Photo by Clive Shirley.
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These jarring images capture the painful consequences of war where the prize is not legitimate government but control of valuable resources like diamonds. Sierra Leone has recently emerged from just such a war in which millions were displaced internally, half a million were killed and thousands were mutilated by guerrilla forces backed by now-ousted dictator of Liberia, Charles Taylor. Three million Congolese have died in that country's ongoing mêlée while warlords fund their arms deals with minerals mined by forced labour and wage their battles with child soldiers.
The UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution recognizing the role of diamonds in prolonging war in Africa in December of 2000 (www.un.org/peace/africa/Diamond.html) while concerned NGOs and the World Diamond Council launched the Kimberley Process earlier that year (www.kimberleyprocess.com). The Kimberley Process adopted a scheme to certify 'clean' diamonds in 2002 and it was implemented in January 2003. Unfortunately, while certifying uncut diamonds would assure consumers that they weren't contributing to bloodshed and torture, as of the last Kimberley Process meeting in October 2003, monitoring of the certification process is still voluntary rather than compulsory. Partnership Africa Canada (www.partnershipafricacanada.org) and Global Witness (www.globalwitness.org/campaigns/diamonds/) are both participating NGOs in the Kimberley Process seeking greater assurance that we don't commemorate our love with mutilation, starvation and death.