Conflict Free Diamonds – Where Do We Stand?
As a company that takes social responsibility very seriously Whiteflash deals only in legitimately sourced, conflict free diamonds. We buy only from suppliers who pledge to operate in strict compliance with the Kimberley Process and who support United Nations Resolutions prohibiting the trade in diamonds that fuel conflict. For more information, take a look at infographic below or search our conflict free diamonds here.
Image Source: Wikipedia
“Conflict Diamonds” are rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments. Most diamonds are mined in large scale, highly mechanized operations that are tightly controlled and are not involved in this problem. The vast majority of the market therefore consists of conflict free diamonds. The real problem is associated with alluvial diamonds. Such diamonds were brought to the crust of the earth through volcanic activity and weathered out of their host rock and are found in sands and gravels very near to the surface. These alluvial deposits exist in large land areas and can be “mined” by individual artisans using simple tools. Such mining activity lacks central control and is vulnerable to armed groups who take them over by force. The proceeds of the sale of these diamonds have been used by renegade groups to fuel their ambitions for power, often with dire consequences for the artisanal miners and their families.
The problem became very serious and reached a peak in the 1990’s. Finally, governments, industry and NGOs came together and responded with United Nations resolutions at the end of the decade, and agreements culminating in the Kimberly Process (KP) in 2002. The KP is aimed at reducing the ease with which illicit diamonds can be traded, thereby making conflict free diamonds the only ones that make it to market. Some estimates indicate that at its peak conflict diamonds represented about 4% of all diamonds reaching the market. Today, most estimates are that less than 1% of diamonds reaching the market are associated with conflict. However, it is a problem that has not been entirely eradicated and we must therefore continue to be aware and vigilant.
The Whiteflash Response
Whiteflash is dedicated to playing a positive role and being part of the solution. That is why we have joined the United Nations Global Compact. The UN Global Compact is ‘a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption. By doing so, business, as a primary driver of globalization, can help ensure that markets, commerce, technology and finance advance in ways that benefit economies and societies everywhere.’
To further these goals Whiteflash is also proud to be a member of the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI). The DDI is specifically working to ensure that communities involved in small scale and artisanal mining are benefiting from the resource.
And we have taken our commitment to a step farther. We manufacture a special collection of themed jewelry called Dreams of Africa and all of the profits of sales from this line are donated to Jewelers for Children (JFC). This outstanding organization is providing direct relief to families in communities affected by conflict diamonds.
Whiteflash is a company driven by our core values which govern all of our activities involving our customers, our vendors, our employees, and the global community. We operate with transparency and accountability and we believe in diversity and inclusion. We understand that bringing diamonds to a global market is a process that involves millions of human beings in all walks of life and circumstances, and each of them deserves our full measure of respect and protection.
In too many instances throughout history powerful nations have exploited the resources of less powerful ones. Nowhere has this been more evident than on the continent of Africa. Solid efforts are now being made to ensure that the communities in mining areas are getting the full benefit of their resources and hard work. Well conceived and well executed “beneficiation” efforts provide good jobs, educational opportunities and health care. According to diamondfacts.org an estimated 5 million people have access to appropriate healthcare globally thanks to revenues from diamonds.
Perhaps the greatest example of the positive power of beneficiation is Botswana. Through “Debswana”, a partnership with the global diamond mining giant DeBeers, Botswana has blossomed into one of Africa’s most prosperous countries. Thanks to the proper handling of its diamond resources Botswana has a robust economy and one of the highest per capita incomes on the continent. And diamond revenues enable every child in Botswana to receive a free education up to the age of 13.
Well meaning people have at times advocated boycotting diamonds altogether. While the intent behind such an approach is honorable, it would effectively punish everyone working in an industry consisting of 99% conflict free diamonds. It would be damaging to millions of people worldwide, and to their families and communities. And the most vulnerable and needy among them are the very people that that such a boycott is meant somehow to help! This is clearly not the answer. Promoting and encouraging the responsible production and trade of conflict free diamonds does far more good for the world.
Beneficiation through development is the only approach that will enable diamonds to bring more light to the world, both in the beauty of this magical gem and in the jobs, education and healthcare it can provide to underdeveloped communities in some of the world’s poorest countries.