Blood Diamonds are forever

Campbell's confession may go a long way in that effort. First, there is the question of what Taylor was doing in South Africa during that period. The prosecution asserts that he was in South Africa to buy weapons. Further, according to the tribunal, a shipment of weapons from South Africa to Sierra Leone followed soon after the night Taylor slipped Campbell the uncut diamonds.

But his simple gesture crystallises the challenge of monitoring the diamond industry. How does one monitor something so small?

Sierra Leone has often been used to highlight blood diamonds and conflict. Many believe that, without the sale of diamonds, the war there could not have been funded. The UN duly responded with Resolution 1306 on July 5, 2000, imposing a ban on the direct and indirect import of rough diamonds from Sierra Leone. Despite efforts, according to UN figures, conflict diamonds still continue to represent 20 per cent of total annual world diamond trade.

The most proactive move to monitor the production and trade of stones from conflict areas is called the "Kimberley Process", and was established in 2000 by southern diamond producing countries. Yet, a UN report detailing the situation in Cote d'Ivoire noted that, due to poor control, blood diamonds continue to be mined and enter the diamond market by being routed through legitimate exporters such as Ghana where they are certified as conflict-free.

Plugging those gaps is a problem, because of the structure of the diamond industry the "diamond pipeline" model. As diamonds move from the site they are mined to their "production centre", and then to the individual houses that polish them, space is left for conflict diamonds to seep in. Further the industry so heavily cartelised that it continues to be shrouded in secrecy. The Kimberley Process is supposed to free access to statistics, but production statistics continue to remain private. Further, the Kimberley Process, though growing in scope, requires international assistance and more stringent laws. June saw the government of Zimbabwe break away from the rules of the Kimberley Process certification scheme; Human Rights Watch detailed the export of blood diamonds from the Marange diamond fields there.

... contd.

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