Having assessed the progress made so far in meeting the conditions for lifting the sanctions, the Security Council today renewed the arms and travel embargoes imposed against Liberia for another 12 months.
Unanimously adopting resolution 1792, the Council also extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts monitoring the sanctions until 20 June 2008 to conduct a follow-up mission to the region to investigate implementation of the measures.
The Panel was appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in July to renew investigations into whether UN sanctions against Liberia are being broken, after learning of allegations that former President Charles Taylor may still have access to considerable wealth.
As they noted in their most recent report, the experts were invited by Nigeria to visit the country to investigate the allegations. While the Nigerian authorities informed them that they were unable to find conclusive evidence of any funds, economic assets or investments made by Mr. Taylor in Nigeria, the Panel was unable to confirm this since it had not yet received copies of the Government’s reports.
With regard to the arms embargo, the Panel stated that it had not found any evidence of arms flows across Liberia’s borders. However, it expressed concern over the dramatic increase in armed robberies involving firearms and felt the issue should be looked at by the Security Council committee monitoring the arms embargo imposed on Liberia.
The Panel is also tasked with assessing the implementation of forestry legislation signed into law last October by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and with gauging the Government’s compliance with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, a mechanism established to keep “blood diamonds” from reaching world markets.
In the resolution adopted today, the Council encouraged the Liberian Government to invite the Kimberley Process to conduct a review visit within a year of Liberia’s full participation in and implementation of the Scheme. It also encouraged the Process to inform the Council of its assessment of progress made.
Meanwhile, the UN mission in the West African nation, known as UNMIL, is launching an update to the atlas of humanitarian and recovery activities in Liberia that it produced in January. Providing a snapshot of “who is doing what and where,” the atlas will make it possible to quickly identify humanitarian needs and gaps and improve coordination among all actors assisting vulnerable populations.
In another development, UNMIL announced that Moses Swaray is the winner of a two-month musical talent search conducted by the Mission and the Liberian Government. Chris Watson and Frances Ewu came in second and third in the contest – “A Star is Born” – which drew about 1,000 applicants nationwide.