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Blood on the Stone: Greed, Corruption and War in the Global Diamond Trade

Ian Smillie
Anthem Press, IDRC

Available formats

Africa’s diamond wars took four million lives. They destroyed the lives of millions more and they crippled the economies of Angola, the Congo, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The biggest UN peacekeeping forces in the world—in Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Congo, and Côte d’Ivoire - are the legacy of “conflict” or “blood diamonds.”

Blood on the Stone tells the story of how diamonds came to be so dangerous. It describes the history of the great diamond cartel and how it gradually lost control of the precious mineral, as country after country descended into anarchy and wars fuelled by diamonds. The book describes the diamond pipeline, from war-torn Africa to the glittering showrooms of Paris, London, and New York. It describes the campaign that began in 1999 and which eventually forced the industry and more than 50 governments to create a global certification system known as the Kimberley Process, aimed at wringing blood diamonds out of the retail trade. It concludes with a sobering assessment of the certification system, which soon became hostage to political chicanery, mismanagement and vested interests. Too important to fail, the Kimberley Process has been hailed as a regulatory model for Africa’s extractive minerals. Behind the scenes, however, it runs the risk of becoming an ineffectual talk shop, standing aside as criminals re-infest the diamond world.

Blood on the Stone is about the cartel, the warlords, the gun runners and the shadowy traders who populated Africa’s bloody diamond wars, and a faltering, decade-long effort to clean up an entire industry.  

The author

Ian Smillie has lived and worked in Africa and Asia as a teacher, consultant, investigator and writer. For the past ten years his focus has been blood diamonds, the wars they fuelled and a scheme designed to stop them. This has taken him from the jungles of West Africa to the backstreets of Antwerp and a war crimes tribunal in The Hague, where he was the first witness in the trial of Liberian warlord Charles Taylor. He was a leading NGO participant in the Kimberley Process from its inception until he resigned in 2009. Ian Smillie was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2003.

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