21/12/2004
Press Release
SC/8275


Security Council

5105th Meeting (PM)


SECURITY COUNCIL RENEWS LIBERIA SANCTIONS ON ARMS, TRAVEL, TIMBER, DIAMONDS,


UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1579 (2004)

 


Assessment Mission Determines Conditions Not Yet Met for Lifting Ban


The Security Council today renewed the arms, timber, travel and diamond sanctions on Liberia, after determining through an August to November assessment mission to the country that the National Transitional Government had not yet met the conditions for lifting the measures.


Through resolution 1579 (2004), adopted unanimously, the arms, timber and travel bans were renewed for 12 months and will be reviewed after six, while the ban on the sale of rough diamonds was renewed for six months, to be reviewed after three.  The sanctions were originally imposed by resolution 1521 in September 2003.


The Council also re-established until 21 June 2005 the Panel of Experts, which had conducted the assessment mission, and asked it to carry out a follow-up mission to investigate implementation and violations of the sanctions.  It further tasked the Panel with assessing:  the impact and effectiveness of measures imposed by resolution 1532 (2004) on the financial assets of former Liberian President Charles Taylor; the progress of Liberia’s National Transitional Government towards meeting the conditions for the lifting of sanctions; and the humanitarian and socio-economic impact of those measures.


While extending the diamond ban, the Council also welcomed the start of preparations by the Transitional Government to establish a transparent and internationally viable Certificate of Origin regime for the trade in rough diamonds.  In light of a scheduled visit by representatives of the Kimberly Process to the country in early 2005, the Council indicated its three-month review would be carried out with a view to lifting the ban as soon as possible following the creation of an effective certification regime.


Noting with concern that, despite having initiated important reforms, the National Transitional Government has made only limited progress towards establishing its full authority and control over the timber-producing areas, the Council encouraged the National Transitional Government to meet the conditions for the lifting of sanctions, in particular by implementing the Liberia Forest Initiative and necessary reforms in the Forestry Development Authority.  It also urged the National Transitional Government to implement without delay its obligations under resolution 1532 (2004) to freeze the assets of all persons designated by the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1521 (2003).


The Panel of Experts was requested to provide a preliminary report by 21 March 2005 on progress towards meeting the conditions for lifting the measures on diamonds, and to report by 7 June 2005 on the other issues.  The Secretary-General, acting in consultation with the Committee, was asked to appoint no more than five experts, drawing on the expertise of the original Panel.


Explaining his country’s position after adoption of the text, the representative of the United States said that premature lifting of sanctions would threaten re-emergence of armed conflict.  The United States shared the desire of others to see Liberia’s timber sector restored quickly as a source of legitimate revenue for the National Transitional Government.  However, for that to happen, there must first be security, transparency and accountability in that sector.  At present, Liberia lacked the necessary mechanisms to ensure that forest resources were not misappropriated to foster a climate of instability and conflict, as had happened during the previous regime.  He said his Government was actively engaged in assisting Liberian authorities to restructure both Liberia’s timber, as well as diamond sectors as a means to expedite, not retard, the eventual lifting of sanctions.


The meeting began at 1:19 a.m. and adjourned at 1:25 p.m.


Resolution


The full text of Resolution 1579 (2004) reads as follows:


The Security Council,


Recalling its previous resolutions and statements by its President on the situation in Liberia and West Africa,


Taking note of the reports of the United Nations Panel of Experts on Liberia dated 24 September 2004 (S/2004/752) and 6 December 2004 (S/2004/955) submitted pursuant to resolution 1549 (2004),


Taking note of the letter from the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Liberia of 13 December 2004 to the Chairman of the Committee established by paragraph 21 of resolution 1521 (2003),


Recognizing the linkage between the illegal exploitation of natural resources such as diamonds and timber, illicit trade in such resources, and the proliferation and trafficking of arms as one of the sources of fuelling and exacerbating conflicts in West Africa, particularly in Liberia,


Recalling that the measures imposed under resolution 1521 (2003) were designed to prevent such illegal exploitation from fuelling a resumption of the conflict in Liberia, as well as to support the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the extension of the authority of the National Transitional Government throughout Liberia,


Expressing its satisfaction that the full deployment of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has contributed to the improvement of security throughout Liberia, whilst recognizing that the National Transitional Government has not yet established its authority throughout Liberia,


Expressing concern that former President Charles Taylor and others still closely associated with him continue to engage in activities that undermine peace and stability in Liberia and the region,


Having reviewed the measures imposed by paragraphs 2, 4, 6 and 10 of resolution 1521 (2003) and paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004) and the progress towards achieving the objectives set forth in paragraphs 5, 7 and 11 of resolution 1521 (2003),


Welcoming the steps taken by the National Transitional Government of Liberia towards meeting the conditions established by the Security Council for lifting the measures imposed by resolution 1521 (2003),


Noting the completion of demobilization and disarmament, respect for the ceasefire and implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, but emphasizing that significant challenges remain in completing reintegration, repatriation and restructuring of the security sector, as well as establishing and maintaining stability in Liberia and the subregion,


Noting with concern that, despite having initiated important reforms, the National Transitional Government of Liberia has made only limited progress towards establishing its full authority and control over the timber-producing areas and towards ensuring that government revenues from the Liberian timber industry are not used to fuel conflict or otherwise in violation of the Council’s resolutions but are used for legitimate purposes for the benefit of the Liberian people, including development,


Welcoming the start of preparations by the National Transitional Government of Liberia to establish an effective Certificate of Origin regime for trade in rough diamonds that is transparent and internationally verifiable, looking forward to the visit by representatives of the Kimberley Process to Liberia in early 2005, encouraging the Government to continue its preparations in that regard and urging States to increase their support for its efforts,


Determining that the situation in Liberia continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region,


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


“1.   Decides, on the basis of its assessments above of progress made by the National Transitional Government of Liberia towards meeting the conditions for lifting the measures imposed by resolution 1521 (2003):


(a)   to renew the measures on arms and travel imposed by paragraphs 2 and 4 of resolution 1521 (2003) for a further period of 12 months from the date of adoption of this resolution, and to review them after six months;


(b)   to renew the measures on timber imposed by paragraph 10 of resolution 1521 (2003) for a further period of 12 months from the date of adoption of this resolution, and to review them after six months;


(c)   to renew the measures on diamonds imposed by paragraph 6 of resolution 1521 (2003) for a further period of six months from the date of adoption of this resolution, but to review them after three months in the light of the Kimberley Process visit and the preliminary report of the Expert Panel requested in paragraph 8 (f) below, with a view to lifting the measures as soon as possible, when the Council concludes that the National Transitional Government has established an effective Certificate of Origin regime for trade in rough diamonds that is transparent and internationally verifiable;


“2.   Reiterates the Council’s readiness to terminate these measures once the conditions referred to in paragraph 1 above have been met;


“3.   Encourages the National Transitional Government of Liberia to intensify its efforts to meet these conditions, in particular by implementing the Liberia Forest Initiative and the necessary reforms in the Forestry Development Authority, and urges all members of the National Transitional Government to commit themselves to this end for the benefit of the Liberian people;


“4.   Notes that the measures imposed by paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004) remain in force to prevent former President Charles Taylor, his immediate family members, senior officials of the former Taylor regime, or other close allies or associates from using misappropriated funds and property to interfere in the restoration of peace and stability in Liberia and the subregion, and reconfirms its intention to review these measures at least once a year;


“5.   Reiterates its call on the international donor community to continue to provide assistance to the peace process, including for reintegration and reconstruction, to contribute generously to consolidated humanitarian appeals, to disburse as soon as possible the pledges made at the Liberia Reconstruction Conference held in New York on 5-6 February 2004 and to respond to the immediate financial, administrative and technical needs of the National Transitional Government of Liberia, in particular to assist the Government to meet the conditions referred to in paragraph 1 above, so that the measures can be lifted as soon as possible;


“6.   Restates its demand that all States refrain from any action that might contribute to further destabilization of the situation in the subregion and further demands that all West African States take action to prevent armed individuals and groups from using their territory to prepare and commit attacks on neighbouring countries;


“7.   Reminds all States of their obligation to implement all the measures under resolutions 1521 (2003) and 1532 (2004) and particularly urges the National Transitional Government of Liberia to implement without delay its obligations under paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004) to freeze the assets of all persons designated by the Committee established by paragraph 21 of resolution 1521 (2003) (“the Committee”);


“8.   Decides to re-establish the Panel of Experts appointed pursuant to resolution 1549 (2004) for a further period until 21 June 2005 to undertake the following tasks:


(a)   to conduct a follow-up assessment mission to Liberia and neighbouring States, in order to investigate and compile a report on the implementation, and any violations, of the measures referred to in paragraph 1 above, including any information relevant to the designation by the Committee of the individuals described in paragraph 4 (a) of resolution 1521 (2003) and paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004), and including the various sources of financing, such as from natural resources, for the illicit trade of arms;


(b)   to assess the impact and effectiveness of the measures imposed by paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004);


(c)   to assess the progress made towards meeting the conditions referred to in paragraph 1 above;


(d)   to assess the humanitarian and socio-economic impact of the measures imposed by paragraphs 2, 4, 6 and 10 of resolution 1521 (2003);


(e)   to report to the Council through the Committee by 7 June 2005 on all the issues listed in this paragraph;


(f)   to provide a preliminary report to the Council through the Committee by 21 March 2005 on progress towards meeting the conditions for lifting the measures on diamonds imposed by paragraph 6 of resolution 1521 (2003);


“9.   Requests the Secretary-General, acting in consultation with the Committee, to appoint as soon as possible no more than five experts, with the appropriate range of expertise, in particular on arms, timber, diamonds, finance, humanitarian and socio-economic and any other relevant issues, drawing as much as possible on the expertise of the members of the Panel of Experts established pursuant to resolution 1549 (2004), and further requests the Secretary-General to make the necessary financial and security arrangements to support the work of the Panel;


“10.  Calls upon UNMIL and the United Nations Missions in Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire to continue assisting the Committee and the Panel of Experts in accordance with paragraph 23 of resolution 1521 (2003);


“11.  Calls upon all States and the National Transitional Government of Liberia to cooperate fully with the Panel of Experts;


“12.  Requests the Secretary-General to submit a report to the Council by 7 June 2005, drawing on information from all relevant sources, including the National Transitional Government of Liberia, UNMIL and the Economic Community of West African States, on progress made towards meeting the conditions mentioned in paragraph 1 above;


“13.  Decides to remain seized of the matter.”


Background


For the Security Council’s consideration this morning of the situation in Liberia, it had before it the report of the Panel of Experts on Liberia (document S/2004/955).  The report responds to the request made by the Council on 17 June in resolution 1549, by which it re-established the Panel to investigate, through an assessment mission to Liberia and neighbouring States, implementation and violations of sanctions imposed against Liberia in September 2003 by resolution 1521 (2003).  The five experts on the Panel are:  Atabou Bodian, Chairman (Senegal); Arthur Blundell (Canada); Damien Callamand (France); Caspar Fithen (United Kingdom); and Tommy Garnett (Sierra Leone).


The report of the Panel, whose mandate is due to expire on 21 December, reviews the basis for the sanctions regime, explaining that the Council, in 2001, sanctioned Liberia for its role in the conflict in Sierra Leone (resolution 1343 (2001)).  To compel Liberia to cease destabilizing the region, sanctions were imposed on arms, diamonds and the travel of key individuals providing support to the rebels.  Sanctions were retained by means of resolutions 1408 (2002) and 1478 (2003) and extended to establish audit regimes to ensure that revenue from shipping and timber was used for legitimate purposes (resolution 1408 (2002)).  To further increase pressure, the Council extended sanctions to timber products as of July 2003 (resolution 1478 (2003)).


The Panel recalls that former President Charles Taylor went into exile in Nigeria in August 2003, and was replaced in October 2003 by the National Transitional Government of Liberia, which was and remains composed of the three previously warring factions (LURD, MODEL and the former Government of Liberia). 


The Council remained concerned that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that established the National Transitional Government was not universally implemented and the linkage between natural resources and the proliferation of arms could be a major source exacerbating conflict in West Africa.  The Council, therefore, renewed, on a revised legal basis, the sanctions on arms, diamonds, timber and the travel of key individuals (resolution 1521 (2003)) and, further, required all States to seize relevant assets of Mr. Taylor and his associates, as designated by the sanctions Committee (resolution 1532 (2004)).


More than a year since the National Transitional Government assumed power, most Liberians have seen little improvement in their quality of life, the Panel finds.  Liberia still has no public electric, water and sewage utilities, even in the capital, Monrovia, where more than 1 million increasingly frustrated people live.  Unemployment is estimated at 85 per cent and corruption remains widespread.  Under these conditions, the riots in Monrovia on 29 October, which left 16 persons dead, are likely to recur.


The Panel also finds that most Liberians support the response to the riots by the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).  The Mission remains hampered by the Council mandate, however, which does not provide it with full executive authority allowing, for example, the arrest of those undermining peace or failing to disarm.  The overall security situation remains tense.  Disarmament and demobilization have concluded, and the warring factions have been officially dissolved, but most ordinary Liberians are jobless and upset that they have not seen greater gains in their living conditions.  The UNMIL deployment is completed, but its limited mandate undermines its ability to exert authority throughout Liberia.


During interviews with a cross-section of Liberian citizens and members of the international community it emerged that the loss of employment opportunities for the estimated 5,000 to 8,000 Liberians, due to the sanctions on timber remains a serious issue in the timber-producing areas, the Panel says.  At the same time, most people emphasized that sanctions on timber must not be lifted before the installation of a democratically-elected government.  The commonly expressed rationale for this view is that the National Transitional Government remains obviously factionalized and has yet to demonstrate its commitment and political will to lead the country out of its present difficult circumstances.  Therefore, if sanctions are lifted now, especially on timber and diamonds, revenue generated will be mismanaged and used for the benefit of a few well-placed individuals and groups, as was done in the past.


The Panel recommends that the international community, through its implementing agencies, increase its financial assistance to allow the creation of alternative employment in the key logging concession and diamond-mining areas.  Such assistance could include support to projects for the rehabilitation of cash-crop plantations, road rehabilitation and maintenance, land reclamation at degraded mining sites and reforestation of over-harvested concession areas.


It further recommends that the international community sustain its financial assistance for the provision of urgently needed social services, including the rehabilitation and maintenance of hundreds of health and educational facilities that were destroyed during the conflict, especially in the former logging concession areas.  It further recommends that the National Transitional Government, the donor community, United Nations Agencies, international non-governmental organizations and conservation organizations maintain their support to the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) in efforts to speed up reform of the forest sector and rebuild the institutional capacity of the FDA, especially the technical capacities of its personnel, in preparation for sustainable forestry practices after the lifting of sanctions.


In addition, the Panel recommends that UNMIL be adequately empowered to take a proactive stance in identifying and publicizing high-level corruption and other serious violations of public trust, so as to emphasize the importance of, and urgent need for, accountability and transparency as a means of restoring public confidence in the capacity to govern of the Transitional National Government, as well as encouraging popular participation in the reform and institution-building processes in post-war Liberia.


On weapons trafficking, the Panel found no evidence of organized deliveries of arms and ammunition to any faction in Liberia for the purpose of fuelling conflict or disrupting the peace process.  Its findings indicate that recent arms flows into Liberia are limited and are mainly for the purpose of becoming part of the Liberian disarmament, demobilization, and rehabilitation and reintegration process.  Nevertheless, the porous nature of the borders, the existence of arms caches and the recent riots in Monrovia all indicate that the situation remains fragile and tense.  The Panel, therefore, recommends maintaining the provisions of paragraph 2 of resolution 1521 (2003) and paragraph 1 (a) of resolution 1549 (2004).  It also recommends reinforcing surveillance of the borders in the whole subregion.


Paragraph 2 of resolution 1521 (2003) imposes the arms embargo, while paragraph 1 (a) of resolution 1549 (2004) re-establishes the Panel to investigate implementation and any violations of the sanctions.


Regarding the travel ban, the Panel provides an analysis of flights, as well as details of the illegal registry of aircraft, and the aircraft put at Charles Taylor’s disposal.  The Panel also analysed the movements of persons at RobertsfieldInternationalAirport from 1 June to 5 November.  None of the persons mentioned on the travel ban list, except Mohamed Salame, seen on 8 August on his way to Abidjan, was on the airport’s departure manifests.  The report’s section on the travel ban also reviews developments following identification in various reports of the Panel of shortcomings in the area of civil aviation.


Concerning the diamonds ban, the Panel says that, while the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy continues to demonstrate commitment towards satisfying the requirements of the Security Council for the lifting of the current embargo on the export of Liberian rough diamonds, its efforts remain hampered by a lack of funding and institutional capacity.  The onset of the dry season, improvements in internal security and large numbers of former combatants available for itinerant labour have resulted in a marked increase in levels of both licensed and illegal diamond mining in Liberia.  In consequences, increasing amounts of diamonds are being traded illegally on the international market in direct violation of Security Council sanctions.


The Panel finds further that diamonds of Liberian origin are passing through neighbouring States where they are receiving Kimberley Process certificates, thus undermining the credibility of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in those countries.  The Liberian Government currently lacks the operational capacity to control the illegal mining and smuggling of diamonds.  It is struggling, as a result of acute funding shortages, to meet the requirements of the Security Council and the Kimberley Process.  (The Scheme, which was finalized two years ago, is an internationally recognized certification system for rough diamonds that also establishes national import/export standards.)


It recommends that the current embargo on the export of Liberian diamonds remain in force until Liberia is in a position to make a successful application for participation in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.  The Panel also recommends that the international community take immediate steps to provide the necessary funding and technical assistance to enable the Liberian Government to meet both the Council’s and the Scheme’s requirements.  Without such assistance, illegal production will increase and Liberian diamonds will undermine, not only the efforts of neighbouring States to adhere to the Kimberley Process’ requirements, but also the credibility of the global diamond industry.


It further recommends that UNMIL be given the authority to assist the Government in asserting its control over its diamond-producing regions until such time as Liberia is ready to participate in the Kimberley Process and United Nations sanctions are lifted.  The UNMIL could effectively map mining activity in the interior and deploy personnel to inspect licenses and concession agreements.  Placing pressure on illegal diggers would go some way towards controlling illegal smuggling.  There is a precedent for this:  the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) gave similar assistance to the Government of Sierra Leone as part of its successful attempts to legitimize and assert its control over the diamond industry of that country.


Although there is compliance with timber sanctions, few of the necessary reforms had been implemented, the Panel finds.  Therefore, the recommendations set out in the Panel’s previous reports (document S/2003/779 and 937, S/2004/396 and Corr.1, and S/2004/752) remain valid.  Given their extensive investments in heavy machinery in rural areas, timber companies will provide their own protection forces.  In the past, ex-combatants and militias provided such protection.  If this recurs, conflict could resume.  Without financial management, it is impossible to track the finances of the Forestry Development Authority.  Accounts must be prepared and audited by an internationally recognized firm.  Without financial oversight, misappropriation of timber revenue will facilitate corruption.  Without enforcement, timber companies may violate regulations with impunity.


Ultimately, the Panel finds that “sanctions are not a long-term solution for Liberia”.  They must be lifted as soon as possible, that is, once the FDA has reformed itself and the sector to ensure that forestry will not contribute to conflict.  In order to hasten this process and get Liberians back to work in the sector, a professional management team should be brought in to run the FDA.  There is precedent for this as the Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry manages the maritime registry and the independent firm BIVAC manages the inspection services at the port.


Concerning financial sanctions, the Panel recommends that adequate pressure be brought upon the National Transitional Government for prompt implementation of the financial sanctions.  It also suggests that the necessary legal assistance should be provided to the Transitional Government on a priority basis for implementation of the financial sanctions within the territory of Liberia.


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