SECURITY COUNCIL RE-ESTABLISHES PANEL MONITORING LIBERIA SANCTIONS, UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1549 (2004)

17 June 2004
SC/8126

SECURITY COUNCIL RE-ESTABLISHES PANEL MONITORING LIBERIA SANCTIONS, UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1549 (2004)

17/06/2004
Press ReleaseSC/8126

Security Council                                           

4991st Meeting (AM)                                         

Security Council re-establishes panel monitoring liberia sanctions,

unanimously adopting resolution 1549 (2004)

Final Report by 10 December Will Assess if Conditions Met

For Lifting Diamond, Timber Bans, As Requested by Transitional Government

Taking note of a request by the National Transitional Government of Liberia to lift sanctions on that country’s timber and diamonds, the Security Council this morning re-established the Panel of Experts monitoring sanctions to investigate, among other things, through an assessment mission to Liberia and neighbouring States, implementation and violations of sanctions imposed against Liberia in September 2003 by resolution 1521 (2003).

Unanimously adopting resolution 1549 (2004), the Council mandated the Panel of Experts in particular to investigate ongoing violations of the arms embargo, travel ban of individuals posing a threat to the stability and security in Liberia and the subregion, as well as the embargo of rough diamonds and round logs and timber products stemming from Liberia, including violations involving rebel movements and neighbouring countries and financing for the illicit trade of arms.

The Panel is also tasked to assess progress made in maintaining and respecting the ceasefire and establishing and maintaining stability in Liberia and the subregion, the conditions set out in resolution 1521 that had to be met in order for sanctions to be lifted.  The Panel will further assess progress made by the Transitional Government in establishing an effective Certificate of Origin regime for trade in Liberian rough diamonds, and establishing full authority over the timber producing areas.

The Panel should also monitor the implementation and enforcement of the freezing of funds and economic resources of former Liberian President Charles Taylor and his family, imposed by Council resolution 1532 of 12 March, and to assess the socio-economic and humanitarian impact of the measures imposed by resolutions 1521 (2003) and 1532 (2004).

The Panel was requested to provide a mid-term report no later than 30 September and a final report no later than 10 December.  The Secretary-General was requested to appoint by 30 June, acting in consultation by the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1521 (2003), no more than five experts with the range of expertise necessary to fulfil the Panel’s mandate.

The meeting started at 11:15 a.m. and was adjourned at 11:17 a.m.

Council Resolution

The full text of Council resolution 1549 (2004) reads as follows:

The Security Council,

Recalling its previous resolutions, in particular resolution 1521 (2003) of 22 December 2003 and resolution 1532 (2004) of 12 March 2004, on the situation in Liberia and West Africa,

Taking note of the report of the Secretary-General on Liberia dated 26 May 2004 (S/2004/428) and the report of the Panel of Experts on Liberia dated 1 June 2004 (S/2004/396), both submitted pursuant to resolution 1521 (2003),

Also taking note of the views expressed by the Chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) in the Security Council on 3 June 2004 appealing for the lifting of current sanctions on Liberia’s timber and diamonds, and the request that Council experts visit Liberia within the next 90 days to assess the performance of the NTGL in fulfilling the conditions for the lifting of sanctions,

“1.   Decides to re-establish the Panel of Experts appointed pursuant to paragraph 22 of resolution 1521 (2003) for a further period to commence no later than 30 June until 21 December 2004 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, particularly ongoing violations, of the measures referred to in paragraphs 2, 4, 6 and 10 of resolution 1521 (2003) including any violations involving rebel movements and neighbouring countries, and including any information relevant to designation by the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1521 (2003) (hereinafter, “the Committee”) of the individuals described in paragraph 4 (a) of resolution 1521 (2003), and including the various sources of financing, such as from natural resources, for the illicit trade of arms;

(b)   to assess the progress made towards the goals described in paragraphs 5, 7 and 11 of resolution 1521 (2003);

(c)   to monitor the implementation and enforcement of the measures imposed by paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004), particularly in Liberia and in neighbouring states, as well as in other regions, and to provide the Committee with any information the Panel acquires which will facilitate the identification of individuals and entities of the types described in paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004), and with recommendations on technical assistance Liberia and other states might require to implement the measures;

(d)   to assess the socio-economic and humanitarian impact of the measures imposed by resolutions 1521 (2003) and 1532 (2004);

“2.   Further requests the Panel to provide a mid-term report to the Council for its review, through the Committee, no later than 30 September 2004 with its observations and recommendations, taking into consideration progress made toward the goals identified in resolution 1521 (2003), in particular paragraphs 7 and 11 of that resolution, and also requests that the Panel present a final report to the Council, through the Committee, no later than 10 December 2004, covering all the tasks assigned to it in paragraph 1 above;

“3.   Requests the Secretary-General, upon adoption of this resolution and acting in consultation with the Committee, to appoint by 30 June 2004 no more than five experts, with the range of expertise necessary to fulfil the Panel’s mandate referred to above, drawing as much as possible and as appropriate on the expertise of the members of the Panel of Experts appointed pursuant to paragraph 22 of resolution 1521 (2003), and further requests the Secretary-General to make the necessary financial arrangements to support the work of the Panel;

“4.   Encourages the NTGL to take urgent steps to establish an effective Certificate of Origin regime for trade in Liberian rough diamonds that is transparent and internationally verifiable, and urges the NTGL to establish its full authority and control over the timber producing areas, and to take all necessary steps to ensure that government revenues from the Liberian timber industry are not used to fuel conflict or otherwise in violation of the Council’s resolutions but are used for legitimate purposes for the benefit of the Liberian people, including development;

“5.   Reiterates its call upon States, relevant international organizations and others in a position to do so to offer assistance to the NTGL in achieving the objectives set forth in paragraphs 5, 7 and 11 of resolution 1521 (2003);

“6.   Also reiterates its previous appeals to the international community to provide timely and adequate assistance for Liberia’s reconstruction and economic recovery and, in particular, to redeem the pledges made at the Liberia Reconstruction Conference held in New York on 5-6 February 2004,

“7.   Urges all States, relevant United Nations bodies and, as appropriate, other organizations and interested parties to cooperate fully with the Committee and Panel of Experts, including by supplying information on possible violations of the measures imposed by paragraphs 2, 4, 6, and 10 of resolution 1521 (2003) and paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004);

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

Background

The Security Council had before it this morning a Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to Security Council resolution 1521 (2003) regarding Liberia (S/2004/428), which details progress made towards the goals prescribed in order for the Council to consider lifting sanctions imposed on Liberia, namely, respect for and maintenance of the ceasefire; completion of the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, repatriation and restructuring of the security sector and full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement; establishment by the National Transitional Government of Liberia of an effective certificate of origin regime for trade in rough diamonds, with a view to joining the Kimberley Process; and the establishment of the Transitional Government’s full authority and control over timber-producing areas, ensuring that government revenues from the timber industry were not used to fuel conflict.

While the Government has made encouraging progress towards meeting the above objectives, states the report, much remains to be done to rigorously apply and implement recommendations for reform of the timber sector.  The Government does not yet have full authority and control over the timber-producing areas, and the Forestry Development Authority’s financial situation was unclear, due to the loss or destruction of records during the 14 years of civil strife.  The most pressing concerns continue to be the lack of structure, oversight and accountability in the financial management systems of the timber sector.  Significant assistance will be necessary to effectively manage the country’s forestry revenues and to prepare its financial and information systems for the forensic and systems audit scheduled for July 2004.

With regard to the diamond sector, the report concludes that the Transitional Government is making gradual progress in preparing its application to join the Kimberley Process.  In making the application, the Government will need to ensure transparency in its procedures and methods for instituting control over the export, import and transit of rough diamonds.

Also before the Council is a letter dated 1 June 2004 from the Chairman of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1521 (2003) concerning Liberia addressed to the President of the Security Council, transmitting the report of the Panel of Experts on Liberia (document S/2004/396).  The Panel has found no proof of weapons smuggling into the West African country after August 2003 or of diamond- and timber-smuggling out, and states the imposed sanctions contributed significantly to ending the country’s armed conflicts over a 14-year period.

According to the panel’s report, however, organized, international smuggling networks remain in place and could be reactivated at any time.  While disarmament was progressing, factions might have hidden weapons either in Liberia itself or in neighbouring countries.  Because of poor national security, diamond mining has practically ceased, making smuggling currently negligible.  The National Transitional Government of Liberia has begun taking urgent steps towards establishing an effective certificate of origin scheme for trade in rough diamonds that is transparent and internationally verifiable, with a view to joining the Kimberley Process.

While it found no evidence of “widespread exports” of timber, the panel states that the Security Council should maintain sanctions until the forest is both secure and well managed.  It notes that the Forestry Development Authority has not been able to function outside the capital, Monrovia, and in the forests of south-east Liberia.  The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has not yet been deployed in the forest areas.  Corruption remains widespread, and the task of rebuilding is daunting.

The fiscal costs of retaining sanctions include lost wages and salaries, the panel states.  The very high levels of poverty and illiteracy that have characterized the lives of most Liberians during two decades of conflict could now deprive them of access to the many economic opportunities that the peacekeeping mission brings with it.  For example, concerns are being raised in many quarters about foreign business people taking all the business that should rightfully go to Liberians (in the housing sector, among others).  Such concerns in the past have been cited as among the main reasons for the conflict in the first place.  The peace process, thus, could be undermined if some sectors of civil society, particularly unemployed (educated and semi-educated) youths who did not participate in the conflict continue to believe that their needs have not been given priority along with those of their ex-combatant colleagues.  Appropriate steps should be taken to ensure that they have unhindered access to a fair share of the existing economic opportunities for which, under normal circumstances, their current status would not qualify them.

The Panel lists 11 names said to have violated –- some more than once -- the travel ban imposed on senior officials associated with former President Charles Taylor.  Six people had contacted the Panel demanding to know why their names were still on the list of banned travellers in March, when they had had no contact with Mr. Taylor since he went into exile in Nigeria last year.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.