The diamond industry continues to be worried over the upcoming film “Blood Diamond,” starring Leonard DiCaprio, which is under contact with Warner Brothers Pictures and set for release in 2007.
So much so that Chairman of the Kimberley Process Kago G. Moshashane and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the World Diamond Council Eli Izhakoff addressed industry progress and concerns in a letter to the film’s director Edward Zwick, on February 8.
The letter notes that “our understanding is that the film is focused on the events in Sierra Leone during the height of the civil conflict in 1999, when the now-defunct rebel group – the Revolutionary United Front – waged a deadly war, prolonged by the exploitation and sale of rough diamonds. We believe that this is a story that must be told – but it’s not the whole story.”
“It would be a great pity if a movie as important as the one you are now producing told only a part of the story – and suggested that the situation in Sierra Leone today, and indeed in other diamond-producing countries, had remained unchanged. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The horrors of the war in Sierra Leone and in other diamond-fuelled conflicts in Africa led to an unprecedented mobilization by the international community to confront the challenge of conflict diamonds, in addition to the effective intervention by UN and British forces to put an end to the conflict in Sierra Leone.”
The two asked tha We should like to ask, on behalf of the Kimberley Process, whether it would not be appropriate for the “Blood Diamonds” film to provide some acknowledgment of the huge changes that have occurred in the diamond trade – and in countries affected by conflict diamonds in particular – since 1999. We believe this could be accomplished by giving serious consideration to including a written broadcast message at the end of the film, and in accompanying promotional literature. We would like to suggest that it includes the following language:
“The conflict in Sierra Leone ended in January 2002. This was followed by free and democratic elections and today, virtually all global trade in rough diamonds is now conducted through the Kimberley Process – an international diamond watchdog bringing together governments, industry and civil society. Sierra Leone is now using its diamond wealth to help build a secure future for all its people.”
9. We would be very pleased to work with you further on the proposed language, and to provide background information that may be of use to you in the context of production, either on the nature of the conflict diamond problem or on the international response to it. In the meantime, We attach a number of recent reports and documents that give an overview of what has been accomplished to date in the Kimberley Process.
10. We look forward to hearing from you, and remain at your disposal to assist with whatever information may be of use to you on a matter that is of great importance to diamond-producing, trading and polishing countries in Africa and elsewhere.