Economics, Management, Accounting, Finance

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Conflict diamonds

During the late 1990s, South African diamonds producer De Beers and other companies in the diamond industry discovered that some of the diamonds they were buying or selling came from groups who used the proceeds to finance brutal civil wars. In Sierra Leone, rebels took control of diamond mines by systematically chopping off the arms and hands of as many as 20,000 children, women, and men until the diamond operations were turned over to them. Similar events took place at diamond mines in Angola and the Democratic, republic of the Congo. About 4 million civilians have died in the civil wars financed by the diamonds. Anxious to avoid a consumer boycott of “conflict diamonds,” De Beers and other diamond Council, a group made up of buyers and sellers of diamonds that pledged to use the “Kimberley Process” to track diamonds from the mine to the jewelry shop to ensure that diamonds they sold customers were “conflict-free.” However, in 2004, Global witness, a report of a survey it conducted which concluded that “83 percent of [diamond] companies surveyed are falling short on implementing the basic measures” of the 2000 agreement to keep conflict diamonds from getting mixed in with non-conflict diamonds.


Is it morally wrong for retail stores to knowingly buy diamonds if it is not possible for them to determine whether they are conflict diamonds or not? Is it morally wrong for customers to do the same? Explain your answer in terms of utilitarianism, rights, and justice.


Utilitarianism is a general term for any view that holds that actions and policies should be evaluated on the basis of the benefits and costs they will impose on society. Benefits of an action may include any desirable goods (pleasure, health, lives, satisfactions, knowledge, happiness) produced by the action, and costs may include of its undesirable evils. Rights consist of legal right, moral right, negative rights, positive rights, contractual rights,...
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