Chie Murakami, founder and director general of Diamonds for Peace (DFP) delivered a lecture titled “Sustainable Supply Chain of Diamonds to be Constructed by ALL” at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo on 10 January 2019. She started by saying that the engagement ring presented by her husband-to-be jolted her into awareness of the issues related to diamond production and made her to start the activities to help solve such diamond related problems. Chie made a presentation using video materials and explained the issues in the diamond industry such as: fueling conflicts and terrorism, child labor, violation of human rights, and environmental destruction caused by extreme poverty. She also introduced the concept and the basics of fair trade.
Chie emphasized that consumers have a great influence in the supply chain because they are at the end of the downstream of its flow (Raw materials – Process – Production – Consumption). The issues on the untraceable supply chain, human rights and environmental abuse will be alleviated if consumers demand traceable and ethically mined and cut diamonds when purchasing diamonds. However, very few consumers demand such diamonds currently, so the situation has not changed yet. She explained that consumers can ask questions when they buy diamond products, for example, “Where is this diamond from?” and “What are the working conditions, for instance at mines and cutting factories?” Such consumer behaviors serve as a motivation for the diamond brands and industry to respond to the issues because they want to earn their trust.
After that, students previewed the trailer of a short documentary film that features the voices of diggers and stakeholders for the diamonds mined in Sierra Leone. The original film was produced by University of Bath in the U.K. and DFP volunteers are now working on the project to create Japanese subtitles.
Following are some of the students’ comments for the lecture:
“Diamonds are luxury goods. However, the appearance of the labors is poor. Diggers walk in bare feet and wear flimsy T-shirts. I wonder if consumers should wear diamonds without hearing the diggers’ voices. I think I should not forget them when I get diamond jewelry in the future.”
“It gave me a different perspective on diamonds. I used to think of it as a sparkling and good thing that makes people envious. Now I know it is the fruition of many people’s backbreaking efforts.”
Diamonds for Peace is grateful that most of the students listened to Chie with eagerness!