Deep seated political and economic instability in the Central African Republic (CAR) is linked to the migration of militarized pastoralist groups from surrounding countries into the southwest long occupied by sedentary peoples engaged in farming, forest product extraction, and artisanal mining of rich alluvial diamond and gold deposits. Pastoralist herds owned by urban elites of the surrounding countries are attracted to the rich water and pasture resources of the southwest, but also, the gold and diamond deposits, a major source of income from illicit mining. Traditional and statutory land management institutions have collapsed over the past decade, thereby rendering large parts of the country a de facto open access resource tenure regime. The situation may appear intractable, but this paper suggests that Local Pacts, negotiated conventions advocated by the Bangui Peace Forum, may resolve deep seated struggles over surface and sub-surface resources while contributing to peace building and social cohesion.
Key Words: pastoralism, desertification, customary tenure, conflict, local conventions