Press Release / June 11, 2003

Kimberley Process Undertakes First Review Mission To The Central African Republic

The Kimberley Process will carry out its first official review mission from 8-14 June 2003 to determine whether the Central African Republic is taking effective actions to stop the trade in conflict diamonds - diamonds which are used to finance conflicts and civil wars. Global Witness, a member of the review mission, welcomes this action as an important step to ensure that the Central African Republic is meeting the requirements of the Kimberley Process.

The Kimberley Process, launched in January 2003, is an international agreement working to eliminate the trade in conflict diamonds. As a participant of this agreement, the Central African Republic (CAR) is required to create and implement regulations to prevent diamonds from being used by rebel groups to overthrow legitimate governments and fuel conflicts. Crucially, participants of the Kimberley Process, numbering about 70 countries, will not be allowed to trade in diamonds with non-participants.

The CAR was selected as the first country to be reviewed following the coup in March 2003 when Francois Bozize overthrew President Patasse’s government and suspended the constitution. In the wake of these events, the CAR was initially removed from the Kimberley Process for several weeks. It was reinstated as a participant after authorities provided assurances they could implement the KP and agreed to let a review mission evaluate the country’s national diamond control system

“We are very encouraged that the Kimberley Process is undertaking its first review mission to evaluate whether the CAR is taking effective measures to halt the trade in conflict diamonds,” said Corinna Gilfillan Campaigner with Global Witness. “The Kimberley Process will not be credible unless monitoring is carried out in all other participating countries.”

The review mission, to be hosted by CAR’s Ministry of Mines, is comprised of government officials from several Kimberley Process countries, a diamond industry representative and Global Witness representing civil society. The mission will meet with relevant government authorities responsible for implementing the Kimberley Process as well as conduct on-site visits of diamond production and trading sites.

Editor Notes:
(i) The CAR is the 10th largest diamond producing country in the world, generating revenue of about US$100 million per year.
(ii) There have been numerous coup attempts in the country since 1996 and with its close proximity to rebel-held territory in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, conflict diamond trading occurs through Bangui.
Source: Christian Dietrich, “Diamonds in the Central African Republic”, The Diamonds and Human Security Project, Partnership Africa Canada, Occasional Paper #8, p. 1,2,5.