|For information only - not an official document.|
|Press Release No: UNIS/SC/1241|
|Release Date: 6 July 2000|
Security Council Decides to Impose Prohibition on Imports
Of Rough Diamonds from Sierra Leone
Resolution 1306 (2000) Adopted by Vote of 14-0-1 (Mali)
NEW YORK, 5 July (UN Headquarters) -- Acting under the provisions set out in Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Security Council this evening decided that all States shall prohibit the direct or indirect import of rough diamonds from Sierra Leone.
The ban would be initially reviewed after 18 months, according to the terms of draft resolution 1306 (2000) adopted by a vote of 14 in favour to none against, with one abstention (Mali). Following the review, which would cover the situation in Sierra Leone, including the extent of the Government's authority over the diamond producing areas, the Council would decide whether to extend the prohibition for a further period and, if necessary, modify it or adopt further measures.
The two-part resolution also asked the Secretary-General to appoint a panel of five experts to monitor implementation of the ban. By other terms, the Council asked the Government of Sierra Leone to ensure, as a matter of urgency, the effective operation of a certificate of origin regime for trade in the country's diamonds. It also asked relevant international organizations and other bodies to assist the Government to facilitate the full operation of the regime. The Government was to notify the Sierra Leone sanctions committee of the details of the regime when it was fully in operation.
Expressing its concern at the role played by the illicit trade in diamonds in fuelling the conflict in Sierra Leone, and at reports that such diamonds transit neighbouring countries, including Liberia, the Council asked all States to take the necessary measures to prohibit the direct or indirect import of all rough diamonds from Sierra Leone to their territory. It exempted imports of rough diamonds whose origin is certified by the Government of Sierra Leone, and called upon the diamond industry to cooperate with the ban.
Also by the text, the Council decided that a first review of the prohibition would be conducted not later than 15 September, followed by further reviews every six months after the current action. By other provisions, States would be called upon to enforce, strengthen or enact legislation making violation of the arms and weapons embargo imposed by the Council under its resolution 1171 (1998) paragraph 2 a criminal offence.
By further terms of the text, the Committee on sanctions established by Security Council resolution 1132 (1997) would:
-- seek from all States further information regarding action taken by them to effectively implement today’s resolution;
-- consider information brought to its attention concerning violations of the measures imposed today, identifying where possible persons or entities, including vessels, reported to be engaged in such violations, and reporting on them periodically to the Council;
-- promulgate guidelines to facilitate the implementation of the ban and to continue cooperation with other relevant sanctions committees, in particular the committee established by resolution 985 (1995), concerning Liberia, and the one established by resolution 864 (1993), concerning the situation in Angola.
By other terms of the text, all States were asked to report to the Sierra Leone sanctions committee within 30 days of the adoption of today’s resolution actions they had taken to implement the measures imposed by the Council.
The Council called upon all States and all relevant international and regional organizations to act strictly in accordance with the provisions of the resolution, notwithstanding the existence –- prior to today’s action -- of any rights or obligations conferred or imposed by any international agreement or any contract entered into or any licence or permit granted them. Further, States, particularly those through which rough diamonds from Sierra Leone were known to transit, were to take all appropriate measures to comply with the resolution.
The Council asked the Sierra Leone sanctions committee to hold an exploratory hearing in New York no later than 31 July to assess the role of diamonds in the Sierra Leone conflict and the link between trade in them and in arms and related materiel in violation of resolution 1171 (1998). The Secretary-General was to provide the necessary resources for the hearings to which representatives of interested States and regional organizations, the diamond industry and other relevant experts were to be invited. The Committee would report to the Council on the hearings.
By other provisions of the text, the International Diamond Manufacturers Association, the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, the Diamond High Council and all other representatives of the diamond industry would be encouraged to work with the Government of Sierra Leone and the Committee to develop methods and working practices to facilitate the effective implementation of the resolution.
States, international organizations, members of the diamond industry and other relevant entities in a position to do so would be invited to assist the Government of Sierra Leone in further developing a well-structured and well-regulated diamond industry that provided for the identification of the provenance of rough diamonds.
The Council welcomed the commitments made by certain members of the diamond industry not to trade in diamonds originating from conflict zones, including Sierra Leone, and urged others involved in the rough diamonds trade to make similar declarations in respect of Sierra Leone diamonds. It underlined the importance of relevant financial institutions encouraging such companies to make the declarations.
The resolution stressed the need for the extension of the Sierra Leone Government authority to the diamond-producing areas for a durable solution to the problem of illegal exploitation of diamonds in the country. It urged all States, relevant United Nations bodies and other organizations and interested parties to report to the sanctions committee on possible violations of the measures imposed by the Council.
The Council also reminded States of their obligation to implement fully the measures imposed by its resolution 1171 (1998) and called upon them to enforce, strengthen or enact appropriate legislation making violations of paragraph 2 of that resolution concerning arms and weapons a criminal offence.
The Secretary-General, in consultation with the Committee, was to establish a panel of no more than five experts, for four months initially, to:
-- collect information on possible violations of the measures imposed by paragraph 2 of resolution 1171 (1998)and the link between trade in diamonds and in arms and related materiel including through visits to Sierra Leone and other States as appropriate. They were to make contact with those they considered appropriate, including diplomatic missions;
-- consider the adequacy of air traffic control systems in the region -- for the purpose of detecting flights suspected of carrying arms and related materiel across national borders in violation of the measures imposed by paragraph 2 of resolution 1171 (1998); and
-- participate, if possible, in the New York hearing to be organized by the Committee.
The Council urged all States to cooperate with the panel in the discharge of its mandate, and underlined the importance of the cooperation and technical expertise of the Secretariat and other parts of the United Nations system.
The Committee was asked to strengthen existing contacts with regional organizations, particularly the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Organization of African Unity (OAU), and relevant international organizations, to identify ways to improve the effective implementation of the measures imposed by paragraph 2 of resolution 1171 (1998). The Committee was also to make information it considered relevant publicly available through appropriate media, including through the improved use of information technology.
The Secretary-General was asked to publicize the provisions of the present resolution and the obligations imposed by it.
Statements were made in explanation of position by the representatives of the United Kingdom, United States, Mali, Russian Federation, Argentina, Canada and the Netherlands. The representative of France made a statement on behalf of the European Union and associated States after the Council had concluded action on the draft resolution.
The representative of Sierra Leone also made a statement.
The meeting, which began at 6:15 p.m., was adjourned at 7:15 p.m.
Council Work Programme
The Security Council met this evening to take action on a draft resolution on the situation in Sierra Leone.
The text of the draft resolution, document S/2000/635, reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Expressing its concern at the role played by the illicit trade in diamonds in fuelling the conflict in Sierra Leone, and at reports that such diamonds transit neighbouring countries, including Liberia,
“Stressing the need to ensure effective implementation of the measures concerning arms and related materiel imposed by paragraph 2 of resolution 1171 (1998),
IBRAHIM M. KAMARA (Sierra Leone) said that by taking up the draft resolution today, the Security Council would, for the first time, go to the root of the conflict in Sierra Leone. The conflict was not about ideology, tribal or regional differences. It had nothing to do with the so-called problems of marginalized youths, or, as some political commentators had characterized it, an uprising by rural poor against the urban elite. The root of the conflict was and remained diamonds.
The conflict in Sierra Leone was not a civil war, but a rebel war based on brutality, supported by regional, sub-regional and international surrogates, and, more importantly, financed by the illicit trade in Sierra Leone’s diamonds, he said. The Security Council had at last realized that the war was cast in gemstones. The Council had also come to realize that in addition to encouraging the Government to negotiate for peace with the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, it could have taken effective action to deal with the role of diamonds in the conflict.
He said that it was no longer a secret that the first objective of Foday Sankoh, the RUF and their supporters at home, in the neighborhood and abroad, of seizing political power by amputation, rape, arson, killings and other terrorist acts, was only a means to achieve the second and principal objective, namely, the complete control and occupation of the diamond fields of Sierra Leone. The Council and the international community knew why they had reneged on the Lomé Ceasefire Agreement, which they had signed a year ago on 7 July 1999, and why they continued to illegally occupy the diamond areas of the country in violation of that Agreement.
Last year his delegation had told the Council that it supported the idea of naming names in connection with the illegal trade in what had been described as “conflict diamonds”. Naming names should be seen as an expression of serious concern at the role played by the illicit trade in diamonds in fueling conflict. It was a peaceful means of applying political and moral pressure on the principal transit route of such trade to help facilitate an early and peaceful end to the conflict. The illicit export of Sierra Leone diamonds was not only the root and fuel of the conflict, but also constituted a major obstacle to its peaceful resolution.
Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom), speaking before action on the draft resolution before the Council, said diamonds were at the heart of the tragedy of Sierra Leone. A precious resource, which should be a source of wealth for national development had become the cause of human suffering on a terrible scale. The resolution was a robust and imaginative response by the Security Council to that tragedy. The Council had shown itself ready to take a strong lead in addressing the problem, and to have learned lessons from previous experience, especially the work of Robert Fowler (Canada) on Angola. [Ambassador Fowler is the Chairman of the Council’s sanctions committee on Angola.]
He said the resolution sent a powerful signal about the need to end the trade in “conflict diamonds” from Sierra Leone. It included a number of practical and ground-breaking measures to achieve that aim. One of the innovative measures was the exploratory hearing of the sanctions committee. It offered real opportunity to shine powerful light on illicit trade, which preferred to operate in the shadows. The United Kingdom was ready to offer all possible assistance to the Chairman of the sanctions committee to make the hearing a success.
He said the resolution also provided for a panel of experts to look at violations of the arms embargo and the link between diamonds and arms -- a very important step, and a clear signal that the international community would no longer tolerate sanctions busting. The role of industry would be crucial. The resolution was unusual in its direct appeal to the international diamond trade. Many in the industry had shown great responsibility in responding to the problem of conflict diamonds, including from Sierra Leone. His country looked to all parts of the industry to do likewise and fully commit themselves to ending the terrible trade.
The role of Sierra Leone’s neighbours was equally critical. Action elsewhere would be meaningless if illicit Sierra Leone diamonds still flooded out of the country over its borders. The resolution made clear where the Council’s concerns lay. The widely-held view that the bulk of Sierra Leone diamonds at present flew out via the RUF through Liberia was well founded.
The resolution would now impose international obligations on all governments to take steps to cease the illicit trade. It was a practical move upon which the Council must build.
NANCY SODERBERG (United States) said that Sierra Leone had weighed heavily on the world's conscience for the past two years. Today, the Council had taken an important step forward towards the goal of helping the people of Sierra Leone return to the quiet, peaceful and productive lives they deserved. In banning the sale of illicit diamonds, the Council was taking a strong stand against war and for peace. Diamonds and their illicit procurement and sale by the RUF rebels fueled the conflict in Sierra Leone. The rebels had used the sale of diamonds to fund their operations and procure weapons, as well as to enrich their leaders. The illicit trade in diamonds was closely linked with the illegal transfer of diamonds for fueling conflicts, particularly in Africa.
The resolution was a necessary and critical step to assist the Government of Sierra Leone in re-establishing authority over its diamond-producing regions, she said. The United States would adopt the resolution, but it did so with reservations on the time-frame. The United States was concerned about the negative implications of putting in place time-limited sanctions. Sanctions were difficult for Member States to impose within their own national legal systems. They became more difficult to implement if turned off and on. The diamond boycott should stay in place until the Government of Sierra Leone's control over the diamond regions had been fully established. The United States favoured the establishment of benchmark criteria to be met before the sanctions could be lifted. The resolution linked the removal of sanctions to the arbitrary passage of time, rather than to fair and reasonable compliance with requirements established by the Council. While the United States did not agree with time limits, it had accepted the consensus views of other Council members on the issue, given the critical importance of imposing sanctions to end the illicit trade in diamonds-for-arms carried on by the RUF.
She said that the United States strongly believed that sanctions, to have meaning and force, must be tied to a change in the behaviour that had prompted the imposition of sanctions in the first place and not an arbitrary date on a calendar. The use of time limits in the resolution or any other undermined the incentive for sanctioned States or entities to comply with the demands of the Security Council, encouraging them to believe that if they could simply outlast the patience of the Council or somehow divide its members, sanctions would be lifted without compliance or would just simply expire. It was up to the Council to review, consider and modify its own sanctions. The resolution called for an 18-month period of sanctions. Eighteen months was an arbitrary political compromise that had no basis in fact or in anything related to the situation on the ground in Sierra Leone. By placing time limits on Sierra Leone sanctions, the Council was undermining the effectiveness of the resolution and damaging its credibility to impose sanctions in the future. If there had been limits on Libyan sanctions, the suspects would never have been handed over to the Scottish court in the Netherlands.
MOCTAR OUANE (Mali) said the issue before the Council was of particular importance to his country, which was the current Chairman of ECOWAS. Today’s session followed a recent meeting with Council of the ECOWAS mediation group on Sierra Leone on 21 June. He noted that a member of the mediation group, Liberia, had been mentioned in the draft text, with its role being called into question. The ECOWAS mediation group, at a high level, would meet United Nations Secretariat officials on the Sierra Leone situation during the forthcoming summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on 10 July.
Mali had often recalled that the main concern should be the revival of the peace effort. An ECOWAS eight-point peace plan for Sierra Leone covered a number of provisions in the text. The plan had been discussed with the Council at the 21 June meeting, with the need for partnership in the search for peace in Sierra Leone being emphasized.
The draft did not sufficiently take account of the concerns expressed by the ECOWAS position. Mali was concerned about the reference to Liberia in the text. It would not be acceptable to ECOWAS, as a study of the situation had not been completed and his delegation could not support the text. The Council must think of the future, and must reflect on the way President Charles Taylor of Liberia could be involved in the search for peace in Sierra Leone.
SERGEY LAVROV(Russian Federation) said it was extremely important that the measures to be adopted did not affect legitimate trade in Sierra Leone diamonds. He hoped that the tightening of the arms embargo stipulated in the text would help stabilize the situation in the country. It was true that the ban on illicit trade in Sierra Leone diamonds would be limited to 18 months after which the Council would review the situation and decide whether to extend the ban, if necessary, modify or adopt further measures.
The practice of time limitations in the imposition of sanctions was to make them more effective and equitable.
The Russian Federation would vote for the draft resolution, he said.
LUIS ENRIQUE CAPPAGLI (Argentina)said his delegation supported the draft resolution, which was not designed to punish the Government of Sierra Leone. On the contrary, it was directed at the RUF. Argentina trusted that the resolution would bring about success in protecting the people of Sierra Leone, and end the process of fuelling the conflict through trade in the country’s diamonds. He appealed for support of the implementation of the resolution.
He said it was only through the concerted efforts of the international community, particularly, Sierra Leone’s neighbours, that the conflict could be ended. He urged the Government of Sierra Leone to ensure that the Certificate of Origin regime became fully operational. Argentina supported the principle of limitation on sanctions and regular review. Argentina would have liked a prohibition of a longer period.
SHEN GUOFANG (China) said the international community must take strong measures to end the illicit trade in diamonds. That was an unshakeable responsibility of the Council. The resolution would constitute an important step in that direction. China noted that the Sierra Leone Government had, in a letter to the Council, accepted the imposition of sanctions in the trade in diamonds. China believed that the sanctions should not be indefinite and that there should be a periodic review. It was satisfied with the time limit placed on the ban in the text.
The Security Council then adopted the draft text by a vote of 14 in favour to none against, with one abstention (Mali).
ROBERT FOWLER (Canada), speaking in explanation of vote, said that recent violations of the Lomé Agreement had made it necessary for the Council to express its position on the issue. Curbing the trade in diamonds required concerted action. Canada welcomed the balanced approach of the resolution and recalled the responsibility of the diamond industry in its practices. He hoped the text would help shed light on the trade in arms to rebel groups in Sierra Leone.
The principal concern must be to assure that positive measures not be undermined at the outset, he said. The complicity of certain West African States in supplying arms must be faced squarely. The role of Liberia merited particular attention, but it was not the only one. When the panel of experts reported its findings, the Council would need to examine whether Liberia had ceased involvement in the diamond trade and whether additional measures were required.
The Council had signaled sustained engagement by expressing interest in a range of options, he said. Canada would press for candour at every time. The Council must “name and shame” those who sustained the conflict, which had violated every standard of humanity. The United Nations credibility was at stake. The Council must take further steps if efforts at obtaining further compliance were to be effective.
A. PETER VAN WALSUM (Netherlands), also speaking in explanation of vote, said that it was no secret that the Council had spent considerable time in informal consultations on the issue. That should not give West African countries the impression that there had been disagreement. Disagreement on the resolution had not caused the delay. The two issues that the Council had discussed were of a totally different nature. The first concerned the duration of the sanctions and the extension of measures. Debate on that matter reflected the unease about sanctions that lasted longer than intended and stayed in place. He appreciated that unease and was in favour of periodic review of the sanctions. He continued to be opposed to time limits.
The second problem was the reluctance to “call a spade a spade”, he said. That was not really a disagreement as such but a cultural difference. The debate should not be allowed to offer any relief to those who exploited the diamond trade to fuel the war in Sierra Leone.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France), speaking in explanation of vote on behalf of the European Union, Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta and Turkey, said that the adoption of the resolution was a first step and showed that the international community intended to act in the firmest way. The Union also hoped that the Security Council would be able to decide positively in increasing the staffing of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL)and examine the assistance that might be given to the Government of Sierra Leone to bring Foday Sankoh and those responsible for violations to trial. The European Union condemned the actions of the RUF, in particular, the attacks against UNAMSIL. It called on the RUF to fulfil the commitments it had made and to start the process of demobilization and disarmament. The Union underlined the personal responsibility of Foday Sankoh in recent events. He could no longer be considered a partner in the peace process. The Union also considered measures in the resolution as appropriate because they aimed to put an end to exploitation of diamonds by the RUF, which contributed to the financing of the war and impoverishing people as a whole. The establishment of peace required drying up resources. The measures had been the result of close consultations with the Government of Sierra Leone.
He said that the setting up of an effective system for a Certificate of Origin might ultimately complete the efforts already undertaken in other African countries. That would give complete legitimacy to the diamond trade. The proposal to set up an expert group met with the approval of the Union. It was satisfied to welcome all measures taken to strengthen the role of the sanctions committee set up under resolution 1132 (1997).
The holding by the sanctions committee of preliminary hearings represented an important decision. The resolution provided for a six-monthly review of implementation of the embargo. The Union noted the commitment made by the Council to make an in-depth review, to take fresh decisions and to adjust or adopt fresh measures. All measures were aimed at bolstering the authorities to take back control over resources. The restoration of peace would only be possible with active support of countries in the region.
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