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Press Release - January 2007

Diamond Industry, Governments and NGO’s will meet to help African diggers

Rapaport Conference will focus on diamonds and development in West Africa.

Ed Zwick producer of Blood Diamond movie to address diamond industry.

Rapaport International Diamond Conference – New York – Monday, February 5.

New York, January 23 …How can the diamond industry help diggers? Can West Africa’s artisanal diamonds ever be legitimized? Should consumers buy West African diamonds? What are the humanitarian and development responsibilities of the diamond industry?

Leading NGO’s, government representatives, development experts and the presidents of all the major diamond and jewelry industry organizations will come together to find solutions to the severe challenges confronting diamond diggers. The conference will drive consensus and promote the beginning of a cooperative process that will establish meaningful and practical measures to help artisanal diggers use their resources to escape severe poverty.

Attending the conference will be Karel Kovanda Deputy Director-General of the European Commission and new Chair of the Kimberley Process, Ed Zwick, producer of the Blood Diamond movie, Eli Izhakoff, Chairman of the World Diamond Council. Matt Runci, President of Jewelers of America, Ian Smillie of Partnership Africa Canada and Alex Yearsley of Global Witness.

Representatives of the United Nations, U.S. State Department, US-AID, World Bank as well as the presidents of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses and International Diamond Manufacturers Association will participate.

The annual Rapaport International Diamond Conference will be held at the New York Hilton Hotel on Monday, February 5, (8:30 am to 4:30 pm). The registration fee is $495 with all proceeds donated to a charity for the children of Sierra Leone. The registration fee is waived for members of the press, government officials and NGO’s.

To register, Email, visit or
call 1-702-893-9400. Additional information is available at

Media Contact: Jeff Miller - +1-212-763-4010,

Important Background Information

Over one million African diggers suffer from extreme poverty due to failed economies. There are no jobs, no roads, no potable water, no electricity and at times no hope. Natural resources are not used to develop local economies. Can diamonds make a difference? Can the diamond trade help West Africans obtain a fair level of benefit from the diamonds they find?

The goal of this conference is to find practical measures that will help the poorest people in the world – the artisanal diggers of West Africa. The big idea is that the only way to change the situation in Africa is by creating real jobs (i.e. sustainable economic development) and the only way to create jobs is by bringing in the private sector.

The Kimberley Process has proven that great challenges can be overcome when industry, governments and NGO’s work together. This combination of forces will now be directed in a coordinated manner to meet the severe challenge of poverty reduction in West Africa.


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