Sierra Leone

IMPACT in Sierra Leone

Our work in Sierra Leone focuses on supporting new approaches to natural resource management.

Sierra Leone has a wealth of natural resources. In addition to vast reserves of diamonds, Sierra Leone is rich in many other minerals. Cocoa, coffee, and fish also register amongst the country’s main exports. Eight out of 10 Sierra Leoneans work in agriculture, while artisanal mining provides a source of income for approximately 120,000 people. A majority of the country’s diamonds are extracted by artisanal miners.

Diamonds also have the distinction of having played a critical role in Sierra Leone’s civil war. Rebels exploited the country’s diamond resources to fund hostilities against the government, drawing out the conflict.

Since the end of the war in 2002, Sierra Leone has seen tremendous economic and social progress. However the country still struggles with corruption and poor infrastructure. The majority of the population is living in poverty, lacking full access to education and health services.

Sierra Leone is a member of the Kimberley Process and is required to put in place internal controls that certify the origin of its rough diamonds as conflict-free. Internally, the country has pursued various mineral sector reforms and attempts to reduce corruption. Despite these efforts Sierra Leone still struggles with the illicit trade of diamonds and other minerals, losing important tax revenue. It is a member of the Regional Approach for the Mano River Union, collaborating with its neighbours Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Liberia to strengthen KP compliance.


Sierra Leone is one of the top diamond producing nations in the world. Other key natural resources include titanium, bauxite, gold, and wildlife.

We Reveal

Our research in West Africa investigates the drivers of the illicit trade of conflict-prone natural resources and highlights recommendations for the region’s countries, including Sierra Leone. We examine issues such as formalization of the artisanal mining sector, fiscal reform, harmonization of legislation, and strengthening of internal controls to end smuggling.

We also provide analysis of certification, traceability, and due diligence as it applies to diamonds and gold in the region.

In 2000, we published The Heart of the Matter: Sierra Leone, Diamonds and Human Security—one of the first reports that drew the link between diamonds and conflict financing in Sierra Leone. During the trial of Liberia’s former President Charles Taylor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, IMPACT’s researcher and author of the report, Ian Smilie, testified about our investigation. Taylor was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

We Innovate

As part of our work to transform mineral supply chains, we’ve led efforts to support traceability and due diligence, while promoting benefits for Sierra Leone’s miners and their communities.

We are a member of the technical team supporting the KP Regional Approach for the Mano River Union, supporting the implementation of a regional strategy to address the illicit trade of diamonds and KP compliance.

We share best practices on diamond governance and provide capacity building to Sierra Leone’s stakeholders, including policymakers, private sector, and civil society actors on the implementation of KP internal controls and OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas.

Through our collaboration with the KP Civil Society Coalition, we provide support to our partner in Sierra Leone to participate in the KP, as well as support and spotlight their capacity for independent monitoring of KP internal controls and due diligence in the natural resource sector.

We Engage

We advance dialogue with our partners in Sierra Leone, including policymakers and the private sector to implement traceability and due diligence as well to ensure benefits reach miners and their communities.

We have a longstanding collaboration with our civil society partner, Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD) and supported the Campaign for Just Mining in Sierra Leone—the first African civil society coalition addressing the illicit trade of natural resources.

Today, through our partnership with the KP Civil Society Coalition, NMJD and other civil society from West Africa, bring the voices and concerns of artisanal miners to industry and governments. Together, we engage governments to strengthen their internal controls, and encourage the private sector to put in due diligence for their mineral supply chains.

Recent Highlights

Kimberley Process Regional Approach for the Mano River Union in West Africa

IMPACT is a member of the technical team supporting Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone in developing a joint plan to address the illicit trade of diamonds and to ensure Kimberley Process (KP) compliance through the Regional Approach for the Mano River Union.


Past Research Reports

Rich Man, Poor Man – Development Diamonds and Poverty Diamonds: The Potential for Change in the Artisanal Alluvial Diamond Fields of Africa

October 2004
Rich Man Poor Man reports on months of research in the diamond fields of Sierra Leone, Angola and the Congo. There, alluvial diamonds represent the primary source of income for more than one million freelance diggers and their families. On average, however, they earn only a dollar a day. Working conditions are unhealthy and dangerous; cheating, theft and smuggling are rampant.
Download the report

West Africa: Rocks in a Hard Place. The Political Economy of Diamonds and Regional Destabilization

May 2003
This report exposes the continuing crises of armed violence in the West African sub-region by highlighting the role and influence of diamonds and concludes with recommendations for the UN Security Council and the Kimberley Process.
Download the report

War and Peace in Sierra Leone: Diamonds, Corruption and the Lebanese Connection

November 2002
Provides an overview and analysis of the situation in Sierra Leone with respect to the diamond industry since the UN intervention in 2000 and examines the role of Sierra Leone’s Lebanese community in the diamond industry.
Download the report

The Heart of the Matter: Sierra Leone, Diamonds and Human Security

January 2000
This study of the Sierra Leone diamond trade and its international connections demonstrated the centrality of diamonds to that country’s brutal conflict. Download the summary version.
Download the report

US Suspension of Conflict Minerals Rule Threatens Progress towards Conflict-Free Supply Chains

February 10, 2017—Ottawa, Canada A reported move by the new United States administration to issue an Executive…

Despite Last Minute Overtures, Civil Society Boycotts Conflict Diamond Meeting in Dubai

“Rigour” Needed in Kimberley Process Chair’s Newest Proposals Ottawa, Canada—November 10, 2016 Civil society who are members…

Civil society statement at the 10th Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains, Paris, 10-12 May 2016

National and international civil society organisations working to advance transparency and accountability in supply chains welcome this…

Civil Society Boycotts Conflict Diamonds Certification Scheme

Civil Society Boycotts Conflict Diamonds Certification Scheme Appointing UAE as Chair of Kimberley Process is “Red Line”…

Civil Society Coalition Speech at KP Intersessional - June 2014

June 10, 2014 Today at the Kimberley Process Intersessional in Shanghai, China, PAC’s research director, Alan Martin,…

All That Glitters is Not Gold: Dubai, Congo, and the Illicit Trade of Conflict Minerals

May 27, 2014 Dear Friend, Partnership Africa Canada is pleased to provide you with a copy of…

PAC and the ICGLR sign a Memorandum of Understanding

PAC and the ICGLR sign a Memorandum of Understanding defining areas of cooperation with regard to the…

Partnership Africa Canada Welcomes First ICGLR-Certified Conflict-Free Mineral Certificates from Rwanda

Ottawa, Canada /Kigali, DRC -November 15, 2013 A leading international organization working in the conflict free mineral…

Opening Comments to the Kimberley Process Intersessional

Please see attached for the opening comments from the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition, given at Kimbereley…

Kimberley Process lets Zimbabwe off the hook (again)

November 2, 2011 The Kimberley Process (KP) has thrown away its main point of leverage over the…

Civil society expresses vote of no confidence in conflict diamond scheme

June 23, 2011 Activist organisations today expressed a vote of no confidence in the Kimberley Process, and…

Electronics, auto makers should commit now to due diligence standards to end trade in conflict minerals

Goma/Kinshasa/London/Ottawa/Paris/Washington- May 26, 2011 The organizations CENADEP – Kinshasa, CCFD-Terre Solidaire, Enough Project, Global Witness, Partnership Africa…

Canadian organization launches publication on new certification scheme for African conflict minerals

Ottawa– March 23, 2011 A new report that outlines how to develop a regional certification mechanism for…

Diamond meeting ends without consensus on Zimbabwe

Serious challenges ahead for landmark certification scheme, say NGOs June 24, 2010 The lack of consensus among…

Failure to suspend Zimbabwe from blood diamond scheme undermines efforts to end abuses and clean up international trade

November 6, 2009 The Kimberley Process (KP) rough diamond certification scheme failed to reach a consensus to…

Global Diamond Certification System Failing

Smuggling, human rights abuse and government inaction threaten global scheme, says Canadian NGO October 15, 2009 The…

Diamond meeting makes some progress but governments need to renew commitments, say Civil Society Groups

June 26, 2009 A coalition of civil society organisations acknowledged some progress at the close of the…

Blood diamonds - time to plug the leaks

Civil Society Groups warn Kimberley Process effectiveness compromised June 19, 2009 A landmark scheme established in 2003…