International companies and organisations have been accused of fueling the civil war in Sierra Leone, in their attempts to benefit from the lucrative diamond trade. Countries from Africa, Europe, Israel and the former Soviet Union, have traded weapons, trainers and fighters into Sierra Leone, backing the government or the rebels in a bid to win concessions and access to diamond fields.
International intervention has so far failed to completely solve the crisis as proposed solutions have been of peacekeeping rather than recommendations with regard to the heart of the matter - the diamonds.
The private security firms are a free
market response to the need for security that international organizations
such as the United national and Organization of African Unity
(OAU) had failed to sufficiently providein Africa.
The majority of forces deployed by both the ECOWAS and UN were from neighboring countries, most notably Nigeria. The individuals within the military themselves were not engaged in military service out of enthusiasm or ideologies about prospective peace in the region. Military service was their means to a regular income, thus rendering them ineffective in conflict resolution through impartial military intervention, few and far between were willing to die for the cause, so to speak. The missions also failed in their inability to provide provisions of rehabilitation and welfare benefits for the militia, most of whom were child-soldiers. Furthermore, countries within the region that had contributed to the peacekeeping forces could be said to have a conflict of interest as their own national interests were at times in conflict with their mission mandates.
In addition to national and international dimensions, there are important regional dimensions to the diamond trade and the conflict in Sierra Leone. The increasing usefulness of mercenary companies could also be attributed to the reluctance of Western nations to intervene, as principle contributors, in terms of military forces, to the missions. The missions experienced great difficulties, as geopolitical issues of the sponsoring countries affected their ability to be impartial; impartiality being crucial to the success of any peacekeeping mission.
The new "scramble for Africa" : Globalization at a cost.
This desire for wealth that has necessitated the existence of private security firms such as EO, as wars are prolonged, is reminiscent of the 19th century "Scramble for Africa" by European imperial powers. Post Cold-war Africa is marginalised in the global economy and extreme, sometimes criminal economies have developed.
The various changes that the international community has undergone, most notably globalization and deregulation of markets have led to the growth of lucrative smuggling trades in Sub-Saharan Africa, encouraging a strengthening of the link between economic growth and tenure of political power. One of the most notable of such protagonists being the Liberian leader Charles Taylor, who has often been accused of supporting rebel insurgencies within Sierra Leone. Charles Taylor, whose tenure of power in a state of similarly weak governance, depends on the use of force and violence to exert authority, is also funded by an illicit diamond trade. Liberia, with an annual diamond mining capacity of up to 150,000 carats is recorded to be exporting 6,000,000 carats per annum, by the Belgium High Diamond Council. By accepting Liberian exports as legitimate the international community has condoned Liberia's development into what is considerably major center for diamond-related criminal activity inclusive of arms and drugs trading.
In Sierra Leone, both the government and the RUF have attracted military backers by offering payment in diamonds or diamond-mining rights. The fortunes to be made from such ventures have prolonged and escalated the war, analysts say.
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