Let’s start with a little refresher on some common diamond industry terms:
Conflict Diamonds: Defined as the Kimberley Process and the United Nations as “diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council.”
Blood Diamonds: Used interchangeably with conflict diamonds in the public sphere, no legal or Kimberley Process definition, though they are usually defined as: a gem whose extraction was directly associated with blood in some form, be it war or other kinds of violence.
How many people are familiar with the idea of dictator diamonds? They are the source of another growing issue facing the diamond industry, and partially behind Global Witness’s departure from the Kimberley Process. Remember this Global Witness statement?
Over the last decade, elections in Zimbabwe have been associated with the brutal intimidation of voters. Orchestrating this kind of violence costs a lot of money. As the country approaches another election there is a very high risk of Zanu PF hardliners employing these tactics once more and using Marange diamonds to foot the bill.
It does not refer to blood diamonds, but instead to the idea of diamonds used to fund future violence, or support a dictatorial government, thus a loose definition for dictator diamonds.
Worst of all, these stones aren’t just potentially coming out of Zimbabwe. The Angolan diamond mines are just as likely a source of dictator diamonds, a source that is currently semi-approved as a diamond exporter, despite evidence of human rights violations composed by an Italian aid agency whose report included some of the below information as presented by writer Chaim Even-Zohar:
[Angola is] …a country where foreign illegal diggers (men and women), mainly from the DRC, are periodically force marched out of the country practically naked, with people raped and killed on the way out…
In October 2011 (less than a month ago), the BBC reported about the latest bout of expulsions from Angola’s diamond areas. “The International Committee for the Development of Peoples, an Italian aid agency, has been monitoring the crisis along the boarder. Since 1 April (2011), they have recorded 38,000 deportations. More than 2,000 of the deportees said they suffered sexual violence, and 7,000 reported other forms of physical abuse. Nearly half said all their belongings had been stolen during their deportations.” The BBC gives gruesome details you really don’t want to know and says the human rights abuses are committed by soldiers or agents of the state.
To read more about the rise of dictator diamonds and their role in funding future conflict, read this JCK article. Encourage the industry to redefine conflict diamonds to include this aspect and protect the people of Africa currently being victimized.