SECURITY COUNCIL URGED TO RETHINK LIBERIA SANCTIONS IN LIGHT OF REGIONAL VIOLENCE
From: UN New York, May 06 2003 00:00AM
© UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news
A United Nations Security Council
expert panel has returned from a three-month investigation in West Africa -
a volatile region "awash in weapons" - convinced that perhaps sanctions
against Liberia alone are not sufficient, when rebels and governments in as
many as five neighbouring countries share responsibility for the region's
spiralling violence and chaos.
"The basis for the imposition of the sanctions against Liberia needs to be
reassessed because violence and conflict are spreading across the region and
are generated not only by Liberian forces," the Security Council's
independent expert panel investigating compliance with international
sanctions levied against Monrovia concludes in a report released at UN
Headquarters in New York today.
"A comprehensive new approach by the Security Council to the situation in
all of West Africa is required," states the report, which paints a picture
of violence and one-upmanship - fuelled by illegal arms and gem trading - in
which even Liberian President Charles Taylor admits to violating the arms
embargo and banditry and lawlessness have become a way of life among the
The panel found that Liberia is still violating the arms embargo, stressing
that violence inside the country this year has escalated "to the point where
no Liberian today can claim not to be affected by it." Revenue-generating
projects have ground to a halt and some are even being abandoned. Poor
governance, corruption and insecurity have ensured that there has been no
significant investment in recent years.
On the humanitarian front, the panel notes that in recent months many
humanitarian agencies have withdrawn most of their staff because of the
widening conflict and because the Government is unable and unwilling to
provide for the basic needs of Liberians.
The report also notes that the ongoing conflict has spilled over into Sierra
Leone, Guinea and now Côte d'Ivoire, posing a new threat to the region as a
whole. The report details the ways Monrovia and rival armed rebel groups
continue to violate the UN arms embargo, through a network of Serbian arms
dealers, Chinese timber companies and fake documents. Some of the same
companies, the panel says, have delivered weapons to neighbouring countries.
The panel makes a number of observations and recommendations regarding
violations of the arms embargo, control of diamonds, government accounting
and civil aviation in Liberia and in the sub-region. It notes that to
prevent Liberia from further decay, international assistance to reorganize
its revenue system is required.