'Black diamonds' film sparks campaign

Posted: 24 January 2007

As the highly publicised film Black Diamonds makes its premiere in London (following its launch in the United States) human rights organisations are urging consumers to use their spending power to help stop the deadly trade in blood diamonds which fuel civil unrest and damage the environment.

The call from Amnesty International and Global Witness is backed by a new website www.blooddiamondaction.org which includes information consumers can use to try and ensure any diamond jewellery they buy is conflict-free.

Blood diamonds are gems that have been used by rebel groups to fund armed conflict and civil war. The new film draws attention to the devastating impact the trade in blood diamonds has had in countries such as Sierra Leone, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where billions of dollars of profits from the sale of diamonds have been used to fuel brutal wars, with devastating impact on local communities and the resources they depend upon. Diamonds mined in the rebel-held North of Cote d'Ivoire, in West Africa, are currently reaching the international diamond market.

Consumer questions

Corinna Gilfillan of Global Witness said:

"Despite the tragedies that blood diamonds have caused, neither governments nor the diamond industry is doing enough to stop them. Consumers have the power to effect industry-wide changes simply by demanding that their diamonds are clean."

The two agencies recommend that consumers ask jewellery retailers the following questions when purchasing diamonds:

  • Do you know where your diamonds come from?
  • Can I see a copy of your company's policy on conflict diamonds?
  • Can you show me a written guarantee from your diamond suppliers that states your diamonds are conflict free?
  • How can I be sure that none of your jewellery contains conflict diamonds?

    To ensure that diamond industry is living up to the necessary standards, Amnesty International and Global Witness are updating their 2004 survey of the top diamond jewellery retailers in the US and the UK, which pointed to the industry's failure to adequately implement a system of self regulation.

    The new survey will include the top 50 diamond retailers and suppliers in the UK to ensure that the industry has addressed the gaps uncovered in their 2004 survey. Global Witness and Amnesty International are calling on the industry to strengthen its system of self-regulation and put in place an independent verification system by Valentine's Day.