Category Archives: Human Rights

White House says Burma Gem Ban to Remain

Today, President Obama re-stated his commitment to human rights in Burma by issuing an Executive Order that maintains the US ban on the import of Burmese ruby and jadeite, despite the softening of sanctions in other areas. This measure to ban Burma’s conflict ruby and jadeite, which was first included in the Tom Lantos Block Burmese […]

Happy Malala Day!

Today is Malala Yousafzai’s 16th birthday. But unlike most girls her age, she’s spending hers at the United Nations. You see, Malala is not your ordinary teenager. Originally from the troubled Swat Valley in Pakistan (see related posts for the gemstone connection) for many years she has been a champion for educating young girls in […]

On Marriage & Equality

The Supreme Court issued two major opinions this week, and this quote from a decade ago seems to sum up our feelings on the subject quite nicely: “Marriage bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly […]

In Support of a Human Rights Activist in Angola

I’ve known human rights activist and journalist Rafael Marques de Morais for several years now. His work raising awareness of the plight of diamond miners in Angola is remarkable and we’ve done what we can to support his efforts. For many years, the private security services hired to protect diamond mining concessions operated by civilian business partners […]

Is Your Jewelry Killing People?

We’ve been working on this issue for several years now. Simply put, underpaid workers die every day from cutting the low-priced gemstones used in the jewelry you see in department stores, big-box retailers and on TV home shopping channels across the country. These gems and beads, which include common varieties like amethyst, citrine, and chalcedony, are […]

Washington DC, Advocacy, and Sequestration

Lately, I’ve had a flurry of meetings in Washington, so lots of back-and-forth travel between Chicago and DC. The topics have covered the full spectrum, from human rights to worker rights, from the environment to economic issues happening here in America. For this post, I had this beautiful shot of the Capitol dome gleaming in the […]

Burma’s Jade War Continues…

The conflict in resource-rich Kachin state between government troops hoping to secure control over the vast jadeite resources and the armed wing of the Kachin Independence Organization persists, despite calls for an end to the bloodshed. Even the country’s president, Thein Sein last month voiced support for a ceasefire, but those calls were promptly ignored […]

Burmese Ruby: The Sanctions Will Remain

Burma is a country in flux. It’s making the first hesitant steps away from decades of brutal repression. Yet, despite the glimmering of hope, many problems still remain. Scores of political prisoners are still behind bars, the official government is primarily comprised of military and former military leaders, and human rights abuses continue in many […]

KP Chair Calls for New Definition of Conflict Diamonds

Ambassador Gillian Milovanovic, the US chair of the Kimberley Process, called on KP participants to arrive at a new definition for conflict diamonds to keep pace with global issues and respond to consumers’ desire for conflict-free diamonds. To date, the Kimberley Process has defined conflict diamonds as “rough diamonds used by armed rebel groups” to fund […]

India and Child Labor: Progress?

We’ve been working on this one for years. In India, it’s not uncommon for child labor to be used in both the mining and cutting of gemstones. While this fact has been recognized by the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs Office of Child Labor – Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking department, […]