Global Policy Forum

"Conflict Diamonds" a Façade

Namibian National Society for Human Rights
February 15, 2001

As an African human rights organization, NSHR condemns the concept of so-called blood diamonds or conflict diamonds campaign as an insidious, diversionary and racist strategy conceived by non-Africans. In our opinion such campaign is aimed at, not reducing or stopping conflict on the continent, but taking control of one of Africa's most lucrative natural resource. The notion of "conflict diamonds" is a superficial manifestation of a deep-rooted and vicious rivalry among Western-based international diamond dealers, including diamond mercenary organizations, each fighting to control the world diamond industry and or market. Western-based multinational corporations have taken control of oil resources, arms industry and are now also vying for control of African diamonds.

While Namibia is hosting an international conference on conflict diamonds, everyone ought to know that diamonds are not the root causes of conflict on the African continent. Conflict in Africa, as it is elsewhere, is caused by real or perceived denial of human rights and fundamental freedoms. This fact is also recognized by the founding fathers and mothers of the United Nations and authors of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which in the Preamble, among other things, reads that:

"Whereas it is essential, if man (and woman) is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law".

As UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan would have told the participants of this conference on "conflict diamonds", the root causes of conflict on the African continent are historical legacies and absence of democratic rule, exacerbated by, inter alia, external economic interests and indebtedness.

Diamonds don't kill. Neither does money. Death and destruction in the armed conflicts in Angola, Sierra Leone, Congo, south Sudan, Somalia and elsewhere on the continent are directly caused by sophisticated modern weaponry, including fighter aircraft, tanks and landmines. None of these weapons are made in Africa. They are made and sold by people in the same countries that are behind the "conflict diamond" campaign. Nor are the planes and ships used to transport such arms to Africa African-made and controlled.

The widespread media allegations about an arms, oil and diamond scandal involving former high-ranking officials in the French Government and embattled Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos, in violation of the Triple Zero clause enshrined in the Angolan Peace Accords of 1991, is not a surprise to us. It should serve as eye-opener to all honest people.

If the protagonists of the "conflict diamonds" campaign were genuinely concerned about the death and destruction in Angola and Sierra Leone, for example, then the first thing they should do is to stop the sale and trafficking of all weaponry to these conflict-ridden African countries. If need be, let African warriors in such countries battle each other with traditional weaponry, such as spears and bows and arrows.

Furthermore, the "blood diamonds" campaign only concentrates on Angola and Sierra Leone and its targets exclusively the armed opposition. Nothing is said and done about the governments and the diamond mercenaries, such as the Canadian DiamondWorks or the British Sandeline International and their South African Executive Outcome partners and others that are deeply involved in fueling the conflicts in these countries.

Moreover, conflict is not only found in Africa. Neither are the diamonds. There are also diamonds or similar natural resources in other areas with raging armed conflict such as Northern Ireland, the Middle East, the Balkans, Chechnya, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and so on. Why only African resources such as diamonds called "conflict" or "blood diamonds"? Why not also a campaign against "blood oil", "blood coffee", "blood fish" etc? Hence, the selective morality and apparent racism that is hidden in this "blood diamonds" campaign.

Armed conflict in Angola and Sierra Leone, like anywhere else, should be ended through negotiated settlement, not through misguided punitive measures.

NSHR calls upon the "conflict diamond" campaigners, to direct their energy and spend their money helping diamond producing African states to establish diamond processing and cutting factories locally, instead of selling raw and uncut diamonds outside Africa. This would greatly assist boosting African economies.

More Information on Diamonds in Conlict


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