27 August 2003


NEW YORK, 26 August (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the statement to the press on the possible humanitarian and socio-economic impact of the Liberian timber sanctions delivered today by Security Council President Fayssal Mekdad (Syria):

Members of the Council were briefed today by the Chairman of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1343 (2001) concerning Liberia on the Committee’s deliberations on the reports submitted by the Secretary-General and the Panel of Experts on Liberia respectively on the possible humanitarian and socio-economic impact of the timber sanctions that went into effect on 7 July 2003, in accordance with resolution 1478 (2003).

Members of the Council welcomed the two reports that provided a preliminary, though useful, assessment of the possible humanitarian and socio-economic impact of timber sanctions.  Members noted that the conflict in Liberia during the reporting period rendered difficult the objective of obtaining an accurate impact assessment that would enable the Council to decide how best to minimize that impact.

In the context of the rapidly evolving, yet fragile, situation in Liberia, the members of the Council considered that it was premature to draw definitive conclusions regarding the timber sanctions and their possible impact.  Members agreed that the concern over the possible use of timber revenues to fuel the conflict in violation of the Security Council resolutions remained valid and, hence, the need to maintain the timber sanctions for the time being.  At the same time, members stressed that the timber sanctions should not lead to a deterioration of the humanitarian situation.  Members underscored two priority areas -- improvement in the security situation and the need for increased humanitarian assistance.

Members of the Council also recognized the important role that a well managed and transparent timber industry could play in Liberia’s rebuilding and long-term development, and the need to adequately assist the Government of Liberia in that regard.

The members were of the view that the developments in Liberia in the coming weeks and months would be of direct relevance to the Council’s review of the sanctions regime on Liberia.  Once the situation stabilizes in Liberia, the Council would be better placed to consider the issue of timber sanctions and the various possible options for minimizing any impact.  Members also underlined the importance of a review and monitoring arrangement to assess the progress with regard to the desired transition of the timber industry and the need to keep track of the possible impact of the timber sanctions.

The members welcomed recent positive developments in Liberia, noted with serious concern the human rights situation and the reports of renewed fighting in some areas, and urged all Liberian parties to the conflict to fully abide by the ceasefire agreement and the comprehensive peace plan signed on 18 August.

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