Foreign Policy Blogs

'Blood Diamond' Cont.


When talking with the American reporter, Leo DiCaprio says, "Maybe we should all just write about it then". His cynical view is right in many ways, but here I am writing about it. Will I end the plight of any child soldiers in the world with this post? The truth is directly, most defiantly not, but if I can make a few people see the reality, I will feel a bit better. Yet, then again what good is knowing the reality of a situation you are almost entirely powerless to stop? I know I will not personally end any cause, but how can I quit writing about it! I must at least make my voice heard for the millions of people, especially children, who have been silenced by war and destruction. I do feel powerless, and I would give anything if I could end this horrid practice in just one country, but what can I do? I am willing given the opportunity to work in the field more, and I hope I will have the opportunity to do so, but it is not a fruitful effort for most. Idealism comes with a heavy price on ones heart and soul! But does that mean one should not try, no! We must continue to fight at all costs, for it is the only way for hope to begin. Wars in Africa are a daily occurrence, killing and violence have been all so many have known. Then again just because it is all you know do you continue to do it?

"Do you think I'm exploiting his griefyour right its like one of those infomercials with little black babies with swollen bellies, flies in their eyesI've got dead mothers, severed limbsIts not enough, it may make someone cry if they read it or even write a check, but its not enough to make it stopI'm sick of writing about victims but its all I can dopeople back home wouldn't buy a ring if they knew it cost someone else their hand"(Maddy Bowen, the American Report in the movie)

What do you, Jane and Joe Average America do? Firstly you can begin to listen and not just read a story, or watch a movie, feel bad and then go about your daily lives forgetting it all tomorrow. Be a conscious consumer, write your congressman, take a stand and speak out, inform others, etc The next line from the movie is what hits home the most for me, illustrating how those in need do not understand how we could not help them if we knew what was happening. This is a conversation between Solomon Vandy, the Sierra Leonean man fighting for his family, and the American reporter, Maddy Bowen.

"You are writing about what is happening here?"
"So when people in your country read it they will come help us?"
"Probably not!"

The one problem with "Blood Diamond' is that it's a movie, but the reality is far from a Hollywood drama, conflict diamonds are real, child soldiers are a reality, and the story is far from over! The true story of the victims of conflict diamonds, human slavery, war, and child soldiers, does not have a happy ending. The end of the movie ends with the world outraged, the people listening, the press able to finally write the story, and have it toldbut alas it is a Hollywood movie.

The movie "Blood Diamond' is a good start at awareness, but let us not stop there. We must find a way to have a society which is not ruled by greed or run by war. To have a society that strips away the innocence of its children for the sake of nothing more than jewelry! What is a diamond if nothing more than jewelry, does it really give one power, or buy freedom? Does a diamond change the world and bring peace, relieve the masses from poverty and economic hardship, no! I know that there has been progress and I do not dispute for one minute that progress has been made, and much more came from this movie, but the war is far from over. Those of us in the West need to look at Africa, not as this one giant place that we know for nothing more than a place off in the distance, a land of safaris and exotic things. For greed rules the continent of Africa, and we sit in our American idealism and isolation, only awoken when Hollywood gets involved.

What is the situation of "blood diamonds' today and how do you know if your diamonds are "blood free'? In May of 2000 discussions began in Kimberly, South Africa, however it took two years of negotiations to finalize and ratify the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) on January 1, 2003, however 24 countries failed the requirements and thus only 40 made the list. Despite the good intentions, and much work in helping to eliminate conflict diamonds, the process is far from perfect.

“Despite the progress made, three years after its establishment the KPCS has not been able to fully address, monitor and end the international trade in conflict diamonds"- Amnesty International, 21 June 2006

Conflict diamonds are still making their way into the market, children are still working in the mines, and kidnapped for use as child soldiers. Diamonds are not so precious and rare as so many would like to believe, the completion is fierce, and when completion is high many are not eager to put more restrictions and regulations in place. In addition heavy regulations only push many in the trade farther into the dark, and those operations on the sidelines may even increase their illicit and violent ways for the sake of greed in the diamond trade.

The biggest failure of the Kimberly Process is that it allows recognized governments an easy pass in the process, therefore a diamond maybe deemed ok if the government it's self is seen as clear, and this may eliminate that the profits of diamonds falling into rebel hands to fuel wars, but it does not indicate that the diamonds themselves where mined in an acceptable manner, without the use of slaves, child labor, etc. This causes great worry as the diamond industry claims that 99% of diamonds are conflict free and traded through the Kimberly Process, leaving the public to think that the issues related to "blood diamonds' has been almost totally resolved and little more is needed to be done, but this is a far cry from the truth. More than 200,000 child soldiers continue to fight in Africa and we cannot forget them with the diamonds. Even if we have cleaned the blood off of many new diamonds, the money still flows from the blood of others, and continues to circulate freely in many nations, continuing to fuel conflict.

The Kimberly Processes
Global Witness
Invisible Children – A documentary movie about child soldiers in Uganda
Fatal Transactions
Diamond Facts – World Diamond Council (WDC)
The True Cost of Diamonds – The Kimberly Process; Amnesty International
Global Policy Forum – Diamonds in Conflict
USAID – Peace Diamonds for Sierra Leon
CNN – Diamonds aren't Forever
UN- Conflict Diamonds
EU and the Kimberly Process



Cassandra Clifford

Cassandra Clifford is the Founder and Executive Director of Bridge to Freedom Foundation, which works to enhance and improve the services and opportunities available to survivors of modern slavery. She holds an M.A., International Relations from Dublin City University in Ireland, as well as a B.A., Marketing and A.S., Fashion Merchandise/Marketing from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Cassandra has previously worked in both the corporate and charity sector for various industries and causes, including; Child Trafficking, Learning Disabilities, Publishing, Marketing, Public Relations and Fashion. Currently Cassandra is conducting independent research on the use of rape as a weapon of war, as well as America’s Pimp Culture and its Impact on Modern Slavery. In addition to her many purists Cassandra is also working to develop a series of children’s books.

Cassandra currently resides in the Washington, D.C. metro area, where she also writes for the Examiner, as the DC Human Rights Examiner, and serves as an active leadership member of DC Stop Modern Slavery.

Areas of Focus:
Children's Rights; Human Rights; Conflict