ANTWERP, Belgium – Former U.S. President William J. Clinton hailed the diamond industry and the Kimberley Process at a gala dinner at the Antwerp Diamond Conference Monday night.
“I would be remiss if I did not thank every single person in this room who worked to implement the Kimberley Process and stop the link between illegal diamond trading and warfare in Africa,” he said. “You have made a tremendous contribution.”
He also praised “the hard work of the non-governmental community … that made it possible for us to ask how we could ask to stem the loopholes in this industry.”
Most of Clinton’s speech was devoted to the problems of the “interdependent” world.
He noted that, despite prosperity in the West, much of the world still lives in poverty and one out of four deaths are the result of preventable diseases like malaria.
By helping these countries, he said, we could have a world with “more partners and fewer terrorists.”
“We cannot build a world we want for our children unless we make it a better world for other children,” he said. “We have to learn how to reach out beyond the confines of our community to reach our shared humanity.”
Clinton also mentioned that he had told his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), that he was at a meeting with the world’s biggest diamond dealers.
“She said, ‘Don’t come home without samples'” he said.
At the end of his speech, Antwerp Diamond High Council executive director Peter Meuss gave Clinton a diamond pin brooch, which included a diamond-and-ruby American flag along with the “A” symbol that is the new hallmark of the Antwerp industry.