U.S. Aid Official Discusses ‘Conflict Diamonds’

Jewelers can make a difference in bringing peace to Sierra Leone and other African countries suffering from problems caused by “conflict diamonds.” That was the opinion expressed by Sylvia A. Fletcher, a senior advisor to the U.S. Agency for International Development, at a luncheon sponsored by the Jewelers Vigilance Committee.

“It is you who must insist, until we have all achieved it, that there is a worldwide, operational, and adequate system for certifying the origin of rough diamonds, so that consumers of jewelry and gems may have confidence that they are not indirectly aiding insurgents,” she said. “It is you who can identify suspected smuggling and insist on high standards of ethics and integrity in the global diamond market.”

Fletcher noted that, in the global economy, businesspeople must pay attention to matters they never thought about before. “Consumers in rich countries for decades, maybe for centuries, have been consuming goods that are the product of exploitative means of production, sometimes even slavery, crime, and piracy,” she said. “Globalization has made us acutely aware of where and how our business chains operate, from the primary source, through its stages of transformation, to the final retailer and consumer.

“There is, as well, an emerging doctrine of global humanitarianism,” Fletcher added. “Those inalienable rights, those truths that we hold to be self-evident in our democracy—we have come to understand are inalienable human and civil rights for all people, in all countries. Political and humanitarian globalism is the assertion of a set of uniform, fundamental inalienable human and civil rights for all people, in all countries; and globalization is the reality that our destinies and our markets are inextricably inter-related.”

Fletcher also noted that Sierra Leone authorities have identified some questionable parcels in the last two months, and hoped those efforts would continue.