The Forum

Discover world history, culture and ideas with today’s leading experts


A dirty history of diamonds

We seem to have an almost insatiable appetite for the glitter and sparkle of diamonds. Yet transforming these stones into jewels fit for princesses and film stars involves a long chain of production and distribution. And the diamond industry has long been bound up with a much darker side: the exploitation of workers, environmental damage, all-powerful monopolies and violent mafias, not to mention the so-called Blood Diamonds used to finance armed conflict. So how is the industry trying to clean up its image and regulate the trade? Joining Bridget Kendall to discuss the history of the diamond trade are: Dr. Lansana Gberie, former coordinator for the UN Security Council Panel of Experts on Liberia. He is the author of A Dirty War in West Africa: The RUF and the Destruction of Sierra Leone. He’s also Sierra Leone’s current Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and the Sierra Leonean Ambassador to Switzerland - though his contributions to this programme are in a personal capacity. Ian Smillie, founder of the Diamond Development Initiative, now DDI at Resolve, an organisation which works to improve conditions for small-scale miners. He is the author of several books, including Blood on the Stone: Greed, Corruption and War in the Global Diamond Trade. He is based in Canada. Dr. Tijl Vanneste, researcher at the Portuguese Institute of International Relations at Nova University in Lisbon. He is the author of Blood, Sweat and Earth: The Struggle for Control over the World's Diamonds Throughout History. [Image: Examining a gem diamond in Antwerp, Belgium; Credit: Paul O'Driscoll/Getty Images]


 2021-10-14  39m