Good Example Of Essay On Conflict Diamond Trade
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In sub-Saharan Africa and West Africa, one of the most controversial practices taking place is the ‘conflict diamond’ trade, in which diamond mining is operated largely by violent criminal organizations, using unethical practices and violence to keep workers in line. Addressing this issue has proven incredibly difficult for a number of reasons, with many attempts having only limited success This is due to a plethora of factors, from the shortages of aid workers and funding to the comparative isolation and lack of industrialization found in these communities and West/South Africa as a whole. However, with the help of greater measures and a more concerted commitment to good governance, among other things, efforts to disrupt conflict diamond mining might prove more successful.
Conflict Diamonds at a Glance
The conflict diamond trade, due to its dangers and the underhanded methods used within it, offers little help to the nations in which it occurs: “African countries with significant natural wealth reap limited rewards and have experienced underdevelopment, corruption, political instability, and in some cases, violent conflict” (Maconachie 2009, p. 71). African countries, in their zeal to loot their resources for their economy, exploit unskilled workers and a disorganized political structure to create untenable conditions of the industry and its workers. Nations such as Sierra Leone and Ghana are frequently embroiled in civil war and political instability, with rampant poverty and a lack of infrastructure facilitating violence on a massive scale (Maconachie, 2009). This trade is not helped much by the increased interested in diamonds and other raw materials from the developed world, which these organizations see as their primary audience (Maconachie, 2009). Because of this violence, and the untenable nature of the conflict diamond trade, it is said that greater efforts must be made to stop the trade and focus instead on post-conflict development and the building of infrastructure (Maconachie, 2009).
The Limitations of Conflict Diamond Intervention
Attempts to monitor and curb the conflict diamond trade have not yielded tremendously effective results, due to a number of factors. The most well-known and high-profile measure has been the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which is a Sierra Leone-based initiative to curb the conflict diamond trade and focus efforts towards a more legitimate trade (Maconachie, 2009). For the most part, the Kimberley Process has been considered a rousing success, with conflict diamond trade falling to less than 1% of the whole diamond market (Alagia, 2012). Its efforts to provide tax revenue for Sierra Leone and other nations have become quite successful, offering tax revenues for its ~$150 million a year diamond market to help with infrastructure and community development (Alagia, 2012).
Admittedly, there have been many positive steps taken in the KPCS, as more and more illicit diamonds are turned into official channels, but Sierra Leone still encounters many problems with conflict diamonds. As it stands, it is currently extremely difficult to regulate and keep track of the diamond deposits in Sierra Leone, given the somewhat dispersed nature of these deposits. Without a clear idea of how far they go, or where they are, it is nearly impossible to keep track of them all and ensure that all mining efforts happening within them are being performed ethically (Maconachie, 2009). Furthermore, the efforts to eliminate conflict diamond trade do not sufficiently address the underlying poverty that motivates these efforts; as long as individuals in these countries do not have enough money to feed themselves or make a living, these kinds of illicit activities will continue in some capacity (Maconachie, 2009).
How to Address Conflict Diamond Intervention Limitations
Of particular problems is the lack of oversight and transparency that occurs within these nations and governments; analysis and oversight is left up to government officials who are hired as a form of patronage, rather than who is most qualified to actually perform the work. Favoritism, nepotism and the like are rampant and often-seen in African governments, particularly when it comes to government contracts, and so governments will often get a ‘free pass’ to allow friends of government leaders to get contracts for diamond mining (Sharife, 2011).
The overall system that has been built up to continue this cycle of violence is an intensely hierarchical one, in which the chief beneficiaries are somewhat tyrannical, authoritarian governments and a number of criminal gangs. For example, in Zimbabwe, the chief beneficiary of Zimbabwe’s diamond mining trade is Obert Mpofu, the minister of mines, as he allots positions to individuals of dubious pedigree without proper terms and experience (Krawitz, 2012). Because of this deeply entrenched corruption and graft which keeps unqualified, unethical leaders in power at a systemic level, it is extremely difficult to change the fundamentals of the diamond trade.
“Artisanal” methods of diamond mining are another problem; unlike typical mining procedures, the nature of Sierra Leone’s diamond deposits means that people can just find diamonds after a rainstorm on the surface, which is incredibly difficult to regulate (Maconachie, 2009). Efforts like the Kimberley Process do not adequately deal with these ‘x’ factors, because diamonds are such a physical commodity, and the trade is already heavily established through existing methods and underground contacts. Kimberly Process efforts in countries like Zimbabwe, which have known problems with citizen violence due to the diamond trade, often lead to no significant recommendations or legislation against these practices (Haufler, 2009). Despite its lofty goals, the Kimberly Process will often not act quickly or aggressively enough to stop or address perceived injustices, while allowing nations to get away with it while still considering themselves members of the KPCA. Despite the promise of the KPCA, their results fall far short of their goals.
Another potential issue is the unspoken patronage of American companies and diamond buyers in the developed world, who tacitly accept blood diamonds as a natural part of the process. The United States has played a role in undermining legitimate governments in order to keep African in conflict, so that companies like De Beers can benefit by purchasing their products for less (Sharife, 2011).The United States will frequently change alliances with certain governments and regimes as long as they get better deals on imported/exported goods, making them deliberate instigators of conflict in order to benefit their own bottom line (Sharife, 2011).
One of the primary methods of possibly stopping the conflict diamond trade is the advancement of ‘good governance’ in these diamond-mining communities. With these processes, monitoring can be more effectively facilitated, and violence may be restricted. The goal of good governance is to further facilitate high standards of accountability and transparency, which would lead to better business practices and ethical treatment of workers (Maconachie, 2009). One group, attempting to improve economic outcomes in Marange, advised them to change some of the systemic corruption that has occurred in that country, including offering oversight for mining contracts to ensure that unqualified individuals do not get jobs that should go to people who know what they are doing, and who do not exploit their workers (Krawitz, 2012). Diamond mining deals must also be de-militarized, removing the possibility of violence and oppression from the trade altogether; with these greater steps towards peace and good governance, the diamond trade in African nations could be significantly improved.
In addition to good governance, the primary way to deal with conflict diamond mining must be to address the poverty and socioeconomic conditions that motivate the trade to exist in the first place. Artisanal mining can be more ethically supported through efforts like the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI), which “brings together governments, NGOs andthe diamond industry itself, and aims to promote a more developmental focus that centres on the miners and mining communities themselves” (Maconachie 2009, p. 75). By offering better legitimate renumeration for artisanal miners than would be offered in the conflict diamond trade, these individuals can be further motivated to work legitimately to process the diamonds in a better, more universally recognized way. Through these more advantageous methods of realization, and the offering of more stable incomes, conditions can be improved within the diamond trade.
Currently, there are initiatives like that in the process of implementation, such as the Diamond Area Community Development Fund (DACDF), which focuses on participation between miners, decentralization of efforts and a greater focus on the community (Maconachie, 2009). This process allows a percentage of mining revenue to be returned to the chiefdoms that produce the materials, this, along with tax cuts and developmental projects, are used to fund social and infrastructure development in these communities (Maconachie, 2009). This has been largely successful, including providing an “unprecedented amount of diamond revenue” to these mining communities, including over $900,000 during 2005 (p. 75). This initiative in particular has come under fire, however, for bringing about even more confusion and infighting among chiefdoms due to constantly changing laws and internal policy, which may affect the ways in which communities are being renumerated (p. 75).
While efforts such as the Kimberley Process and the DACDF have worked to chip away at the monolithic and highly dangerous practice of conflict diamond mining, there is still a long way to go in terms of actually dealing with the systemic problems that lead to conflict diamond mining in the first place. The use of diamonds to fuel an impoverished economy is, and always will be, complex – while the practice is highly lucrative, it will almost assuredly lead to at least some criminal activity and unregulated mining due to its uncertain nature. To that end, violence, poverty and war will also be a part of this trade as long as diamonds become the most important and lucrative resources sub-Saharan Africa has to offer.
In order to address these issues, these nations must be allowed to develop in an organic and productive way, setting up infrastructure and improving transparency and good governance. Finding ways to use diamond mining funds to bolster community development, as well as offer competitive renumeration for legitimate diamond mining operations, should reduce incentives to engage in such a dangerous and violent practice. If conditions in Sierra Leone and other nations can be improved, the motivation to continue the violence inherent to conflict diamonds should be effectively reduced.
Alagia, F. (2012). Blood Diamonds: a never solved African drama.
Brilliant Earth. (2012). Blood Diamond Expose.
Haufler, V. (2009). The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme: an innovation in global
governance and conflict prevention. Journal of Business Ethics 89(4): 403-416.
Hilson, G., & Clifford, M.J. (2010). A ‘Kimberlet protest’: Diamond, mining, export sanctions,
and poverty in Kawatia, Ghana.
Krawitz, A. (2012). Reports warns Zimbabwe corruption weakens diamond supply chain.
Maconachie, R. (2009). Diamonds, governance, and ‘local’ development in post-conflict Sierra
Leone: Lessons for artisanal and small-scale mining in sub-Saharan Africa? Resources Policy 34: 71-79.
Sharife, K. (2011). Blood diamond regulation system broken.
USAID. (January 2014). Property rights and artisanal diamond development (PRADD) II.
World Diamond Council. (2012). Alluvial diamond mining fact sheet. Diamondfacts.org.
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