Panning for diamonds in Sierra Leone
A blood diamond (also called a conflict diamond, converted diamond, hot diamond, or war diamond) is a diamond mined in a war zone and sold to finance a insurgency, an invading army’s war efforts, or warlord’s activity. These terms are particularly used in the context of diamond trading to indicate the negative effects for this sale. These diamonds are mined particularly in Africa and where two-thirds of the world’s diamonds are extracted. The phenomenon of conflict mineral has the same nature.
Some like to relate the concept of unsustainable diamond mining to conflict minerals, giving the impression that being unsustainable is un-green, and therefore bad. They ignore the fact that most mining efforts have been crude and unsustainable, and throughout history most Europeans became rich using unsustainable mining methods. Additionally, it is debatable whether any mining method is sustainable or has ever been.
Angola, a Colony of Portugal, gained independence on November 11, 1975. Although independent, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the National Union For the Independence of Angola ((UNITA), and the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) fought in a civil war from 1974 to 2001. Between 1992 and 1998, in violation of the 1991 Bicesse Accords, UNITA sold diamonds, valued at US$3.72 billion to finance its war with the government.
The Angolan government and UNITA formed the Joint Verification and Monitoring Commission and the Joint Commission on the Formation of the Angolan Armed Forces. The JVMC oversaw political reconciliation while the latter monitored military activity. The accords attempted to demobilize the 152,000 active fighters and integrate the remaining government troops and UNITA rebels into a 50,000-strong Angolan Armed Forces (FAA). The FAA would consist of a national army with 40,000 troops, navy with 6,000, and air force with 4,000. Multi-party elections monitored by the United Nations would be held in September 1992.
The UN recognized the role that diamonds played in funding the UNITA rebels and in 1998 passed United Nations Security Council Resolution 1173 and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1176, banning the purchase of Blood diamonds from Angola. Resolution 1173 was the first resolution by the UN which specifically mentioned diamonds in the context of funding a war. Reports estimated that as much as 20% of the total production in the 1980s was being sold for what Europeans felt were illegal purposes and 19% was specifically conflict in nature.
The sad thing about it is all African nations must have their diamonds approved for sale by Europeans before they can give them away or use them in trade even with other African nations.
It was okay that Europeans used funding from colonization to fund wars, slavery, and even apartheid. It is somehow illegal for Black people to fund wars using the same form of wealth.
De Beers is a cartel of companies that dominate the diamond, , diamond mining, diamond hops, diamond trading and industrial diamond manufacturing sectors. De Beers is active in every category of industrial diamond mining: open-pit, underground, large-scale alluvial, coastal and deep sea. Mining takes place in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Canada.
The De Beers cartel was founded in 1888 by Cecil Rhodes, the founder of the country of Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe, once a strong apartheid state that was overthrown, and rightfully so, by African Nationalists.
Cecil Rhodes was financed by South African diamond magnate Alfred Beit and the London-based N.M. Rothschild & Sons Bank. In 1927, Ernest Oppenheimer, a German immigrant to Britain who had earlier founded mining giant Anglo American plc with American financier J.P. Morgan took over De Beers. He built and consolidated the company’s global monopoly over the diamond industry until his retirement. During this time, he was involved in a number of controversies, including price fixing, antitrust behavior and an allegation of not releasing industrial diamonds for the US war effort during World War II.
Ironically, the Europeans have instituted an embargo preventing Zimbabwe from exporting many of its products because the government is allegedly operating from the “racist” standpoint of securing the land for the indigenous people and throwing the European land barons off of the plantations.
The Europeans justify their embargo against Zimbabwe by advocating that a quasi-reverse discrimination policy be in effect which allows the best qualified, wealthiest people to control the farmland. Ironically, those best qualified, and most wealthy are the descendants of the European land barons who enslaved the indigenous people, and practiced not only apartheid, but genocide. Ironically, for those most qualified, their wealth stems from their ancestors’ exploitation of the indigenous peoples.
There is no point in overthrowing your oppressor and instituting a democracy if your oppressor can simply regain his political and economic position by seeking redress through European controlled world courts and economic markets that make it illegal for you to sell on the international markets.
Despite the UN Resolution, UNITA was able to continue to sell or trade some diamonds in order to finance its war effort. The UN set out to find how this remaining illicit trade was being conducted and appointed Canadian ambassador Robert Fowler to investigate. In 2000, he produced the Fowler Report, which named those countries, organizations and individuals involved in the trade. The report is credited with establishing the link between diamonds and third world conflicts, and led directly to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1295, as well as the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme.
Europeans have used these methods to suppress anti-colonialist revolutions in most African Countries, including Liberia and Sierra Leone, where they prosecuted the Liberian President, Charles G. Taylor, for supporting the anti-colonialists in Sierra Leone. Similarly, the Europeans employ the resolutions to prosecute Africans in Côte d’Ivoire (The Ivory Coast), the Democratic Republic of the Congo, The Republic of Congo, and Zimbabwe. The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme does not consider Zimbabwe Diamonds to be conflict diamonds.
On January 18, 2001, President William Clinton issued Executive Order 13194 which prohibited the importation of rough diamonds from Sierra Leone into the United States in accordance with the UN resolutions. On May 22, 2001, George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13213 which banned rough diamond importation from Liberia into the United States. Liberia had been recognized by the United Nations as acting as a pipeline for conflict diamonds from Sierra Leone.
The United States Department of State also maintains an office for a Special Adviser for Conflict Diamonds. As of March 5, 2013.
During the 1990s diamond-rich areas were discovered in Northern Canada. Canada is one of the key players in the diamond industry. Partnership Africa Canada was allegedly created in 1986 to help with the so-called crisis in Africa. This organization is also part of the Diamond Development Initiative. The Diamond Development Initiative helps improve and regulate the so-called legal diamond industry.
Conflict minerals are minerals mined in conditions of armed conflict and human rights abuses, mostly in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, by the Congolese National Army, and various armed rebel groups, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), a proxy Rwandan militia group. The looting of the Congo’s natural resources is not limited to domestic actors; during the Congo Wars, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi particularly profited from the Congo’s resources. These governments have continued to smuggle resources out of the Congo to this day.
These minerals are essential in the manufacture of a variety of devices, including consumer electronics such as mobile phones, laptops, and MP3 players.
Intel® now claims to manufacture products using minerals that are allegedly “conflict free.”
Mines in eastern Congo are often located far from populated areas in remote and dangerous regions. A recent study by an organization calling itself the International Peace Information Service indicates that armed groups are present at more than 50% of mining sites. Europeans claim that at many sites, armed groups illegally tax, extort, and coerce civilians to work. Miners, including children, work up to 48-hour shifts amidst mudslides and tunnel collapses that kill many. I suppose it is okay for other European industries including Nike to rely upon child labor, low wages, and other sources. The groups are often affiliated with rebel groups, or with the Congolese National Army, but both use rape and violence to control the local population. I suppose goods and services acquired by rape, violence, and colonization are acceptable since they are used by colonists.
The mineral list currently consists of only four minerals:
Columbite-tantalite (or coltan, the colloquial African term) is the metal ore from which the element tantalum is extracted. Tantalum is used primarily for the production of capacitors, jet engine/turbine blades, drill bits, end mills and other tools.
- Cassiterite is the chief ore needed to production of tin.
- Wolframite is an important source of the element tungsten.
- Gold is used in jewelry, electronics, and dental products. It is also present in some chemical compounds used in certain semiconductor manufacturing processes.
These are sometimes referred to as “the 3T’s and gold“, 3TG, or even simply the “3T’s“. Under the US Conflict Minerals Law, additional minerals may be added to this list in the future.
In April 2009, Senator San Brownback (Republican-Kansas) introduced the Congo Conflict Minerals Act of 2009 (S. 819) to require electronics companies to verify and disclose their sources of cassiterite, wolframite, and tantalum. This legislation died in committee. However, Brownback added similar language as Section 1502 of the Dodd- Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which passed Congress and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on July 21, 2010.
Now, let’s employ a little sarcasm. Who, if not Europeans, are best to determine what is best for Africans?
There is a huge contradiction in who may mine and who may not, thus, who is in charge of the wealth. Even in the South African shift in power the Blacks were required to give up South Africa’s nuclear might, lest it one day risk falling into hands of revolutionary Black Africans. We all know that only Europeans and a few others approved by them are able to handle such military might. After all, was it not the Europeans powers, particularly the Europeans in the United States of America who developed atomic / nuclear power, and used it?
People wonder why Africans are so rich in minerals are not able to feed themselves. We are curious as to why they are able to afford such sophisticated weaponry, but do not have shoes on their feet. We wonder why they are not able to maintain democracies and are not able to launch sustainable or successful revolutions. In all sincerity, if they cannot control and sell their own minerals, and thus, control their own wealth, their revolutions will invariably fail.
Even if we look to pollution, only the countries supported by military power and consumerism may pollute.
Long and short of it, people of color beware…. despite the so-called end of colonization, only Europeans and those backed by Europeans may determine the fate of Africa, and the fate of the world.