Home » Blog » Blood diamonds remain fuel for conflict

Blood diamonds remain fuel for conflict

· Nov-5-2013 · ()

Ian Smillie, chair of the Diamond Development Initiative, has written a new article for VJTL’s upcoming Symposium Issue.

A key figure in reforming the blood diamond trade, Smillie served as keynote speaker for VJTL’s symposium last spring.  In the ’90s, he negotiated on behalf of an NGO called Partnership Africa Canada to create the Kimberley Process.  He also investigated the connection between diamonds and weapons for the UN Security Council, and he testified first at Charles Taylor’s war crimes trial in The Hague.

Smillie’s article focuses on the role of non-state actors in international affairs.  At the symposium last year, he described how the fight against conflict diamonds continues.

“Diamonds are God’s gift to terrorists,” he told the symposium audience. “They’re God’s gift to money launderers and tax evaders.  They have such a high value-to-weight ratio, and if they’re not properly regulated, that’s the place to go to.”

Smillie’s article describes the history of the illicit diamond trade from brutal wars, to increasing global awareness, to significant progress.  However, he also explains why reform efforts have not fully succeeded, and he describes some potential solutions.

“Sooner or later it is likely that the [Kimberley Process] will be forced to become the regulatory system it pretends to be, or it will be replaced with something a lot tougher that can and will do the job,” he writes.

The Symposium Issue comes out next week.  Listen to portions of Smillie’s speech below:

On working in Africa during the height of the conflict: “It was like the Wild West.”

On the international and industry reaction: “You couldn’t pretend that this had nothing to do with you.”

On investigating for the UN and being the first witness at Charles Taylor’s trial: “We travelled wherever we thought we had to.”

On potential reforms and the power of American consumers:


Leave a Reply

ExpressO Top 10 Law Review


The Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law has confirmed the schedule and panelists for its 2015 Symposium, This is Not a Drill: Confronting Legal Issues in the Wake of International Disasters.

Read the Journal’s latest issue (Vol. 47 No. 5) here.

The Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law mourns the death of its founder, Professor Harold G. Maier.

We are pleased to announce the 2014-2015 Board of Editors and 2014-2015 Editorial Staff Members.

Please join us in congratulating the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 2013-2014 Annual Award Winners.

Coming up:

The Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law invites you to its 2015 Symposium, This is Not a Drill: Confronting Legal Issues in the Wake of International Disasters.

Recent and dire international disasters, both environmental and humanitarian, have left legacies not only of destruction and destitution, but also of an uncertain legal landscape. The Symposium will address current and pressing international-disaster-response topics. These will include environmental effects, disaster assistance, humanitarian assistance, and criminal processes and sanctions in the wake of various types of international disasters. Symposium participants will include leading scholars from across the country.

The 2015 Symposium will take place on Friday, February 13, 2015 at Vanderbilt Law School, 131 21st Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203. A detailed schedule will be available soon.

For information on the 2015 Symposium, as well as past symposia hosted by the Journal, please visit the Symposium page.

Explore Other Vanderbilt Law Resources