UN Security Council extends Liberia's diamond and timber export sanctions
Expressing broad criticism of Liberia's Transitional Government, the United Nations Security Council today unanimously extended for six months the existing sanctions against the West African country's diamond exports, which it said have been increasing, and re-established a panel to investigate if and how funds are being raised to buy weapons to foment new violence.
Describing the context in which it was making its decision on diamonds, the Council noted its concern over "the increase in unlicensed mining and illegal exports of diamonds and the National Transitional Government of Liberia's agreement to, and lack of transparency in, granting exclusive mining rights to a single company."
On this basis, therefore, it said, it would renew the measures on diamond exports imposed by its embargo of 2003 for a further period of six months from the date of adoption of this resolution.
It urged the NTGL to intensify its efforts, with the support of the peacekeeping UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), "to establish its authority over the diamond-producing areas, and to work towards establishing an official Certificate of Origin regime for trade in rough diamonds that is transparent and internationally verifiable, with a view to joining the Kimberley Process."
Kimberley verifies that the exports are not "blood diamonds" being sold to buy arms for militias.
Even though the presence of UNMIL had improved security, the Security Council said, the NTGL had not extended its authority over the country's timber producing areas, or its borders and, although there was no evidence now of illegal timber exports, the NTGL had undertaken few of the reforms that would lead to the lifting of the export embargo.
The Council called on the NTGL, therefore, "urgently to intensify its efforts to reform the Forestry Development Authority, to implement the Liberia Forest Initiative and to implement the Forest Concession Review Committee's recommendations for reform, which will ensure transparency, accountability and sustainable forest management and contribute towards the lifting of the measures on timber."
It invited the Government to consider hiring independent, temporary, external advisers on the management of Liberia's diamond and timber resources so as to increase investor confidence and attract additional donor support.
The NTGL had not established the transparent financial accounting that would ensure that government revenues were not being used for fuelling conflict, but were used, instead, for the benefit of the Liberian people. Without this improvement, the Council said it would not unfreeze funds, other financial assets and economic resources seized last year.
Former President Charles Taylor, now living in exile in Nigeria, and his associates continued to be banned from using stolen property to interfere in restoring peace and stability in Liberia and the sub-region, the Council said.