Here is your first blog assignment for this semester, I will post three right now; another two next week. You need to complete three before Fall Break. Each response should be made as a comment on the original post, it should be at least 500 words and please make sure that you identify yourself clearly so I know who has written each response. The first time you post a comment it may not show up, until you’ve posted a few times I have to moderate and approve your responses.
Sub-Saharan Africa : Diamonds
37 thoughts on “Honors World Regional Blog Assignment #1 Fall 2o16”
These five images can be summarized in one general terminology; Diamonds in Africa. As we learned in class the principal natural resources of Africa are the metals, minerals, fossil fuels, and other natural products like timber. The Sub-Saharan Africa is considered the region with one of the major productions of copper, iron and diamond. The extraction of diamonds is explicitly shown in these five pictures.
In terms of independence the Sub-Saharan Africa is the youngest area of the world. This area was colonized by powerful kingdoms like the British Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, the Dutch and Portugal. These kingdoms in most of the cases just exploited the natural resources of the area to supply their own demand and make some profit. When the countries of Africa finally got their independence, most of them were left without roads, hospitals, universities, and any public institution. This is why this region is also known for having high level of poverty, and slavery.
The Sub-Saharan Africa is still recovering from the colonialism and exploitation it had in the past. Some of the countries of the area are doing pretty well in their economy due to the deposit of large amount of minerals in their territory. On the other hand, the development of countries with small deposits of minerals is slow. This countries that are slowly growing still have some problems of exploitation and slavery. First, there are no enough jobs to apply for. Second, the available ones are risky jobs like the one appreciated in the pictures above; the mining of diamonds.
The pictures provided show the differences between the practices in the extraction of the diamonds in South Africa and in Congo. South Africa is a country with a solid economy and also with an abundant variety of minerals. They have better and safer ways of extraction of the diamonds compared to Congo. They use special drills for this job and also the workers use security equipment to protect their own integrity in case of accident. However, in Congo, a country with so much internal conflicts and no a solid economy, the extraction of diamonds is one of the most risky jobs. In Congo, the extraction of diamonds is done for slaves who uses hand-held sieves to do the job. As we see in the pictures these workers do not have any security equipment and any protection from the high temperatures of the day. Also, the workers do the job immersed in the sludge while they are being watched by heavily armed people. Sometimes these people with the gun might just kill somebody because they do not like him or her. Most crimes committed by these caretakers go unpunished. Therefore, mining is one of the worst jobs somebody can do in countries like Congo, but it is one of the easiest to get. Even kids can be found in this area. These kids are the ones who suffer the most because they have young and undeveloped bodies.
To conclude, countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa are still developing economically and politically. Hopefully for the next couple of years these horrible activities will be a thing of the past and people like the Congolese will have more dignified jobs that they can apply for.
Good discussion of the images. Concise and well written, if a little brief.
Diamonds, as well as other resources such as gold, copper, iron, oil, and timber in Sub Saharan Africa have long been exported as a primary source of income for the region. However, these diamonds have been providing income to all the wrong people. For decades, conflict, or blood diamonds have been supplying war lords with the income they need to wage war, terrorize villages, and push political agendas.
Diamonds are a multibillion dollar industry worldwide. Reported at about 81.4 billion dollars in 2014, 65% of the diamonds that comprise this gigantic industry come solely from Africa. This does not mean they come without a cost. Many workers in diamond mines, are underpaid, overworked and the people in charge generally disregard basic human rights. Child and forced labor are not unheard of. Unfortunately for most of these people, they have no choice but to work in the mines. There are no other jobs and with no other options to provide for themselves or their families they are trapped. Luckily, we are seeing steps put in place to prevent this torturous cycle and keep conflict diamonds out of the world diamond market.
In 2000, talks began between top diamond producers and buyers in Kimberly, South Africa over threats, and problems with the industry. A major concern was that, globally, consumers would be less enticed to purchase diamonds given the circumstances surrounding the mining conditions and the fact that the money was paying for civil wars in Sierra Leone and Angola. Out of this meeting came the Kimberly Process, a process by which diamonds are screened, scrutinized, and required to have documentation in order to keep blood diamonds out of the global diamond industry. Since the advent and implementation of the Kimberly Process by many diamond producing countries in the early 2000’s the number of conflict diamonds in the world market has gone from 25% prior to 2003 to an estimated 5-10% today.
Although the Kimberly Process was a step in the right direction, it is far from perfect, and conflict diamonds are still finding their way into the global market. Part of this is due to the brief definition of what constitutes a conflict diamond. According to the language of the Kimberly process, conflict diamonds are defined as “rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance armed conflicts aimed at undermining legitimate governments”. This short, sweet, and to the point clause leaves room for loopholes and technicalities. Say for example, that a village is taken over and all of the males in the village are forced to work in the mines with no pay in exchange for being allowed to live. The militant group who performed the take over is in it to make money, they have no interest in the government or overthrowing it. This is technically not a violation of the Kimberly Process and these diamonds could be sold legitimately. The Kimberly Process fails to take into account labor practices and other interests, making it very difficult to enforce.
Overall, Africa’s plentiful diamond resources have been more a curse than a blessing. Conflict and unfair human rights practices plague Sub-Saharan Africa. The Kimberly Process was a spark of hope but it needs kindling and nurtured to grow into the fire that will stop blood diamonds from ever entering the global diamond market. Given cooperation between diamond producing countries, with assistance from international organizations, change will come. It is just a matter of when.
Good discussion of the Kimberly process.
Western society views diamonds vastly different from most of the African continent. In western society Diamonds are viewed as a symbol of status, affluence, beauty and elegance. Unfortunately, for most of Africa diamonds have been stained with blood and therefore have lost their elegance and beauty. These five pictures give just a small view into how the people in these regions of Africa with conflict diamonds view these beautiful gemstones. These pictures also show how these conflict diamonds are mined, in dangerous conditions using forced slave and child labor.
As Esteban mentioned in his comment, the “principal natural resources of Africa are the metals, minerals, fossil fuels, and other natural products like timber. The Sub-Saharan Africa is considered the region with one of the major productions of copper, iron and diamond”. These resources were the principle reason for the European colonization of Africa. Western civilizations wanted to acquire the rich resources that the African continent provided at a reduced cost. Many European nations adopted harsh policies to acquire these heavily sought after resources. Upon acquisition of these countries, many European nations carved out specific areas throughout the continent that they would have control over. These borders divided tribal and ethnic groups as well as linguistic groups throughout the continent. Once African countries began to gain their independence, they maintained their European observed borders. As discussed in class, due to the divisions of tribal groups, civil wars began to break out in many countries to determine who would be in charge of the government. These warring tribes began to use their knowledge from the Europeans as well as their own knowledge to extract these minerals to pay for weapons, troops, and other supplies. One of these minerals that is used heavily to fund the war is diamonds, thus the creation of conflict diamonds.
A conflict diamond, as defined by Stanford professor Nicholas Biggs, are “diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions 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.” As shown in these five pictures, these forces control large mining areas throughout the continent. These militant groups use intimidation to force children and slaves to extract the diamonds from deep beneath the soil. These mines are extremely dangerous and closely guarded by troops so none of the prisoners leave the premises and escape.
According to Stanford professor Nicholas Biggs, much of the conflict diamonds are coming from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Angola. The United Nations has made attempts to correct these problems but the conflict still persists. These attempts include imposed sanctions on the rebel groups UNITA of Angola, RUF of Sierra Leone, and more recently against groups in Liberia, which includes a ban on illegal diamonds by the UN Security Council. These sanctions are under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. Additionally the United Nations have sponsored peacemaking missions, as well as provided assistance to friendly governments or rebel groups.
These five pictures depict the hardship that many people in the West African diamond trade go through while mining for diamonds. They deal with harsh regimes that intimidate them into harsh conditions to mine for diamonds that are then sold to obtain weapons and supplies to put down any rebellious forces that should rise against the regime.
Forgot to mention my source. http://web.stanford.edu/class/e297a/Conflict%20diamonds%20in%20West%20Africa.htm
Very good, nice work on the external research.
At what point did diamonds stop being coveted for drilling and tools and become a high market item? It is not easy to gather these shiny rocks. They are found either deep in the earth only accessible through mines or in kimberlite pipes. Some diamonds can form along subduction zones and then can be found on ocean floors and washed up on beaches. Diamonds mined from kimberlite pipes are the world’s main focus, especially when talking about blood diamonds. These diamonds are not any more special than ones found in subduction zones but their location does have significance in a different way. Diamonds, like every resource, requires a lot of manual labor and blood diamonds, or conflict diamonds, are mined in areas where there is very little government control. Due to this, many mines and camps are run by rebels and individuals and with no government control means there are no restrictions, so no one is making sure conditions are safe for the workers.
The necessity for manual labor means a lot of men, women, and children are contracted to work, usually for very little pay or no pay at all. The thing about resources, especially those in countries already in political and power turmoil, is that they create conditions that make people throw out any sort of sense of morals. The greed and desperation for these resources allows people to pass off slavery, child labor, and more as necessary actions. These profit from these diamonds are then used to finance civil wars among neighboring countries, which is why they are called ‘conflict’ diamonds. This money is used to buy weapons which then are used to enforce the harsh labor of the people enslaved to work in the mines, in turn, making the entire situation for the workers even worse.
The term ‘blood diamond’ is probably something that many people now think of anytime someone mentions diamonds. However not many people actually know what the term implies. Most people know that blood diamonds entail forced labor and slavery but not everyone understands that the sale of the diamonds also supports the civil wars amongst the countries. ‘Blood’ diamonds definitely evoke a reaction from people but ‘conflict’ diamonds really lay down what it means when you buy these diamonds. So while these diamonds may be less expensive, there is a very horrific reason for them to be cheap. Thankfully it is becoming easier to tell which diamonds may be from these conflict areas. Plans like the Kimberly Process have been created and accepted in many countries that require diamonds to have authentication of origination so as to not trade or sell diamonds from these conflict zones.
Good discussion, although I’m not sure “compassion” is the word you’re looking for in that first line.
Diamonds have been advertised as precious and rare minerals in Western society, when in fact, diamonds are numerous in Africa. This has led to great a conflict especially in the Congo. The diamond industry is huge and while diamonds may represent love and new beginnings to us in America, it means war and suffering to those in areas where diamonds are harvested. By looking at these pictures above I do not see the joyful symbols that so often go along with diamonds. I see the inhumane and violent setting in which they are harvested. Once the diamonds are harvested and enter the diamond industry they blend in to the other diamonds and the poor conditions in which they were mined are far from the minds of the wearer. Even though we would prefer not to think about the way these “precious” stones were mined it is important to remind ourselves that every time we swoon over a commercial for a 2 karat diamond set into a white gold band we aren’t seeing the exploitation, degradation, or suffering that is happening at that moment. The picture that stands out the most to me is the small child sifting through the dirt. I see this child who should be in school playing with friends and getting dirty on the playground when instead is being forced to work and find diamonds while receiving nothing in return.
Blood diamonds are not something to take lightly. They get their name because it is these diamonds that fuel civil war. Every group wants to be the one to control the diamond rich territory and in order to do so bloodshed, exploitation, and even the use of child soldiers is the result. The diamonds are providing war lords with the money they need to finance efforts to take more diamond rich land. This is called a conflict resource, which is a natural resource that has been harvested in a war zone and is sold to perpetuate the fighting. One of the most prominent civil wars due to diamonds is the Sierra Leone Civil War from 1991-2002. While there are so many diamonds in this region that one would think they would be very wealthy, quite the opposite has happened. This is the resource curse, where countries that are rich in resources are unable to boost their economy and have lower economic growth.
In response to the fighting and illegal trade of diamonds out of Africa, the government created the Kimberley Process Certification System to keep diamonds harvested in conflict out of the diamond industry. In order to be a part of this group, countries must be free of the production of conflict diamonds and the group trade diamonds within each other (eighty countries) to ensure diamonds are conflict free. The Kimberley Process is easily invaded by the smugglers which is a huge problem. Global Witness announced it’s withdrawal from the Kimberley Process and said it was “an accomplice to diamond laundering” due to the easily evadable process.
Good discussion, a little brief.
Sub-Saharan Africa has always been a land rich in precious resources, and diamonds are one of them. Diamonds from Sub-Saharan Africa wind up all over the world due to the International trade. The trouble is the circumstances under which these diamonds are gathered and what the money is used for when cutting houses and trade centers purchase them. The phrase “conflict diamond” is used to designate those retrieved using child labor or in inhumane working conditions, and the sale of which goes to fund rebel groups or local warlords. Diamonds are not the only things harvested under such conditions; there are other “conflict resources”. Nor is Sub-Saharan Africa the only place that struggles with this, but it seems the most prolific.
The trade of conflict diamonds occurs amidst political turmoil. In recent history, that has been the constant state of Sub-Saharan Africa. Is there a reason behind this? During the Cold War, both the Soviets and NATO saw “Third World” nations as dominoes that must not topple in favor of the other side. The numerous African independence movements of the 1960’s and 70’s saw the creation of new, autonomous states, but the Great Powers were nonetheless invested in economic and political stability in this region. When the Cold War ended at the end of the twentieth century, they simply pulled out, leaving young, fragile African states not totally equipped to deal with the challenges they would face. Insurgent groups and powerful warlords wreak havoc because they see the weakness of the government, creating a situation where they can get all of the cash and guns they desire. Their activities are funded by the abundant, valuable commodity of rough diamonds, often mined through the labor of local children they kidnap.
The troubling origins of rough diamonds on the international trade came to the world’s attention in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Amidst civil wars throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, the phenomenon of conflict diamonds was exposed by journalists, and the United Nations Security Council began banning either the export of purchase of diamonds from specific nations. In 2000, the diamond producing nations of southern Africa met in Kimberly South Africa to discuss how to stop the trade of conflict diamonds. They devised the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme, which has member nations police themselves. Through import/export controls and internal rules about which diamonds can be entered into international trade, KPCS member states are able to certify their diamonds as “conflict free”.
Sadly, the Kimberly Process has not rendered conflict diamonds extinct as was hoped. Enforcement is difficult in the chaotic areas these diamonds come from; conditions are still often brutal and funds still often go to rebel groups. It may be that the companies of the international diamond trade need to take responsibility. They could feasibly do regular supply chain checks, which would tell the conditions the diamonds are mined under and where exactly the money goes when they buy them. For now, power lies very much with the consumer. If you and I will insist on only buying non-conflict diamonds, diamond companies will have to ensure that theirs are in order to do a business. Mercenary motivations can definitely be used to further humanitarian causes!
Good context in your discussion.
Diamonds are the biggest mineral resource of Africa and continue to be a sought after commodity. Since the European’s interest and realization of the resources that Africa held in the 1880s diamonds have been exploited in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, not only diamonds have been exploited but the land and the people as well where such mining occurs. The companies and countries that own and control the running of the diamond mining industry in Sub-Saharan Africa and do not have the same restrictions as they would in other first world countries. These five pictures just give a glimpse of the diamond mining industry in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Immediately, the differences in the treatment and working conditions of those who work in the mining areas are overwhelmingly apparent. Because Sub-Saharan Africa does not have the workers’ rights and labor laws that other regions do, a safe working environment, proper equipment, and fair wages are not guaranteed for the thousands of people trying to find work. The pictures such as the upper left and upper right hand ones, show that workers in some parts of the region are supplied with safety gear and more efficient power tools and assumably, the knowledge and training to operate and monitor such equipment. However, the same cannot be said for most of the miners; the middle picture on the left and the bottom right picture show that all too well. It is not strange to see young children working in the diamond mines in Sub-Saharan Africa. They might be the main provider for their family or trying to make enough to survive; the few restriction on child labor also make it possible for such young people to be working for very little in such harsh environments.
The sight of a person watching over the miners with a gun is not an unusual sight. The prevention of anyone taking diamonds is extremely important to those who own the mines, so overseers with guns often have permission to shoot anyone who attempts to do so. In August 2006 the BBC reported that six miners were shot and killed for illegal mining in Mbuji-Mayi.
The two bottom pictures are good illustrations of the actual mines and areas that the miners are working at day in and day out. Giant pits are dug deep into the ground, often after the land is cleared of all vegetation, making land that could otherwise be used for farming unusable. The miners spend their working hours ankle-deep in rocky dirt and muddy water which makes for very unstable ground. Mudslides, collapsing walls, drowning, and other accidents make working in the mines extremely dangerous.
The profiteering of the people who work in diamond mines and the conditions in which many are working are only one aspect of the exploitation and role of diamonds in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, both are important aspects and areas which could be greatly improved through the efforts of countries, governments, and organizations like the Diamond Development Initiative: an organization focused on the poor living and working conditions of the people at the core of the diamond industry.
Good discussion, good use of outside sources.
Diamonds are very precious to people in wealthy Western countries such as the United States. People value diamonds in these countries, and they wear them on rings and other jewelry to show their wealth. They are a status symbol in these countries just like other items such as nice cars and big houses. This is very different from how people in Africa see diamonds. People in the countries where they are mined in Africa have a very different and negative perspective on diamonds. As shown in the pictures, the working conditions for mining diamonds can be very brutal. People are watched by guards the whole time they are working, so that they do not steal the diamonds.
Diamonds are one of the main exports of countries in the southern part of Africa such as Botswana and South Africa. As mentioned in lectures, diamonds have no real value outside of the value that people give them. They are high priced simply because of how they are obtained and because of their beauty. Diamonds are not easily obtained at all. To get diamonds, workers have to dig deep pits into the ground as the picture of the men drilling shows. These workers also face long, hard hours and receive little or no compensation for their work (Cahill). Child labor is another problem in many countries in which the diamond industry is prominent as another one of the pictures depicts. Children are forced to work in the field especially when civil wars are occurring in the country such as the time that Sierra Leone faced one (Cahill). The children were working and they were the ones serving as guards during this war. However, sometimes, children have to work in the mines to provide for their family because they may be the only source of income for their entire family.
Blood diamonds are one of the reasons that the working conditions are so bad for some workers. Blood diamonds are rough diamonds that are traded in exchange for weapons that can be used in wars. Some of the mines in Africa are controlled by independent groups, so they do not have to follow any government regulations for their work. This allows them to use child labor to mine the diamonds and ultimately obtain weapons.
These blood diamond groups are not following the same process that most other members of the diamond industry follow. Most “rough” diamond production follows the Kimberly process. This process is used to help people who trade diamonds legally avoid getting sold diamonds that were extracted for the purposes of war. The Kimberly process is now in action in 75 countries and accounts for 99.8 percent of the diamonds that are traded (Collins). The diamond industry also formed the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) in an attempt to improve the working conditions in “informal” mines. The DDI implements the Kimberly process and it also tries to change diamonds from a tool used for war into a way to develop the economy in Africa by getting better prices for the people who mine and trade them legally (Cahill).
In conclusion, the diamond industry is not nearly as glamorous as people perceive it to be. The reality of the situation is that working conditions among the laborers in the field are very poor. They are not treated well and are not paid well. They are forced to mine for blood diamonds which consequently creates conflict. The reality of diamonds is a very unfortunate one, but with the help of the DDI, the future of the industry in Africa is starting to show promise for workers as well as economically.
Cahill, Petra. “A Diamond’s Journey: Grim Reality Tarnishes Glitter.” Msnbc.com. NBC News,
26 June 2009. Web. 15 Oct. 2016.
Collins, Nick. “What Are Blood Diamonds?” The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 05 Aug. 2010. Web. 16 Oct. 2016.
Excellent., very good discussion
Africa is one of the most resource rich areas in the world, and as a result is one of the most heavily exploited areas as well. The huge amounts of natural resources residing in the area have acted as a beacon for many years, but the utilization of these resources has been nearly impossible until relatively recently. Many explorers surveyed the land at the request of kings and queens looking to dip into the massive natural wealth, but were met with more obstacles and opposition than they thought possible. Plagued with new diseases and ambushed by natives, explorers faced these and other roadblocks on their path to exploitation. The massive investments required to bring even small amounts of wealth from Africa dissuaded many from attempting to do so for many years. However, Africa’s natural defenses couldn’t hold out forever, and the in-pouring of the outside world began the out-pouring of African wealth.
The photos above depict only one facet of the exploitation as well as its social and economic impacts: diamonds. Diamonds have long been sought after for their beauty, representing wealth and status to many. However, to the people of Africa they represent not wealth and status, but being overworked, underpaid, and involved in conflict. Africa does not have the infrastructure that most other countries rely on to support their economy, and as a result practices such as child labor are instituted. One of the photos shows a child bent over panning for diamonds in an uncomfortable position that he will likely be in for a very long time. After working in such miserable conditions for unreasonable hours every day, one would expect to be compensated well for their work. For many in Africa, that is not the case. They are rewarded with very little, sometimes no more than the food they need to survive.
The poor working and living conditions spread throughout Africa could have been improved by now if not for the constant warring between warlords. To fund their personal wars, they force hard labor and little to no pay on people at gunpoint. Diamonds coming from these conditions became known as blood diamonds. It didn’t take long for top diamond producers and buyers to begin expressing their concerns that blood diamonds may discourage many from buying them worldwide. The advent of the Kimberly Process in which diamonds must go through a rigorous screening process requiring proper documentation was a big leap in ending the warlord’s exploitation of African people and resources. However, the world is not perfect and the Kimberly Process alone is not enough to keep all of Africa’s blood diamonds off the market. While blood diamonds are still finding their way to the rest of the world, war will continue to permeate Africa. The terrible working conditions that so many are forced into at gunpoint will remain and could even worsen. Without the steady income from their diamonds warlords could be forced to reduce the already minuscule compensation to their workers and even enslave more people. The solution to the blood diamond issue is going to require a more hands on approach than simply ignoring diamonds coming from Africa.
The phrase “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” was originally popularized by Marilyn Monroe in her show-stopping number of the same name. Then, in 2001 Nicole Kidman reiterated this phrase in the hit film Moulin Rouge. The phrase is not necessarily dark by nature, but it is extremely materialistic and the fact that the phrase even exists shows exactly how differing the value of a particular rock can be depending on geography, social status, and governments/corporations. The point here is: first world countries, in media and the like have such a skewed view of the world. One hears things like “hard work is good for people in poor countries” and it seems to justify the atrocity. What they fail to realize is all the so-called hard work is simply the exploitation of children, women, men…human beings—all because there are wars and battles to be fought that must be funded. Wars for political power, territory rights, or even something as basic as water.
And why not use children to get the job done? They have an excellent combination of being physically resilient and easy to order around. As is proven by the provided images, the working conditions in these mines are abhorrent. Child labor runs rampant. One image depicts a child surely no more than seven years old sorting through silt and ankle deep in water. The workers are given poor lighting to traverse great depths and mere hardhats to protect them from debris. Child labor has been a persistent problem in Sub Saharan Africa for generations whereas it is was officially abolished in America over 70 years ago. Though this seems unfathomable to most people in the United States but in the world of these people it is a common occurrence. It is easy to still lack an awareness of the problem and then jump to harsh conclusions in regard to the solution. Yes, child labor is terrible but things like not buying diamonds will not necessarily fix the problem. In many cases, when children find diamonds then they have essentially found cash. What the diamonds then fund is of no concern when someone has not eaten for a week or finds their family member to be ill. This adds so much complexity to the issue. Would it be better to take the utilitarian approach by stopping the business or do we concern ourselves with individual well-being? How is the world to fix this problem? Through education, economic repair and stimulation, social progress? Really there is not a clear right or wrong answer or one magical fix. If we want to stand any chance of moving forward though, we must encourage people to understand firstly that there are many differing situational aspects to the challenge and secondly that there is no possible way that the outcome will be overnight.
Good discussion of the complexities in the issue.
Apparently, diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and the single best way to profess your love to someone. While they are widely considered precious, a luxury, or a status symbol, diamonds have a much less attractive story than many would like to think. Most of the world’s diamonds come from Sub-Saharan Africa where they are mined in less than ideal conditions. The work isn’t easy and there is always a danger of natural disasters such as mudslides, and accidents due to mine collapses and human error. In addition to the difficult work, however, the conditions in diamond mines are made even worse by the way they are operated. Especially in informal or illegal mines, the workers have little or no power to keep themselves safe and improve their working conditions. Many workers travel for incredibly long distances to reach these mines, hoping to earn minimal pay, or maybe even nothing at all. Often they have no recourse to make improvements—if one person complains there will be five more ready to take their spot. “Defiance” can also be viewed as a threat and lead to harsh consequences, and even death.
What’s even worse, many of the diamond mines in regions with a lot of conflict abuse child labor. Many countries don’t have adequate laws to protect children either. Not only are children subjected to horrible work conditions, long days, and poor living conditions, but also many of them have been forced into slavery to work in the mines.
Even when a worker does good work or finds a large stone they will likely never see the benefit of their work. Almost all of the profits will go back to the boss. Additionally, diamonds are at their most valuable when they have become value-added products, a process that never takes place in Africa. Rather, the diamonds are finished and prepared for market elsewhere, usually India. Not only do the diamond miners get very little compensation for their work, they are being compensated for a much less valuable product.
Another element of the diamond trade is the surge of “conflict diamonds” or “blood diamonds” into the market. These terms refer to diamonds mined in conflict or war zones, which are often used to fund war efforts, usually supporting rebels and militia. Not only do you have to deal with the working conditions, slavery, and child labor associated with diamond mining, the extra economic support being pumped into these conflicts leaves the regions more war-torn than they would’ve been otherwise. People are displaced, homes and businesses are destroyed, and more people are forced to consider working in industries like diamond mining.
There has been a large push in more developed countries to support specific non-conflict diamonds. They’ve begun marking diamonds that come out of these conflict regions to make them identifiable. The thought is that if more people exclusively support non-conflict diamonds, then the economic demand for diamonds from conflict regions will continue disappear until it become an economic disadvantage to continue mining them in the same way.
The five photos shown exhibit the labor, workers, and conditions found in the diamond mines of Africa, particularly in the Congo and Southern Africa, where roughly 65% of the world’s diamonds come from. They show the rough side of an $81.4 billion-a-year industry. Mines across Africa vary greatly with the diamond mines in South Africa being significantly safer and more regulated than those found elsewhere on the continent, but are still not ideal conditions to be working in. These mines have modern drilling technology as well as skilled, adult workers, but most mines across Africa do not operate like this.
The majority of diamond mines in Africa are successful through the use of child labor. Children are typically forced to work in these mines either to support their struggling family, through force, or because it is the only work available anywhere near their village. Mining for diamonds is particularly labor intensive and has a grueling effect on the growing bodies of these young people. Children work long days, typically 6 days a week and not only partake in heavy tasks such as shoveling but are also required to do dangerous jobs due to their size. For example, some are required to climb into small mineshafts where landslides could happen and bury them under. Beginning to work in mines as a child is usually a lifelong commitment as this line of work does not allow time for schooling and without schooling, there are very few job opportunities available forcing these workers to continue their work in mines. However, child labor is only part of the issue with mining in Africa.
Mining for diamonds often occurs in poor, worn torn countries in Africa and the discovery of diamonds fuels the battle. Many war lords from opposing groups capture villagers and force them to mine for diamonds which are then taken to support their cause. The diamonds pay for weapons trade, manpower, etc. in these civil wars. Some leaders of countries in Africa take these diamonds to increase their authoritarian reign and disregard their people. These issues are slowly coming to an end through global awareness and projects such as the Kimberley Process, which was put into place by major world diamond producers and buyers to “address growing concerns, and the threat of a consumer boycott,” (Time). This process established a system of providing paperwork for every shipment of rough diamonds from a country and if said country failed to provide this paperwork showing that the diamonds were conflict free then they could be suspended from the diamond trade. Just this project alone has helped to reduce a large percentage of diamonds that are illegally traded. Projects like this have also prompted well-known companies such as Tiffany & Co. to create strict policies as well in order to reduce conflict diamonds on the market.
The fight is still not over though as many illegal diamonds are still making it through the different processes and regulations. Not to mention that civil wars fueled by diamonds are still an ongoing problem which also mean that child labor and other atrocities against human rights are continuing in the greedy search for diamonds.
“Brilliant Earth.” Brilliant Earth. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2016.
“Why the Blood Diamond Trade Won’t Die.” Time. Time, n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2016.
Good discussion, nice use of external sources.
Sub-Saharan Africa is known for its resources, like oil, gas, gold, and most of all, diamonds. These minerals are why countries like Britain, France, Belgium, and more began to colonize Africa. Diamonds are the main source of income for countries like Botswana and Congo. The difference in these two places, though, is how mining has affected them over the years.
Botswana is in southern Africa, directly above the country South Africa. It is one of the world’s largest diamond producers, earning about one billion dollars per year from mining. Diamonds are sixty percent of its exports and twenty-five percent of its gross domestic product. In 1982, the Jwaneng mine was opened. It is now the largest diamond mine in the world, producing 10.6 million carats per year. It looks like the picture of the mine in the bottom left-hand corner of the blog post. De Beers, the world’s largest producer of rough diamonds moved its sorting facility to Gaborone, Botswana, in 2013. This facility is now the largest sorting facility of diamonds in the world. These two businesses turned Botswana from one of the poorest countries in the world to one of the wealthiest.
The wealth that Botswana has collected over the years has been put towards helping its citizens. Mines employ thousands of people, who would not have jobs if it weren’t for the mines. The government also pays for thousands of students every year to get primary, secondary, and even tertiary education. Medical services are also really cheap thanks to the government, so citizens have easy access to clinics and hospitals. Botswana is an example of how mining in southern Africa affects the community. Everyone benefits from it, and it is done in a safe way through drilling.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DROC), mining is done a little differently. It is almost all done by hand. The miners wash and sift dirt and gravel, looking for the diamonds, as is shown in the picture of the little boy. In January of 2015, children were banned from working in diamond mines, but many still work there, voluntarily, to support their families. The DROC has been corrupt and instable for a long time, which discourages outside companies from getting involved in the mining industry. This leads to different outcomes for the people of the DROC and the country as a whole.
The country is so poor that none of the roads, including the runway at the airport, are paved. Hospitals cannot afford to take care of patients, nor can patients afford to be taken care of. Many people work for the mines, leaving the agriculture industry in complete disarray. Foods and crops cost too much because there are not enough. Also, hundreds of miners die every year by drowning or the mines collapsing. While the owners of the mines benefit, the community and majority of its inhabitants do not.
Southern Africa mining, shown through Botswana, is a wonderful industry that is growing and helping the community and its people. The opposite can be said for the DROC. This is shown through how the people look in the pictures from the blog post. The little boy looks disheveled, and the workers on the bottom have bad working conditions, while the ones in the top picture are wearing safety helmets and using technologically advanced tools. Although these pictures show the difference in mining of different areas, they do still show that diamond mining is important in Africa.
By: Jackson Allen
Very nice, good discussion of the contrasts between legitimate diamond mining and conflict diamonds.
These pictures depict the different mining techniques and conditions of diamond excavation in Sub-Saharan Africa. There are clear differences between the photos. Some of the images include individuals with proper safety equipment and advanced mining technologies, and the others include the use of child labor and forced labor along with poor working conditions. These contrasting situations are a by-product of the political and economic standings of different regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. Regions that lack stable and legitimate institutions along with government corruption suffer from the civil unrest that arises from conflict over diamond deposits by governments and rebel groups. Small proportions of these deposits are controlled by rebel movements in Angola, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Sierra Leone, control of diamond producing regions was the central source of income for the rebel organization Revolutionary United Front (RUF). The trade in diamonds provided the RUF ways to obtain weapons, equipment, and mercenaries to fight against the government of Sierra Leone. Rebel control of diamond rich areas help finance the civil wars of various regions in Sub-Saharan Africa. In some regions, there has been negative correlation between natural resource abundance and economic growth. The three-decade civil war in Angola caused the degradation of the county’s social programs. Public services such as health and education had seen little funding from the Angolan government while they primarily focused on military expenses. Even with the vast amount of wealth from diamond and oil reserves, the people of Angola had not received any share of that wealth through social programs. In 2001, Angola ranked 161st out of 175 countries for the Human Development Index published by the United Nations Development Programme, and the same lack of development occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo during their civil war, ranked 155th in the same year. Even today, conditions in these countries have not seen any change for the better. The civil wars in Angola and the DRC were fueled by the income from the illegal trade of diamonds. What is keeping the trade alive are high demands in the diamond market, especially in jewelry markets in Europe and the United States. Through the establishment of an international regulatory system, such as the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, the prevention of “conflict diamonds” from entering into the international market has become more regulated. Even with the end of conflicts in certain regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, diamond mining is still a dangerous business plagued with little government revenue and the exploitation of the world’s poorest people. The majority of diamonds in Sierra Leone are mined by hand from deposits near the earth’s surface, so it is easy to begin mining as long as you have the right tools. With little government oversight and the lack of formal jobs, people are able to begin their own diamond excavation businesses and many people in Sierra Leone work as diggers. However, in countries such as Botswana, where diamonds are located deep underground, these countries are able to make diamond mining a source of wealth through careful management and control. In Sierra Leone, Angola, and the DNC where diamonds deposits are near the surface, the governments have struggled to properly manage and regulate the resource since it is so easily attainable. With government stability and internal sovereignty, regulation that produces safer working conditions and proper excavation techniques is more likely to be established.
Very nice, good discussion of Angola.
Diamonds are one of the most desired treasures mankind has been in search of for a very long time. To many people in the western world the diamonds are beautiful and pure rocks that are very precious and treasured. It is difficult for people to understand the conditions from which these diamonds were found and created into the shiny rocks sold in the nicest stores around the world. Sub-Saharan Africa is where many of these diamonds are found. The conditions are terrible and the systems that are used to extract these diamonds are the worst in the world.
Sub-Saharan Africa is well known for exporting many goods such as copper, iron, gold, oil, and timber. These good along with diamonds are what fuels the income for the region. The diamonds however, are providing income to the wrong groups in the region. Diamonds are being found in the region by workers who are well underpaid, as well as children doing excessive amounts of underage labor, which can be seen from in the photo. The people are so desperate for diamonds, that they attempt to steal them from the sites where they find them. However, many of the warlords who reap the great income from diamond profits pay guards with guns to check for workers trying to steal diamonds from the sites. As a result, the warlords’ incomes keep increasing and they begin to stir trouble in the country’s political system and waging wars to conquer new territories.
Many of these diamonds are now considered “Blood diamonds”, because they are mined in the warzones, and are used by the warlords to create more blood-shed. This term is used around the world to highlight the negative effects from trading diamonds in certain regions. Thankfully the Kimberly process was put into place to attempt to help to try to resolve some of these issues regarding diamonds being mined by ruthless warlords. In a nutshell it basically says that diamonds each shipments of rough diamonds across a border must be in a tamper proof container accompanies by an official Kimberly Process certificate, and these shipments can only be exported into another Kimberly Process country. Unfortunately, the Kimberly Process did not go as planned. The system requested that ‘voluntary self-regulation’ be taken on by the diamond industry. This lead to a lack of monitoring effort on their part and as a result many of the diamonds were smuggled.
In the pictures notice how in two of the pictures there appears to be innovative technology and safety equipment used. These types of mining are mainly down in South Africa where workers are mostly paid normal wages and get to use safety equipment in the mines. Since they also have a solid economy in South Africa special drills (such as the one shown) can be used to help prevent risky manual labor. In the future as Africa continues to develop, we can hope that the structure set up in South Africa spreads into other regions to help prevent any more bloodshed and conflict over diamonds.
While the diamond itself is undeniably valuable in tools, heavy machinery, and drilling, general society disregards its practical application in favor of petty and pointless jewelry. Diamonds are considered precious – but as a visible sign of wealth, not as an irreplaceable tool. Specifically in the global North, what the diamonds offer to the general public does little to justify the eminence with which they’re treated in society. In fact, the consumerist obsession which the West has with the small, sparkly stones, helps fund and encourage a massive and often unjust mining industry. The foreign exploitation of resource-rich regions, like Africa, has long been at the cost of the indigenous peoples. And of course, upon their emergence as a highly-coveted mineral, Africa has been a hot-bed for conflict and oppression centering upon the diamond trade.
Often resorting to the forced labor, the industry preys particularly on more vulnerable demographics, like children. Incredibly hard to clearly track or regulate, the diamond trade has funded conflict and misfortune on the backs of regular citizens, often utilized by regimes, war-lords, and insurgencies for funding. On May 11, 2000 , an assembly was held in Kimberley to discuss the myriad of issues surrounding conflict diamonds, or diamonds which were mined in a war zone to fund violent activity – and so began the Kimberley Process. It resulted in world-wide restrictions on the purchase and trade of uncertified rough diamond, hoping to limit diamond-related chaos. Led by the diamond-producing companies themselves, the Process aims to stem the flow of conflict diamonds and stabilize the vulnerable countries while supporting their growth. Not only making things more difficult for criminals seeking to gain a profit off the diamond trade, it allowed more diamonds onto the legal market. By making more diamonds viable for sale, it increased the revenue of poor African countries and aided in their development.
In theory, the Process tracks the diamond from mine to market and increases transparency by mandating that governments record the exportation, importation, and value of their diamonds. This would make government finances transparent and hold the administration accountable for the spending they allocate for the population’s benefit. Unfortunately, the Kimberly Process has failed to fully halt the sale of blood diamonds, and many believe that even Kimberly-certified diamonds are still born from conflict, due to political corruption and non-compliance in countries participating in the diamond trade.
The continued over-valuation of diamonds not only emphasizes pointless and wasteful consumerist culture, luring populations to buy into the petty materialistic notion that wealth should be displayed, but also, and more importantly, puts entire groups of people at risk. As long as there is a ridiculously high demand – and high profit – to be found in the diamond trade, the level of risk involved for those used as labor will remain high. It has presented a conundrum – there are people who legally and fairly work in the industry whom are wholly dependent on the continued sale of diamonds – but there are people who remain exploited whose welfare depends on the changing or halting on that same sale.
Very nice discussion of the value of diamonds.
Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend but they are one of Africa’s most destructive resources. In a dynamic and unpredictable global economy, conflict arises when there is a scarcity of resources and high demand. Sub-Saharan Africa is one the most outstanding examples of the effects of scarcity due to what I call the “Big Three”: water, oil, and diamonds. The Big Three are both the vitality and death of a modern Sub-Sahara. While water and oil hold a practical value in most people’s lives, diamonds are relatively useless and only hold representational value. They are quite meaningful on the hand of your spouse but only hold real-life value in drill production. Despite this, diamonds remain incredibly valuable and society’s moral fiber has a fairly low tensile strength as far as their acquisition.
The acquisition of diamonds in Sub-Saharan Africa is a dangerous practice. In many places there are little to no safety regulations, high rates of child labor extortion, poor working conditions, and often times armed guards (sometimes children). Diamond mining is the explosive fuel for many outbreaks of civil war. In the past twenty-five years, several countries including Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, the DRC, the Republic of Congo, and Sierra Leone have been decimated by diamond conflict. Think about that the next time you’re looking to buy a ring for your significant other. Some of the richest sources of diamonds and other resources are being made incredibly poor by conflict. Groups like the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone are using terror and violence to control big money diamond mines. They sell diamonds and buy guns.
Although diamond-mining practices can be volatile in many places in SSA, there are many countries that have safe and regulated mining systems. Countries like South Africa have strict mining policies that insure their workers safety and payment. Restricted work days, hard hats, safety harnesses, child labor laws, mandatory inspections, breathing apparatuses, and gloves are all utilized to keep workers healthy and happy. Since apartheid, South Africa has made some very progressive moves on modernizing and building itself.
I think it’s imperative that the United States and other developed nations create a stronger vetting process for diamond imports. We should know where they are coming from and how they were acquired. It’s a hugely immoral practice and we should be making greater strides to right these foreign wrongs. It is the demand for diamonds that is bankrupting much of SSA. If we, as a society, deemphasize the value of diamonds than the demand will plummet removing rebel leverage in countries in civil war. That kind of change however is very idealistic and would require a society less hell-bent on nursing its own narcissistic and materialistic tendencies. Honestly there are plenty of very attractive alternatives and frankly it’s pretty uncreative that we go with the one look for women’s wedding rings. With the technology we have today, there could be some incredibly creative rings that don’t rely on extorted labor and resources.
Good, nice discussion of the different types of diamond mining.
Isabella Victor. Sub-Saharan Africa: Diamonds
Diamonds, a treasured mineral throughout the world, have been causing civil- uproar for the past few decades in numerous countries in Africa. The countries harmed by civil-war due to the fight over these stones include Sierra Leone, Liberia, Angola, the Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The product that causes so much violence is the same product that American’s buy for pleasure and put on their ring finger to symbolize engagement, but the history behind how that diamond made it into the store is frightening and frankly disgusting.
The ugly process of diamond trading starts at the mines where young children as young as 9 years of age are forced to work under brutal conditions shoveling in hopes of finding a small mineral so he/she does not have to worry about going without food. Diamond miners are often young, uneducated, and desperate for money to feed their family and buy other necessary items to live. Children mine underground as well as underwater desperately searching for a diamond that could earn them enough money to ease the worry for a little while. Parents support their children working in the mines instead of staying in school because it is the only way they will have the money to buy food to survive. Not only is mining physically exhausting and draining, small children are put under the supervision of abusive men. Deaths are so common during mining that the report of them often goes untold. Miners go to work knowing that a pit might fall or they may not resurface from going underwater searching. At this point in time, despite the knowledge that young children are being forced to work under less than humane conditions, nothing has been done to examine and change these practices.
60 billion dollars. 60 billion is the estimated worth of the diamond industry. The industry that puts diamonds in high class retail stores but also the industry that causes bloodshed throughout the African countries. It is unclear to know where exactly the diamond you bought originated from due to the extreme amount of smuggling and illegal trading. The diamond trade is the route of African conflict and death that the term “blood diamond” or “conflict diamond” have been coined, appropriately, to represent just how violent this business is. Africa is the leading exporter of diamonds, producing 65% of the world’s supply and at the same time fueling local rebel militia. In efforts to keep these blood diamonds from ultimately supporting these ruthless rebel groups, the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) was enacted. Its purpose is to keep diamonds from entering the illegal market and ending up funding civil-wars. Since the Kimberly Process began in 2002, nearly 70 countries have joined the efforts to fight against the illegal trading of blood diamonds in Africa and almost 100% of the world’s diamonds can be claimed legitimate.
Although diamond trading is known for its conflict, the industry is also leaders in funding against HIV/AIDS in Africa as well supporting 10 million people.
Very nicely done, good use of outside resources.