• The Regulation of Conflict Resources: Diamonds in Sierra Leone. Paper for the Transformation of War Economies Seminar, University of Plymouth 16-19 June 2005.

      Cooper, Neil (University of Bradford, 2005)
      The last few years have seen the emergence of a series of regulatory initiatives that have been developed, partly in response to the twin agendas of human security and strong states, but which represent a specific reaction to the political economies deemed to underpin contemporary civil conflicts ¿ most notably the way in which local and global markets in everything from diamonds to drugs have been exploited to fund often vicious civil conflicts, particularly in environments characterised by endemic corruption. This new body of local and global regulation, what might loosely be characterised as new laws and new codes to address the political economies of the new wars, include: UN embargoes on diamonds and timber being used to fund conflicts, the development of regimes such as the Kimberley certification system, and initiatives to ensure the transparent and effective use of natural resource revenues. Generally represented as a progressive response to the political economies that drive contemporary civil conflicts, these new initiatives have produced a set of formal and informal regulatory frameworks that are, in fact, profoundly asymmetric in their scope and application. Indeed, one of the defining features of these initiatives is not so much the impartial application of regulations to firms and corrupt elites but either their selective application or, alternatively, their selective relegation in favour of an emphasis on far weaker norms and voluntary codes. The aim of this paper then, is first, to examine the operation of the new codes and regulations in general and to demonstrate the problems in their implementation. Second, the paper will then go onto examine one specific innovation ¿ the Kimberley Certification Scheme designed to prevent the trade in conflict diamonds in order to demonstrate the asymmetries that exist in current regulatory mechanisms designed to introduce ethical markets. It will do this in particular by focussing on the impact of certification for the diamond sector in Sierra Leone. A key argument in this section will be that whilst this new regime for conflict diamonds aims to transform behaviour through transparency and policing, and whilst it appears to have had some success, it has not in fact transformed the conditions that gave rise to the illicit diamond trade in Sierra Leone prior to conflict. Along with the problems inherent in broader development policy on Sierra Leone this raises serious questions. In particular, whilst there may be little short-term risk of conflict, the planned departure of UNAMSIL, continued regional instability, persistent corruption and the failure to fundamentally transform the nature of the diamond market in Sierra Leone, all raise question marks regarding the nature (and indeed sustainability) of the peace that is being created.