20 December 2006
Security Council
SC/8916

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

5602nd Meeting (PM)


Security Council renews arms, travel embargoes in Liberia for one year, Diamond


restrictions for six months, unanimously adopting resolution 1731 (2006)


Council Will Review Diamond Measures after 4 Months,

Allow Government Time to Establish Effective Certificate of Origin Regime


Determining that insufficient progress had been made by Liberia in three years to end the sanctions against it and that the situation in that country remained a threat to international peace and security in the region, the Security Council today renewed the arms and travel embargoes for another year, and the diamond restriction for another six months, and agreed to consider lifting the sanctions at the Government’s request once it had met the conditions for doing so.


Unanimously adopting resolution 1731 (2006) under the Charter’s Chapter VII, the Council will review its measures on diamonds, aimed at preventing the direct or indirect import of rough diamonds from Liberia, after four months to allow the Liberian Government sufficient time to establish an effective Certificate of Origin regime for its rough diamonds trade that was transparent and internationally verifiable, with a view to joining the Kimberley Process.


In that connection, the Council called on the Liberian Government to provide the Sanctions Committee established pursuant to resolution 1521 (2003) with a detailed description of the proposed regime.


The Council requested the Secretary-General to reappoint the expert panel to investigate the sanctions, extending its mandate until 20 June 2007, to report on implementation of the resolution, assess the impact and effectiveness of the provision of resolution 1532 (2004) concerning the assets of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, and to assess the implementation of forestry legislation passed in September and the humanitarian and socio-economic impact of the sanctions.


A further term of the text encouraged the Liberian Government to benefit from the offer of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to provide joint patrols with the Forestry Development Authority, with a view to strengthening Government control in forestry areas.


The meeting began at 3:17 p.m. and adjourned at 3:22 p.m.


Resolution


The full text of resolution 1731 (2006) reads as follows:


The Security Council,


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


Welcoming the sustained progress made by the Government of Liberia since January 2006, in rebuilding Liberia for the benefit of all Liberians, with the support of the international community,


Recalling its decision not to renew the measures in paragraph 10 of resolution 1521 (2003) regarding round log and timber products originating in Liberia, and stressing that Liberia’s progress in the timber sector must continue with the effective implementation and enforcement of the National Forestry Reform Law signed into law on 5 October 2006, including the resolution of land and tenure rights,


Welcoming the Government of Liberia’s continuing cooperation with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and noting Liberia’s progress towards putting in place the necessary internal controls and other requirements in order to satisfy the minimum requirements of the Kimberley Process,


Stressing the continuing importance of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in improving security through Liberia and helping the new Government establish its authority throughout the country, particularly in the diamond and timber-producing regions, and border areas,


Recognizing the need for newly vetted and trained Liberian security forces to assume greater responsibility for national security, and taking note of the need for Liberian Armed Forces to procure humanitarian, medical and or training equipment,


Taking note of the report of the United Nations Panel of Experts on Liberia dated 20 December 2006 (S/2006/976), including on the issues of diamonds, timber, rubber, and arms,


Having reviewed the measures imposed by paragraph 2, 4, and 6 of resolution 1521 (2003) and paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004) and the progress towards meeting the conditions set out by paragraphs 5 and 7 of resolution 1521 (2003), and concluding that insufficient progress has been made towards that end,


Underlining its determination to support the Government of Liberia in its efforts to meet those conditions, and encouraging donors to do likewise,


Determining that, despite significant progress having been made in Liberia, the situation there 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 assessment of progress made to date towards meeting the conditions for lifting the measures imposed by resolution 1521 (2003):


(a)   To renew the measures on arms imposed by paragraph 2 of resolution 1521 (2003) and modified by paragraphs 1 and 2 of resolution 1683 (2006) and to renew the measures on travel imposed by paragraph 4 of resolution 1521 (2003) for a further period of 12 months from the date of adoption of this resolution;


(b)   That the measures on arms imposed by paragraph 2 (a) and (b) of resolution 1521 (2003) shall not apply to supplies of non-lethal military equipment, excluding non-lethal weapons and ammunition, as notified in advance to the Committee established by paragraph 21 of resolution 1521 (2003), intended solely for use by members of the Government of Liberia police and security forces who have been vetted and trained since the inception of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in October 2003;


(c)   To renew the measures on diamonds imposed by paragraph 6 of resolution 1521 (2003) and renewed by paragraph 4 of resolution 1689 (2006) for an additional six (6) months with a review by the Council after four (4) months, to allow the Government of Liberia sufficient time to establish an effective Certificate of Origin regime for trade in Liberian rough diamonds that is transparent and internationally verifiable, with a view to joining the Kimberley Process, and calls upon the Government of Liberia to provide the Sanctions Committee, established according to paragraph 21 of resolution 1521 (2003) with a detailed description of the proposed regime;


(d)   To review any of the above measures at the request of the Government of Liberia, once the Government reports to the Council that the conditions set out in resolution 1521 (2003) for terminating the measures have been met, and provides the Council with information to justify its assessment;


“2.   Notes that the measures imposed by paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004) remain in force and reconfirms its intention to review these measures at least once a year;


“3.   Encourages the Government of Liberia to benefit from UNMIL’s offer to provide joint patrols with the Forestry Development Authority with a view to strengthening Government control in forestry areas;


“4.   Decides to extend the mandate of the current Panel of Experts appointed pursuant to paragraph 5 of resolution 1689 (2006) for a further period until 20 June 2007 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) and renewed in paragraphs 1 and 2 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 of and effectiveness of the measures imposed by paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004), including particularly with respect to the assets of former President Charles Taylor;


(c)   To assess the implementation of forestry legislation passed by the Liberian Congress on 19 September 2006 and signed into law by President Johnson-Sirleaf on 5 October 2006 and the progress and humanitarian and socio-economic impact of the measures imposed by paragraphs 2, 4 and 6 of resolution 1521 (2003) and renewed in paragraph 1 of resolution 1647 (2005);


(d)   To report to the Council through the Committee by 6 June 2007 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 paragraph 6 of resolution 1521 (2003) and on progress in the timber sector since the lifting of paragraph 10 of resolution 1521 (2003) in June 2006;


(e)   To cooperate with other relevant groups of experts, in particular that established on Côte d’Ivoire by resolution 1708 (2006) of 14 September 2006, and with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme;


(f)   To identify and make recommendations regarding areas where the capacity of States in the region can be strengthened to facilitate the implementation of the measures imposed by paragraph 4 of resolution 1521 (2003) and paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004);


“5.   Requests the Secretary-General to take the necessary measures, in this exceptional instance, to re-appoint the current members of the Panel of Experts as referred to in his letter to the President of the Security Council dated 27 June 2006 (S/2006/438)) and to make the necessary financial and security arrangements to support the work of the Panel;


“6.   Calls upon all States and the Government of Liberia to cooperate fully with the Panel of Experts in all the aspects of its mandate;


“7.   Encourages the Kimberley Process to inform, as appropriate, the Security Council through its Committee about any possible follow-up visit to Liberia and its assessment of progress made by the Liberian Government towards joining the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme;


“8.   Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”


Background


The Security Council had before a letter dated 13 December 2006 from the Chairman of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1521 (2003) concerning Liberia addressed to the Security Council President (document S/2006/976), which contains the report of the Panel of Experts on Liberia.  On 23 June 2006, the Secretary-General reappointed the Panel of Experts on Liberia to investigate sanctions on arms, diamonds and timber and on certain individuals and entities deemed a threat to regional peace.  The report contains the Panel’s assessments of sanctions, including an investigation of their effectiveness, progress made towards lifting sanctions and an assessment of their humanitarian and socio-economic impact.


On the issue of diamonds, the report notes that, while progress continues, Liberia is not yet in a position to demonstrate the internal controls necessary for the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.  The lifting of sanctions on diamonds is not warranted, therefore.  Although most of the necessary components are now in hand, they still require final arrangement into a coherent and functioning mechanism with long-term durability and credibility.  Achieving this objective will require stronger leadership, especially by the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, as well as the effective ongoing management of human, financial and material resources.


Regarding timber, the Government’s moratorium on logging has also been effective, except for small-scale chainsaw logging.  The Legislature passed the National Forestry Reform Law, meeting the Council’s benchmark for lifting sanctions indefinitely.  An audit of the Forestry Development Authority demonstrated widespread corruption and incompetence during the National Transitional Government period.  Members of the accounting department will be fired as part of a restructuring programme that will reduce Authority staff by half.  Regional Forestry Development Authority offices are not operational.  The Authority should accept the offer by the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) of joint military patrols.  Liberia must not succumb to a resumption of logging until the new law has been fully implemented.


The financial management of Liberia’s Government has been improving steadily owing to higher revenues, partially as a result of economic growth, stricter enforcement of tax regulations and tight expenditure control.  The lack of internal control systems and external oversight, however, continue to be areas of concern.  The new Government has also failed to implement its policy of auditing the ministries during the National Transitional Government period and failed to pursue legal action against former officials who were identified by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as having misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The inordinate delay in the appointment of the Auditor-General and large budget cuts have crippled this office of accountability in Liberia.  The new Government will have to move quickly to enforce the President’s campaign commitment of zero tolerance for corruption.


Regarding the socio-economic and humanitarian impact of sanctions, the report notes that Liberia faces enormous reconstruction challenges.  The widespread destruction of homes, educational institutions and other public facilities led to massive displacement.  Water, electricity and sanitation systems remain essentially non-existent across the country; schools and clinics are constrained in service delivery by too few resources; and the public service is demoralized and has extremely limited technical capacity.


According to the report, sanctions played a decisive role in helping to end the conflict and in laying the foundation for comprehensive reforms in the diamond, timber and other sectors.  At the same time, the loss of revenue to the Government and the absence of regular road maintenance in concession areas, which was previously provided by logging companies, led to the deterioration of roads and, hence, increased the costs borne by the humanitarian relief agencies for road maintenance.


Turning to the issue of arms and security, the report notes that, between June 2005 and September 2006, 632 weapons were destroyed, bringing the total number destroyed by UNMIL to 30,807.  In the past year, reports of crime have decreased slightly, but reports of serious crime, especially gang activity, mob violence and rape, have increased.  The ineffectiveness of the judicial system exacerbates the situation.  The Council has granted waivers for the importation of weapons for the new armed forces, the police and the Special Security Service.


Allegations of recruitment for the war in Côte d’Ivoire persist, the report adds.  The Panel has no doubt that Liberian mercenaries are drawn to the economic opportunities that currently exist in Côte d’Ivoire, and it is also likely that informal networks exist that can be easily activated if significant fighting breaks out again in Côte d’Ivoire.  On the travel ban, the report states that facilities to obtain fraudulent passports, a lack of political will and poorly equipped and trained law enforcement staff all combine to make the travel ban difficult to enforce.


Concerning the assets freeze, the report notes that more than two and a half years since the Council adopted the assets freeze in resolution 1532 (2004), Liberia’s Government still has not frozen any assets.  The new Government has not yet initiated any legislation, nor has it issued an executive order, to enforce the implementation of the resolution.  Even if legislation is introduced, it is unlikely that the Legislature would approve it.  Thus, it is unlikely that the Government will be able to enforce the resolution in the near future.


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For information media • not an official record