20 October 2006 The United Nations today applauded further progress in Liberia’s forestry sector but said more needs to be done to reform the diamond mining industry before the world body will lift sanctions against the country’s export of rough diamonds, regarded as “blood diamonds” because they help finance conflict.
The UN Security Council “urged the Liberian Government to accelerate the implementation of the necessary reform measures, including stronger management and effective verification and accountability mechanisms, so that Liberia can soon join the Kimberley Process,” an international certification process, according to a statement, read by current council president Kenzo Oshima, of Japan.
While “encouraged” by steps Liberia has recently taken to assert greater control over diamond industry, the Council said “more needs to be done for Liberia to establish a Certificate of Origin Regime for export of Liberian rough diamonds,” the statement added.
The statement was issued after the Council was briefed by Ambassador Ellen Løj, chair the a UN sanctions committee, that is backed by a five-member expert panel monitoring the sanctions regime which was first imposed on Liberia in May 2001.
The statement also noted the Council’s wish to lift the ban on diamonds “as soon as possible, so that revenues from the diamond sector can benefit the Liberian people.”
A previous ban on the export of round logs and timber from Liberia was lifted by the Council on June 20, when it also voted unanimously to renew for six months until 20 December 2006 - the ban on the direct or indirect importation of Liberian diamonds.
The Council today also applauded a new forestry law that should ensure a transparent, accountable and government-controlled forestry sector, which was signed by President Johnson-Sirleaf on 5 October, but urged the Government to quickly bring the law into effect by publishing the required handbills as soon as possible.
The Kimberley Process is a joint government, international diamond industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds that have financed rebel movement wars against legitimate governments in many African countries such as Angola, Cote d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
The Kimberley certification scheme imposes extensive requirements on participants to certify that shipments of rough diamonds are free from so-called ‘blood diamonds.’ The Kimberley Process, which currently has 45 participants in its voluntary scheme, including the European Community, account for approximately 99.8% of the global production of rough diamonds.