21 June 2006
Security Council Extends Measures to Prevent Import of Rough Diamonds from Liberia; Chooses Not to Renew Measure on Import of Timber Products
Resolution 1689 (2006) Adopted Unanimously
NEW YORK, 20 June (UN Headquarters) -- Determining that the situation in Liberia continued to pose a threat to international peace and security, the Security Council today extended measures aimed at preventing the import of rough diamonds from the West African nation. At the same time, the Council chose not to renew a measure aimed at preventing the import of round log and timber products from Liberia, though it threatened to reinstate the measure, if appropriate forestry legislation was not passed.
Acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1689 (2006), renewing for six months the measures imposed by paragraph 6 of resolution 1521 (2003), which called on Member States to prevent the direct or indirect import of all rough diamonds from Liberia, regardless of whether such diamonds originated there.
Welcoming Liberia's continuing cooperation with the Kimberley Process and deciding to give its Government sufficient time to establish a transparent and internationally verifiable certificate of origin regime for trade in rough diamonds, the Council said it would review the decision after four months. The Council also called on Liberia to provide the Sanctions Committee with a detailed description of the proposed certificate of origin regime.
The Council applauded President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for her commitment to transparent management of the country's forestry resources, and took note of her recent announcement of a moratorium on timber exports and new timber concessions, pending the passage of appropriate forestry legislation.
For that reason, the Council decided not to renew the measure in paragraph 10 of resolution 1521 (2003), which directed Member States to prevent the import into their territories of all round logs and timber products originating in Liberia. The Council decided to review that decision after 90 days, and expressed its determination to reinstate the measure if appropriate forestry legislation had not been passed by that time.
The Council also requested the Secretary-General to renew the mandate of the Panel of Experts for an additional six months, and requested that the Panel report its observations and recommendations to the Council no later than 15 December 2006.
The meeting began at 10:16 a.m. and ended at 10:20 a.m.
The full text of Council resolution 1689 (2006) 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 rapid progress made by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf since January 2006, in rebuilding Liberia for the benefit of all Liberians, with the support of the international community,
"Applauding the actions of President Sirleaf, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, and others in the international community for their roles in transferring Charles Taylor to the Special Court for Sierra Leone,
"Welcoming the Government of Liberia's progress in implementing the Governance and Economic Management Assistance Program, designed to ensure prompt implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and to expedite the lifting of the measures imposed by resolution 1521 (2003),
"Applauding the Government of Liberia's commitment to transparent management of the country's forestry resources for the benefit of Liberians and its reforms in the timber sector, including promulgating Executive Order No. 1, which declared all purported forest concessions null and void; creating a Forest Reform Monitoring Committee (FRMC); placing an internationally-recruited financial controller in the Forestry Development Authority, making progress towards implementing a management contract to ensure transparency in timber operations; establishing a mechanism for civil society to monitor the forestry sector; and drafting new forestry laws and regulations,
"Stressing that Liberia's progress in the timber sector is held back by the absence of appropriate forestry legislation, and urging speedy adoption of the necessary laws,
"Taking note of President Sirleaf's June 10 announcement of a moratorium on timber exports and new timber concessions pending the passage by the Liberian legislature of forestry legislation that respects Executive Order No. 1 of 2 February 2006, and that is consistent with the recommendations of the FRMC,
"Welcoming the Government of Liberia's continuing cooperation with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and noting Liberia's progress towards compliance with the Kimberley Process,
"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 regions, and border areas,
"Taking note of the report of the United Nations Panel of Experts on Liberia dated 7 June 2006 (S/2006/379),
"Having reviewed the measures imposed and conditions set out by paragraphs 6 through 9 of resolution 1521 (2003) and concluding that insufficient progress has been made towards meeting those conditions,
"Having reviewed the measures imposed and conditions set out by paragraphs 10 and 11 of resolution 1521 (2003), and concluding that sufficient progress has been made towards meeting those conditions,
"Underlining its determination to support the Government of Liberia, 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 not to renew the measure in paragraph 10 of resolution 1521 (2003) that obligates Member States to prevent the import into their territories of all round log and timber products originating in Liberia;
"2. Decides to review the decision in paragraph one (1) after a period of ninety (90) days and expresses its determination to reinstate the measures in paragraph 10 of resolution 1521 (2003) unless the Council is informed by that time that the forestry legislation proposed by the FRMC has been passed;
"3. Urges the speedy adoption of the forestry legislation proposed by the FRMC;
"4. Further decides that the measures imposed by paragraph 6 of resolution 1521 (2003) shall be renewed for an additional six (6) months with a review by the Council after four (4) months, to allow the Government of Liberia sufficient time to establish an effective Certificate of Origin regime for trade in Liberian rough diamonds that is transparent and internationally verifiable, with a view to joining the Kimberley Process, and calls upon the Government of Liberia to provide the Sanctions Committee, established according to paragraph 21 of resolution 1521 (2003) with a detailed description of the proposed regime;
"5. Requests that the Secretary-General renew for an additional six (6) months the mandate of the Panel of Experts re-established according to paragraph 9 of resolution 1647 (2005), and requests that the Panel of Experts report to the Council through the Committee no later than 15 December 2006 its observations and recommendations;
"6. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.
When the Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Liberia, it had before it the latest report of the Secretary-General on developments in that country (document S/2006/376).
The report was to contain adjusted recommendations for a drawdown of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). However, in view of the ongoing police reform and restructuring programme, and the critical role played by UNMIL police units in supporting the efforts of the Liberian National Police to address the recurrent violent demonstrations, the prevailing situation does not permit a drawdown of the Mission's police component at the present stage. The strength of the police component will continue to be reviewed as the reform and training programmes progress. Further recommendations will be provided in future reports, as appropriate.
The country's relative stability has allowed increased freedom of movement, facilitated the return of refugees and internally displaced persons, and aided the gradual resurgence of economic activity, the report says. It has also permitted the Government to concentrate on its national reform agenda. There is a continuing need, however, to carefully manage the internal threats to stability. The serious disturbances created by former personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia on 25 April, and by residents of Nimba county on 17 May, underline the fragility of peace in the country.
The report goes on to say that the relative stability continues to be overwhelmingly anchored on UNMIL's presence, as Liberia does not yet have its own army and the new police force is still in the formative stages. UNMIL's continued presence, therefore, will remain indispensable to the consolidation of peace. Thus, the Secretary-General reiterates his strong recommendation for the deployment of an additional formed police unit. As of 1 June, the Mission's police strength was 1,051 out of an authorized ceiling of 1,115.
Deployment of an additional formed police unit, as recommended in the Secretary-General's March report, would greatly enhance UNMIL's capacity to respond effectively and promptly to public unrest, which could arise from the various retrenchment exercises currently under way, as well as the Government reform initiatives, the increase in localized criminal activities and the planned reduction in the military component later in the year. It would also provide an opportunity for the Liberian Police Support Unit to acquire the practical experience it needs to eventually take over those responsibilities from UNMIL.
Also according to the report, the newly arrived United Nations police immigration officers have been deployed to the Liberian Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization headquarters and to Roberts International Airport to assist with the security sector restructuring exercise. As priorities have shifted to institutional capacity-building and operations support, the Mission is now placing emphasis on recruiting specialist United Nations police personnel in areas such as administration, police budgeting, forensics and Interpol operations.
The report finds that the progress made in the short time since President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf assumed office was very encouraging. The resettlement of internally displaced persons has been completed; more Liberian refugees are returning home; implementation of the Governance and Economic Assistance Programme is making progress; measures to fight corruption are already yielding increased revenues for the State; efforts to meet the goals set out in the Government's 150-day action plan are ongoing; and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has begun its work. In addition, the bold decision concerning the transfer of Charles Taylor to the Special Court for Sierra Leone was a significant development, which sent a strong message to other warlords in the region.
Also according to the report, the reintegration of ex-combatants is a critical component of peace and must be completed as soon as possible. In order to ensure peace and stability in Liberia and in the wider subregion, these former combatants must be fully reintegrated and given the chance for employment. There is also an urgent need to provide youth and the unskilled labour force with employment opportunities in the short and medium term. Pending the development of viable long-term national programmes, public works programmes will be needed to address this pressing issue. Such programmes can have an immediate and productive impact, especially when used to rehabilitate infrastructure and roads, as well as for agricultural projects. The Secretary-General, therefore, strongly encourages donors to generously assist in the creation of public works programmes.
The steps taken by the Government to reform the judiciary and enhance the rule of law are encouraging, the report says, adding, however, that much more should be done to address long-standing structural challenges facing the justice sector. This will require a comprehensive approach and far-reaching reforms, including a major overhaul of the corrections system, which should be carried out as a matter of urgency to alleviate prisoners' unnecessary suffering. Although the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has begun its work, it is still not adequately funded. The friction that emerged between the legislative and executive branches of Government remains another source of concern. The Secretary-General, therefore, appeals to the leadership of all three branches to constructively engage with each other for the betterment of Liberia and its people.
The report states further that the situation in the subregion, particularly in Côte d'Ivoire, remains fragile. Without stability in that country, it will be difficult to safeguard the achievements in Liberia. It is important, therefore, for the international community to support the promising dialogue that has recently been opened among the conflicting parties and encourage them to sustain the momentum. The Secretary-General commends the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union for their initiatives and encourages them to continue resolutely to support the process of dialogue.
During this period of national recovery, peace consolidation and reconciliation, the report says, non-governmental organizations will continue to play a key role, in collaboration with the Government, the donors and United Nations agencies, in providing a very broad range of essential services. National non-governmental organizations have served as important "knowledge brokers", bringing with them local know-how and institutional memory, while international non-governmental organizations bring expertise and experience in areas such as the return and protection of vulnerable populations, ex-combatant training and infrastructure rehabilitation projects. Hopefully, in the coming months, non-governmental organizations and donors will join in refocusing attention on community-based recovery efforts, especially in those areas where significant numbers of returnees are placing additional strain on already limited resources.
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