Global Policy Forum

Jewels Boycott Would Hit Innocent, Not Warlords


By Dan Atkinson

The Guardian (London)
June 7, 2000

For the British jewellery buyer with a conscience, the government's push against the illegal African trade raises an obvious question: is it time to say goodbye to a girl's best friend?

On a logical basis, the answer is no. For the consumer peering through the shop window, whether in Hatton Garden or the local high street, the chances of that costly, have-to-have piece of personal adornment unwittingly helping to fuel bloodthirsty civil wars in Africa is well below 4%. And should the shopper be using an outlet piloting a 'branded' gems scheme from the diamond group De Beers, the probability falls to near zero.

Anywhere in the world, the odds are that any dia mond originated either in southern Africa - South Africa, Botswana or Namibia - or in the Russian Federation.

A general boycott of diamonds would hit blameless Botswana and Bombay in India, a cutting centre employing 800,000 people, far harder than the warlords of Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone. Escalating sanctions by Britain, the European Union and the United Nations have progressively choked off the supply of 'conflict gems' to Europe.

That said, they must be sold somewhere, so the truly war-averse jewellery buyer may prefer to look elsewhere. Pearls, the vast majority of which originate in conflict-free Japan, seem to fit the bill.

More Articles on Diamonds in Conflicts


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