Conflict diamonds - used by rebel armies to pay for weapons - are a major international human security problem. They have contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people over the past decade, mainly in Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), but also in Guinea, Liberia and elsewhere. Conflict diamonds have fueled wars; they have led to massive civilian displacement and the destruction of entire countries. They have capitalized on the much larger traffic in illicit diamonds that are used for money laundering and tax evasion, or are simply stolen from their rightful owners. While conflict diamonds represent a small proportion of the overall diamond trade, illicit diamonds represent as much as 20 per cent of the annual world production. This level of illegality creates the opportunity and the space for conflict diamonds, and regardless of how current conflicts unfold, it will continue to present a threat to peace and stability in Africa unless it is halted.
Since 1999, Partnership Africa Canada has undertaken a program of policy research, education, publication and advocacy to ensure that the international diamond industry operates legally, openly and for the primary benefit of the countries where diamonds originate, becoming an asset for, rather than a detriment to peaceful, long-term development. Through its programs, PAC engages the diamond industry, governments and civil society in Africa and elsewhere in discussion and action that will ensure greater development impact from diamonds, especially in countries emerging from conflict. PAC has published a series of reports on the diamond industry in Africa, Canada and India and publishes a quarterly newsletter on the international effort to end diamond-related conflict.
PAC is an active member of the Kimberley Process, a UN-mandated process involving governments, the diamond industry and non-governmental organizations which has developed an international certification system for rough diamonds. PAC is part of a network of non-governmental organizations in Africa, Europe and North America which are working to end diamond-related conflict. In Africa, PAC works in collaboration with national NGO networks in Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo which are coordinating national education, research and advocacy programs aimed at the creation of better management of and greater community benefit from the mining and natural resource extraction sectors.