UN renews sanctions on Liberia
UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations (UN) Security Council has renewed sanctions against Liberia barring trade in diamonds and arms as well as targeting individual Liberians.
While the Council welcomed progress by the Liberian government since January to reconstruct the war-torn country and co-operate with the international effort to monitor the diamond trade, it said the situation still posed a threat to peace and security in the region.
In a resolution adopted unanimously, the Council decided to renew an embargo on arms destined for Liberia initially prohibited in resolution 1521 adopted on December 22, 2003. The Council also renewed an embargo for six months on exports of rough diamonds.
The Security Council called on the Liberian government to establish an effective and verifiable regime for documenting the origin of rough diamonds with the goal of rejoining the Kimberly Process, the international system designed to prevent so-called "blood diamonds" from entering the market.
The resolution renewed a travel ban against individuals designated by a UN panel of experts as representing a threat to peace in Liberia, including former senior officials in the government of ex-president Charles Taylor.
Trafficking in illegal diamonds is considered one of the root causes not only of the back-to-back civil wars in Liberia since 1989 but also the decade of brutal conflict in next-door Sierra Leone.
Taylor faces 17 counts of war crimes in Sierra Leone for allegedly arming and training rebels in exchange for diamonds that the United Nations has estimated were worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
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