By Michelle Graff
Dubai, United Arab Emirates--The Kimberley Process has OK’ed the resumption of rough diamond exports from one area of the Central African Republic.

Decided at the recently concluded KP intersessional in Dubai and formally announced by the KP Wednesday, the resumption comes at the recommendation of a KP monitoring team and is only for Berbérati, a mining area located in the southwestern part of the country.

The KP banned exports of rough diamonds from the entire Central African Republic back in May 2013 after rebels seized control of the country from then-President François Bozizé and evidence surfaced that these rebels were using sales of diamonds to fund their activities. Diamond mining, particularly alluvial (small-scale) operations, is one of the country’s main sources of revenue.

In July 2015, the KP agreed in principal that the Central African Republic could resume exports as long as it established “green zones” and put in place procedures to ensure their diamonds could be traced to areas defined as compliant zones. A green or compliant zone is one that is free of conflict and, moreover, one where it is known that diamond revenues are not being funneled into the hands of rebel groups.

Earlier this spring, a KP monitoring team conducted an on-ground-assessment of the Berbérati zone. There, they found that the area was conflict free and that rebels were not in control of any part of the diamond production or trade.

“I am pleased to announce that our combined efforts have resulted in CAR resuming its diamond exports through its first ‘green zone’ in Berbérati,” said Ahmed Bin Sulayem, who is chairing the KP for the United Arab Emirates, the nation tapped to lead the process in 2016. “We must also thank the CAR monitoring team, CAR authorities and industry participants for their cooperation as this will ensure that traceable, conflict-free diamonds enter the supply chain, as well as ultimately enhance the livelihood of the country’s 4 million people, of whom 500,000 are directly involved in mining.”

Alan Martin of Partnership Africa Canada, the organization that serves as the coordinating body for the KP’s Civil Society Coalition, said the coalition was part of the KP’s monitoring team and agreed to the partial lifting after one of its members participated in the on-the-ground assessment.

However, he noted that the coalition will “continue to remain vigilant that diamonds from other non-compliant zones do not contaminate the Berbérati exports.” Brad Brooks-Rubin expressed the same concern in an editorial on the Central African Republic published on National Jeweler in April.

The KP’s civil society coalition, which is comprised of a total of 11 organizations, is boycotting formal KP meetings in the UAE this year over its objection to the UAE’s election as KP chair, but it has not stepped away from involvement in the process entirely.

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