SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS SANCTIONS AGAINST LIBERIA UNTIL 7 MAY 2004, UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1478 (2003)

6 May 2003
SC/7752

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS SANCTIONS AGAINST LIBERIA UNTIL 7 MAY 2004, UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1478 (2003)

06/05/2003
Press ReleaseSC/7752

Security Council

4751st Meeting (PM)

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS SANCTIONS AGAINST LIBERIA UNTIL 7 MAY 2004,

UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1478 (2003)

Also Places 10-Month Ban on Import of Liberian Timber

The Security Council this afternoon extended existing sanctions against Liberia until 7 May 2004, and added a 10-month ban on the import of its timber.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1478 (2003), and acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Council decided that the Government of Liberia had not fully complied with its demand to immediately cease support for the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone and for other armed rebel groups in the region, as stipulated in resolution 1343 adopted on 7 March 2001 (see Press Release SC/7023).

The Council also decided that the measures it took would be terminated immediately if the Council, based on information received from various sources, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), determined Liberia’s Government had complied with its demand.

Existing sanctions consist of a weapons embargo, measures against the export of its rough diamonds and travel restrictions on senior government members, according to resolution 1343 (2001).  The Council stressed its readiness, however, to grant exemptions from travel restrictions in cases of travel which would assist in the peaceful resolution of the conflict in the subregion.

The Council further decided that all States should take the necessary measures to prevent, for a period of 10 months starting on 7 July, the import of all round logs and timber products originating in Liberia.  By 7 September, the Council intends to consider how best to minimize any humanitarian or socio-economic impact of that measure, including the possibility of allowing timber exports to resume in order to fund humanitarian programmes.

Reiterating its call upon the Liberian Government to establish an effective Certificate of Origin for its diamonds, the Council decided that rough diamonds controlled through such a Certificate of Origin regime would be exempt from the export prohibition.

The Council also reiterated its demand that all States in the region cease military support for armed groups in neighbouring countries and refrain from any actions that might contribute to further destabilization of the situation in the region.  It declared its readiness to consider ways of promoting compliance with that demand.

Further to the text, the Council requested the Secretary-General to establish, within three months, for a period of five months a Panel of Experts to conduct a follow-up assessment mission to Liberia and neighbouring States in order to investigate Liberia’s compliance with Council demands, to review the Government’s budgetary system, and to examine the role of the timber industry in embargo violations.

The meeting started at 1:35 p.m., and adjourned at 1:40 p.m.

Resolution

The full text of resolution 1478 (2003) reads, as follows:

The Security Council,

Recalling its resolutions 1132 (1997) of 8 October 1997, 1171 (1998) of 5 June 1”998, 1306 (2000) of 5 July 2000, 1343 (2001) of 7 March 2001, 1385 (2001) of 19 December 2001, 1395 (2002) of 27 February 2002, 1400 (2002) of 28 March 2002, 1408 (2002) of 6 May 2002, 1458 (2003) of 28 January 2003, 1467 (2003) of  18 March 2003 and its other resolutions and statements of its President on the situation in the region,

Taking note of the Secretary-General’s report of 22 April 2003 (S/2003/466),

Taking note of the reports of the United Nations Panel of Experts on Liberia dated 25 October 2002 (S/2002/1115) and 24 April 2003 (S/2003/498) submitted pursuant to paragraph 16 of resolution 1408 (2002) and paragraph 4 of resolution 1458 (2003) respectively,

Expressing serious concern at the findings of the Panel of Experts about the actions of the Government of Liberia and the LURD and other armed rebel groups, including the evidence that the Government of Liberia continues to breach the measures imposed by resolution 1343 (2001), particularly through the acquisition of arms,

Welcoming General Assembly resolution A/RES/57/302 of 15 April 2003, and Security Council resolution 1459 (2003), welcoming the launch of the Kimberley Process on 1 January 2003, and recalling its concern at the role played by the illicit trade in diamonds in the conflict in the region,

Welcoming the continued efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the International Contact Group on Liberia to work towards the restoration of peace and stability in the region, particularly the appointment of former President Abubakar of Nigeria as a mediator in the conflict in Liberia,

Noting the positive effects of the Rabat Process on peace and security in the subregion, and encouraging all countries of the Mano River Union to reinvigorate the Rabat Process with further meetings and renewed cooperation,

Encouraging civil society initiatives in the region, including those of the Mano River Union Women’s Peace Network, to continue their contribution towards regional peace,

Welcoming the summit meeting between the Presidents of Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire held in Togo on 26 April 2003, and encouraging them to continue dialogue,

Calling on all States, in particular the Government of Liberia, to cooperate fully “with the Special Court for Sierra Leone,

Recalling the ECOWAS Moratorium on the Importation, Exportation and Manufacture of Small Arms and Light Weapons in West Africa adopted in Abuja on   31 October 1998 (S/1998/1194, annex), and its extension from 5 July 2001 (S/2001/700),

Deeply concerned by the deteriorating humanitarian situation and widespread human rights violations in Liberia, and by the serious instability in Liberia and neighbouring countries, including Côte d’Ivoire,

Determining that the active support provided by the Government of Liberia to armed rebel groups in the region, including to rebels in Côte d’Ivoire and former Revolutionary United Front (RUF) combatants who continue to destabilize the region, constitutes a threat to international peace and security in the region,

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

“1.Decides that the Government of Liberia has not complied fully with the demands in resolution 1343 (2001);

“2.Notes with concern that the new aircraft registry updated by the Government of Liberia in response to the demand in paragraph 2 (e) of resolution 1343 (2001) remains inactive;

“3.Stresses that the demands referred to in paragraph 1 above are intended to help consolidate and assure peace and stability in Sierra Leone and to build and strengthen peaceful relations among the countries of the region;

“4.Calls upon all States in the region, particularly the Government of Liberia, to participate actively in all regional peace initiatives, particularly those of ECOWAS, the International Contact Group, the Mano River Union and the Rabat Process, and expresses its strong support for these initiatives;

“5.Calls upon the Government of Liberia and the LURD to enter without delay into bilateral ceasefire negotiations under the auspices of ECOWAS and the mediation of former President Abubakar of Nigeria;

“6.      Stresses its readiness to grant exemptions from the measures imposed by paragraph 7 (a) of resolution 1343 (2001) in cases of travel which would assist in the peaceful resolution of the conflict in the subregion;

“7.Welcomes the Government of Liberia’s agreement to the revised mandate of the United Nations Office in Liberia, and calls on the Government to respond constructively to the Council’s statement of 13 December 2002 (S/PRST/2002/36);

“8.Calls upon the Government of Liberia and all parties, particularly the LURD and other armed rebel groups, to ensure unimpeded and safe movement for the personnel of United Nations humanitarian agencies and non-governmental organizations, to end the use of child soldiers and to prevent sexual violence and torture;

“9.Reiterates its demand that all States in the region cease military support for armed groups in neighbouring countries, take action to prevent armed individuals and groups from using their territory to prepare and commit attacks on neighbouring countries and refrain from any actions that might contribute to further destabilization of the situation in the region, and declares its readiness to consider, if necessary, ways of promoting compliance with this demand;

10.Decides that the measures imposed by paragraphs 5 to 7 of resolution 1343 (2001) shall remain in force for a further period of 12 months from 00:01 Eastern Daylight Time on 7 May 2003, and that, before the end of this period, the Council will decide whether the Government of Liberia has complied with the demands referred to in paragraph 1 above, and, accordingly, whether to extend these measures for a further period with the same conditions;

“11.Recalls that the measures imposed by paragraph 5 of resolution 1343 (2001) apply to all sales or supply of arms and related materiel to any recipient in Liberia, including all non-State actors, such as Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD);

“12.Decides that the measures imposed by paragraphs 5 to 7 of resolution 1343 (2001) and by paragraph 17 below shall be terminated immediately if the Council, taking into account, inter alia, the reports of the Panel of Experts referred to in paragraph 25 below and of the Secretary-General referred to in paragraph 20 below, inputs from ECOWAS, any relevant information provided by the Committee established pursuant to paragraph 14 of resolution 1343 (2001) (“the Committee”) and the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1132 (1997) and any other relevant information, particularly the conclusions of its forthcoming mission to West Africa, determines that the Government of Liberia has complied with the demands referred to in paragraph 1 above;

“13.Reiterates its call upon the Government of Liberia to establish an effective Certificate of Origin regime for Liberian rough diamonds that is transparent, internationally verifiable and fully compatible with the Kimberley Process, and to provide the Committee with a detailed description of the proposed regime;

“14.Notwithstanding paragraph 15 of resolution 1343 (2001), decides that rough diamonds controlled by the Government of Liberia through the Certificate of Origin regime shall be exempt from the measures imposed by paragraph 6 of resolution 1343 (2001) when the Committee has reported to the Council, taking into account expert advice obtained through the Secretary-General, that an effective and internationally verifiable regime is ready to become fully operational and to be properly implemented;

“15.Calls again upon States, relevant international organizations and other bodies in a position to do so to offer assistance to the Government of Liberia and other diamond exporting countries in West Africa with their Certificate of Origin regimes;

“16.Considers that the audits commissioned by the Government of Liberia pursuant to paragraph 10 of resolution 1408 (2002) do not demonstrate that the revenue derived by the Government of Liberia from the Liberia Ship and Corporate Registry and the Liberian timber industry is used for legitimate social, humanitarian and development purposes, and is not used in violation of resolution 1408 (2002);

“17.Decides that

(a)all States shall take the necessary measures to prevent, for a period of 10 months, the import into their territories of all round logs and timber products originating in Liberia;

(b)these measures shall come into force at 00:01 Eastern Daylight Time on 7 July 2003, unless the Council decides otherwise;

(c)at the end of this period of 10 months, the Council will decide whether the Government of Liberia has complied with the demands referred to in paragraph 1 above, and, accordingly, whether to extend these measures for a further period with the same conditions;

“18.Decides to consider by 7 September 2003 how best to minimize any humanitarian or socio-economic impact of the measures imposed by paragraph 17 above, including the possibility of allowing timber exports to resume in order to fund humanitarian programmes, taking into account the recommendations of the expert panel requested in paragraph 25 below and the assessment of the Secretary-General requested in paragraph 19 below;

“19.Requests the Secretary-General to submit a report to the Council by

7 August 2003 on the possible humanitarian or socio-economic impact of the measures imposed by paragraph 17 above;

“20.Requests the Secretary-General to submit a report to the Council by 21 October 2003 and thereafter at six-monthly intervals from that date, drawing on information from all relevant sources, including the United Nations Office in Liberia, the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) and ECOWAS, on whether Liberia has complied with the demands referred to in paragraph 1 above, and calls on the Government of Liberia to support United Nations efforts to verify all information on compliance which is brought to the United Nations notice;

“21.Invites ECOWAS to report regularly to the Committee on all activities undertaken by its members pursuant to paragraphs 10 and 17 above and in the implementation of this resolution, particularly on the implementation of the ECOWAS Moratorium on small arms and light weapons referred to in the preamble of this resolution;

“22.Calls on States of the subregion to strengthen the measures they have taken to combat the spread of small arms and light weapons and mercenary activities and to improve the effectiveness of the ECOWAS Moratorium, and urges States in a position to do so to provide assistance to ECOWAS to this end;

“23.Calls on all parties to conflicts in the region to include disarmament, demobilization and reintegration provisions in peace agreements;

“24.Requests the Committee to carry out the tasks set out in this resolution and to continue with its mandate as set out in paragraph 14 (a)-(h) of resolution 1343 (2001) and in resolution 1408 (2002);

“25.Requests the Secretary-General to establish, within one month from the date of adoption of this resolution, in consultation with the Committee, for a period of five months, a Panel of Experts consisting of up to six members, with the range of expertise necessary to fulfil the Panel’s mandate described in this paragraph, drawing as much as possible and as appropriate on the expertise of the members of the Panel of Experts established pursuant to resolution 1458 (2003), 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 Government of Liberia’s compliance with the demands referred to in paragraph 1 above, and on any violations of the measures referred to in paragraphs 10 and 17 above, including any involving rebel movements;

(b)to investigate whether any revenues of the Government of Liberia are used in violation of this resolution, with particular emphasis on the effect on the Liberian populace of any possible diversion of funds from civilian purposes;

(c)to assess the possible humanitarian and socio-economic impact of the measures imposed by paragraph 17 above and to make recommendations to the Council through the Committee by 7 August 2003 on how to minimize any such impact;

(d)to report to the Council through the Committee no later than 7 October 2003 with observations and recommendations, particularly on how to improve the effectiveness of implementing and monitoring the measures referred to in paragraph 5 of resolution 1343 (2001), including any recommendations pertinent to paragraphs 28 and 29 below,

and further requests the Secretary-General to provide the necessary resources;

“26.Requests the Panel of Experts referred to in paragraph 25 above, as far as possible, to bring any relevant information collected in the course of its investigations conducted in accordance with its mandate to the attention of the States concerned for prompt and thorough investigation and, where appropriate, corrective action, and to allow them the right of reply;

“27.Calls upon all States to take appropriate measures to ensure that individuals and companies in their jurisdiction, in particular those referred to in the reports of the Panel of Experts established pursuant to resolutions 1343 (2001), 1395 (2002), 1408 (2002) and 1458 (2003), act in conformity with United Nations embargoes, in particular those established by resolutions 1171 (1998), 1306 (2000) and 1343 (2001), and, as appropriate, to take the necessary judicial and administrative action to end any illegal activities by those individuals and companies;

“28.Decides that all States shall take the necessary measures to prevent entry into or transit through their territories of any individuals, including from the LURD or other armed rebel groups, determined by the Committee, taking account of information provided by the Panel of Experts and other relevant sources, to be in violation of paragraph 5 of resolution 1343 (2001), provided that nothing in this paragraph shall oblige a State to refuse entry into its territory by its own nationals;

“29.Requests the Committee to establish, maintain and update, taking account of information provided by the Panel of Experts and other relevant sources, a list of air and maritime companies whose aircraft and vessels have been used in violation of paragraph 5 of resolution 1343 (2001);

“30.Calls on all member States of ECOWAS to cooperate fully with the Panel of Experts in the identification of such aircraft and vessels, and in particular to inform the Panel about any transit on their territory of aircraft and vessels suspected of being used in violation of paragraph 5 of resolution 1343 (2001);

“31.Asks the Government of Liberia to authorize the Approach and Control Unit at Robertsfield International Airport to provide regularly to the Flight Information Region in Conakry statistical data related to aircraft listed pursuant to paragraph 29 above;

“32.Decides to conduct reviews of the measures referred to in paragraphs 10 and 17 above before 7 November 2003, and every six months thereafter;

“33.Urges all States, relevant United Nations bodies and, as appropriate, other organizations and all interested parties to cooperate fully with the Committee and Panel of Experts referred to in paragraph 25 above, including by supplying information on possible violations of the measures referred to in paragraphs 10 and 17 above;

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

Background

The Security Council had before it the Secretary-General’s report on Liberia (document S/2003/466), according to which about 60 per cent of the country’s territory is now under rebel control.  The security situation in Liberia has deteriorated so badly that it has become extremely difficult to reach internally displaced persons and third country refugees who have fallen victim to abductions, conscriptions and various gross violations of human rights.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) mediation and security verification mission, which visited the country at the beginning of April, has concluded that a ceasefire is urgently needed to restore security and to clear the way for relief efforts.  It recommends bringing an international force into the country, which should be charged with maintaining peace and security, particularly in view of the impending presidential and legislative elections.  There is also a need to create safe humanitarian corridors to facilitate access to internally displaced persons and refugees.

The report contains information provided by the United Nations Office in Liberia, the Government of the country, the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) and ECOWAS.  It has been submitted pursuant to resolution 1408 of May 2002, by which the Council extended the sanctions on the Government of Liberia for a further 12 months -- including an arms embargo, travel ban for officials, and a prohibition on the import of its rough diamonds -- deciding that it had not fully complied with Council demands that it halt its support for the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and other armed rebel groups in the region.

The Council initially imposed sanctions by resolution 1343 (2001), demanding that Liberia prohibit all activities of the RUF, which had been involved in the conflict in Sierra Leone since 1991, and expel all its members from its territory.  The resolution also required the Liberian Government to stop all financial and military support to the RUF; cease the import of rough diamonds from Sierra Leone; and freeze financial resources and assets used for the benefit of the RUF.  While Sierra Leone's 10-year conflict ended last year, fighting has since flared in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia.

According to this month’s mission by ECOWAS, while taking steps to stem the illicit trade in diamonds, the Government says it cannot control mining in rebel-held areas.  It asserts that it has taken measures to establish an internationally verifiable diamond certification process, which would be presented to the Council following approval by the Kimberley Process committee in Pretoria.  The mission was told by Liberia that its Government "had been incapable of extracting rough diamonds from Liberian territory because most of the diamond-producing areas were under the control of rebels".

At the same time, the Liberian Government has acknowledged importing arms and ammunition, despite a United Nations arms embargo, in response to rebel offensives, referring to its right to self-defence under the United Nations Charter.  The Government also maintains that the RUF no longer exists as a rebel group, since it has been transformed into a political party, the Revolutionary United Front Party (RUFP), and has contested the elections in Sierra Leone in April last year.  While unofficial sources have indicated that some elements of the RUF remain in Liberia, the ECOWAS mission has not found any evidence of support to the RUF or any other armed rebel group by the Government of Liberia.

The rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) has been fighting for the past three years to oust President Charles Taylor of Liberia.  A new rebel group, calling itself the Movement for Democracy in Liberia, appeared recently in the south-east, near the border with Côte d’Ivoire, itself in the throes of a civil war.  According to the report, Liberia accuses neighboring Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire of giving "active support" to anti-government forces.  The ECOWAS is trying to organize talks between Liberia's Government and the rebels, but no date has been set and fighting continues.

The Secretary-General stresses that “whatever decision the Council may take in response to the present report, it must not lose sight of the urgent need to find an early solution to the conflict in Liberia, whose deleterious effect is fast spreading throughout an already troubled subregion”.  He also notes that a recent visit to the region by representatives of the chairpersons of the international contact group on Liberia has provided a “glimmer of hope for the search for peace”.  He is also encouraged by the decision of the Security Council to visit Liberia and its neighbours next month.  He urges that every effort be made to persuade Liberia and the rebel movement LURD to listen to the pleas of the Liberian people, renounce violence and give peace a chance.

The Council also had before it the report of the panel of experts appointed pursuant to paragraph 4 of Security Council resolution 1458 (2003), concerning Liberia (document S/2003/498).

According to the report, Liberia’s conflict is once more no longer isolated and its refugees and armed fighters have spilled over into its neighbours.  Armed youths from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and now Côte d’Ivoire who have become accustomed to a life of conflict, banditry and lawlessness have joined armed groups in Liberia and in western Côte d’Ivoire.  Combined, they pose new risks of a vicious cycle of violence in the subregion.

Internal violence in Liberia has escalated in 2003 to the point where no Liberian today can claim not to be affected by it.  Revenue-generating projects have grounded to a halt and some are being abandoned.  Poor governance, corruption and insecurity have ensured that there has been no significant investment in recent years, resulting in 85 per cent unemployment.  In recent months, many humanitarian agencies have withdrawn most of their staff because of the widening conflict and because the Government is unable and unwilling to provide for the basic needs of Liberians.

President Taylor in March openly declared that Liberia would import weapons for self-defence and the Government has provided the Panel with a list of weapons it has procured.  In its analysis, the Panel concludes that these weapons were obtained in Serbia in 2002 and suspects that preparations are ongoing for trans-shipments of 50 tons of Serbian military equipment from Belgrade to Liberia via Kinshasa, using an end-user certificate from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Panel also obtained two credible accounts of recent shipments and unloading of weapons at the ports of Buchanan and Harper.

The Government of Liberia and the LURD have made the control of diamond-producing areas a key military objective.  In the current context, it would be difficult to find an area in Liberia from which rough diamonds could be declared “conflict-free”.

The Panel observes that Liberia is still violating the arms embargo:  that Guinea, by supporting LURD, is also violating the embargo; and that the basis for the imposition of the sanctions against Liberia needs to be reassessed, because violence and conflict are spreading across the region and are generated not only by Liberian forces.

In the light of the changed situation and the escalating hostilities in the region, according to the Panel, a comprehensive new approach by the Security Council to the situation in all of West Africa is required that must include the input of key regional actors.

The Panel further observes that the financing of armed non-State actors and the funding sources of their foreign sponsors requires investigation; that, to prevent Liberia from further decay, international assistance to reorganize its revenue system is required; and that the original rationale for the travel ban is no longer applicable.

The Panel recommends:  that the moratorium on the importation, exportation and manufacturing of small arms in West Africa and its implementation mechanism,

the Programme for Coordination and Assistance for Security and Development, should be strengthened through international assistance and technical support.  The moratorium should be broadened and become an information exchange mechanism for all types of weapons procured by ECOWAS members.

The Panel further recommends the establishment of an international mechanism for harmonizing and verifying all end-user certificates for weapons. It also recommends that, in order to define which areas can be classified “conflict-free” and diamonds from there fit for export, the services of international mining and geological consultants should be engaged.

Finally, it is recommended that financial sanctions be imposed against the following individuals:  Slobodan Tešic (or Tezic), Orhan Dragaš, Aleksic Jovan, Dragoslav Jerinic and Ljubo Milenkovic of Serbia and Montenegro, and Emmanuel Shaw of Liberia.

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For information media. Not an official record.