Skip to main content

Blood diamonds remain fuel for conflict

Posted by on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 in Blog.

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 Response

ExpressO Top 10 Law Review


The Journal is pleased to announce its 2018-2019 Board of Editors. View the complete masthead here.

Vanderbilt University Law School Professor Michael A. Newton’s 2016 VJTL Article entitled How the International Criminal Court Threatens Treaty Norms  was cited by the International Criminal Court prosecutor’s November 2017 filing seeking investigation into war crimes in Afghanistan.

May 2018 Issue on the Second Israel Defense Forces International Conference on the Law of Armed Conflict. Read more about the Journal’s May 2018 issue here.

Thank you to everyone who attended the Journal’s 50th Anniversary celebration on October 5, 2017! View photos from the event here and read about the Journal’s history here.

Connect with the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law on LinkedIn.

The Journal is pleased to listed as the #5 International Law Journal by the 2017 Washington and Lee Law Journal Rankings.

The Journal is very excited about the success of our February 2017 Symposium, “Sovereign Conduct on the Margins of the Law.” Read more about our February 2017 Symposium here

Please join us in congratulating the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 2017-2018 Write-On Competition Winners.

Video is available from the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law’s 2015-2016 SymposiumThis is Not a Drill: Confronting Legal Issues in the Wake of International Disasters. Watch here.