Sunday, October 22, 2006

UN Reaffirms its Sanctions Against Liberia's Conflict Diamonds

UN Retains Liberian Diamonds Ban
UN Calls on Liberia to do More to Curb Conflict Diamonds but Praises Timber Reform

In a press statement released on Friday, October 20, the United Nations (UN) Security Council applauded Liberia’s new timber law and retained its ban on Liberian diamonds. The Council stated that Liberia’s new timber law should ensure a transparent, accountable, and government-controlled forestry sector. A previous ban on round logs and timber from Liberia was lifted by the UN Security Council on June 20. However, before the UN will lift its ban on Liberia’s export of rough diamonds, regarded as “blood diamonds” because they help finance conflict, Liberia must accelerate its implementation of necessary reform measures.

Trade in illegal diamonds has been blamed for fuelling wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone in recent years. The UN imposed the ban in May 2001. Liberian leader Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has urged an end to the ban so the money can be used to rebuild the war-torn nation.

The UN Security Council urged "stronger management and effective verification and accountability mechanisms, so that Liberia can soon join the Kimberley Process,” an international certification process, according to the statement, read by current council president Kenzo Oshima, of Japan. The council will re-examine the issue in December.

The Kimberley Process, a UN resolution passed in 2000, 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.

Question: Is the UN ban harming Liberia by hindering the nation's reconstruction?

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