Diamond Development Initiative Grows

August 25, 2005

Diamond Development Initiative Grows

A joint effort of the diamond industry and human rights groups to help poor, mostly African, diamond diggers has taken its next step toward reality. The Diamond Development Initiative, which formed early in 2005, released a mission statement and objectives in mid-August.

The initiators of DDI are the De Beers Group; Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada (human rights groups fighting the conflict diamond problem since the 1990s); Jeffrey Davidson of the Communities and Small-Scale Mining Program; and Martin Rapaport of the Rapaport Group of Cos. Chaim Even-Zohar of Tacy Ltd. is acting as a consultant to the group.

DDI aims to address the problems of the diggers, which not only cause poverty, underemployment and overcrowding, but also contribute to the spread of disease, prostitution, illegal weapons trade, drug trafficking and civil wars, according to a background paper developed for the group by Ian Smillie of Partnership Africa Canada. These conditions also allow terrorists and other unlawful forces to operate in countries where diggers work, such as Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola.

DDI says its efforts to help better the lot of diamond diggers, who work in alluvial – or open – diamond fields (as opposed to private and closed diamond mines controlled by specific companies), are key to finally resolving some of these ongoing problems, which it acknowledges are complex.

DDI also announced a plan to hold its first convening meeting in Africa in late fall. The meeting will be open to all governments, companies, NGOs and development agencies interested in furthering the objectives of the DDI.

For more information on DDI, please contact: Andrew Bone, andrew.bone@dtc.com; Jeffrey Davidson, jdavidson@worldbank.org; Chaim Even-Zohar, cez@tacy.co.il; Martin Rapaport, rap@diamonds.net; Ian Smillie, ismillie@magma.ca or Alex Yearsley: ayearsley@globalwitness.org.

by Peggy Jo Donahue

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