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Relying heavily on irrigation from the ancient Tigris and Euphrates rivers, creating sustainable agriculture in Iraq entails overcoming numerous environmental, economic and political dilemmas.

Home to 37 million people, Iraq has experienced worsening agricultural results in the past 20 years, with a GDP contribution of only six percent from the agriculture industry since 1993.  Some of the most influential problems that prevent the development of sustainable agriculture in Iraq include the lack of technologies and educated farming practices, lack of economic power, lack of access to clean water and even civil unrest among cities full of refugees.

According to Nations Encyclopedia, about one-third of Iraqis in the labor force are in the agriculture industry, despite having such a low GDP contribution. A few of the main crops in Iraq include wheat, barley and dates, some of which are staple, or exported crops.

In 1989, the Iraqi government privatized the agriculture industry in an unsuccessful attempt to boost the industry. Still faced with problems today, the privatized farms struggle to produce enough crops to support the urban populations. In response to this food shortage, Iraq began importing food through the United Nation’s Food-for-Oil program, starting in 1995 and lasting until 2003, through which Iraq traded oil reserves for imported foods.

This program led to an increase in competition for local farmers, increasing the difficulty for Iraqi farmers to sell their crops. However, there are aid programs that strive to provide sufficient nutrition to overcrowded, urban areas. The World Food Program (WFP) provides rations to more than 230,000 Iraqis struggling to obtain food. Rations include basic ingredients such as wheat, flour, rice, beans and more.

Additionally, according to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the European Union donated more than €80 million in agricultural advancement. USAID has invested about $6.6 billion toward improving a wide variety of issues in Iraq, some of which include the improvement of marshlands by reflooding original marshlands, the financing of small, local farms and the improvement of irrigation techniques. The World Bank has also provided more than $990 million since 2003 in grants and soft, low-interest loans for farmers to improve their water supply, irrigation and drainage resolutions.

One of the biggest problems that these programs address is Iraq’s water irrigation systems and cleanliness. Iraqi farmers normally irrigate their crops by flooding their fields; however, this is a short-term solution which causes even more problems in the future, including erosion. The constant flooding of fields leads to water-fueled erosion, which disrupts irrigation canals and tunnels that have gone without maintenance due to a lack of funding and resources from the Iraqi government.

Another dilemma in creating sustainable agriculture in Iraq is the salinity of water used to irrigate crops. According to FAO, about 70 percent of arable land in Iraq is threatened by salinity. Salinity reduces the soil’s health and fertility, directly impacting farmers’ abilities to produce a high yield of crops.

Another short-term solution that Iraqi farmers have found is overgrazing. Overgrazing allows farmers to produce more livestock to meet the high demands of urban populations. However, overgrazing without improving the quality of pastures has led to nutrient-deprived soils, drastically affecting sustainable agriculture in Iraq and advancing soil erosion.

Lastly, the recent political unrest and violence in Iraq has created a massive population of war refugees, as well as directly impacted the ability to grow crops. More than 700,000 people are living in refugee camps, and as of 2017, more than 800,000 Iraqis still require a food assistance program to survive. Such a high number of refugees is what initiated the nation’s increase of imports, therefore causing increased competition with Iraq’s farmers. Violence and conflict can also result in physical damage to arable land as well as to irrigation systems, causing more strain on farmers.

Creating sustainable agriculture in Iraq is a continuous struggle with issues that cannot be fixed through a simple method. The ongoing violence ensures economic hardship for farmers, and with few technologies accessible, alternative, long-term solutions are farmers’ only option to create a sustainable agriculture industry.

– Austin Stoltzfus

Photo: Flickr

 

Learn about Poverty in Iraq

 

Central African Republic ConflictSince 1960, when the Central African Republic gained its independence from France, different armed conflicts have emerged in the country, principally fights for political power. However, in this decade, a confrontation between two different religious groups and the government has led to an environment of constant violence, forcing many people to leave their homes. These are 10 key facts about the Central Africa Republic conflict that you need to know.

  1. The Central African Republic conflict began in 2012 when the Seleka, a Muslim rebel coalition, attacked different cities in the country in order to overthrow the regime of President Francoise Bozizé.
  2. The main opposition group to the Seleka is the coalition known as Anti-Balaka, formed principally by Christian fighters.
  3. In 2014, Seleka rebels and Anti-Balaka forces agreed to a tentative ceasefire agreement.
  4. The Central African Republic conflict started again in 2015 when the government rejected the agreement by Seleka and Anti-Balaka forces.
  5. The Central African Republic conflict has displaced 466,000 people, who are now refugees in other countries.
  6. Since 2013, when the conflict started, more than 935,000 people have been internally displaced and about 60 percent of them are children.
  7. It is estimated that 3,000 to 6,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
  8. According to the U.N., nearly 2.5 million people are facing hunger in the country.
  9. Reports by human rights groups and the United Nations suggest crimes have been committed by both Seleka and Anti-Balaka.
  10. Different allegations of sexual abuse have been made by the United Nations, making the conflict worse inside the country.

Several organizations, principally the United Nations, are working in the country in order to end the conflict. However, the conflict is still ongoing, creating a wave of violence that has resulted in thousands of refugees, deaths and political uncertainty.

Dario Ledesma

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Mali
Mali, the eighth-largest country in Africa sits landlocked in the western region of the continent. Hunger in Mali is often driven by drought and conflict in the region. There have been three major droughts that affected Mali in the last decade. In March 2012, the country faced a coup and a rebellion in the north.

According to a report from the World Food Programme, approximately 475,000 people were displaced from their homes after a major conflict in the northern part of the country. The country also suffered from food insecurity and faced issues of nutrition during this time.

In the northern regions of Mali, including Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal, about one-fifth of the households experience food shortages. Additionally, approximately 15 percent of children are afflicted with acute malnutrition in Mali, according to the report.

According to an article from Action Against Hunger, rates of malnutrition in Mali “exceed the critical threshold on a national level.” Specifically, the Sahel region of northern Mali is perpetually in a state of nutrition emergency.

Since 1996, Action Against Hunger has provided treatment for malnourished Malians and helped to develop support malnutrition management in public health facilities.

In 2015, the World Food Programme reported that 2.5 million Malians were struggling to feed their families, and just over 300,000 of the country’s residents were considered to be in need of severe food assistance.

The report also stated that over half of the women in Mali are anemic. Furthermore, approximately 80 percent of children in Mali suffer from anemia.

Hunger in Mali is also worsened by over half the country living below the national poverty line. However, aid from global organizations has helped Mali in respect to food insecurity.

According to their report, the World Food Programme utilizes a cross-border operation from Niger to transport food to northern Mali. This organization also assists the country’s residents by providing them with cash to purchase fresh produce.

While hunger in Mali remains a pressing issue, the stress of food insecurity has the potential to be lessened by global organizations.

Leah Potter

Photo: Flickr

Israel Poverty RatesResolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would not only deter violent radicalism and terrorism but also reduce Israel poverty rates by opening the door to prosperity and human rights for all citizens. Israel is densely populated with 8.5 million people, one-fifth of whom are Arab. While 14 percent of Jewish Israelis are poor, 55 percent of Arabs live below the poverty line.

The divide over Gaza is one of many issues plaguing the peace process in Israel. A 2008 airstrike on Gaza damaged many houses and buildings, displacing thousands of Palestinian families. Mostly populated by Palestinians, Gaza is currently under Israeli blockage, cutting off necessities such as electricity, food and medicine.

On average, Arabs make half of what Jewish workers make and are less likely to hold a job. The limited access to power and electricity in Gaza leaves a majority of the 600,000 families unemployed and hungry. Unemployment rates are at an all time low in Israel. Yet, 70 percent of those working earn less than average salaries. On the bright side, Israel established a joint initiative with large companies to hire more Israeli-Arabs in 2016, opening better career opportunities to 500 Arabs.

Israel poverty rates are affecting future generations. One in three children lives below the poverty line, causing lifelong consequences to health, brain development, nutrition and educational attainment. While school years have increased over time, the quality of education is still low because teachers earn low wages.

So far, American-mediated efforts to help resolve the conflict failed because Israel continues expanding West Bank settlements, Palestinians remain politically divided, and the path to constructive dialogue between Israeli-Arabs and Israeli-Jews is unclear.

The lack of peace is increasing Israel poverty rates and an unstable economic situation in West Bank and Gaza. World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza Marina Wes says that Gaza stands “on the verge of a human catastrophe.” All sides need to focus on relief combined with a commitment to financial support from the international community to bring about real changes.

Jennifer Mcallister

Photo: Flickr

The Curse of Oil and its Effects on Poverty in Equatorial Guinea
The discovery of crude oil in the Gulf of Guinea during the mid-1990s resulted in the drastic increases of government revenue in Equatorial Guinea. Although the country is one of the wealthiest in Sub-Saharan Africa, two-thirds of citizens live on less than $1 per day, making the rate of poverty in Equatorial Guinea quite high.

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo is the longest to hold executive office in Africa since taking leadership after a military coup in 1979. Since then, Equatorial Guinea gained the status of the continent’s sixth-largest producer of oil. The country is home to Africa’s highest GDP per capita, while its 2014 rank on the U.N.’s Human Development Index landed at 144 out of 187 states.

Effects of government corruption extend far beyond the economic sector and continue to negatively impact education, child and infant mortality rates as well as access to sanitation. The Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) reports that only 41 percent of individuals in the most populated areas have access to clean drinking water.

The CESR also notes that Equatorial Guinea has the third highest number of deaths of children under 1 year of age in Sub-Saharan Africa. The rate of children in Equatorial Guinea to finish primary school is under 60 percent, while the rate of boys enrolled in secondary school is double that of girls according to CESR findings.

Equatorial Guinea’s per capita income of $26,000 along with 76.8 percent of the country in poverty is exemplary of institutional inequalities that foster conditions for extreme poverty. High corruption, lack of natural resource revenue and support of regimes are vital contributors to poverty in Equatorial Guinea.

U.S. shift in energy policy during 2001 to focus on attaining oil from African countries without foresight for the future of local societies has been key in fostering the continuation of poverty.

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, condemned former Vice President Cheney’s energy plans due to the lack of attention paid to the strategy’s impact on developing nations. The report specifies the potential of U.S. utilization of West African oil as the region was “expected to be one of the fastest-growing sources of oil and gas for the American market.” The Cheney Report’s main aim was to eliminate hurdles to increase attainment of foreign oil by the U.S., should they regard legal, economic, political or logistical obstacles.

In a study conducted by Elise Aiken, one-third of the planet’s civil wars are happening in countries where oil production dominates. Aiken attributes this to three main factors: “economic instability caused by fluctuating oil prices, support of insurgencies through black market sales or extortion and encouragement of separatism because of wealth imbalance.”

She also notes that oil rich countries are not guaranteed to have outbreaks of conflict and those governments that “limit corruption and put their windfalls to good use rarely face unrest.” African communities are more likely to face strife when oil production is prominent due to scarce educational backgrounds, unstable economies and in areas with minimal law enforcement and high corruption.

A report by Global Witness attributes the “curse of oil” to a lack of transparency of governments to enclose the amount of revenue from oil production. The report also recommends that the catalytic shift in increasing transparency would come from the implementation of U.S. legislation to enact corporate requirements to enclose revenue reports.

Tutu Alicante, native to the island of Annobon in Equatorial Guinea, is the founder of the first human rights advocacy and capacity-building initiative focused solely on the country called EG Justice. Alicante became passionate about taking action when the military came to his village on orders to eliminate young men in opposition to the regime.

The insurgents were arrested, tortured and publicly executed before the military burned down Alicante’s family home. Five months later he went to the U.S. with a mission to end the violence through his education. After earning a J.D. from the University of Tennessee and an LLM from Columbia University Law School he now works to increase transparency of income from natural resources and is a legal adviser for human rights organizations worldwide.

Strides made by activists like Alicante to secure human rights, while promoting natural resource revenue reform is vital to altering the infrastructure that fosters corruption and relieving extreme poverty in Equatorial Guinea.

Amber Bailey

Photo: Flickr

Children in Crisis AreasAccording to a recent UNICEF report, approximately one in four children of school age resides in countries affected by war and humanitarian crises. There are around 462 million children in crisis areas whose education suffers, particularly areas in Syria and Eastern Ukraine.

Of this number, 75 million children are out-of-school, and the situation worsens for school-aged girls. UNICEF reports that over 63 million girls do not attend school and the numbers continue to rise. School-aged girls are in desperate need of a support system to improve their access to education and their chances at a successful future.

An education system not only provides basic instruction but also incorporates a daily schedule, food access and safe shelter for children during times of conflict. Conflicts in Eastern Ukraine have destroyed one out of every five schools and conflicts in Syria have rendered 6,000 schools unusable for education. The sites that can no longer be used as schools are now used as shelters for families or bases for armed forces.

As a result of the humanitarian crises in these areas, many children often receive no chance at an education. However, a recent emergency education fund will help to provide better education for the students facing difficulty, improving their family life and reactions to local conflicts as a result.

The World Humanitarian Summit was held in Istanbul in late May, where an emergency education fund called ‘Education Cannot Wait’ was proposed. The fund will provide for the educational needs of children who are suffering as a result of living in conflict zones.

Education Cannot Wait will attempt to raise $4 billion in the next five years for children in crisis areas struggling with education access and quality. This will support the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals which include a proposal for all school-aged children to have access to free and quality primary and secondary education by 2030. Improving the education systems for children in conflict zones will minimize or mitigate the issues of poverty on a larger scale.

Amanda Panella

Photo: Flickr

Solidarity Levy
The United Nations is urging countries to adopt a solidarity levy in order to help victims of war and natural disasters.

The recommendation comes with the news that $40 billion per year is now needed to help vulnerable populations. Climate change and prolonged regional armed conflicts have resulted in a $15 billion shortage in relief funding, the organization says.

“The stakes are sky high,” said U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. “More than 125 million people need humanitarian assistance worldwide. The financial burden is five times greater than a decade ago. Humanitarian action is now the U.N.’s costliest activity.”

In response, a U.N. panel on humanitarian financing has released recommendations on solutions to tackle the widening funding gap. In its report “Too Important to Fail,” the panel highlights, among others, two strategies: adopting a solidarity levy to broaden the humanitarian resource base and reducing the need for humanitarian intervention altogether.

A “solidarity levy,” the panel suggests, is a promising solution to the revenue shortage because it corrects an over-reliance on humanitarian donations. The levy is a tax voluntarily adopted by countries and applied to airline tickets, sporting tickets and other transactions.

The idea has been successful in the past. One such levy on airline tickets raised over $1.7 billion for UNITAID’s fight against HIV and malaria between 2006 and 2011.

The panel wants more countries to adopt this model to generate more predictable and reliable streams of income for humanitarian work. “The simple act of catching a plane turns passengers into contributors to the cause of saving lives—it is responsible travel on an enormous scale,” the report said.

However, one of the most meaningful ways to reduce the cost of humanitarian aid is to build resilience to conflict and disaster, the panel noted. Over 93 percent of people who live in extreme poverty also live in fragile countries.

The U.N. panel recommends using scarce development dollars in the most vulnerable countries first in order to build adequate infrastructure and emergency services. It also supports the existing recommendation to allocate more funds to the U.N. Peacebuilding Fund, which is used to foster political dialogue and strengthen national institutions. Taking these steps, the U.N. suggests, will mitigate the costliest emergency interventions.

In the meantime, more funding is needed to address current issues. With the World Humanitarian Summit set to take place in Istanbul in May of this year, the panel is hopeful that its report will encourage conversations about adopting a solidarity levy and the future of humanitarian financing.

Ron Minard

Sources: IB Times, UN 1, UN 2, World Humanitarian Summit

Greek Islands Becoming Overwhelmed by Refugees

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated in a recent warning that nearly 1,000 refugees are arriving on Greek islands each day after crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

The organization has raised concerns that the growing number of migrants due to persistent conflicts in Africa and the Middle East are placing an unprecedented strain on Greece and other European nations.

William Spindler, spokesperson for the Office of the UNHCR, stated in a press briefing last week that “Greece’s volatile economic situation, combined with the increasing numbers of new arrivals, is putting severe strain on small island communities, which lack the basic infrastructure and services to adequately respond to the growing humanitarian needs.”

Officials estimate that at least 75,000 people have arrived on the shores of Greece since the beginning of 2015, with nearly 60 percent of these migrants arriving from Syria. Many other migrants have traveled from other regions afflicted with conflict including Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Nigeria and Somalia.

Thanassis Andreotis, president of a small coastal village in Lesvos, states in an interview about the surge in refugees, “Our Island can’t handle that many people coming over. There’s no way to take care of them.” Andreotis noted that due to a lack of governmental assistance, many members of his community have resorted to personally financing the construction of shelters for the migrants.

The UNHCR has stated that level of migrants arriving daily has reached such heights that border authorities and local communities are not capable of handling the “staggering” number of refugees. The majority of the migrants who have arrived in Greece plan to continue traveling north to other Western and Northern European countries via the Balkans region.

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia has reported an unprecedented surge in refugees, with at least 45,000 people seeking asylum within the region during the first half of 2015.

Spindler also emphasized while in Geneva that, “an urgent response from Europe is needed before the situation deteriorates further. Tightening borders is not the solution, including the plans of the Hungarian government to build a fence along the Serbian border.”

A human trafficking vessel that departed Turkey filled with refugees from the Middle East reportedly capsized last week in the Mediterranean Sea, killing at least 19 of the some 40 passengers on board. While this was the first major maritime disaster in this region in nearly a month, largely due to increased search-and-rescue-operations conducted by European nations, officials are concerned that the rising number of migrants will result in more deaths on the high seas.

Laura Padoan, a spokeswoman for the UNHCR, stated in response to the disaster and the increase of refugee journeys across the Mediterranean, “It’s just a short distance between Greece and Turkey but it is still very dangerous. What we need are safe legal routes to Europe, so that people don’t die in the process of getting here. Greece is facing a financial crisis and there is now a growing humanitarian crisis – and it can’t be left to Greece to deal with on its own. There needs to be a Europe-wide response.”

James Thornton

Sources: UN 1, UN 2, The Guardian
Photo: UN

international_aid_organizations
Yemen’s humanitarian crisis continued to escalate on the days approaching a United Nations-planned ceasefire, which was to take effect on Friday, July 10 at 23:59 local time and last until the end of Ramadan on July 17. Since late March 2015, when fighting broke out, the people of Yemen began to experience ever-deteriorating humanitarian conditions.

According to UN News Centre, “In the past three months alone, some 3,000 Yemenis have been killed, half of them civilians, and 14,000 others injured. Over a million people have had to flee their homes and 21 million need immediate help, close to 13 million people are unable to meet their food needs, 15 million people have no healthcare and outbreaks of dengue and malaria are raging unchecked.”

Unfortunately, the planned week-long ceasefire lasted only hours before Arab coalition-led air strikes and fighting broke out once again, ending the UN-brokered truce. No side, neither the Houthis nor the Arab coalition forces, took responsibility for having broken the agreement.

UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric expressed the vital importance of a legitimate ceasefire: “it is imperative and urgent that humanitarian aid can reach all vulnerable people of Yemen unimpeded and through an unconditional humanitarian pause.”

After the failed ceasefire, Stephen O’Brien, the United Nations emergency relief coordinator, called upon all parties to attempt to once more put a pause to the conflict in order to access those in need and to provide people with proper humanitarian aid.

Nevertheless, UN agencies and other organizations have seen breakthroughs in aid and success in accessing those in need of humanitarian assistance through constant persistence. On July 14, 2015, the World Health Organization reported that it delivered supplies to Aden, which included “46.4 metric tonnes of medicines, medical supplies, and water and sanitation supplies for more than 84,000 beneficiaries in eight districts of Aden governorate”—an area which suffered a rise in dengue fever and malaria as a result of the conflict’s limiting access to healthcare.

The WHO also managed to dispense bed nets to over 9,000 households and provide residual spray materials and equipment, along with house-to-house spraying conducted by trained staff.

Subsequently, UN News Centre reports that the “WHO has distributed a total of more than 175 metric tonnes of medicines and medical supplies and more than 500,000 litres of fuel to maintain the functionality of main hospitals, vaccine stores, ambulances, national laboratories, kidney and oncology centres, and health centres in 13 governorates, reaching a total of almost five million people, including 700,000 internally displaced persons and 140,000 children under the age of five.”

Furthermore, as fighting escalated in Aden, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced what could only be described as “a major breakthrough”: the WFP’s first ship docked in the Al-Buraiqa port in the city of Aden, bringing with it 3,000 metric tonnes of food—enough to sustain 180,000 people for a month—and relief for the many food-insecure Yemenis, totaling at about 13 million people.

As the conflict rages on and the people of Yemen continue to suffer in ruin as a result of war, their survival lies in the hands of international aid organizations, which, even through war-ravaged times, are committed to their mission to aid those most in need, wherever they may be.

Jaime Longoria

Sources: Al Jazeera, UN News Centre 1, UN News Centre 2, UN News Centre 3
Photo: DW

Conflict-Diamonds-Crisis

“‘Diamonds are forever,’ it is often said. But lives are not. We must spare people the ordeal of war, mutilations and death for the sake of conflict diamonds,” once insisted Martin Chungong Ayafor, Chairman of the Sierra Leone Panel of Experts. Although the world has come a long way since the development of various campaigns against blood diamonds, the most prominent being the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), the current measures in place are not effective enough and must be modified, as expressed by Global Witness.

Conflict diamonds are diamonds that originate from areas controlled by rebel forces opposing legitimate governments. These rebels use diamond profits to fund their military actions, keeping them in power. The struggles to keep a hold of these diamonds often involve torture and murder, and can lead to forced labor of civilians. Conflict diamonds have been most prominent in the Ivory Coast of Africa, but have also been apparent in other areas.

Currently, the United Nations and various humans rights groups are working to keep conflict diamonds from entering the worldwide diamond trade. In 2003, they adopted the KPCS, which requires certification of the legitimacy of the mining, production, selling and exportation of the diamonds from every nation. The KPCS also encourages customers to insist upon documentation of the legitimacy of their purchases.

While 71 countries and over 99% of the worldwide diamond trade are covered by the KPCS, the scheme does not involve a treaty. Rather, governments involved must pass national legislation promising not to trade diamonds with any country outside of the KPCS and accept any shipments sent without proper certification. Although moderately effective in a few select areas, there are still countries that the conflict diamond crisis continues to tear apart. The KPCS fails to put a halt to diamond conflicts throughout the world mainly because of its poor decision-making process and weak internal controls on its participants.

The KPCS decision-making process requires consensus. Because of this, just one participating country can block the rest of the countries from moving forward in solving the crisis. This inability to reach consensus causes the lack of management over important issues and lowest common denominator decisions. Consequently, countries are never suspended or expelled, even when clearly violating the basic policies of the scheme. As shown in The Independent, despite evidence of Venezuela’s diamonds being smuggled, Guinea’s 500% increase in diamond production each year and Lebanon’s exportation rate being higher than its importation rate, no action has been taken against any of these countries.

While participants in the KPCS are required to have a system of internal controls, each participant is allowed to decide how to actually keep conflict diamonds from entering world trade. As demonstrated by VERIFOR, the weakness of the internal controls systems of countries such as Armenia, Zimbabwe, and Brazil have highly contributed to the failure of the KPCS in stopping diamond conflict. In studies conducted in Armenia, Global Witness found that the country, which has no internal source of diamonds, allows conflict diamonds to enter world trade because of a governmental lack of oversight in cutting and polishing centers. Rough diamonds can easily be smuggled into factories and no longer fall under KPCS control once they are polished in the centers.

While Armenia’s legislation acts in accordance with the KPCS, there is a lack of internal controls systems in the country when it comes to the KPCS, easily allowing smuggling in and out of the polishing and cutting factories. The Gemstone and Jewelry Department (GJD), Armenia’s Kimberley Process Authority, does not have policies to verify the figures or the movements of polished diamonds, for Armenian tax officials disclose this information. The GJD performs physical inspections of some cutting and polishing companies, but it informs the companies of these visits prior to the actual inspections. This gives the factories the opportunities to prepare for these visits, with ample time to hide or get rid of any diamonds that could stimulate concern among the GJD officials.

This has propelled theories that Armenia has provided diamonds to Nagorno-Karabakh, which is not covered by the KPCS. If this is true, Armenia is violating KPCS standards. Similar situations have occurred in other countries. In order to control situations like these, the KPCS must require a strict system of internal controls in which the government must oversee the values and movements of diamonds in polishing and cutters centers. Companies that cut and polish diamonds must also become more involved in the KPCS.

In order to make the changes necessary to make the KPCS more effective, it is essential to establish a central body of knowledge in each KPCS participant’s government. These central bodies must oversee the movement of rough and polished diamonds and compare these numbers with the diamonds originally mined and imported in the country. Stricter definitions and amendments must also be added to the actual KPCS core document; the main goal of the KPCS to preserve human rights must be expressed clearly.

There has been success in the blocking of conflict diamonds from entering world trade since the implementation of the KPCS. Consumers are currently more conscience of the issue and often think about this while purchasing diamonds, as many major jewelry companies offer documentation of the legitimacy of the diamonds. There has also been success involving monitoring and the peer review mechanism of the KPCS. Despite the minor successes of the scheme, the KPCS evidently still has a long way to go regarding its reforms and policies.

– Arin Kerstein

Sources: Global Policy 1, Global Policy 2, Global Witness, Institute for Human Rights and Business, The Independent, United Nations
Photo: Kaia Joyas