Our end of year project in Ethics class was to do a project on a moral dilemma that will be facing us in the near future. I was assigned diamond trading, specifically in Africa. When i got the assignment, i didn't know much about the issue - what the problem was, why it was a moral dilemma, and where it was even going on. I started delving into material that covered the issue and found some frightening statistics and information.
Like me, a lot of people don't know about diamond trading, and that is what is so scary about the issue. Basically, there are countries like Sierra Leone and Angola that trade diamonds illegally, jeopardizing lives in the process, so that they can get money to buy ammunition and militia. It started when the civil war in Sierra Leone was going on in the 90's; a rebel group that was trying to take over the government started mining (forcing people to mine, rather) diamonds so that they could fund their war. If people did not comply to their no pay and no working conditions, the rebel group would use amputation as their form of punishment.
Now people all over Africa are seen without limbs and/or are extremely disfigured.
People have been doing some things to try and combat this problem. One of those is the Kimberley Process:
The Kimberley Process (KP) is a joint governments, industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds – rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments. The trade in these illicit stones has fuelled decades of devastating conflicts in countries such as Angola, Cote d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone.
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) imposes extensive requirements on its members to enable them to certify shipments of rough diamonds as ‘conflict-free’. As of November 2008, the KP has 49 members, representing 75 countries, with the European Community and its Member States counting as an individual participant.
The UN is also trying to combat the problems of conflict diamonds (aka blood diamonds):
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.
I think that this issue needs to be addressed more publicly. The United States fuels a billion dollar industry every year. Virtually every woman who is married has a rock on her finger. The question is: where did that diamond come from? Did someone lose an arm over the diamond? You never know... For this reason, i believe it is an ethical and moral dilemma, one that some of us will be facing within the next ten years. One must ask oneself: how important is the worth of a diamond as a symbol of love when people are dying for it?
This is the common sight in African countries such as Sierra Leone....