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Who died for your Diamond?

Some of the diamonds on the world market are mined in war-torn African countries where illegal diamond sales are used by insurgent groups and corrupt governments to fund their oppressive regimes.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. That’s right, another annually coordinated attempt to legitimize our romantic relationships through consumerism is almost upon us. The message conveyed to Americans is that there is no better way to validate our love lives than by exchanging extravagant gifts of bling. Diamond bling. After all, a diamond is forever…even if your average relationship can barely outlast one season of The OC. Apparently many Americans listen to this message because the U.S. consumes nearly 65% of the global diamond supply. But—like many things that privileged consumers do without thinking—the purchase of diamonds can directly fuel human rights abuses around the world. So, before you run out to buy your beloved the diamond-encrusted crucifix that they covet, please consider the following:

Some of the diamonds on the world market are mined in war-torn African countries where illegal diamond sales are used by insurgent groups and corrupt governments to fund their oppressive regimes. Sierra Leone, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo have endured long periods of violence related to the control of these “conflict diamonds.? The innocent civilians who are forced to mine the illicit diamonds are terrorized with murder, rape, and limb amputation if they refuse to comply.

In response to pressure from human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Global Witness, representatives from the international diamond industry met in January of 2003 to establish The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). This is a voluntary system of self-regulation complete with “tamper-resistent containers and “certificates of validity? to ensure that shipments of rough diamonds are not contaminated with conflict diamonds.

Unfortunately, implementation of this regulation has been slow. In the two years following the adoption of the Kimberly Process, many diamond retailers still neglect to fully comply with KPCS codes. In Amnesty International’s recent survey of 246 U.S. jewelry shops, it was discovered that only 28% were aware that the Kimberley Process existed. Furthermore, only 13% of these retailers routinely provided their customers with written warranties to prove that no one had died for their diamonds.

The Amnesty survey also revealed a pathetic lack of public awareness about this human rights crisis: over 80% of jewelry shops reported that customers “rarely or never? request conflict diamond information. Clearly, the diamond industry will not take their “self regulation? seriously unless they perceive considerable consumer pressure to do so. So if you find yourself in a jewelry shop, ask to see a copy of their conflict diamond policy and leave the store if they are unable to produce one.

Let’s face it: those of us who are in relationships have probably already sacrificed our friends, our self-determination, and our sense of humor. This Valentine’s Day let’s do our best to ensure that our consumer responsibility is not the next casualty of our love.
 
 


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Comments

OUCH!

Great article! I was with you all the way until that last paragraph:

"Let’s face it: those of us who are in relationships have probably already sacrificed our friends, our self-determination, and our sense of humor. This Valentine’s Day let’s do our best to ensure that our consumer responsibility is not the next casualty of our love."

Some people may inadvertently spend less time with friends because of family demands, etc., but if one's partner in a relationship is requiring the other to sacrifice friends, self-determination and a sense of humor, that is not a healthy relationship. IT IS CONTROLLING AND ABUSIVE.

If you are in such a relationship and want to stay in it, I recommend you assert your fundamental right to your own friends, self-determination and freedom of expression. If you are met with hostility and/or more attempts at controlling you, consider that a big, red WARNING SIGN. You are in a controlling (=abusive) relationship and things will only likely get worse.

If leaving is hard, staying will be hell.
 

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