- The United Nations Security Council has unanimously extended Liberia's arms embargo mandate until 20 December, complaining that the West African country's situation continues to threaten international security..
In 2007, the Council lifted an embargo on Liberia's diamonds and timber. The ban was put in place to prevent rebel groups in Liberia and Sierra Leone from using proceeds of natural resources [blood-diamonds] to acquire arms and ammunition. The two neighbouring countries are still trying to recover from brutal civil wars which had caused huge damage to life and property.
Liberian government is encouraged to apply the recommendations emerging from the last evaluation in the context of the Kimberley process, working in close cooperation with the Council to reinforce controls on the trafficking of raw diamonds. The process, introduced by southern African countries in 2000, was meant to contain the illicit trade of diamonds to fuel arm conflicts in the world.
The Council further requested the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to renew until 20 December the mandate of a panel of financial experts and specialists that has been appointed to monitor implementation of the arms ban on Liberia, and assess progress made by the country in restoring its timber and diamond trade.
It also mandated the UN Panel of Experts on Liberia to report to the Council's Sanctions Committee on 1 December on financing for the illicit trade of arms, member states' compliance with the freezing of assets of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, the Liberian government's compliance with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme; recent forestry legislation; and progress in the timber and diamond sectors. The Council also instructed the Panel to provide appropriate informal updates beforehand.
The UN body has welcomed the Panel's report, which addressed the issues of diamonds, timber, targeted sanctions and arms and security in Liberia. The report noted only minor violations of the Council's arms embargo during the Panel's mandate in the last year, outlining the small-scale transfer of ammunition and single-barrel rifles from Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea. It also discovered that none of the approxiamtely US $20 million in diverted tax revenue of former President Taylor found as part of a sample test had been frozen.
Liberian government has been commended for its significant progress in implementing the 2006 National Forestry Reform Law, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and its own internal controls system on rough diamond imports. Since the lifting of sanctions on rough diamonds, Liberia's diamond office had issued 43 Kimberly Process certificates and and 39 rough diamond shipments had been legally exported as of 15 May.
The Council however encouraged Liberian government to "implement the recommendations of the most recent Kimberley Process review and work closely with Kimberley Process to continue to strengthen its controls on rough diamond trade."
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