Ian Smillie



Getting to the Heart of the Matter: Sierra Leone, Diamonds, and Human Security

Smillie discusses the role of the lucrative diamond industry in war-torn Sierra Leone, noting that “diamonds — small pieces of carbon with no great intrinsic value — have been the cause of widespread death, destruction, and misery for almost a decade.” He argues that the point of this war “may not actually have been to win it, but to engage in profitable crime under the cover of warfare.” Although U.N. Security Council Resolution 1306 bans trading in diamonds from areas held by the Sierra Leone Revolutionary United Front (RUF), the RUF has financed its military activities since 1991 by selling diamonds for arms. Pressure on traders and consumers to avoid purchasing “conflict diamonds” has led to recent efforts to reorganize the diamond trade somewhat. Since the 1950s, Smillie notes, the government of Sierra Leone has made no pretence of being able to provide security for mining companies, and has required them to provide their own security.

Africa, insurgency — Sierra Leone; blood diamonds; Sierra Leone — Revolutionary United Front [RUF]

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 27, No. 4 (2000): 24-31