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Call Congress Now!

Sep 7, 2001 3:27 PM   By Martin Rapaport
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Call Congress Now!



By Martin Rapaport



For some time now the diamond trade has been aware of the serious problem of conflict diamonds and the extraordinary efforts by leaders of the world diamond industry to find a solution. Over the past year, the World Diamond Council (WDC) has worked hard to develop a consensus with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and governments on ways to stop the trade in conflict diamonds while protecting the legitimate diamond trade — a trade that is vital to the economies of developing countries and the livelihood of all of us in the diamond and jewelry industry. This June, a major breakthrough took place. Congressman Tony Hall, the NGOs and the WDC agreed on U.S. legislation to eliminate the trade in conflict diamonds. The Clean Diamonds Act has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate and is supported by members of both the Democratic and Republican parties.





It is impossible to overestimate the importance of this legislation. It will not only ensure that diamonds entering the U.S. are conflict free, but will also play a critical role in the development of a system of international controls that will ban conflict diamonds from all the cutting centers. Passage of this legislation is not merely of economic importance to the diamond trade — it is a moral imperative.





Given the fact that congressmen and senators from both parties, hundreds of NGOs, and the diamond and jewelry trade support the legislation, one would think that passage of the Act would be easy. Unfortunately, Washington does not work that way. Washington is busy with billion dollar deals and million dollar lobbyists. The diamond/jewelry industry is relatively small and African humanitarian issues have not been a high priority in Washington. There are about 10,000 pieces of legislation before Congress right now — most will never see the light of day.





Frankly, there is very serious concern that this vital legislation will not pass Congress unless you, our reader, takes a few minutes of time to make three phone calls. I ask you to call your congressman and two senators. Members of congress listen to and respond to the people that vote for them. Your telephone calls will make a difference.





Details about how to make the calls and what to say are in the sidebar on this page. Additional information is available from Jeweler’s of America (JA), an organization that is leading lobbying efforts in Washington. JA can be reached at 800.223.0673 and at www.jewelers.org.





Background Information





Here is some background information to consider before you call your legislators. Conflict diamonds are diamonds that have been sold by rebel forces. The money that the rebels get from these diamonds is used to wage war and terrorize innocent civilians. The United Nations has banned conflict diamonds from Angola, Sierra Leone and Liberia.





Members of Congress, NGOs and the diamond trade have developed effective legislation to restrict the import of conflict diamonds into the United States. Essentially, the Clean Diamonds Act requires that all diamonds imported into the United States originate from countries that verify and document the legitimacy of all rough diamond imports. An international United Nations plan to control global imports and exports of rough diamonds is also being developed by an intergovernmental task force known as the Kimberly Process. The legislation now before Congress supports that effort.





In order for U.S. legislation to become law it must be voted on and passed in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Therefore, there are two separate compatible acts before congress: HR- 2722 in the House and S-1084 in the Senate. That is why we are asking you to call your local congressman and your two senators.





While the primary motivation behind industry support of the Clean Diamonds Act is our moral obligation to ensure that the diamonds we sell are not used to wage war and terror, we must recognize that the Act also defends our industry’s economic interests. If conflict diamonds are allowed to penetrate our diamond distribution system then the legitimacy of diamonds as a symbol and gift of love may be destroyed. Our industry needs to support this legislation for the same reason it supports laws against the misrepresentation of diamond substitutes and synthetics. The credibility of our industry is at stake. The Clean Diamonds Act directly addresses the most important humanitarian issue facing our trade as it supports and confirms the legitimacy of our industry. Therefore we must vigorously support it.





Please take a few moments of you time. Make the telephone


calls now!








What You Must Do To Support The Clean Diamonds Act

















1. Make three phone calls. One to your congressman and one to each of


your senators. Try calling their local office. If you do not know the name


or local numbers of your representatives call 202.224.3121. You can


obtain the names of your representatives and be directly contacted to


their Washington office via this number.





2. When you connect with their office:





a. Identify yourself as someone who votes in his or her district


or state.





b. Mention your store location and the number of people who work


with you.





c. Ask to speak to your representative. You will probably get a staff


person that is okay.





d. Explain that the Clean Diamonds Act is vital to you and your business





e. When talking with your congressman’s office, identify the Act as


HR-2722.





f. When talking with your senator’s office, identify the Act as S-1084.





g. Explain that the Act is based on the humanitarian need to stop the


import of conflict diamonds into the United States and that your


business may suffer if the legislation is not passed.





h. Let them know that no one opposes the legislation and that it has


bipartisan support in both houses of congress as well as the sup


port of over100 NGOs and the diamond and jewelry trade.





i. Most Important: Provide your name and telephone number and


politely request that your legislator or their representative call you


back and confirm that they will support the legislation. Ask for an


opportunity to discuss the legislation with your representative. If


such an opportunity is provided, call JA at 800.223.0673 for


support. This request for a callback is most important for it will as


sure that the staff person you are speaking with looks into the


matter further and informs your legislator of its importance to his


or her constituents.





3. If you are asked about the Clean Diamonds Act, explain:


a. The Act prohibits the import of conflict diamonds into the U.S.


Conflict diamonds must be banned because the money from their


sales are used to fund war and terror. The diamond/jewelry indus


try and NGOs therefore support the Act for humanitarian reasons.





b. Imports of conflict diamonds hurt your business as they have the


potential to destroy consumer confidence in the legitimate


diamonds you sell.





c. Everyone supports this legislation — both parties in both houses of


congress, NGOs and the entire diamond and jewelry trade.





4. Contact other jewelers or members of the diamond trade in your area


and ask them to make these phone calls.





5. Sign petitions calling on congress to pass the legislation. Petitions will


be appearing on our website at
www.diamonds.net and other


industry websites.





6. If you have the time and initiative, contact JA to find out if you can help


in other ways. JA has sample letters that you can send and jewelers will


be visiting Washington to talk with their legislators in the near future.


perhaps you can join them.





 



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Tags: Conflict Diamonds, Fair Trade
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