The following is a 3-4 day lesson-plan designed for a World Issues 120 class, on the topic of conflict diamonds and minerals. It meets curriculum outcomes in both the Atlantic Canadian English Language Arts and World Issues 120 curriculum documents.
The resources available for a lesson on conflict diamonds and minerals are ideal for engaging students in the issue. It is something that hits home with students when they realize electronics within their own home may contain what has been termed ‘conflict minerals,’ and this lesson-plan offers students a way to take a stand and get involved as activists or ‘agents of change,’ projecting their voices to a larger audience, making the whole learning experience that much more meaningful. Also, using social media as a learning tool, and bringing elements of today’s popular culture into the classroom such as; Kanye West’s ‘Diamonds of Sierra Leone’ music video, Lupe Fiasco’s musical commentary ‘Conflict Diamonds,’ or the Hollywood blockbuster ‘Blood Diamond,’ starring Leonardo Dicaprio as hooks from which to begin discussion, is also effective in engaging students.
It is important for students to have an understanding of world issues and their responsibility as a consumer in a global economy that sometimes balances human rights with commerce in the most ‘cost-effective’ manner. This lesson-plan seeks to connect everyday luxuries students here in the West enjoy to the atrocities that may or may not accompany their production. How can students become more responsible as consumers? What steps can you take to make a difference with regards to a cause you care about? How do you decide which causes to take a stand against? Do the issues have to directly affect you? They will answer these questions along the way.
‘In Central African Republic, Diamonds are Seleka Rebels’ Best Friend,’ the Huffington Post claimed this past May 2013. This exists as evidence the issue of ‘conflict diamonds,’ first brought to the public eye back in the late nineties and targeted since by United Nations’ resolutions, is still a problem today. In 2002 the Kimberley Process Certification scheme, aimed at halting the trade of illicit diamonds, was given approval by the U.N., who defined ‘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.’
In 2003, the United Nations Security Council formally supported the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme created in 2002 and attributed some successes to it such as an increase of legal diamond exports that will help support development in fragile nations, but the process does have it’s critics. Some claim it is ultimately failing to curtail the flow of conflict diamonds, and that there is no guarantee a diamond accompanied by a Kimberley Process Certificate is in fact conflict-free, due to corrupt practices by government officials in some of the world’s leading diamond producing nations. Global Witness, a non-governmental organization originally behind the scheme, and a key proponent to it’s creation, backed out of the Kimberley Process in 2011 due to what it saw as a failed attempt to stop the flow of conflict diamonds.
‘Blood diamonds’ are not the only natural resource being taken advantage of by rebel leaders and warlords in war-torn nations like the Democratic Republic of Congo. Cassiterite, Columbite-Tantalite, Wolframite and Gold are now listed as ‘conflict minerals.’ These minerals have given rise to and funded genocide, murder, slavery, the recruitment of child-soldiers and mass-rape similar to how diamonds have contributed to these atrocities. No standard exists for determining whether gold is conflict-free and what you may be surprised to know is that some of these other minerals are found in most of your electronics. It is only in the last few years that electronics’ companies have started to take measures to ensure the use of conflict-free minerals in their products. There is still much to be done on this front though, and some companies are making more progress than others.
TAKE ACTION NOW!!! Help influence responsible sourcing of conflict minerals. . .
Students can create an ‘Adbusters’ style poster related to the issue of ‘conflict diamonds and minerals.’ This activity may appeal to the more artistic or computer savvy students. You can model how to do this by reviewing examples of faux tobacco ads located on the Adbusters website: https://www.adbusters.org/spoofads/tobacco
You can also find other examples of faux advertising used to get a point across on the ‘Badvertising’ website: http://www.badvertising.org/pages/04%20BADvertising%20Galleries/Before%20and%20After/Gallery%20of%20B%20and%20A%27s.htm On this website they describe ‘Badvertising’ as the act of ‘doctoring up misleading advertisements to create a more accurate picture.’ It also provides instructions on how to ‘badvertise.’
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