United Nations Sierra Leone
Sanctions Committee Expert Panel - December 2000
|The United Nations Sierra Leone Sanctions Committee Expert Panel Report of December 2000 demonstrates conclusively the connections between the Revolutionary United Front’s trade in diamonds and its acquisition of weapons for its brutal war of conquest. The international supply chain - diamonds outbound and weapons inbound - begins in Liberia and spreads out across Africa and Europe, involving a complex network of international criminality. The Report calls for tough action against Liberia and named gun-runners, for better international weapons and diamond controls, and for stronger attention by UN member states to what has become nothing less than blatant and overt sanctions-busting.|
Heart of the Matter
– Sierra Leone, Diamonds and Human Security
by Ian Smillie, Lansana Gberie and Ralph Hazleton
© Partnership Africa Canada, January 2000
study of the Sierra Leone diamond trade and its international connections
demonstrates the centrality of diamonds to that country’s brutal conflict.
The RUF rebels exchange diamonds for arms and drugs in brazenly open smuggling
operations through Liberia and other countries in the region. The report
describes the diamond industry and the chain of intermediaries between
miner and jeweler, as it existed at the beginning of 2000. Much has changed
since then, in part because of this report and the work of many concerned
individuals, organizations and governments.
De Beers, for example, has stopped buying ‘outside’ diamonds entirely, and has dramatically restructured its operations. The Belgian government has tightened its controls, and the Diamond High Council has worked closely with the Government of Sierra Leone to develop a tamper-proof certification system for rough diamond exports. In July 2000, the diamond industry at large created a World Diamond Council which has developed proposals for an international system of rough diamond controls. Through 2000, a series of intergovernmental meetings took place in Europe and Southern Africa in an attempt to develop standard international legislation aimed at curtailing the trade in conflict diamonds.
Although much has changed, the war in Sierra Leone continues. The Heart of the Matter should be read in conjunction with the United Nations Sanctions Committee Expert Panel Report of December 2000 (also available on this web site). This report provides new information on how the RUF and their supporters smuggle diamonds into the international system, and it makes new recommendations aimed at curtailing the flow of weapons and diamonds.
authors of The Heart of the Matter argue that there will be no sustainable
peace in Sierra Leone until the illicit diamond trade is brought under
control. Much remains to be done, and if governmental and industry reforms
are stalled, civil society groups may well launch campaigns that will demonstrate
public concern that the trade in conflict diamonds must be stopped.
Click below to read or download the study
The hard copy versions of the reports may be obtained from the Partnership Africa Canada Ottawa office:
report: US$20 or Cdn$25 - postage included
The Heart of the Matter makes many important recommendations, which are listed in full in both the complete and summary reports. Action is being envisaged now on some of these recommendations by Governments, the UN and the diamond industry. Please add your voice to the international call to bring an end to conflict diamonds. Raise some of the recommendations in letters to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, to your Government, to relevant newspapers. When the opportunity arises, ask your local jeweller the origin of their diamonds. Raise awareness. Your voice counts!
Support PAC's work
Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), a coalition of Canadian and African NGOs, depends on financial contributions from individuals and organizations to help it develop its independent programme of research and action. Following publication of The Heart of the Matter, we are pursuing our research and dialogue with Governments, the UN and the diamond industry. We are also supporting civil society organizations in Sierra Leone that are working for peace, justice and development. Please add your support to ours.
the PAC Secretariat in Ottawa if you are able to help: