CAR Conflict Diamonds making way in the trade

Central African Republic (CAR) is one of the top ten diamond producing countries in the world. The country, home to 4.6 million people, ranks 185 out of 187 in the 2013 Human Development Index. The country is not just poor, but it is ripe with violence. A study suggests that the anti-Balaka militia on Bangui, the capital city of CAR, displaced approximately 902,000 people in an attack.

Diamonds exported from CAR are labelled as conflict diamonds as evidenced by the suspension of CAR from Kimberley Process (KPCS) in 2013. However, unfortunately these diamonds are still being smuggled out of the country and finding its way in the legitimate diamond trade. In an Administrative decision of KPCS, held on 9-12 June 2014 in Shanghai, it is admitted that there have been international shipments of diamonds of CAR origin.

Besides, a recent report by UN panel of experts on CAR suggests that approximately 140,000 carats of diamonds worth $24 million have made their way out of the country, post the ban.

Belgian authorities reported in June this year that diamonds from CAR with forged KP certificates have been shipped into the country. CAR shares a border with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has its own violent history of diamond-fuelled conflicts.

Royalty Free - CAR map

[Source: Google maps]

To solve the CAR crisis, ample humanitarian aid is necessary but diamonds, for now, will only worsen the situation for CAR. Despite the ban from KPCS, rebels of CAR are still being able to ship diamonds produced in the country and finance wars, clearly indicating that KPCS in itself is not effective. A strong chain of custody is needed to determine that the KP ban, if continued, fulfils its objective. The longer the industry waits and chooses to ignore the issue of conflict diamonds, more aggravating the problems become.