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Security Council welcomes steps to curb illicit flow of diamonds from Sierra Leone

Security Council welcomes steps to curb illicit flow of diamonds from Sierra Leone

Members of the Security Council today welcomed progress achieved so far in stemming the illegal trade in diamonds from Sierra Leone, while stressing the importance of "rigorous implementation" by all States of the measures imposed by the Council to prohibit the import of all rough diamonds from the country.

In a statement to the press following closed-door consultations, the Council President, Ambassador Wang Yingfan of China, said the members welcomed reports indicating that the Sierra Leone diamond certification scheme was "having a positive effect" - a trend which he said was "clear from the fact that there has been an increase in the quantity of diamonds passing through the Government's hands."

Council members also welcomed the establishment of a certificate scheme in Guinea and supported the continued efforts of the Economic Community of West African States, as well as those of the countries of the region, to develop a region-wide certification regime.

"Council members stressed the responsibility of diamond importing as well as exporting countries for fully implementing resolution 1306 [which banned the import of illicit diamonds from Sierra Leone] and reiterated the importance of breaking the link between sales of conflict diamonds and the purchase of weapons," Ambassador Wang said.

The statement noted that the peace process in Sierra Leone was about to enter a "crucial phase" as the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, known as UNAMSIL, and the Freetown Government began to move into diamond-producing areas. Council members "look forward to receiving further information from the Government of Sierra Leone, including plans for managing the diamond fields," the President said, stressing that "a successful strategy for managing the diamond fields would be critical for the sustainability of the peace process and Sierra Leone's future development."

The Council statement followed a closed-door review of the ban, during which the 15-member body was briefed by the Chairman of the Sierra Leone sanctions committee, Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, the Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN.