Blood Diamonds in Africa

Elaboration, 2018

15 Pages, Grade: 1


Table of Content



Human rights

Human Rights Violation

What are diamonds?

Origin of Diamonds

The problem of blood diamonds

Non-Governmental Organizations involvement in diamonds

The Kimberly process

Sierra Leone and the blood diamonds

The Conflict Background

The Government Involvement in Diamonds and War

Neighboring Countries Role in the Civil War




In 2012, CNN broadcasted an analysis on how diamonds fuel conflicts in Africa. The story rose out of the trial of Charles Taylor, a former President of Liberia, at the International Court for crimes against humanity committed in Sierra Leone. The civil war in Sierra Leone was funded by the proceeds from the illegal sales of the alluvial diamonds found in Sierra Leone. The abundant natural resource was used to kill and main the people it should have benefited. The RUF rebel forces as well as the government forces committed horrendous atrocities against the people of Sierra Leone most of whom still live with the scars inflicted by the rebels. The gross human rights violation involved the amputations of arms, legs, noses and ears if the victim was suspected of corroborating with the government. The Liberian government was also culpable in the human rights violation for having supported the rebels with arms and logistics.


In 2012, CNN broadcasted an analysis on how diamonds fuel conflicts in Africa. The story rose out of the trial of Charles Taylor, a onetime President of Liberia, at the International Court for crimes against humanity committed in Sierra Leone. The case is unique because this is a president of a different country standing trial for crimes committed in another country. Much of the trial focused on the role of the blood or conflict diamonds in financing the rebels’ forces in the conflict areas. The case was made intriguing by the testimony of the supermodel Naomi Campbell, who had been summoned by the prosecution as a witness sensationally testified on how she received a gift of dirty looking stones from two men during a dinner that was hosted by the late and former South African president and freedom icon in 1997[1]. The prosecution argument was that the stones were blood diamonds sent to Campbell as a personal gift from Charles Taylor. The prosecution was trying to contradict Taylor’s testimony that he had never dealt with the gemstones that fuelled the bloody conflict in Sierra Leone[2]. The fascination with the disclosure led to the writing of this paper in search of what really blood diamonds are and their contribution to the horrors that were perpetrated in Sierra Leone. The paper looks at what human rights violation and the link between the war in Sierra Leone and its effects. It also discusses the origin of the conflict and the involvement of the rebels with the blood diamonds with the help of Charles Taylor both materially and as a conduit for the export of the diamonds. It was found that both the rebels and the government were involved in the illegal trade in blood diamonds on top of perpetrating the human rights abuse.

The Natural resources, such as diamonds, are considered as major assets for economic growth for many countries in Africa while resource scarcity is considered as a limiting factor to developmental possibilities for the people of Sierra Leone, Angola and the republic of Congo the minerals have, for a long time, contributed to poverty war, and political instability. The blood diamonds are gemstones that are mined and sold specifically to fund civil wars in Africa. Conflict diamonds have fueled unremitting internal conflicts that have claimed many lives in the last few decades. According to the United Nations, blood or conflict diamonds are diamonds that originate from provinces under the control of factions opposed to the sitting governments, and are exploited to finance military action against the governments. Approximately twenty-five percent of the diamond produced in the world come from Western and central Africa. The alluvial diamonds are collected over extended areas by independent enterprises and artisans using rudimentary technologies. The mining areas cannot be fenced, and the controls are loose and ineffective. These are the reasons that gave rise to the problem of blood diamonds. The issue of blood diamond came to the public attention in 1998 when a small London-based non-governmental organization; Global Witness wrote a report titled A Rough Trade. The report detailed how the Angolan rebels were smuggling diamonds to the international markets. The profit generated in the wartime economy was estimated to be in excess of two hundred and fifty million dollars per year. The report also implicated the De Beers diamond trading company, which at the time marketed almost eighty percent of the rough diamonds globally. The aim of this paper is to discuss the effect of blood diamond on human rights in the countries that have been heavily affected by civil wars financed through the blood diamonds.

Human rights

Human rights are an integral of the social-cultural fabric of human beings across the globe; consequently, the vulnerability of the welfare of mankind depends on the steadfastness of nations in protecting these rights through constitutional means. In most of the developing countries, the poor are faced on a daily basis by wanton violation of human rights by the affluent citizens[3]. The phenomenon of human rights presupposes the protection of individuals from abuse by state or governmental authority and it should be directed towards the development of societal conditions in which individuals can develop to their fullest potential. Human rights are the fundamental rights essential for an individual to live a dignified life. Thus, they are the rights and freedoms which all human beings are entitled to and should be guaranteed by the government[4]. Human rights include the right to shelter, food, clothing, safe drinking water, and to life as well as rights to participate in economic, social, political, and religious activities. The most fundamental right is the right to life. The preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human rights says human right is the recognition of the undeniable and inherent dignity anchored on the equal and inalienable rights of individuals[5]. That is the foundation of human beings freedom, peace and justice in the world. Some scholars have further defined human rights as being closely related to the protection of citizens from the state or government agencies in certain areas of individuals’ lives.

Human Rights Violation

Human rights scholars have defined the violation of human rights as a situation whereby the right to life, personal liberty, or integrity is violated. Human rights violations are acts of torture, extrajudicial execution, disappearance, mutilation, and forcible removal from the individuals’ dwellings. Most of the people, who suffer most in armed conflicts, where most of the human rights violations occur, are children, women, and the disabled and elderly people. Consequently, the Women’s protocol demand of states to undertake the protection of asylum seeking women, returnees, refugees, and internally displaced people against any form of violence, may it be rape or any other form of sexual exploitation[6]. The Women’s Protocol describes such acts as war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide. In the definition embraced by the international law, crimes against humanity are carried out as part of systematic attacks against a community on political, racial, ethnic, or religious grounds. The crimes could be murder, imprisonment, extermination, torture, rape or forced pregnancy.

What are diamonds?

Among the major natural resources in the world, diamonds have been considered as the most mysterious gemstone. For many centuries, diamonds have been prized for their hardness and brilliance. Many battles have been waged over diamonds, and fortunes have been won, and others lost while lovers across the globe have prized the gemstone as a token of the love they share. In some communities, diamonds were associated with the supernatural including the power to protect and confer good health on the wearer[7]. There have been cases of people swallowing diamonds hoping that it would help them recover from their ailments. In India, the Hindus believe that diamonds emit a silent vibration that heals the heart and the brain while other people believe that diamonds have the power to reconcile a quarreling couple.

The name diamond is derived from the word adamas (Greek) which means unbreakable. Diamonds are the hardest stones on earth[8]. It is such qualities that have made diamond so precious. The diamond is also high in luminescence. It has the ability to catch and reflect light in a manner that produces sparkles of different colors. When a diamond is polished and cut it radiate brilliance and a high visual appeal that no other gemstone can master.

Origin of Diamonds

Diamond crystals are formed deep in the earth mantle when carbon is subjected to extreme pressure and temperatures the passage from the mantle is done through the volcanic rock formations called the lamproite or the kimberlite. The diamonds are ejected to the earth surface together with vast quantities of magma during violent volcanic eruptions. The kimberlite pipes are the richest source of mined diamonds. They are shaped like a carrot and can extend underground for over two kilometers[9]. The lamproite pipes are shaped like a martini glass and are shallow going for about half a kilometer underground. The lamproite pipes are very rare, and to date, the only known economically viable lamproite is found in Western Australia; however, kimberlite diamonds are common and are mined in Africa, Canada and Russia. Secondary diamond sources are the deposits that have been dislodged from the primary source through erosion and deposited on river beds, in glaciers, or the ocean bed these are the diamonds referred to as alluvial deposits. The alluvial deposits diamonds account for about ten percent of the world’s diamond supply; however, they fetch better prices since they have high quality and retain more volume during polishing. These are the diamonds available in Sierra Leone.[10]

Diamonds have two uses, jewelry and industrial. About fifty percent of the diamonds are turned into jewelry, however, these jewels account for over ninety percent of the global value of diamonds[11]. The polished diamonds are considered the world’s most precious gemstones and account for forty percent of the jewelry production. Engagement rings form the largest category of the jewelry. The diamonds not suitable for jewelry are use for industrial purposes. They are characterized by hardness and, therefore, can work with other materials without showing any stress. They also magnificent heat conductor with an extremely high melting point.

The problem of blood diamonds

Diamond has been marketed as a symbol of purity, the image of purity was tarnished by the revelation that income from the sale of diamonds were being used to fund and perpetuate civil wars in Sierra Leone and Angola. The United Nations initially became involved in blood diamonds in the context of the Angolan peace process after the failure of the 1992 peace accord. The UN imposed embargoes on the importation of arms and the exportation of diamonds in 1993 through the establishment of a sanction committee[12]. The military coup in 1997 led a similar development in Sierra Leone. The arms import embargo in 1998 was followed by the 2000 embargo of diamond export and the establishment of a sanction committee.

Diamonds became a major issue for a number of reasons. The diamond industry represent an eight billion dollar market annually, secondly, the trading centers where the diamonds are traded in such as Tel Aviv, London and Antwerp, as well as the united states of America have scarce supplies[13]. The diamonds found in Sierra Leone are of high quality, and they are alluvial. They are found on the earth surface, especially on the river beds with the government acting as an organized crime syndicate, the diamonds quickly became the property of those who had the monopoly of violence[14].

Non-Governmental Organizations involvement in diamonds

The issue of blood diamond came to the public attention in 1998 when a small London-based non-governmental organization; Global Witness wrote a report titled A Rough Trade. The report detailed how the Angolan rebels were smuggling diamonds to the international markets. The profit generated during the wartime economy was in excess of two hundred and fifty million dollars per year[15]. The report also implicated the De Beers diamond trading company, which at the time marketed almost eighty percent of the rough diamonds globally. The A Rough Trade report exerted considerable pressure in the diamond industry, which feared the negative attention that would follow. The United Nations acted on the report by passing the sanctions resolution 1173 which prohibited the export of diamonds from Angola[16]. However, the sanctions had no effect on the trade. The death of the rebel leader made way for the signing of a peace agreement between the rebel forces and the government. The relative peace in Angola led to the lifting of the sanctions in 2002 under the United Nations resolution 1448[17].


[1]. Paul Armstrong. How diamonds fuel Africa's conflicts, CNN (2012).par. 1. Viewed on 9 November 2014, from

[2]. Armstrong, par. 4.

[3]. George Andreopoulos, Zehra, Kabasakal Arat, Peter Juviler. Non-state Actors in the Human Rights Universe, (Bloomfield: Kumarian Press, 2006). p. 35

[4]. Andreopoulos et al p. 36.

[5]. Bah, Bakarr. The Contours of New Humanitarianism: War and Peace-building in Sierra Leone. Africa Today, 2013, Vol. 60 (1), p. 10..

[6]. Bah, p. 17.

[7]. Powlick, K. Natural Resources and Conflict: Diamonds in Sierra Leone (2005). p. 7. Viewed on 9 November 2014, from

[8]. Powlick, p. 9.

[9]. Van Miller. Robert Hoover and Charles Crespy. Blood Diamonds and Dead Ivory, Annual Advances in Business Cases. 2007, p. 180.

[10]. Miller et al. p. 182.

[11]. Miller, et al. 186.

[12]. Andrew Winetroub. A Diamond Scheme is Forever Lost: The Kimberley Process's Deteriorating Tripartite Structure and its Consequences for the Scheme's Survival, Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, Vol. 20, 2013, p. 1425.

[13]. Winetroub, p. 1426.

[14]. Winetroub, p. 1427.

[15]. Paul Armstrong. How diamonds fuel Africa's conflicts, CNN (2012).par. 6. Viewed on 9 November 2014, from

[16]. Floreana Miesen. Blood diamonds. Development and cooperation (2012).p.. 4. Viewed on 9 November 2014, from

[17]. Miesen, p. 6.

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Blood Diamonds in Africa
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Caroline Mutuku (Author), 2018, Blood Diamonds in Africa, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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