IPIS Insights: Diamonds in the Central African Republic

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Since May 2013 the Central African Republic has been suspended from the Kimberly Process (KP) – a measure maintained by the mechanism’s annual plenary in Guangzhou, China, this November. The CAR’s transitional authorities have been seeking at least a partial lifting of this export ban so that the country might benefit from the much needed revenues its diamonds can generate.1 However, the authorities in this beleaguered state have thus far failed to secure control over both the security situation and the country’s diamond trade: a recent UN expert report estimates that the CAR has lost US$24 million worth of diamonds to smuggling since May 2013.2 Indeed, IPIS’ own investigations – the findings of which are outlined in a report released end November 2014 – have found that large tracts of diamond producing areas in eastern CAR remain under ex-Seleka control, with stones continuing to access international markets.

This IPIS Insight will elaborate on IPIS’ findings in its recent report, Mapping Conflict Motives: the Central African Republic – the latest in our conflict mapping series. It gives some insight into the modes of exploitation used by armed groups in the CAR to profit from diamonds and the role these stones have played in the complex and shifting dynamics that characterise the on-going crisis, both in the east and west of the country. It will then briefly consider the KP’s role in this context.

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