Tag Archives: diamond trade

The Natural Resource Curse, Central African Republic

Rebel in Northern Central African Republic. Image from wikipedia

Gold and diamond sales are being used to finance conflict in Central African Republic and United Nations peacekeepers should monitor mining sites to clamp down on illicit trade, a U.N. panel of experts * [pdf]said.In a report, the panel also said the peacekeeping mission (MINUSCA) should deploy troops to the remote north of the country and use drones to monitor the rebel-controlled region to put an end to simmering violence there.  The mission, which launched in September, is operating at only two-thirds of its planned 12,000-strong capacity.

Central African Republic was plunged into chaos when northern, mostly Muslim Seleka rebels seized control of the majority Christian country in March 2013, prompting a vicious backlash by the largely Christian ‘anti-balaka’ militia.  The panel said that some 3,000 people had been killed between December 2013 – when the U.N. Security Council imposed an arms embargo – and August 2014.  The Kimberley Process – a group of 81 countries, including all the major diamond producers, formed to prevent ‘blood diamonds’ from funding conflict – imposed an export ban on raw gems from Central African Republic in 2013.  But since then, an additional 140,000 carats of diamonds, valued at $24 million, had been smuggled out of the country, the panel estimated…..

In their northern enclave, the former Seleka fighters are imposing taxes on a wide range of goods from gold mining to coffee, livestock, and diamonds to fund their operations, the report found.  Former Seleka fighters were issuing mining licences to gold miners at the Ndassima mine near the rebels’ headquarters of Bambari, in the centre of the country, it said…

It suggested that interim President Catherine Panza’s decision to name representatives of the armed groups to cabinet roles may have fuelled conflict.”Competition among political representatives of armed groups for ministerial positions, as well as among military commanders for control of resources, accounts for of the recent infighting between former components of Seleka and rival factions of anti-balaka,” said the report, dated Oct. 29 but only made public this week.

Excerpts, Gold, diamonds fuelling conflict in Central African Republic, Reuters, Nov. 5, 2014

*Letter dated 28 October 2014 from the Panel of Experts on the  Central African Republic established pursuant to Security Council  resolution 2127 (2013) addressed to the President of the Security Council [S/2014/762]

Blood Diamonds, Human Rights Abuses and the Diamond Trade

Last week a meeting of the diamond trade’s international watchdog, the Kimberley Process (KP), ended in stalemate on Zimbabwe’s trade future, with concerns still high about the situation at Chiadzwa. But despite ongoing reports of rampant smuggling, incidents of violence and human rights abuses, the KP chairman last week announced that Zimbabwe could resume exports.  The unilateral decision by the DRC’s Mathieu Yamba, said to be a known ally of the Robert Mugabe regime, has prompted calls for a boycott of Zimbabwe’s stones. Last week both Canada and America insisted that the decision was against KP protocol because there was no consensus from all KP members. At the same time the US based Rapaport trading group re-issued its trade alert on Chiadzwa stones, urging diamond dealers not to accept any diamonds sourced from Zimbabwe’s alluvial fields.  Last week Israel also distanced itself from Yamba’s decision, announcing that it would stop and search any diamond shipments that come from countries known to be dealing with Zimbabwe, namely China and India….Diamond exports from Chiadzwa have been suspended since June 2009 because of police and military abuses in the minefields. These include killings, beatings, forced labour and rampant smuggling of diamonds, all in contravention of KP standards. In November 2009 the Zim government and the KP agreed to a joint work plan, in which Zimbabwe promised to carry out a phased withdrawal of the armed forces from the diamond fields and to allow a monitor to examine all diamond exports to certify that they met KP standards.

None of these requirements have been met and the KP has been deadlocked for almost a year over what to do. Human Rights Watch said in statement that this dispute has “highlighted the failure of the consensus-based decision-making process to address government noncompliance.”

“The members have not been able to reach consensus to revise the KP rules to explicitly prohibit the sale of diamonds by governments that committed abuses to obtain them. Under the rules, a conflict diamond is narrowly defined as one sold by a rebel group to wage war against a government. That definition has left a major loophole since it does not prevent a government like Zimbabwe’s from committing abuses when it mines or sells diamonds,” Human Rights Watch said.

Excerpt, International consumers have been urged this week to boycott any diamonds from Zimbabwe’s controversial Chiadzwa diamond fields, until human rights abuses there have stopped, RadioNetherlands, July 2, 2011