21 December 2004 Having received an expert report citing failures in Liberia's management of its major natural resources and saying it still feared that proceeds from those resources might fuel conflicts, the United Nations Security Council today renewed sanctions against the West African country's diamond and timber industries and re-imposed bans on weapons importing and travel by certain former officials.
By a resolution that was approved unanimously, the arms and travel bans and timber export sanctions, originally imposed in September 2003, were renewed for a year, but with a promise to review the progress made in six months.
Diamond sanctions were renewed for six months, but would be reviewed after three months, since the country had made some progress towards implementing the Kimberley Certificate of Origin regime for its rough diamonds, the Council said. Liberia had also scheduled a visit from Kimberly representatives for early next year.
The Council noted that the measures 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 sub-region, and reconfirm(ed) its intention to review these measures at least once a year."
It repeated earlier calls for the international donor community to assist the peace process, especially with reintegration of former combatants and reconstruction, to respond to humanitarian appeals and to help the National Transitional Government with financial, administrative and technical needs, especially in fulfilling requirements for lifting the sanctions.
The Council also called for no more than five experts on arms, timber, diamonds, finance, humanitarian and other relevant issues, drawing as much as possible on the expertise of the previous panel, to be appointed by the Secretary-General and Council members and given a six-month mandate to investigate any violations of the sanctions worldwide.
The Panel of Experts would detect "various sources of financing, such as from natural resources, for any illicit trade of arms," if any, and would assess progress in meeting the standards that would allow the sanctions to be lifted.
Meanwhile, a ship carrying 384 Liberian refugees docked at a port in the capital Monrovia, bringing to 1,375 the total returning from Ghana. Those coming back from elsewhere under UN auspices numbered 3,625, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.
The returnees were given food and other relief items and were trucked to join families and friends, it said.
In addition, nearly half of the 10,000 Ivorian refugees who fled fighting in Côte d'Ivoire and took shelter in Liberia had gone home, leaving 5,482 people behind, UNHCR said.
The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) said today that it conducted a six-day workshop on reporting and ethics last week for 34 journalists from 17 community radio stations. The mission has now trained more than 180 journalists in Liberia.