Diamonds have played an important role in the political economy of Sierra Leone, as was highlighted by the use of 'conflict' or 'blood' diamonds in the decade-long civil war. Conflict diamonds were used not only by rebels, military groups and others inside Sierra Leone and Liberia, but also by groups extending beyond the borders of West Africa: global criminal networks, international terror groups, and 'legitimate' transnational companies. The diamond trade in Sierra Leone has also been subject to exploitation by global business interests, a form of corporate neo-colonialist predation that continues today and which has curbed the country's growth, while recent newspaper headlines also demonstrate the currency of rough diamonds. Sierra Leone's diamonds have been used to finance factions in Lebanon's civil war, criminal networks in the US and Russia, and al-Qaeda. The marginalization and exclusion of Sierra Leone, this book argues, mean that it, and other such resource-rich nations, remain reliant on aid.
Diane Frost —
Diane Frost is Lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology, University of Liverpool.
Frost, Diane. From the pit to the market: politics and the diamond economy in Sierra Leone. James Currey, 2012. 226p bibl index; ISBN 9781847010605 pbk. Reviewed in 2013jun CHOICE.
Though this volume focuses on Sierra Leone, the larger discussion relates to various aspects of poorer countries' dependence on mineral wealth. Frost (Univ. of Liverpool, UK) provides detailed information about mining concessions, license holders, and diamond exports for Sierra Leone. War, private armies, and criminal networks connected to the country receive considerable attention as well. Efforts of citizens of the country to influence events are recounted. While multinational corporations and well-placed individuals reap much benefit from mining activities, the communities directly affected and the general population see little gain; this is a frequent theme in the development literature. Throughout the book, Frost diverts attention from Sierra Leone to the situation in lower-income, mineral-rich countries in general. Better organization and a clearer focus would improve the book. Readers should not expect any economic analysis. This work is a more general take on what unfortunately is likely to occur in the global economy to a lower-income country with poor governance and a commodity small in size but high in value. Footnotes, appendixes.
Summing Up: Recommended. Comprehensive academic collections, upper-division undergraduate and up. -- J. E. Weaver, Drake University