Conflict Diamonds in Newsweek

July 5, 2000

Conflict Diamonds in Newsweek

The July 10 issue of Newsweek has an inside look at the underground diamond trade. Newsweek's article, "In Search of Hot Rocks," describes the trade in Sierra Leone and blames diamond resources for the rebels' crimes. This is the largest report on conflict diamonds to run in a national consumer magazine.

The article explains how the documents found in RUF leader Foday Sankoh's villa prove the rebel group traded illicit gems for guns with Liberia and Burkina Faso. The diamonds-for-guns trade, Newsweek says, is fueling bloody civil wars in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as Sierra Leone. "The deaths of countless Africans are now linked to the glittering object that has symbolized the promise of a lasting marriage," Newsweek proclaims.

The article does mention the expected U.N. embargo on Sierra Leone's diamonds and the certification systems proposed by industry leaders; however, most of the article focuses on the link between diamonds and suffering in Africa. After reading the bloody details of the conflict, readers are left with one final thought: "You want to make sure that the diamond you are putting on your loved one's finger did not help cut off the finger or hand of a child in Sierra Leone."

A modified version of the printed article is online at MSNBC and Newsweek's site. This version is longer and has a more balanced perspective of the conflict diamond issue. It describes the recent actions taken by activist groups like Global Witness, includes more quotes from the diamond industry and has a detailed look at the conflict in Angola.

In other conflict diamond news, India's Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council reiterated its position to keep away from conflict diamonds, the Times of India reports."The Indian diamond community is committed to achieve the objectives set by the U.N. and create a world free of conflict diamonds," Sanjay Kothari, chairman of GJEPC, told the Times.

GJEPC now imposes three regulations: all exporters of rough diamonds to India must declare the origins of the diamonds to ensure they are not from conflict areas, banks financing the diamond industry must withhold banking services from anyone found dealing in conflict diamonds, and any member of GJEPC found dealing with conflict diamonds will be expelled from the council.

- by Julia M. Duncan