Liberia tells the UN it lacks funds to fight blood diamonds

Liberia's questioned commitment to the diamond industry’s efforts to prevent blood gems trade has driven the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to threaten with cutting the program, but authorities says it insufficient funds and not lack of will what is stopping the country.

The threat came after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report on Tuesday that Liberia is showing only limited commitment to efforts to stop the trade in blood diamonds that has fuelled conflicts in Africa.

The statement to the UN Security Council, reported the Globe and Mail, said Liberia's capacity to control diamond mining and trade —a vital part of the global Kimberly Process agreed in 2003 to regulate the $30-billion industry — remained weak.

"We are constrained by a capacity problem. That we accept. ( But) the government does not lack the will," Betty Blamo, acting minister of lands and mines, told Reuters.

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor was convicted in April this year and sentenced to 50 years in jail for helping Sierra Leone’s rebels murder, rape and mutilate their way across Liberia’s West African neighbour while profiting from a trade in blood diamonds.

Campaign group Global Witness said earlier this month that Liberia’s forestry department had given over a quarter of the country’s land area to logging firms over the past two years in a flurry of shady deals.

What are blood diamonds?

According to the World Diamond council, conflict or "blood" diamonds are illegally traded rocks used mainly to fund conflict in war-torn areas, particularly in central and western Africa.

The United Nations defines conflict diamonds as "…diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council."