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Africa’s Troublemakers: History of Diamonds in the Central African Republic

CAR, or Central African Republic, is a landlocked country in Central Africa with a population of about 4.7 million, according to 2014 numbers. It is a country rich with minerals, including copper, diamonds, gold and uranium. Production of gold and diamonds is mostly artisanal, and overseen by the state-controlled Bureau d’Evaluation et de Controle de Diamant et d’Or (BECDOR).

Since December 2012, CAR has been immersed in a civil war fought between the Seleka rebel coalition and government forces. Some of the fighting has occurred in diamond mining towns, and according to a recent piece in Bloomberg citing Amnesty International, illicit trafficking of diamonds in CAR has helped finance the rebel groups. The International Peace Information Service, an Antwerp-based research group, says that about 30% of the country’s diamond shipments and 95% of gold leaves the country secretly.

In May 2013, CAR was suspended from the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. The Central African Republic was banned by KP chair South African Ambassador Welile Nhlapo because its government was deposed by rebel forces.

In May 2015, KP Participants and Observers reached an understanding that CAR may commence exports of rough diamonds. According to a statement released on KP’s website, “Participants and Observers reached an understanding that CAR may commence exports of rough diamonds upon full implementation of an “Operational Framework’” and pending completion of the KP Review Mission report.
As of now, CAR is still suspended from the Kimberley Process. According to available KP figures, which end in 2012, CAR produced 365,916 carats of rough diamonds valued at $62 million in 2012.

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