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Liberia: Diamond Sanctions May Soon Be Lifted

2 February 2006 at 23:55 | 406 views

The senior United Nations envoy to Liberia has called on the international
community to work with the country’s Government to pave the way for the lifting
of international sanctions banning diamond exports.

Alan Doss met yesterday in Monrovia with officials from the Kimberley Process, a
certification scheme to track illegal diamond exports which have funded civil
strife in Liberia.

He told Mark Van Bockstael, the founding chair of the Kimberley Process
Certification Scheme (KPCS) Working Group of Diamond Experts, and Leslie Wright,
a KPCS consulting geologist, that Liberians are “anxious to get the sanctions
lifted so that people are not deprived of a legitimate source of income.”

Expressing his appreciation for the efforts made by the Kimberly Process in
Liberia, he added that the international community should work with the
Government to put in place the necessary mechanisms to enable the Security
Council to lift sanctions.

Mr. Van Bockstael, who originated the global certificate scheme for diamonds,
underlined the importance of carrying out a geological assessment in Liberia and
putting in place the tracking and internal control system which would also
prevent diamonds smuggled from other countries from passing through Liberia.

Mr. Doss said the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) would continue to help the
Government by providing air support for surveillance activities in the mining
areas. UNMIL is also prepared to assist the Land, Mines and Energy Ministry in
the mapping of mining areas, he said.

The KPCS delegation was in Liberia to help the Government meet the benchmarks
for compliance and eventual membership with the scheme, a necessary step to lift
the UN Security Council sanctions on the export of Liberian rough diamonds. The
sanctions have been in place since 2001 and are reviewed by the Security Council
every six months, most recently on 20 December.

Credit: UN News

Photo: President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia