The Conflict Free Diamond Deception

The Conflict Free Diamond Deception
Diamond diggers in Sierra Leone have no other way to make a viable living. They still work for a dollar a day. Their voice was ignored in the framing of the Kimberley Certification scheme.
At a Glance
  • The conflict/conflict free narrative perpetuates an insidious denial of crimes against humanity. We need to abandon the "conflict free" narrative entirely and adopt instead a more precise description of our sources, referencing traceability and transparency.
Conflict Free Diamond Deception:
Ultimately, the conflict free diamond narrative has no moral ground. Without truth and reconciliation and restitution with producer communities, we have instead a conflict free diamond deception.
Since the establishment of the Kimberley Process (KP) in 2003, the jewelry sector has defined diamonds in terms of "conflict" or "conflict free." But from a civil society perspective, we believe there is no such thing as a conflict free or beyond conflict free diamond. In fact, this conflict/conflict free framework created by KP, and widely supported by even "ethical" jewelers, has created a narrative that perpetuates an insidious denial of a crime against humanity.
Conflict Free Diamonds: No Such Thing
The notion of a conflict diamond originated in the wars funded by the diamond trade during the 1990s. Though Charles Taylor is in prison for his role in these wars, no one in the diamond sector or industry has ever been held accountable for funding these wars or hiring the paramilitary groups, which resulted in the deaths of over three million Africans. The cozy relationship between those in the diamond trade who framed KP and those in the diamond trade who were trading blood diamonds has never been publicly scrutinized. It is from KP that the notion of "conflict free" has become popularized.

Ironically, those small scale communities most impacted by the blood diamond war have no representation in the framing KP. Even now, they continue to work in abject poverty. As Gandhi once said, Poverty is the worst form of violence. Additionally, KP has not changed the level of corruption in the diamond business. In Surat, India, where 90% of diamonds are polished, fewer than two thirds of the diamonds arrive from legitimate sources according to an article in Foreign Policy, entitled Rough Cut.

The current KP system only creates an appearance of change. Large diamond companies now use KP to support own neocolonial resources control. Kimberley in real terms is a customs and exchange procedure that falsely presents itself to the world as a legitimate chain of custody systems. It does, however, solidify the market for these large companies who framed it because only they can offer a secure change of custody for diamonds. We believe that the world would be better off it KP was completely abandoned (see Part 1 and Part II )

Ultimately, the conflict free diamond narrative has no moral basis without truth, reconciliation and restitution.

Conflict Free Does Not Apply to Abuse and Corruption
Finally, let's look at this conflict free narrative in more personal terms. Suppose you fund some thugs with diamonds you've purchased to massacre a village. A few years later, after the British have sent their troops to end the war, you come to the survivors who walk around with one arm and say, "Hey sister, we're still selling diamonds, but we've got the Kimberley Process now so we're conflict free". Only a sociopath could justify such collective behavior. Ultimately, the conflict free diamond narrative has no moral basis without truth, reconciliation and restitution.

There are further more obvious reasons why the "conflict/conflict free" framework just is not accurate. Conflict free does not apply to human rights abuses and corruption. Nor are environmental impacts considered. Certainly from a rights for nature perspective, Canadian diamond mining in the pristine Northern Territories, has conflict.

The fact that diamonds do comprise about 50% of total jewelry sales will make the consensus trance that supports the "conflict free" narrative nearly impossible to change. Yet, the current conflict free narrative supports a general zeitgeist in which Stalin's adage: the death of one person is a tragedy; the death of one million is a statistic has its truth. The moral imperative for jewelers who care about the millions who died in the diamond wars is to abandon the "conflict free" narrative entirely.

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