J. Pearce.( review by Eldis Reporter)
Source: Institute for Security Studies (ISS), South Africa 2004
War, Peace and Diamonds in Angola
The insurrections of the Uniao para a Independencia Total de Angola (UNITA), and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) of Sierra Leone forced the international community to address the problem of the sale of diamonds to fund the purchase of arms. Through the Kimberly process, the United Nations and other sections of the international community developed mechanisms to exclude from international commerce any diamonds whose sale might be traced back to armed rebel
This paper examines to what extent the modalities of diamond production established in a time of war continue to influence the conduct of the industry today.
The author conducts a brief historical overview of the evolution of the diamond industry in Angola, focusing on the way in which the Companhia de Diamantes de Angola (Diamang) has exploited labour and resources since 1919.
The paper finds that many conditions which prevent the creation of a stable and regulated environment continue to exist in Angola today. In particular, these conditions include:
* the control of the diamond fields and their populations by force of arms
* the absence of any kind of functioning legal framework to protect the rights of diamond workers and the population at large
* the lack of any functioning civil administration (beyond the level of mere bureaucracy) in most parts of the Lunda provinces
* the domination of the Angolan diamond trade by secretive networks operating on the margins of the law, but ultimately to the benefit of the members of political elites.
The paper concludes that the concept of 'blood diamonds' is one which has hitherto been associated with armed conflict. The lesson from Angola today is that a notional peace is no guarantee that the exploitation of diamond resources will
be done in a way that respects basic human rights, and which contributes to the development and well-being of the diamond-producing region, and the country as a whole. The author suggests that perhaps it is time to re-think the idea of what constitutes a 'blood diamond'.
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