29 July 1999

Press Release


Describes Talks Held with Diamond Industry in Effort To Reduce Diamond Revenues of UNITA Leader Jonas Savimbi

The Chairman of the Committee established by the Security Council to monitor a wide range of sanctions against the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), Robert Fowler (Canada), briefed the Council this morning on his recent visits to Algeria and Europe, during which he held extensive discussions with the diamond industry and European diamond markets alleged to be violating the sanctions.

Mr. Fowler told the Council that the goal of the Committee, which was established pursuant to Security Council resolution 864 (1993) to oversee embargoes on the sale of diamonds, arms and petroleum, as well as travel restrictions later imposed on certain UNITA members, was not to inflict collateral damage on the legitimate diamond trade. The goal was to reduce UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi's diamond revenues, which amounted to an estimated $3 billion to $4 billion since the early 1990s. The sanctions were aimed at diminishing UNITA's capacity to wage war by diminishing those revenues and by increasing the cost of arms procurement.

He added that the recommendations in his report (document S/1999/829) included collaboration among interested Member States to harmonize procedures and documentation for the import and export of rough diamonds. Two panels had been created that would, among other tasks, address the sources of UNITA's revenue, funding, petroleum supplies and military support. He expected to nominate panel members either today or tomorrow and have them appointed next week.

Following Mr. Fowler's briefing, China's representative said UNITA was completely responsible for the situation in Angola, having failed to honour its commitments under the 1994 Lusaka Protocol. It had continued the illegal diamond trade, killed civilians and attacked United Nations humanitarian workers.

Security Council - 1a - Press Release SC/6705 4027th Meeting (AM) 29 July 1999

The representative of the United Kingdom said UNITA's access to the world diamond market should be curtailed. Any sale of diamonds from Angola must be accompanied by a certificate of origin. The representative of France added that the certificates of origin had to be taken more seriously. Such measures could dry up the resources of revenue for UNITA.

The representative of the United States said profit from "sanctions- busting" must be seen for what it was -- the means to continued war and suffering. His Government was ready to work with any State committed to improved implementation of sanctions. The profiteers who helped supply UNITA, if allowed to continue their malevolent mischief today, would create death and suffering elsewhere tomorrow.

Namibia's representative expressed appreciation for the Committee's consideration of measures relating to mercenaries. He reminded Member States whose nationals were assisting UNITA as pilots and advisors that they were impeding the sanctions regime and prolonging the suffering of innocent Angolans. Also, his Government was concerned over the possibility that weapons disposed of by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) could find their way to countries of the volatile Central African subregion or into the hands of UNITA.

Statements were also made by the representatives of the Netherlands, Russian Federation, Argentina, Gambia, Brazil, Gabon, Bahrain, Slovenia and Malaysia.

The meeting convened at 10:28 a.m. and adjourned at 12:11 p.m.