I myself have never undertood the lure of diamonds, but clearly I'm in the minority.
Tax breaks / abatements / incentives for this project would be highly questionable.
The entire diamond enterprise seems to be a cesspool ...
- Business and Human Rights
Results and Highlights from the National Day of Action on Conflict Diamonds September 18, 2004
Thanks to the many activists who joined forces on September 18 to find out what diamond retailers are doing (or not doing) to combat the trade in conflict diamonds
. The day was a huge success - in 50 cities across 18 states, AI activists visited 246 stores to conduct the survey and raised awareness among consumers by tabling and leafleting in their communities.
- Only 27% of shops were able assure us that they had a policy on conflict diamonds.
- 30% of the shops that said they had a policy were unable to produce a hard copy of or explain it.
- Only 13% of shops provided warranties to their customers as a standard practice.
- 37% of the shops we visited claimed to be aware of the conflict diamonds issue. But 54% of them reported an inaccurate definition of the crisis.
- Only 28% of the shops were aware of the Kimberley Process.
- 29% of those who were aware of the Kimberley Process had only a minimal or limited understanding of it.
- When asked whether consumers inquired about conflict diamonds, 83% of respondents answered rarely or never.
- 110 shops refused outright to take the survey.
The survey results indicate that jewelers are still keeping consumers in the dark
when it comes to their policies to keep conflict diamonds out of stores.
Even before 9/11, the diamond merchants were getting nervous. Media and human rights groups began exposing the complicity of the romance industry in fueling wars. They also challenged the notion that Sierra Leone was simply another isolated post-cold war conflict that was troubling in its brutality but irrelevant to the national interests of developed countries.
Campaigns launched by Global Exchange and Amnesty International against conflict diamonds threatened to replace the image of a diamond sparkling on the graceful hand of a lover with that of the truncated stump of a child amputee's arm. One diamond company executive is rumored to have had nightmares in which the tag line at the end of De Beers television commercials read, “Amputation Is Forever.”
The industry grew increasingly amenable to the idea of curtailing the flow of blood diamonds. In 2000, Global Witness, a San Francisco-based non-governmental organization, joined with diamond industry representatives and officials from diamond exporting and importing countries to form the Kimberley Process. AI soon joined the negotiating effort, but according to Adotei Akwei, AIUSA's senior advocacy director for Africa, “the NGOs never had much power. We were allowed at the table but were seldom diners.”
Despite many meetings, the panel failed to reach a consensus on how to end the trade in blood diamonds. The U.S. Congress, too, faced intense lobbying. In 2000, Rep. Tony Hall (D-Ohio) introduced the Clean Diamond Act, a bill that sought to enact into law whatever import and export controls the Kimberley Process would adopt. The bill languished because of serious concerns over provisions added at the request of the Bush administration that—according to NGOs, the industry, and some senators— fatally compromised the bill.
The 9/11 terrorist attacks, along with a blistering Washington Post investigation by Doug Farrah into Al Qaeda's large purchases of Sierra Leone diamonds, raised the stakes. While associating with bloodthirsty rebels was a formidable PR challenge for the diamond industry, funding the terrorists who attacked the U.S. was simply unspinnable.
Last November, the Kimberley Process agreed to a set of regulations that would require that all cross-border diamond transactions be accompanied by a non-forgeable paper trail, indicating when and where every imported stone was discovered. The Clean Diamond Act followed suit and was passed by the House of Representatives 408- 6. It is currently awaiting a vote in the Senate.
Unfortunately, neither action is halting the lucrative trade: “Efforts to end the trade in conflict diamonds ran into a major obstacle in the Bush administration, which has been reluctant to impede business in any way or have its hands tied by any international agreements, even when the U.S. diamond industry has called for it,” says Akwei.