Building Peace in the Diamond Mining Areas of the Central African Republic

Photo by: PRADD II/Regis Norguez. Central African Republic (CAR) President Faustin Archange Touadera congratulates members of newly formed Peace & Reconciliation Committees in Berberati, CAR.

USAID is strengthening the capacity of Central African Republic (CAR) government institutions to reduce long-standing tensions and conflicts in diamond mining areas such as Berberati.

Violent conflict in the southwestern Berberati region of the Central African Republic from 2013 to 2015 undermined the integrity of the diamond economy and sparked divisions leading to the erosion of trust between religious and ethnic groups, as well as between miners, farmers, and pastoralists. Rather than fueling local economic development, diamonds became a source of revenue for armed groups, who seized diamond mines and smuggled diamonds across borders in exchange for arms and ammunition.

In May 2015, the Bangui Forum, a national consultation, produced a peace accord calling for disarmament and reconciliation. In November 2017, the President of the Central African Republic, the honorable Faustin Archange Touadera, formally launched Peace and Reconciliation Committees in Berberati, an important milestone in translating this peace accord into concrete action in this diamond producing area.

A joint initiative by the Ministry of Social Affairs and National Reconciliation and the Ministry of Mines and Geology, these Peace and Reconciliation Committees will mediate disputes and forge agreements, or local pacts, to govern the use of coveted natural resources, like diamonds. USAID’s Property Rights and Artisanal Diamond Development Project (PRADD II) is assisting the government of CAR to develop a framework to guide this village-level peace and reconciliation process and is equipping these Peace Committees with the necessary skills to effectively mediate disputes between individuals and groups across ethnic and religious divides.

As a signatory to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, CAR is committed to reducing the flow of conflict diamonds. The peace and stability created through these pacts is critical to the country’s continued compliance with the Kimberley Process. By adhering to this international certification scheme, CAR can enjoy the economic benefits stemming from legally exported, conflict-free diamonds. Berberati is designated as a conflict-free mining zone, allowing the young men and women who depend on the mining to continue to mine and export diamonds legally. With USAID’s assistance, a region formerly known as a source for conflict is becoming a model for peace and the return of harmonious co-existence of peoples of different ethnicities, livelihoods, and religions.