21 December 2005
Security Council, in Unanimous Chapter VII Action on Liberia, Renews Bans on Sale of Arms, Diamonds, Timber
NEW YORK, 20 December (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council, determining that the situation in Liberia continued to constitute a threat to international peace and security, decided today to renew its bans on the sale or supply of arms, diamonds and timber, as well as travel, imposed by resolution 1521 (2003).
Unanimously adopting resolution 1647 (2005) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Council also re-established the Panel of Experts appointed pursuant to resolution 1607 (2005) until 21 June 2006 to, among other things, 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, of the measures imposed by resolution 1521 (2003).
By its resolution 1521 (2003), the Council had, responding to changes in Liberia, including the establishment then of a transitional government, adjusted its embargoes against the West African country, especially its ban on timber and diamond exports, and imports of war materiel. It decided that those measures would remain in effect until peace was maintained, export transparency was established and the Government controlled the national forests.
Also by today's text, the Council decided to review the measures at the request of the new Government of Liberia, once it reported that the conditions set out in resolution 1521 (2003) for terminating them had been met, and provided the Council with information to justify its assessment. It also welcomed the determination of the President-elect of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, to meet the conditions for terminating the measures.
Further, the Council encouraged the new Government to implement reforms within its timber industry, which would ensure transparency, accountability and sustainable forest management, and contribute towards the lifting of the measures on timber, as well as consider the possibility of commissioning independent external advice on the management of Liberia's diamond resources.
In addition, the Council called on the international donor community to support the incoming Government by providing generous assistance to the peace process, including for the reintegration of ex-combatants, reconstruction and humanitarian appeals, and by responding to the Government's financial, administrative and technical needs, particularly to assist it in meeting the conditions required for the lifting of the measures imposed.
The meeting began at 1:05 p.m. and ended at 1:09 p.m.
The full text of resolution 1647 (2005) reads as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Recalling its previous resolutions and statements by its President on the situation in Liberia and West Africa,
"Welcoming the peaceful and orderly conduct of the recent elections in Liberia, an important step in Liberia's progress towards lasting peace and stability,
"Welcoming the commitment of President-elect Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to rebuilding Liberia for the benefit of all Liberians, with the support of the international community,
"Stressing the continuing importance of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in improving security throughout Liberia and helping the new Government establish its authority throughout the country, particularly in the diamond- and timber-producing areas, and border areas,
"Taking note of the report of the United Nations Panel of Experts on Liberia dated 25 November 2005 (S/2005/745),
"Having reviewed the measures imposed by paragraphs 2, 4, 6 and 10 of resolution 1521 (2003) and paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004) and the progress towards meeting the conditions set out in paragraphs 5, 7 and 11 of resolution 1521 (2003), and concluding that insufficient progress has been made towards that end,
"Underlining its determination to support the new Government of Liberia in its efforts to meet those conditions, and encouraging donors to do likewise,
"Determining that the situation in Liberia continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region,
"Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,
"1. Decides, on the basis of its assessment of progress made to date towards meeting the conditions for lifting the measures imposed by resolution 1521 (2003):
(a) To renew the measures on arms and travel imposed by paragraphs 2 and 4 of resolution 1521 (2003) for a further period of 12 months from the date of adoption of this resolution;
(b) To renew the measures on diamonds and timber imposed by paragraphs 6 and 10 of resolution 1521 (2003) for a further period of six months from the date of adoption of this resolution;
(c) To review any of the above measures at the request of the new Government of Liberia, once the Government reports to the Council that the conditions set out in resolution 1521 (2003) for terminating the measures have been met, and provides the Council with information to justify its assessment;
"2. Reiterates the Council's readiness to terminate these measures once the conditions set forth in paragraphs 5, 7 and 11 of resolution 1521 (2003) have been met;
"3. Welcomes the determination of the President-elect of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, to meet the conditions for terminating the measures thus renewed, and encourages the new Government of Liberia:
(a) To reform the Forestry Development Authority, to implement the Liberia Forest Initiative and to implement the Forest Concession Review Committee's recommendations for reform and cancellation of existing logging concessions, which will ensure transparency, accountability and sustainable forest management and contribute towards the lifting of the measures on timber in accordance with paragraphs 11 and 12 of resolution 1521 (2003);
(b) To consider, with the assistance of international partners and for a specific time period, the possibility of commissioning independent external advice on the management of Liberia's diamond resources, in order to increase revenue and investor confidence and to attract additional donor support;
"4. Encourages the new Government of Liberia to implement the Governance and Economic Management Assistance Program, designed to ensure prompt implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and expedite the lifting of the measures imposed by resolution 1521 (2003);
"5. Welcomes the assistance provided by UNMIL to the Government of Liberia in re-establishing its authority throughout the country, and encourages UNMIL to continue its joint patrols with the Forestry Development Authority;
"6. Notes that the measures imposed by paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004) remain in force and reconfirms its intention to review these measures at least once a year;
"7. Emphasizes its concern that the National Transitional Government of Liberia took no action to implement its obligations under paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004), and calls on the incoming Government to take such action immediately, particularly through adopting the necessary domestic legislation, with technical support provided by Member States;
"8. Calls on the international donor community to support the incoming Government of Liberia by providing generous assistance to the peace process, including for reintegration of ex-combatants, reconstruction and humanitarian appeals, and by responding to the financial, administrative and technical needs of the Government of Liberia, in particular to assist the Government to meet the conditions referred to in paragraph 2 above, so that the measures can be lifted as soon as possible;
"9. Decides to re-establish the Panel of Experts appointed pursuant to resolution 1607 (2005) for a further period until 21 June 2006 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, of the measures imposed by resolution 1521 (2003), including any information relevant to the designation by the Committee of the individuals described in paragraph 4 (a) of resolution 1521 (2003) and the individuals and entities described in paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004), and including the various sources of financing, such as from natural resources, for the illicit trade of arms;
(b) To assess the impact and effectiveness of the measures imposed by paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004);
(c) To assess the progress made towards meeting the conditions for lifting the measures imposed by resolution 1521 (2003);
(d) To assess the humanitarian and socio-economic impact of the measures imposed by paragraphs 2, 4, 6 and 10 of resolution 1521 (2003);
(e) To report to the Council through the Committee by 7 June 2006 on all the issues listed in this paragraph, and to provide informal updates to the Committee as appropriate before that date, especially on progress towards meeting the conditions for lifting the measures imposed by paragraphs 6 and 10 of resolution 1521 (2003);
(f) To cooperate with other relevant groups of experts, in particular that established on Côte d'Ivoire by resolution 1643 of 15 December 2005, and with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme;
"10. Requests the Secretary-General, acting in consultation with the Committee, to appoint as soon as possible no more than five experts, with the appropriate expertise, in particular on arms, timber, diamonds, finance, humanitarian and socio-economic issues, drawing as much as possible on the expertise of the members of the Panel of Experts established pursuant to resolution 1607 (2005), and further requests the Secretary-General to make the necessary financial and security arrangements to support the work of the Panel;
"11. Calls upon all States and the Government of Liberia to cooperate fully with the Panel of Experts;
"12. Decides to remain seized of the matter."
Before the Council were the ninth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Missions in Liberia (UNMIL) and the report of the Panel of Experts on Liberia (document S/2005/745), the first of which calls on the international community to give the country urgent assistance with security sector reform. The second highlights continuing reports of organized recruitment of ex-combatants in Liberia to fight in Côte d'Ivoire.
In his ninth report on UNMIL (document S/2005/764), the Secretary-General urges Liberia's international partners, which have been helping to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended 14 years of civil strife, to complete that agenda and tackle daunting challenges in the wake of elections in September and November. Of particular concern in this regard are the uncompleted tasks of security-sector reform and the reintegration of numerous ex-combatants and he, therefore, strongly appeals to Member States in a position to do so to extend urgent assistance to these vital programmes.
In the calm but fragile atmosphere, the report says, the main sources of potentially serious security challenges include former Armed Forces of Liberia personnel dissatisfied with their demobilization and retirement benefits, ex-combatants awaiting community reintegration opportunities, disgruntled supporters of the candidate who failed to win the November run-off elections, and members of ex-President Charles Taylor's former armed militia, the Anti-Terrorist Unit. Security problems in western Côte d'Ivoire also remain a potential threat to the efforts to consolidate stability in Liberia.
The Secretary-General says that in his report next March, he will recommend adjustments to UNMIL's deployment, including specific benchmarks, which will take into account the findings of a multidisciplinary assessment mission that will visit Liberia next month, as well as the outcome of consultations with the newly elected Government, Liberia's international partners and other stakeholders. The benchmarks will also include the new responsibilities assigned to UNMIL, among them guarding the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and possible cross-border support for the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI).
On the question of mercenary recruitment, the Panel of Experts says it interviewed non-governmental organizations and citizens in multiple locations and confirmed that children had disappeared from schools in Grand Gedeh County. One ex-combatant confirmed that he had been approached for recruitment by French-speaking persons claiming to be from Côte d'Ivoire. In another situation, a town chief presented a recruiter to UNMIL because he thought the man seemed suspicious. This Liberian citizen admitted that he was a recruiter and that he had six companions with him, as well as four AK-47 weapons hidden in the bush, none of which have been recovered.
According to a military liaison officer in Licorne, Liberia, small groups of Liberian ex-combatants are working in cocoa plantations in Côte d'Ivoire under the supervision of Liberians, the Panel's report states. This keeps the ex-combatants under control, but also creates a force that could be used to recruit Liberians from Grand Gedeh and other counties. The number of Liberians in Côte d'Ivoire who are ready for an immediate armed action is difficult to establish, but it could be as many as 1,000. If necessary, ex-combatants in Liberia could be called on short notice to join a conflict in Côte d'Ivoire. The available information indicates that some of the ex-combatants are armed.
The Panel notes that requirements for lifting the embargo on Liberian rough diamonds and timber have not been met, while sales of iron ore have not been accounted for and scrap metal is being sold at a fraction of its international price. A 25-year agreement with Mittal Steel was reached in a procedure that was not transparent and contained provisions that could be costly to Liberians. These provisions suggest that Liberians cannot rely on their Government and the international community to protect their interests, but that transparent negotiations are necessary.
Regarding financial governance, the Panel says that the financial administration of the National Transitional Government of Liberia remains weak, with an archaic internal control system and a virtually non-existent external oversight system. In addition, no effort has been made to prepare or audit the country's accounts. The budget for 2005-2006 reduces significantly the allocations to such important social sectors as health, education, public works, rural development and agriculture, while in 2004-2005, large amounts of funds were transferred from the Ministries of Health, Education and Public Works to the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, the Ministry of Finance, the Budget Bureau, the General Service Agency and others.
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