Conflict Diamond NGOs Nominated for Nobel Prize

Nongovernmental organizations Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada have been nominated for the 2003 Nobel Prize for Peace for their work on conflict diamonds.

They were nominated by the two congressmen most interested in the topic—Rep. Tony Hall (D-Ohio) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.)—as well as Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)

The honor won unexpected support from the World Diamond Council, which has not always seen eye-to-eye with Hall or the NGOs.

“We fully support this nomination,” says WDC chairman Eli Izhakoff, who notes that he’s marshalling governments friendly to the industry to add their voices. “Both Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada raised the industry’s conscience on this issue and have been very constructive in finding a solution. They—along with Congressman Hall—deserve a lot of the credit for how far we’ve come.”

In a message to supporters, seven-year-old Global Witness seemed genuinely shocked: “There is a long way between a nomination and winning the Nobel Peace Prize, but in our wildest dreams we never expected even this.”

The letter, signed by Hall, Wolf, and Leahy, said the groups “succeeded because they have avoided polarizing campaign tactics that could have alienated the diamond industry and key governments, whose support is critical to a solution. They understood that, despite the shocking difference between the advertised image of diamonds and the often harsh reality of the trade, a boycott could result in a backlash against a product whose legitimate trade is the backbone of many economies.”