Perhaps a larger number of people across the world got to know about conflict and blood diamonds around 2006 with Hollywood’s Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The film, set during the Sierra Leone Civil War in 1996–2001, reveals a country torn apart by the struggle between government loyalists and insurgent forces.
Forced labor is made to mine diamonds with no financial rewards. The conditions under which human beings are made to mine diamonds with bare hands are questionable on humanitarian grounds.
The issue became one of the most urgent of humanitarian causes about two decades ago. Governments, celebrities and common consumers of diamond, all joined hands to solve the issue.
As reported by Time Magazine, it’s been two decades since the global effort to ban conflict diamonds began, but the industry is still tainted by conflict. CNBC reports suggest that some diamonds in the $81 billion market still come from regions still roiled by conflict.
According to a 2015 study, the Enough Project said the main armed groups in the Central African Republic reap anywhere between $3 million and $6 million annually from conflict diamonds that fund war operations.
Conflict or blood diamonds are illegally traded to fund conflict in war-torn regions. The United Nations defines conflict diamonds as “Diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factors opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council.”
Given the ugly realities of mined diamonds, consumers are now choosing to avoid buying mined diamonds because of the conflicts connected. The alternative to conflict diamonds? Man made/ Lab made conflict-free diamonds. But conscious consumers aren’t convinced if the man made diamonds they are buying are in reality conflict-free. All man made diamonds are guaranteed conflict free diamonds. Why are they called conflict free? Here’s why:
Man made diamonds are called conflict free because the production of these diamonds does not involve or support any kind of illegal, socially or politically harmful practices. Diamond mining in war zones for the purpose of selling the diamonds to finance an insurgency, an invading army’s war efforts or a warlord’s activities is a prevalent practice. Although reduced drastically, it is still carried out illegally in a number of countries. Conflict Free diamonds are created in laboratories. A certificate mentioning that it is lab-grown at the time of its sale accompanies each man made diamond, hence buyers can be assured that man made diamonds are conflict free. These diamonds do not threaten human rights in any way.
A large number of diamonds producers have taken to man made diamonds. These diamonds are grown in laboratories using high tech machines and processes – far from any harmful practices towards human beings. According to Researchnester.com, the market of conflict free diamonds is estimated to garners USD 27.6 Billion by 2023 from USD 16.2 Billion in 2016. Owing to its ethical production, an increasing number of consumers are opting for conflict free diamonds. Man created diamonds are safely grown in scientific laboratories that do follow necessary rules and regulations related to human labor. Unlike diamond mines, where humans are put through gruesome practices in order to search for diamonds, laboratories are safe places.
www.time.com shared a troubling story of 15-year old Mwanza, a diamond miner in Congo. For Mwanza, diamond mining is the only job available in his tiny village. Like several other children in his village, he too is forced to work in the mines. Finding a diamond in the mine is equal to food and medicine for himself and his family. Mwanza is one of approximately one million small-scale, or artisanal, miners in Congo who dig the earth by hand to find diamonds. At times he is unable to find a single diamond for months. The result? Increasing debts for food and medicine. Low paid work, child labor and inhuman and dangerous working conditions make mined diamonds conflict diamonds. Extracting these diamonds is arduous work and workers use rudimentary tools like shovels, iron bars and hammers to extract the diamonds.
In 2003 the diamond industry came together to stop conflict diamonds by establishing the Kimberley Process. It is an international certification system designed to reassure consumers that the diamonds they buy are conflict-free. Yet, a number of loopholes meant that conflict diamonds weren’t completely eradicated. Such diamonds still find way to markets and consumers.
Experts have reported the Kimberly process to be flawed. The process is entirely voluntary, not mandatory. The prevalence of corrupted governments in a number of countries cannot be ruled out. Miners are taxed when they bring their diamonds to sell at centers that follow the Kimberly process, making many whiling to smuggle their finds out and sell to non-reputable dealers.
Another problem is that conflict diamonds can be sold off to participants in the Kimberley Process and mixed in with legitimate diamonds. Anyone can walk into a diamond buying office and sell goods that they claim to have mined themselves. This process does not ensure that any diamond you buy is not a blood or conflict diamond.
Research and analysis by Amnesty USA, revealed that several governments had participated in Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration programs for children and recruiting child soldiers. But many of these programs faced huge challenges. Just half of the child soldiers were believed to have been disarmed by 2006. Child solders continued to be recruited and re-recruited, including the ones who were demobilized and reunited with their families in Congo.
The man made diamonds industry is making various efforts to increase the use and demand of man made diamonds. The market is seeing a boost by rising applications of man created diamonds in various end-use industries, according to a research report, Global Lab Grown Diamonds Market Outlook 2023. (Source: www.researchnester.com)
As reported by Alternet.org, man made diamond market will continue to grow from $16.2 billion to an estimated $27.6 billion in 2023. The Asia-Pacific region is seemingly the largest market for man-made diamonds. The reasons could be a growing population, urbanization which gives rise to construction and mining industries. Moreover, the market of Asia-Pacific region has accounted the largest revenue share of 51.2% in 2015 and it is expected to remain its dominance over the forecast period i.e. 2016-2023.
With these, and many more efforts, conflict diamonds are on the way out, and conflict-free lab grown man made diamonds are taking over, not only personal and individual use of diamonds, but use in various industries and purposes.
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