21/06/2005
Press Release
SC/8419


Security Council

5208th Meeting (AM)


SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS LIBERIA DIAMOND EMBARGO FOR SIX MONTHS, RENEWS

 

EXPERT PANEL, UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1607 (2005)


Notes Measures on Arms, Travel, Timber Remain in Force;

Urges Intensified Efforts to Control Diamond-Producing Areas


Acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Security Council decided this morning renewed for a further six months the embargo imposed on Liberian diamonds imposed by resolution 1521 (2003).


Unanimously adopting resolution 1607 (2005), the Council also re-established the Panel of Experts appointed pursuant to resolution 1579 (2004) until 21 December 2005 to undertake the following tasks:


-- 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 imposed by resolution 1521 (2003), including any information relevant to the various sources of financing, such as from natural resources, for the illicit trade of arms;


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


-- To assess the progress made towards meeting the conditions for lifting the measures imposed by resolution 1521 (2003);


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


-- To report to the Council by 7 December 2005 on all those issues, and to provide informal updates before that date, especially on progress towards meeting the conditions for lifting the measures imposed by paragraphs 6 and 10 of resolution 1521 (2003); and


-- To cooperate with other relevant groups of experts, in particular that established on Côte d’Ivoire by resolution 1584 of 1 February 2005.


The Council reiterated its readiness to terminate all measures imposed by resolution 1521 (2003) once the conditions set forth in paragraphs 5, 7 and 11 of that text had been met.  It urged the National Transitional Government of Liberia to intensify its efforts, with the support of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), to establish its authority over the diamond-producing areas, and to work towards establishing a transparent and internationally verifiable official Certificate of Origin regime for trade in rough diamonds, with a view to joining the Kimberley Process.


The Council called on the Government urgently to intensify its effortsto reform the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), to implement the Liberia Forest Initiative, and to implement the Forest Concession Review Committee’s recommendations for reform, which would ensure transparency, accountability and sustainable forest management, while contributing towards the lifting of the embargo on timber set forth in paragraph 10 of resolution 1521 (2003).


Also by the text, the Council invited the Government to consider, with the assistance of international partners and for a specific time period,the possibility of commissioning independent external advice on the management of Liberia’s diamond and timberresources, in order to increase investor confidence and attract additional donor support.


By other provisions of the resolution, the Council noted that the measures imposed by paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004) remained 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 reconfirmed its intention to review those measures at least once a year.


It reiterated its intention also to consider whether and how to make available to the Government the funds, other financial assets and economic resources frozen pursuant to paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004), once that Government had established transparent accounting and auditing mechanisms to ensure the responsible use of government revenue for the direct benefit of the Liberian people.


The Council emphasized its concern that the Government had taken no action to implement its obligations under paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004), and called on it to take such action immediately, particularly through adopting the necessary domestic legislation, with technical support provided by Member States.  It noted also that the measures on arms, travel and timber imposed by paragraphs 2, 4 and 10, respectively, of resolution 1521 (2003) and renewed by paragraph 1 of resolution 1579 (2004) remained in force until 21 December 2005.


Urging UNMIL to intensify its efforts, as mandated in resolution 1509 (2003), to assist the Government in re-establishing its authority throughout Liberia and restoring proper administration of natural resources, the Council reiterated the importance of UNMIL’s continuing assistance to the Government, the Committee established by paragraph 21 of resolution 1521 (2003) and the Panel of Experts in the following areas:


-- Monitoring the implementation of the measures in paragraph 2, 4, 6 and 10 of resolution 1521 (2003) in accordance with paragraph 23 of that resolution;


-- Supporting efforts by the Transitional Government to prevent violations of those measures, and reporting any such violations;


-- Collecting arms and any related materiel brought into Liberia in violation of the measures taken by States to implement paragraph 2 of resolution 1521 (2003), and disposing of such arms and related materiel as appropriate;


-- Assisting the Transitional Government in monitoring the recruitment  and movement of ex-combatants, and reporting any relevant information to the Panel and the Committee, in order to reduce the opportunity for ex-combatants to undermine the peace process or provoke renewed instability in Liberia and the subregion; and


-- Developing a strategy, in conjunction with the Economic Community of West African States and other international partners, to consolidate a national legal framework as mandated in resolution 1509 (2003), including the implementation by the Transitional Government of the measures in paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004).


In a related provision, the Council called upon UNMIL and the United Nations Missions in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) and Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) to intensify their cooperation to monitor arms trafficking and recruitment of mercenaries within the subregion.  It reiterated its call on the international donor community to continue to provide assistance to the peace process, including for the reintegration of ex-combatants and reconstruction.


The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and ended at 10:20 a.m.


Council Resolution


The full text of resolution 1607 (2005) 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 17 March 2005 (S/2005/176) and 13 June 2005 (S/2005/360), and the report of the Secretary-General dated 7 June 2005 (S/2005/376), submitted pursuant to resolution 1579 (2004),


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 and the recruitment and use of mercenaries 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 concern that, while the deployment of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has contributed to the improvement of security throughout Liberia, the National Transitional Government has not yet established its authority throughout Liberia,


Emphasizing the need for the international community to help the National Transitional Government increase its capacity to establish its authority throughout Liberia, particularly to establish its control over the diamond- and timber-producing areas and Liberia’s borders,


Expressing deep concern at informationthat 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 meeting the conditions set forth in paragraphs 5, 7 and 11 of resolution 1521 (2003),


Welcoming the assessment of the Panel of Experts that there is no evidence of illegal timber being exported from Liberia, but noting with concern that few of the reforms in the National Transitional Government of Liberia road map necessary to meet the conditions set forth in paragraph 11 of resolution 1521 (2003) for lifting the measures on timber imposed by paragraph 10 of resolution 1521 (2003) have been implemented,


Acknowledging the recent completion of the Forest Concession Review and welcoming the report of the Forest Concession Review Committee,


Welcoming the progress made by the National Transitional Government of Liberia with training for diamond mining officials, but noting with serious concern the increase in unlicensed mining and illegal exports of diamonds and the National Transitional Government of Liberia’s agreement to, and lack of transparency in, granting exclusive mining rights to a single company,


Noting with concern the limited progress made by the National Transitional Government of Liberia towards establishing transparent financial management systems that will help ensure that government revenues are not used to fuel conflict or otherwise used in violation of the Council’s resolutions but are used for legitimate purposes for the benefit of the Liberian people, including development,


Taking note of the ongoing discussions regarding a Liberia Economic Governance Action Plan, designed to ensure prompt implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and to expedite the lifting of measures imposed by resolution 1521 (2003), and expressing its intention to consider, as appropriate, the Action Plan,


Emphasizing that, despite completion of demobilization and disarmament, significant challenges remain in completing reintegration and repatriation of ex-combatants and restructuring of the security sector, as well as establishing and maintaining stability in Liberia and the subregion,


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), 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;


“2.   Urges the National Transitional Government of Liberia to intensify its efforts, with the support of UNMIL, to establish its authority over the diamond-producing areas, and to work towards establishing an official Certificate of Origin regime for trade in rough diamonds that is transparent and internationally verifiable, with a view to joining the Kimberley Process;


“3.   Reiterates the Council’s readiness to terminate all measures imposed by resolution 1521 (2003) once the conditions set forth in paragraphs 5, 7 and 11 of resolution 1521 (2003) have been met;


“4.   Calls on the National Transitional Government of Liberia urgently to intensify its effortsto reform the Forestry Development Authority, to implement the Liberia Forest Initiative and to implement the Forest Concession Review Committee’s recommendations for reform, which will ensure transparency, accountability and sustainable forest management and contribute towards the lifting of the measures on timber set forth in paragraph 10 of resolution 1521 (2003);


“5.   Invites the National Transitional Government of Liberia to consider, with the assistance of international partners and for a specific time period,the possibility of commissioning independent external advice on the management of Liberia’s diamond and timberresources, in order to increase investor confidence and attract additional donor support;


“6.   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;


“7.   Reiterates its intention to consider whether and how to make available to the Government of Liberia the funds, other financial assets and economic resources frozen pursuant to paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004), once that Government has established transparent accounting and auditing mechanisms to ensure the responsible use of government revenue to benefit directly the people of Liberia;


“8.   Emphasizes its concern that the National Transitional Government of Liberia has taken no action to implement its obligations under paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004), and calls on the Government to take such action immediately, particularly through adopting the necessary domestic legislation, with technical support provided by Member States;


“9.   Notes also that the measures on arms, travel and timber imposed by paragraphs 2, 4 and 10 respectively of resolution 1521 (2003) and renewed by paragraph 1 of resolution 1579 (2004) remain in force until 21 December 2005;


“10.  Urges UNMIL to intensify its efforts, as mandated in resolution 1509 (2003), to assist the National Transitional Government of Liberia in re-establishing its authority throughout Liberia, including diamond-producing and timber-producing areas, and restoring proper administration of natural resources;


“11.  Reiterates the importance of UNMIL’s continuing assistance to the National Transitional Government of Liberia, the Committee established by paragraph 21 of resolution 1521 (2003) (“the Committee”) and the Panel of Experts, within its capabilities and areas of deployment, and without prejudice to its mandate, in the following areas:


(a)   monitoring the implementation of the measures in paragraph 2, 4, 6 and 10 of resolution 1521 (2003) in accordance with paragraph 23 of that resolution;


(b)   supporting efforts by the Transitional Government to prevent violations of those measures, and reporting any such violations;


(c)   collecting, as appropriate, arms and any related materiel brought into Liberia in violation of the measures taken by States to implement paragraph 2 of resolution 1521 (2003), and disposing of such arms and related materiel as appropriate;


(d)   assisting the National Transitional Government of Liberia in monitoring the recruitment  and movement of ex-combatants, and reporting any relevant information to the Panel and the Committee, in order to reduce the opportunity for ex-combatants to undermine the peace process or provoke renewed instability in Liberia and the subregion;


(e)   developing a strategy, in conjunction with the Economic Community of West African States and other international partners, to consolidate a national legal framework as mandated in resolution 1509 (2003), including the implementation by the National Transitional Government of Liberia of the measures in paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004);


“12.  Calls upon UNMIL and the United Nations Missions in Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire to intensify their cooperation, within their capabilities and areas of deployment and without prejudice to their mandates, to monitor arms trafficking and recruitment of mercenaries within the subregion;


“13.  Reiterates its call on the international donor community to continue to provide assistance to the peace process, including for reintegration of ex-combatants and reconstruction, to contribute generously to consolidated humanitarian appeals, to disburse as soon as possible the pledges made at the Liberia Reconstruction Conference in New York on 5-6 February 2004, and to respond to the 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 3 above, so that the measures can be lifted as soon as possible;


“14.  Decides to re-establish the Panel of Experts appointed pursuant to resolution 1579 (2004) for a further period until 21 December 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 imposed by resolution 1521 (2003), 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 for lifting the measures imposed by resolution 1521 (2003);


(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 December 2005 on all the issues listed in this paragraph, and to provide informal updates to the Committee as appropriate before that date, especially on progress towards meeting the conditions for lifting the measures imposed by paragraphs 6 and 10 of resolution 1521 (2003);


(f)   to cooperate with other relevant groups of experts, in particular that established on Côte d’Ivoire by resolution 1584 of 1 February 2005;


“15.  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 1579 (2004), and further requests the Secretary-General to make the necessary financial and security arrangements to support the work of the Panel;


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


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


Background


Before the Security Council is a letter dated 13 June 2005 from the Chairman of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1521 (2003) concerning Liberia addressed to the President of the Security Council (document S/2005/360).


The Panel concludes that the opaque nature of the agreement between the National Transitional Government of Liberia and WAMCO has stalled efforts to meet Security Council requirements for the lifting of the embargo on the export of rough diamonds.  Much of the funding for implementing the mechanisms necessary for an application by Liberia to participate in the Kimberley Process certification scheme is likely to be suspended by international donors until outstanding questions regarding the deal have been answered.  This process could take time and, in consequence, it is unlikely that Liberia will be in a position to participate in the Kimberley Process for some time.  The Panel recommends that international donors with an interest in diamond-sector reform work quickly with the National Transitional Government of Liberia and WAMCO to resolve this issue as soon as possible.


According to the Panel, levels of illegal mining and the illegal export of Liberian diamonds in contravention of the United Nations embargo are set to increase steadily in future, particularly as the Government lacks the capacity to deal with the problem and UNMIL has no mandate to offer assistance in this area.  The embargo on the export of diamonds from Liberia is rapidly becoming ineffective, as miners dig with a flagrant disregard for national or United Nations authority.  As people move into mining areas in numbers to dig for diamonds, the potential for conflict over claims, property and production is likely to grow.  The Panel believes that unchecked mining activity is likely to pose an increasing threat to security and stability in mining areas in the short to medium term.  The Panel, therefore, recommends that UNMIL be given a robust mandate to assist the National Transitional Government of Liberia and any future Government with its control of illegal mining in order to maintain security in mining areas.


The damage to the reputation of the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, in the light of the WAMCO agreement, as well as other dealings in iron ore and scrap metal, is likely to take a considerable period of time to repair, the Panel states.  This situation is compounded by a lack of professional expertise in Liberia to replace those who may be removed from office in a new political climate.  As a result, the Panel believes that an external independent supervisory management structure for Liberia’s mineral resources will be the best solution to current problems concerning managerial professionalism and administrative transparency.


UNMIL civil affairs officers investigated pit-sawing in more than 100 locations in Grand Bassa and RiverCessCounties, the Panel says.  Of the 200 people interviewed, all had FDA permits, some “gratis”, but only 10 per cent were authentic; the remainder were photocopies.  The holders claimed to have paid $400 per permit to FDA.  According to the locals, the regional FDA officers were still giving out permits in April 2005, and they patrolled once or twice a month.


All of the pit-sawyers interviewed were Armed Forces of Liberia and MODEL ex-combatants, including some from the Oriental Timber Corporation’s former militia.  They felt no stigma attached to their status as ex-combatants.  Some locals expressed intimidation by the ex-combatants.


Much of the trade in RiverCessCounty was “controlled” by a former member of the National Patriotic Forces of Liberia and the Armed Forces of Liberia, “Commander Kofi”, in YapaTown, the Panel states.  In January 2005, the locals complained that they were not receiving a large-enough share of the proceeds of the estimated 20 trucks per day being harvested in the area.  Commander Kofi threatened to burn down YapaTown if they questioned his authority.  Despite his threats, he was arrested by the local authorities, but soon released.  The ban on pit-sawing is ineffective and the trade is strictly illegal, yet there is a growing market for wood in Liberia.  The FDA technicians have developed an initiative to involve independent monitoring to manage the trade.


Security remains a concern throughout rural Liberia, according to the Panel.  UNMIL peacekeepers do not generally travel at night and do not patrol off the major roads.  The civilian police trained 164 enforcement officers for FDA and some have been deployed, but they lack the capacity to enforce forestry regulations, despite their willingness to enter into duty (see document S/2004/955, annex VII).


On financial reporting, the Panel notes that it has received no audited financial statements from FDA.  In the previous mandate, it received unaudited financial information covering up to October 2004.  The Panel received unaudited information on payments made by the National Transitional Government of Liberia up to April 2005.


Also before the Council is the report of the Secretary-General pursuant to Security Council resolution 1579 (2004) regarding Liberia (document S/2005/376).  Now that disarmament in Liberia has ended and armed factions have been demobilized, the Secretary-General has expressed the hope that the peace process will succeed and has called on the Security Council to strengthen its peacekeeping mission and prevent illicit exports of diamonds and timber. 


“With regard to the arms embargo, the conclusion of the disarmament and demobilization process and the dissolution of the armed factions signalled the successful completion of the implementation of the ceasefire agreement”, the report states.  “Furthermore, the progress made towards organization of the October 2005 elections, as well as the progress made in other sectors, provides hope that the peace process will, in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, be brought to a successful conclusion.”


On the other hand, delays in restructuring the armed forces of Liberia and in reintegrating the former combatants into society form potential sources of instability and threaten to undermine the success of the transitional process and to make it difficult to devise an exit strategy for UNMIL, states the report.  “I would urge Member States and the international donor community to redouble their efforts to ensure that the National Transitional Government has the necessary technical and financial support to complete this vital military restructuring exercise and to ensure the timely reintegration of former combatants”, the Secretary-General says.


The training and deployment of mineral inspectors and diamond agents, the organization of alluvial miners into cooperatives, and the construction of an appraisal and certifying centre for rough diamonds were signs of progress towards lifting the diamond sanctions, continues the report.  Nevertheless, a major deterrent in ensuring that rough diamonds do not fall into the hands of those who might fuel conflict is ensuring effective Government control over diamond-producing areas and Liberia's borders.


With regard to the forestry sector, the report states that the Government should be encouraged to hire an internationally recognized forestry management team temporarily to provide genuinely transparent and accountable oversight.  Both the timber and diamond sectors need tighter security. “The National Transitional Government lacks the capacity to provide such control, and UNMIL lacks both the mandate and the troop levels necessary to perform such a role.  The Security Council might, therefore, consider whether it wishes to broaden the mandate and increase the resources of UNMIL to enable it to assist the National Transitional Government in providing security in the diamond and timber-producing areas.”


* *** *