With the “Fatal Transactions” campaign, several European non-governmental organisations want to publicise and stop the financing of African conflicts through the international trade in so-called conflict commodities.
In 1999, a study by the British research organization “global witness” brought to public attention how the international trade in raw materials finances African conflicts. The “global witness” study showed how the international diamond trade financed the civil war in Angola at the time
In response, the non-governmental organisations, medico international in Germany, the Netherland Institute on Southern Africa (NIZA), the Belgian IPIS Institute and global witness founded the Fatal Transactions campaign in autumn 1999.
While the campaign initially focused on the diamond trade, it now also works on other commodities such as oil, tropical timber and coltan. The composition of the supporting organisations has also changed. Currently, in addition to the founding members medico international, NIZA and IPIS, the campaign is run by the Netherlands Organization for International Development Cooperation (NOVIB), the Spanish NGO Intermón Oxfam, the Belgian Noord-Zuidportaal, the organization Broederlijkdelen in Belgium, and the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC).
The Fatal Transactions campaign calls for the withdrawal of transnational corporations from the trade in so-called conflict diamonds and other raw materials used to finance conflicts, and for companies involved in such transactions to be held accountable for repairing the damage caused by war and compensating victims. In doing so, the campaign is calling for the definition of conflict diamonds, as set out in the Kimberley Process, to be broadened. In the Kimberley Agreement, diamonds used by rebel groups to finance their armed struggle against regular governments are referred to as conflict diamonds. Fatal Transactions calls for this definition to be broadened to include diamonds mined under systematic human rights violations, as these can also occur in pacified areas. Secondly, diamonds traded by governments guilty of serious human rights abuses should also be included in the definition.
The campaign refers directly to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and calls on companies to respect it.
The Fatal Transactions campaign has brought the issue into the public eye through public action and lobbying. In doing so, it has quickly caused unrest, especially in the diamond industry, which relies on the symbolic value of the stones as a sign of eternal love
The Kimberley Process came into being primarily as a result of pressure from the campaign. In the Kimberley Agreement, the diamond industry and the diamond importing and exporting countries undertook not to trade in conflict diamonds from 1 January 2003. However, the Kimberley Agreement itself is viewed very critically by the supporting organisations of the Fatal Transactions Campaign. For example, it is described as a “toothless tiger” because it does not include an effective monitoring mechanism. Another shortcoming is the restriction to diamonds traded by rebels (see above). Finally, the campaign criticizes that the Kimberley Agreement only concerns the present and the future and fails to hold corporations accountable for war damages already incurred. On the positive side, however, the Kimberley Agreement increases the transparency of government action.