The International Response

Topics: Diamond, De Beers, Blood Diamond Pages: 6 (1760 words) Published: November 14, 2005
The International Response

The problem of conflict diamonds was first made public thanks to the efforts of several international NGOs, who bluntly denounced the links between the diamond trade and the wars in the African continent. NGOs played a major role in denouncing the trade of blood diamonds and ultimately demanding a response from those responsible. Notable about this campaign was its success in uniting unofficial diplomatic channels with a number of official as well as unofficial networks and connections to achieve its goal, thus employing what has been termed as ‘multi-track diplomacy'(Grant & Taylor : 2004, 386). The conflict diamonds campaign was, according to Global Witness, the combined efforts of multiple international NGOs with the purpose of ending the sale of ‘diamonds that originate from areas under the control of forces that are in opposition to elected and internationally recognized governments, or are in any way connected to those groups (Grant & Taylor : 2004, 389). The campaign has been especially successful in consolidating the idea that purchasing conflict diamonds is a unacceptable practice. Similarly, it has contributed much to the awareness of western diamond consumers who rarely recognized it as an issue. The British NGO Global Witness played a major role in the anti-blood diamonds trade campaign. Global Witness was in fact the first to publish, in 1998, A Rough Trade: The Role of Companies and Governments in the Angolan Conflict, a report that denounced the role that international diamond companies and governments played in purchasing illegal diamonds from Angola at a time when the Angolan rebel group UNITA, led by Savimbi, enjoyed a monopoly of the diamond exports produced by Angola, thus financing its military activity against the Angolan government (Grant & Taylor : 2004, 390). This was the first step towards making conflict diamonds a human rights issue, and demanding a response by those powerful enough to halt the trade of conflict diamonds. As a response, in June of 1998, the United Nations put in practice Resolution 1173 with prohibited the direct or indirect export of unofficial (i.e. UNITA) diamonds from Angola (Taylor & Mokhawa: 2003, 267). Nevertheless, NGO investigation efforts made public the fact that Angolan illegal diamonds were still being traded through neighbouring countries, especially Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo-Brazzaville. This was made possible largely though corrupt practices and inadequate use of ‘certificates of origin' (Taylor & Mokhawa: 2003,267). Thus, UN sanctions had little effect on stopping Angolan conflict-diamonds.

In 1999, a coalition of international NGOs entitled "Fatal Transactions", initiated a powerful awareness campaign which targeted the lack of commitment of the diamond industry in ensuring that it was not financing wars and military action in Africa through its indiscriminatory purchase of diamonds (Grant & Taylor : 2004, 390).

One of the major targets of this campaign was De Beers, perhaps the most important player in the international diamond trade industry (Grant & Taylor : 2004, 389). The coalition of NGOs was especially vocal in denouncing De Beer's collusion in purchasing conflict diamonds from Angola through its extensive network of purchasing offices regardless of the origins of the gems (Grant & Taylor : 2004, 390). It was incredibly successful in coming up with powerful slogans such as "the diamond trade is a lethal dinosaur with profit being placed before the lives of thousands of people'. The campaign was effective in staining the image of De Beers and ultimately ‘motivating' it to take action concerning this issue. Pressured by the anti-conflict diamonds campaign and fearing a potential consumer backlash, De Beers finally announced on October 5 1999, that it would be not only closing its office in Angola, but also reviewing its operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea (Taylor &...
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