06/05/2002
Press Release
SC/7392



Security Council

4526th Meeting (PM)


SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS SANCTIONS ON LIBERIA FOR FURTHER 12 MONTHS,

UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1408 (2002)


The Security Council today extended sanctions on the Government of Liberia for a further 12 months -- including an arms embargo, travel ban for officials, and a prohibition on the import of its rough diamonds -- deciding that it had not fully complied with Council demands that it halt its support for the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and other armed rebel groups in the region.


Unanimously adopting resolution 1408 (2002) and acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Council decided that the measures imposed by paragraphs 5 to 7  of resolution 1343 (2001) shall be extended from 7 May, adding that they will be immediately terminated if the Council decides that the Government has complied with the resolution.  The Council noted that the Government had complied with one demand of the resolution, concerning the registration and ownership of each aircraft registered in Liberia.


Further, the Council reiterated its call upon the Government to establish  an effective certificate of origin regime for Liberian rough diamonds that was transparent and internationally verifiable.  It also decided that rough diamonds controlled by the Government through the certificate of origin regime shall be exempt from measures imposed by paragraph 6 of resolution 1343 (2001) –- which calls for the embargo of all rough diamonds from Liberia, whether they originated there or not -- when the Council's Committee established pursuant to the resolution has reported that such a regime is ready to become fully operational.


The Council also called on the Government to establish transparent and internationally verifiable audit regimes to ensure that revenue derived by the Government from the Liberia Shipping Registry and the Liberian timber industry is used for legitimate social, humanitarian and development purposes, and that the Government report back to the Council on results of such audits within three months.


The Council requested the Secretary-General to establish within three months a panel of experts to conduct a follow-up assessment mission to Liberia and neighbouring States in order to investigate and report on: compliance by Liberia's Government with the resolution's demands; potential economic, humanitarian and social impact on Liberian's population of the resolution's imposed measures; and on any violations of those measures.


The Council further requested all States, in particular arms-exporting countries, to exercise the highest degree of responsibility in small arms and

light weapons transactions to prevent illegal diversion and re-export, so as to stem the leakage of legal weapons to illegal markets in the region.


The meeting, which began at 12:49 a.m., was adjourned at 12:51 a.m.


Background


When the Security Council met this afternoon, it had before it the third report of the Secretary-General pursuant to resolution 1343 (2001), which imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Liberia on 7 March 2001, and the report of the Panel of Experts appointed by the Secretary-General in March 2001 to conduct a follow-up assessment mission to Liberia and neighbouring countries to investigate compliance by the Government of Liberia with the sanctions.


Paragraph 2 demands an immediate cessation of support by that Government for the RUF in Sierra Leone and for all other armed rebel groups in the region.  Paragraph 5 imposed a tightened embargo against Liberia, preventing the sale or supply of arms and related materiel, as well as technical training or assistance related to their provision, manufacture, maintenance or use.


By paragraph 6, the Council prohibited the direct or indirect import of all rough diamonds from Liberia, irrespective of their origin.  Paragraph 7 requires all States to prevent the entry into or the transit through their territories of senior members of the Government of Liberia or its armed forces and their spouses.  That also applies to any other individuals providing financial and military support to armed rebel groups in countries neighbouring Liberia.


The Secretary-General’s report (document S/2002/494) contains information provided to the United Nations Office in Liberia by the Liberian Government, the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).  The capacity of the United Nations Office there to provide independent confirmation of the Government's claims of compliance is "severely handicapped".  Thus, its role is to rely on documents provided by the Government as corroborating evidence.  (A list of documents is annexed to the present report.)


Regarding information provided by the Liberian Government, the report says it has reiterated its earlier submission on the subject of its disengagement with RUF, in accordance with its disengagement policy of 12 January 2001.  It contends that the most significant illustration of its disengagement is the phenomenal progress recorded in the peace process in Sierra Leone, culminating in President Tejan Kabbah's declaration that the civil war is over.


The Liberian Government cites as further evidence of compliance the full cooperation of the RUF leadership in:  its disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme; transformation into a political party and its current participation in Sierra Leone's electoral process; and the creation of an enabling environment for sustainable peace and stability throughout the country.  No less significant, in the Government's view, is the fact that there has been no record of armed hostilities in Sierra Leone for more than a year.


Also according to the report, UNAMSIL says that it has been given assurance by the leaders of the now defunct faction (RUF) that it has ceased all contacts with the Liberian Government, which has also made public pronouncements confirming that it maintains no contact with RUF.  Given the sustained cooperation of RUF with UNAMSIL during the period of disarmament and demobilization, UNAMSIL says it has no reason to believe that RUF has received military or related support from the Liberian Government during the period under review.


The UNAMSIL points out in the report, however, that it does not have the capacity to monitor compliance with the Council resolution's demand that all RUF members be expelled from Liberia.  It also recalls that the whereabouts of Sam Bockarie remains a mystery, except that he is not in Sierra Leone.


An ECOWAS Mediation and Verification Mission visited Liberia from 27 March to 3 April to, among other things, verify Liberia's compliance with the demands of resolution 1343 (2001).  According to the Mission, the Government has expelled all RUF rebels from Liberia and no longer has either direct or indirect contact with that organization.


The Mission also finds that there are no assets or financial resources of RUF in the territory and the Government is not engaged or involved in the illegal trafficking of arms, and has not solicited arms from any third party.  Further, the Government has banned importation of rough diamonds from Sierra Leone and has taken measures to establish a certificate of origin regime.


The ECOWAS finds that the Government has grounded and deregistered all aircraft known to belong to the Liberian Registry.  It notes that the Government has pointedly remarked that the intent of the sanctions against it has been overtaken by events in Sierra Leone, including that UNAMSIL and the Sierra Leone Army are now deployed throughout Sierra Leone, all abductees have been released, all RUF combatants in Sierra Leone have been disarmed, and the Sierra Leonean Government has officially declared that the war is over.


The report goes on to record some unofficial views obtained by the ECOWAS Mission.  Among them has been the difficulty in verifying the exact extent of Liberia's disengagement from RUF.  Also, the media's capacity to investigate government claims is limited, and it is still not clear where the Government gets its arms and ammunition to fight the rebels.  The diamond business is such an intricate network that it is difficult to unravel.  At the same time, no complaints have come from neighbouring countries accusing the Liberian Government of supporting dissidents to destabilize their countries.


The ECOWAS Mission recommends that the Liberian Government should be assisted in implementing the certificate of origin regime for trade in rough diamonds.  The rebel movement Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) should be encouraged to abandon the armed struggle and join the peace process.  Also, Liberia should be assisted to consolidate the peace process, and the international community should engage the Liberian leadership constructively.


The Secretary-General draws attention to government efforts to improve relations with its Mano River Union partners since the adoption of the resolution.  He also recalls the 27 February Summit Meeting of the Heads of State of the Mano River Union countries held in Rabat under the auspices of King Mohammed VI of Morocco aimed at finding a lasting solution to the crisis in the Mano River Union basin.  Several other meetings followed at the technical and ministerial levels, and a second Rabat summit meeting has been scheduled for May.


Moreover, efforts are being made to find a solution to the current fighting in Liberia, with a view to achieving national reconciliation and, ultimately, lasting peace, he says.  A pre-reconciliation conference was held in Abuja in March, under the auspices of ECOWAS, between Liberian government representatives and members of opposition political parties, civil society representatives and religious and community leaders, in preparation for a full-fledged national reconciliation conference in Monrovia in July.


The Secretary-General also observes that much remains to be done to restore sustainable peace in Liberia, whose stability is essential for the stability of the wider Mano River Union.  Undoubtedly, the Council, as it considers the appropriate follow-up to resolution 1343 (2001), will take stock of developments and strive towards consolidating the momentum generated primarily by the Rabat summit.


According to the report of the Panel of Experts (document S/2002/420), which details the situation with respect to arms and air transportation, diamonds and the travel ban, there was credible evidence that Liberia keeps violating the arms embargo and that the numerous special units deployed by the Government carry new weaponry and ammunition.  The Panel also expressed concern about the continuing arms build-up in other neighbouring countries. 


In view of the volatile situation in the subregion, the Panel recommends that:  the arms embargo on Liberia should continue and be regularly monitored for violations; the ECOWAS moratorium relating to small arms should be broadened to an information exchange mechanisms for all weapons types; and all arms-producing and -exporting countries should abstain from supplying weapons to each Mano River Union countries, including the dissident groups constituting LURD.


Regarding air transportation, the Panel reiterates the recommendations made on the issue of air transportation in its previous report (document S/2001/1015).  Among them, the Security Council Committee should reply to individual requests about the ban promptly and expeditiously.  It also recommended setting up a Liberia travel ban Web page describing the criteria for including names on the list and compiling a photographic database of key individuals on the list.


The Panel further recommends in the present report that, in view of the irregularities associated with a series of suspicious flights to Monrovia, Liberia should supply the Sanctions Committee within three months a full report on, among other things, the basic facts about the crash of an aircraft near Roberts International Airport on 15 February.


On diamonds, the Panel says that the imposition of an embargo on the export of Liberian rough diamonds, coupled with progress in the Sierra Leone peace process, has continued to ensure that "Liberian"-labelled rough have disappeared from the official markets.  The Panel recommends that the United Nations should encourage its Member States to assist the Liberian Government in setting up a credible and transparent certification scheme.  This scheme should be independently assessed and effective in order to facilitate the consideration of a monitored suspension of the diamond ban by the Security Council.

Regarding the travel ban, the Panel says that has continued to be a source of complaints, and individuals have continued to ask on what grounds their

names had been placed on the list.  The Panel believes that the current list of 129 names is too long; it is cumbersome and should be reduced to a list of all cabinet members, key government officials and individuals documented in Panel reports as having violated United Nations sanctions or consistently obstructed investigation.


Resolution


The full text of resolution 1408 (2002) reads, as follows:


"The Security Council,


"Recalling its resolutions 1132 (1997) of 8 October 1997, 1171 (1998) of

5 June 1998, 1306 (2000) of 5 July 2000, 1343 (2001) of 7 March 2001, 1385 (2001) of 19 December 2001, 1395 (2002) of 27 February 2002, 1400 (2002) of 28 March 2002 and its other resolutions and statements of its President on the situation in the region,


"Taking note of the Secretary-General’s report of 29 April 2002 (S/2002/494*),


"Taking note of the reports of the United Nations Panel of Experts on Liberia dated 26 October 2001 (S/2001/1015) and 19 April 2002 (S/2002/470) submitted pursuant to paragraph 19 of resolution 1343 (2001) and paragraph 4 of resolution 1395 (2002), respectively,


"Expressing serious concern at the findings of the Panel of Experts about the actions of the Government of Liberia, including the evidence that the Government of Liberia continues to breach the measures imposed by resolution 1343 (2001), particularly through the acquisition of arms,


"Welcoming General Assembly resolution 56/263 of 13 March 2002, looking forward to the full implementation of the international certification scheme proposed by the Kimberley Process as soon as possible and recalling its concern at the role played by the illicit trade in diamonds in the conflict in the region,


"Welcoming the meeting of the Presidents of the Mano River Union in Rabat on 27 February 2002 at the invitation of His Majesty the King of Morocco, and the continued efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to work towards the restoration of peace and stability in the region,


"Welcoming the conference sponsored by ECOWAS on political dialogue in Liberia held in Abuja on 14 March 2002, in particular the involvement of civil society, and encouraging the participation of all Liberian parties in the proposed Liberian National Reconciliation Conference to be held in Monrovia in July 2002, as a means of promoting the conditions for free, fair, transparent and inclusive elections in 2003,


"Encouraging civil society initiatives in the region, including those of the Mano River Union Women’s Peace Network, to continue their contribution towards regional peace,

"Calling on the Government of Liberia to cooperate fully with the Special Court for Sierra Leone when it is established,


"Recalling the ECOWAS Moratorium on the Importation, Exportation and Manufacture of Small Arms and Light Weapons in West Africa adopted in Abuja

on 31 October 1998 (S/1998/1194, annex), and its extension from 5 July 2001 (S/2001/700),


"Determining that the active support provided by the Government of Liberia to armed rebel groups in the region, in particular to former Revolutionary United Front (RUF) combatants who continue to destabilize the region, constitutes a threat to international peace and security in the region,


"Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,


"1.   Decides that the Government of Liberia has not complied fully with the demands in paragraph 2 (a) to (d) of resolution 1343 (2001);


"2.   Notes with satisfaction the updated information provided by the Government of Liberia to the Panel of Experts concerning the registration and ownership of each aircraft registered in Liberia (S/2001/1015) and the steps  taken by the Government of Liberia to update its register of aircraft pursuant to Annex VII to the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation of 1944 in compliance with the demand in paragraph 2 (e) of resolution 1343 (2001);


"3.   Stresses that the demands referred to in paragraph 1 above are intended to lead to consolidation of the peace process in Sierra Leone and to further progress in the peace process in the Mano River Union, and, in that regard, calls upon the President of Liberia to continue to participate in the meetings of the Presidents of the Mano River Union and to implement fully his commitments to building regional peace and security, as set out in the communiqué of the Mano River Union summit of 27 February 2002;


"4.   Demands that all States in the region cease military support for armed groups in neighbouring countries, take action to prevent armed individuals and groups from using their territory to prepare and commit attacks on neighbouring countries and refrain from any actions that might contribute to further destabilization of the situation on the borders between Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone;


"5.   Decides that the measures imposed by paragraphs 5 to 7 of resolution 1343 (2001) shall remain in force for a further period of 12 months from 00:01 Eastern Daylight Time on 7 May 2002, and that, at the end of this period, the Council will decide whether the Government of Liberia has complied with the demands referred to in paragraph 1 above, and, accordingly, whether to extend these measures for a further period with the same conditions;


"6.   Decides that the measures referred to in paragraph 5 above shall be terminated immediately if the Council, taking into account, inter alia, the reports of the Panel of Experts referred to in paragraph 16 below and of the Secretary-General referred to in paragraph 11 below, inputs from ECOWAS, any relevant information provided by the Committee established pursuant to paragraph 14 of resolution 1343 (2001) (“the Committee”) and the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1132 (1997) and any other relevant information, determines that the Government of Liberia has complied with the demands referred to in paragraph 1 above;


"7.   Reiterates its call upon the Government of Liberia to establish an effective Certificate of Origin regime for Liberian rough diamonds that is transparent and internationally verifiable, bearing in mind the plans for the international certification scheme under the Kimberley Process, and to provide the Committee with a detailed description of the proposed regime;


"8.   Notwithstandingparagraph 15 of resolution 1343 (2001), decides that rough diamonds controlled by the Government of Liberia through the Certificate of Origin regime shall be exempt from the measures imposed by paragraph 6 of resolution 1343 (2001) when the Committee has reported to the Council, taking into account expert advice obtained through the Secretary-General, that an effective and internationally verifiable regime is ready to become fully operational;


"9.   Calls again upon States, relevant international organizations and other bodies in a position to do so to offer assistance to the Government of Liberia and other diamond exporting countries in West Africa with their Certificate of Origin regimes;


"10.  Calls upon the Government of Liberia to take urgent steps, including through the establishment of transparent and internationally verifiable audit regimes, to ensure that revenue derived by the Government of Liberia from the Liberia Shipping Registry and the Liberian timber industry is used for legitimate social, humanitarian and development purposes, and is not used in violation of this resolution, and to report back to the Committee on the steps taken and results of such audits not later than three months after the date of adoption of this resolution;


"11.  Requests the Secretary-General to submit a report to the Council by 21 October 2002 and thereafter at six-monthly intervals from that date, drawing on information from all relevant sources, including the United Nations Office in Liberia, the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) and ECOWAS, on whether Liberia has complied with the demands referred to in paragraph 1 above, and calls on the Government of Liberia to support United Nations efforts to verify all information on compliance which is brought to the United Nations notice;


"12.  Invites ECOWAS to report regularly to the Committee on all activities undertaken by its members pursuant to paragraph 5 above and in the implementation of this resolution;


"13.  Requests the Committee to carry out the tasks set out in this resolution and to continue with its mandate as set out in paragraph 14 (a) to (h) of resolution 1343 (2001);


"14.  Further requests the Committee to consider and take appropriate action on information brought to its attention concerning any alleged violations of the measures imposed by paragraph 8 of resolution 788 (1992) while that resolution was in force;

"15.  Requests all States who have not reported pursuant to paragraph 18 of resolution 1343 (2001) to report to the Committee within 90 days on the steps they have taken to implement the measures referred to in paragraph 5 above;


"16.  Requests the Secretary-General to establish, within three months from the date of adoption of this resolution, in consultation with the Committee, for a period of three months, a Panel of Experts consisting of no more than five members, drawing, as much as possible and as appropriate, on the expertise of the members of the Panel of Experts established pursuant to resolution 1343 (2001), to conduct a follow-up assessment mission to Liberia and neighbouring States, in order to investigate and compile a report on the Government of Liberia’s compliance with the demands referred to in paragraph 1 above, on the potential economic, humanitarian and social impact on the Liberian population of the measures referred to in paragraph 5 above, and on any violations of the measures referred to in paragraph 5 above, including any involving rebel movements, and to report to the Council through the Committee no later than 7 October 2002 with observations and recommendations, and further requests the Secretary-General to provide the necessary resources;


"17.  Requests the Panel of Experts referred to in paragraph 16 above, as far as possible, to bring any relevant information collected in the course of its investigations conducted in accordance with its mandate to the attention of the States concerned for prompt and thorough investigation and, where appropriate, corrective action, and to allow them the right of reply;


"18.  Calls upon all States to take appropriate measures to ensure that individuals and companies in their jurisdiction, in particular those referred to in the reports of the Panel of Experts established pursuant to resolutions 1343 (2001) and 1395 (2002), act in conformity with United Nations embargoes, in particular those established by resolutions 1171 (1998), 1306 (2000) and 1343 (2001), and, as appropriate, to take the necessary judicial and administrative action to end any illegal activities by those individuals and companies;


"19.  Requests all States, in particular arms exporting countries, to exercise the highest degree of responsibility in small arms and light weapons transactions to prevent illegal diversion and re-export, so as to stem the leakage of legal weapons to illegal markets in the region, in line with the statement of its President of 31 August 2001 (S/PRST/2001/21) and the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects;


"20.  Decides to conduct reviews of the measures referred to in paragraph 5 above before 7 November 2002, and every six months thereafter;


"21.  Urges all States, relevant United Nations bodies and, as appropriate, other organizations and interested parties to cooperate fully with the Committee and Panel of Experts referred to in paragraph 16 above, including by supplying information on possible violations of the measures referred to in paragraph 5 above;


"22.  Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."