Amid growing concern over human rights violations and atrocities committed against innocent victims in diamond producing countries of war-torn northern Africa, the World Federation of Diamond Bourses and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association passed a resolution at their Antwerp meeting in July 2000, creating the World Diamond Council.
The resolution called for the newly formed WDC to include representation from the diamond industry itself and also from among countries where diamonds play a major economic role and from the international banking sector. The ultimate mandate for the World Diamond Council is the development, implementation and oversight of a tracking system for the export and import of rough diamonds to prevent the exploitation of diamonds for illicit purposes such as war and inhumane acts. Human rights activists refer to diamonds exploited in this way as “blood” or “conflict” diamonds.
Eli Izhakoff, former president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), serves as chairman of the WDC. Izhakoff has enlisted the volunteer efforts of leaders from the trade’s most prestigious organizations, bankers, and governments to join him in this vital industry effort. In early September, the WDC held its first formal meeting in Tel Aviv, where Izhakoff named the chairmen and members of committees encompassing a broad spectrum of activity for the Council to address in fulfilling its responsibilities.
As a result of the commitment and resolve of WDC leaders and members, significant strides have been made toward resolving and reconciling the issues threatening the diamond industry because of “conflict” diamonds.
- The Legal Committee prepared by-laws and incorporated the World Diamond Council as a Delaware non-profit association.
- The Technical Committee developed A System for International Rough Diamond Export and Import Controls to be presented as the diamond industry’s proposal to the United Nations, the United States Congress and other international governing bodies.
- The Legislative Committee, working with international trade law experts from the firm of Akin, Gump in Washington, D.C., has prepared model legislation for presentation to, and consideration by, members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives.
- The Steering Committee has established internal procedures for the conduct and administration of the Council’s increasing day-to-day activities.
- The Finance and Banking Committees have secured financial support from various firms and individuals and implemented the procedures to secure WDC’s current and future ability to address diamond related issues worldwide on an ongoing basis.
- The Information and Research Committee has retained the services of a clipping service to keep the Council apprised of breaking news affecting the diamond industry worldwide.
- WDC Chairman Eli Izhakoff led a delegation including Peter Meeus, Managing Director of HRD; Matthew A. Runci, WDC Executive Director; and, William E. Boyajian, Treasurer and Chairman of the Technical Committee to the London Intergovernmental Conference on Conflict Diamonds.
- The Officers, the International Government and United Nations Liaison Committee, along with designated Council Spokespersons, conduct open and direct communication with all Council members, with leaders of international governments, non-government organizations (NGO’s), the United Nations, world trade agencies and with numerous trade press and public media contacts.
The diamond industry does not condone the exploitation of diamonds for illicit or immoral purposes. Nor will it acquiesce to outside efforts to disrupt the importance that diamonds are to the established and emerging economies around the world. Rather it is the goal of the diamond industry, working through the World Diamond Council, to work openly and in partnership with the people of the world whenever and wherever such challenges occur.