Mr. President, I have the honor of presenting Mr. Ian Smillie, a leading architect of the campaign against the blood-diamond trade, and a man of deep moral courage and unwavering principle.
Mr. Smillie, as a member of the UN Security Council Panel, you built the foundation for the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, a global system designed to halt the trafficking of conflict diamonds in West Africa. The initiative involved a network of governments, NGOs and working groups whose goal was to sever the connection between the gems and the rebel groups they financed and to cease the human rights abuses spawned from that violent alliance.
In 2009, you made the brave decision to resign from the Kimberley Process because it had become ineffectual — betraying its own mission. You said then, “When regulators fail to regulate, the systems they were designed to protect collapse.”
Your life’s work has been an inspiration to those who seek justice in the diamond industry, and more broadly, to those who seek a just solution to development and trade. You have been a bane to those who put greed above human rights. You were called as the first witness by the prosecution for the war crimes trial of Liberian President Charles Taylor at The Hague. As founder of the Canadian social justice NGO, Inter Pares, co-chair of the advisory panel to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Canada, and chairman of the Diamond Development Initiative, you continue to be a prominent foreign aid watcher and critic. Here at Clark we remember your impassioned remarks as a featured presenter at last year’s Informed Activism conference that explored the bloody link between minerals and genocide in Congo.
Mr. Smillie, you were deservedly appointed to the Order of Canada in 2003, Canada’s highest civilian honor. For many around the world, and for the Clark community, you are a hero.
Mr. President, on behalf of the Trustees, faculty, students and staff of Clark University, I request that the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, be conferred on Mr. Ian Smillie.