Liberia: UN demands Government take action to freeze former warlord’s assets
For the fourth consecutive year, the Security Council today demanded that the Liberian Government “make all necessary efforts to fulfil its obligations” to freeze the assets of former president Charles Taylor, currently facing trial for war crimes before an international court.
At the same time, it welcomed the Government’s leadership at regional and international levels in the Kimberley Process that seeks to ban so-called “blood diamonds” – gems illegally mined or traded to finance conflicts, a major factor in unrest in Africa and a tool that Mr. Taylor is alleged to have used in the decade and a half when civil wars ravaged Liberia and neighbouring Sierra Leone.
In a unanimous resolution on sanctions that aim to shut off the sources of conflict, from illegal funding to illicit trade in natural resources to arms trafficking, the 15-member body noted “with serious concern the lack of progress” in implementing a 2004 resolution demanding that all the assets of Mr. Taylor, family members and associates be frozen to prevent them from obstructing the restoration of peace in Liberia and the region.
Mr. Taylor is on trial on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity before the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in The Hague, the Netherlands. He left his country amid violent conflict in 2003, and the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has since then helped the West African country return to peace through democratic elections.
The Council extended for another year the mandate of a Panel of Experts set up in 2007 to monitor compliance with the sanctions imposed in connection with the civil war.
It urged the Government to redouble its efforts to ensure the effectiveness of the Kimberley Process under which diamonds have to be certified to have come from conflict-free sources, and said insufficient progress had been made on issues relating to arms trafficking.
Recalling an earlier decision not to renew sanctions on the export of timber, one of many natural resources that have been used to fund conflicts in Africa, it stressed that Liberia must continue to enforce forestry reform and revenue transparency laws.
It called on the Panel during the coming year to conduct two assessment missions to Liberia and neighbouring States to investigate any violations with regard to the illicit trade in arms, including individual perpetrators and sources of financing, such as natural resources, and to monitor progress in the freezing of assets, forestry reform and the Kimberley process.
As it has in past years, the Council warned that despite the significant progress made in Liberia since 2003, “the situation there continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region,” and stressed UNMIL’s continuing importance in improving security and helping the Government establish its authority throughout the country, particularly in the diamond, timber, and other natural resources-producing regions, and border areas.