Project 3 – Working Draft
A Diamond in the Blood
Blood diamonds, also known as conflict diamonds, are the fuel for the ongoing
rebel war throughout Africa.
These are diamonds that were illegally mined, traded, and sold to
fund their war and buy weapons.
Rooted in political and governmental conflict, power hungry
insurgent groups tried to take control of the government. Today the conflict over diamonds has
faded, but the countries central to the conflict were Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of
Congo, and Angola. Through the efforts of the United Nations, Global Witness, Partnership
Africa Canada (PAC), and the World Diamond Council, blood diamonds have become
increasingly regulated by The Kimberly Process and The Clean Diamond Act. “Under the
Kimberly Process, diamond-producing countries pledge not to export any gems that come from
areas of conflict” (sfgate.com).
While steps have been taken to discontinue the illegal trade of
rough diamonds, loopholes still exist, allowing trading to continue.
We will begin with the history of diamond mining in Sierra Leone. The first diamonds
were discovered there in 1930 and mining officially began in 1935. Since Sierra Leone is such
a poor country and diamonds were plentiful, illegal mining and trading grew rapidly. This
practice became widespread that by the 1950’s, the government gave up on policing most of the
diamond mines. In 1968, a man named Siaka Stevens became the prime minister of the country.
He encouraged illegal mining to gain political power. As a result, more and more diamonds
were being exported illegally rather than through legal means. Under his authority, legitimate
diamond trading dropped from more than 2 million carats in 1970 to just 48,000 carats in 1988
When Stevens left power, illegal mining reached an all-time high. By 1991,
Sierra Leone’s government was completely corrupt and illegal diamond trading began to bring
about armed rebellion (cnn.com).
All of these events led up to the beginning of Sierra Leone’s civil war. The war began in
March 1991 when the Revolutionary United Front, a group of about 100 fighters, invaded
eastern Sierra Leone. Over the next 11 years, this group grew and terrorized the entire country
The majority of the fighting concentrated around the diamond districts. The
profits made from the smuggled diamonds funded the group to continue their attacks. During
this time these rebels would invade villages, killing many and forcing others to mine for