(Rapaport…November 17, 1999) In a statement from Johannesburg, former South African President and human rights advocate, Nelson Mandela, was quick to welcome De Beers’ announcement that it will not buy diamonds from rebel movements in Angola, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “The undertaking to source diamonds only through official government sources will contribute to establishing stability and legitimacy to an important area of trade for our country and region,” Mandela said.
Mandela, also, expressed concerns that the consumer-led “conflict diamonds” boycott could hurt the economies of South Africa and other peaceful southern African states. Botswana, the world’s leading diamond producer in terms of value and Namibia were cited as countries where diamonds are a vital source of revenue. Mandela suggested that rather than instituting embargoes, the industry, on its own initiative, take a progressive stance on human rights issues.
Funds from rough diamond sales have helped fuel the Angolan rebels, UNITA, and other civil wars waged by African guerilla groups. Human rights activists have been urging consumers to boycott these diamonds