UN Security Council Extends Ban on Diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire
Measures by the United Nations to prevent the export of diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire will continue into the foreseeable future. Last week the United Nations Security Council voted to extend sanctions on the West African nation for another year. Those sanctions ban other states from importing diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire while also imposing an arms embargo on the country and restricting travel for certain individuals. The diamond trade ban has been in effect since 2005; the arms and travel restrictions were imposed in 2004.
Côte d’Ivoire is in the midst of a civil conflict which has left the country split between the rebel-controlled north and the government-controlled south. Unfortunately, the nexus between diamonds and civil strife continues unabated in the country. Although a UN peacekeeping operation and French troops have helped maintain a tentative peace, each side has been rearming, according to a recent report by a UN monitoring group. Natural resources such as diamonds are helping to fund those arms purchases. This is because, despite the restrictions on diamond exports from Côte d’Ivoire, rough diamonds are still being smuggled into neighboring countries. According to the report by the UN monitoring group, “[t]he embargo on the export of Ivorian rough diamonds has neither prevented, nor significantly minimized, the risk of their entry onto international diamond markets.”
The Security Council has promised to review the question of sanctions on Côte d’Ivoire following presidential elections scheduled for this month. However, given the ineffectiveness of the sanctions regime to date, the question of sanctions is not really the critical issue here. The continued flow of diamonds out of Côte d’Ivoire underscores a more fundamental point: Concerned consumers will continue to have good reason to doubt the integrity of the global diamond supply chain until a more robust diamond tracking system can be established.
Brilliant Earth continues to advocate a tracking system that requires diamonds to be tracked and labeled through every stage of the production process, from mining through to cutting and polishing. The Kimberley Process simply is not designed to accomplish this goal and therefore can never guarantee that diamonds are ethically mined consistent with fair labor practices and in an environmentally sustainable manner. We at Brilliant Earth continue to carry our exclusive line of diamonds whose origins are fully traceable and which are produced according to the highest environmental and labor standards. Our goal is to drive change by serving as a model for a new way of doing business in the diamond industry. We hope that one day the kinds of standards that we adhere to will become the norm throughout the diamond industry as a whole.