After receiving reports that the situation in Liberia is still a threat to international peace and that its natural resources are still not being used in a way that benefits its people, the United Nations Security Council has renewed the sanctions regime it imposed on the war-torn country in 2001, which now includes timber, travel, arms and diamond embargoes.
Unanimously adopting a resolution on the situation yesterday, the Council also re-established the Panel of Experts appointed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to conduct follow-up assessments of the sanctions and said it would review the measures at the request of the new Government of Liberia, once it reported that the conditions for terminating them had been met.
The Council welcomed the determination of the President-elect of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, to meet those conditions and encouraged her Government to implement reforms in the management of the country’s timber and diamond resources.
The Council initially approved the Liberian sanctions in May 2001, after determining that former President Charles Taylor's government had helped the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone fight the government there, during the country's brutal decade-long civil war.
In 2003, citing Liberia's "active support" of rebel groups which were having a destabilizing effect on West Africa, the Council had renewed and expanded the sanctions, and decided the measures would remain in effect until peace was maintained, export transparency was established and the Government controlled the national forests.
The Council stressed that it would routinely consider how best to minimize the impact of the ban on the country's humanitarian situation and could allow the resumption of exports to fund relief programmes.
In July, Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed the five-member panel of experts to go to Liberia to assess the implementation and impact of the sanctions regime.
In its report, the Panel notes that requirements for lifting the embargo on Liberian rough diamonds and timber have not been met, while recent agreements on iron ore suggest that Liberians cannot rely on their Government or the international community to protect their interests. Instead, it said, transparent business negotiations are necessary.