in Liberia, it was obvious thatmost had been smuggled from Sierra Leone and other countries.
Similarly, the Ivory Coast apparently exported more than 1.5 million carats to Belgium each year between 1995 and 1997, although its diamond mining industry was closed in the mid-1980s.
In Sierra Leone in 1998, the government exported a mere 8,500 carats, but the HRD registered imports of 770,000 carats for that year coming from that country.
Mine victims from Africa:
Diamond-origin disclosure sought
In the United States, where consumers buy 65 percent of all the world's gem quality diamonds, legislation has been introduced calling for disclosure of where diamonds are mined.
"I think if consumers knew the diamonds they were looking at were conflict diamonds, there would be a significant decrease in the buying of these kinds of diamonds," said Rep.Hall.
Correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Reuters