Global Witness Criticizes De Beers’ Chairman

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(Rapaport…November 16, 1999) Global Witness, the London based Non Governmental Organization (NGO) that is documenting and creating international awareness on the horrors in Angola, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, has come out against the speech made by De Beers’ Chairman Nicky Oppenheimer at the Commonwealth Business Forum in Johannesburg November 11.

Global Witness notes that Oppenheimer ignored the current high-level political and legislative initiatives of the international community to prevent these conflict diamonds from entering into the marketplace by implementing a control system. The NGO also pointed out that Oppenheimer did not mention the significant contribution that the diamond trade has played in the facilitation of these conflict diamonds into the marketplace. And, according to Global Witness, Oppenheimer insinuated that the consumers do not have the right to exercise a positive and informed choice when purchasing diamonds – which De Beers admitted in an earlier press release “have tragically funded brutal conflicts across Africa.” Global Witness stresses that this is not an anti diamond campaign, but rather an anti war campaign. As such, De Beers must understand the important dynamics of consumer rights and corporate accountability. Funds from the sale of these conflict diamonds are being used to purchase arms for prolonging the civil wars and atrocities.

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