U.N. Security Council ends more than a decade of sanctions, arms embargo on Liberia


The United Nations Security Council voted on Wednesday to end sanctions and an arms embargo on Liberia, citing the West African country’s successful stabilization more than a decade after a 14-year civil war that killed nearly 250,000 people.

The unanimously adopted resolution by the 15-nation council welcomed “the sustained progress made by the government of Liberia in rebuilding Liberia for the benefit of all Liberians.”

U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations David Pressman welcomed the move, saying the targeted sanctions on key individuals, the arms embargo and a ban on the export of Liberian timber and rough diamonds had contributed to Liberia’s stability.
“Liberia continues to consolidate its progress and the Security Council has determined that the criteria for lifting the sanctions have been met, allowing us to fully terminate the (sanctions) regime,” he said.

Washington wanted to see Liberia continue to strengthen its security agencies to ensure better arms flow monitoring and border patrols, he added.

The decision formally dissolves the U.N. Liberia sanctions committee and panel of experts that monitored implementation of the arms embargo and other measures, most of which had been in place since 2003.

The U.N. first implemented a type of arms embargo for Liberia in 1992.

Liberia’s former president, Charles Taylor, began the 1989-2003 civil war in the nation, which was founded by descendants of freed American slaves. He was sentenced in 2012 to 50 years in prison for his role in atrocities committed in neighbouring Sierra Leone during its 1991-2002 civil war.

The Security Council last year lifted a travel ban and asset freezes on individuals deemed a danger to Liberia’s stability.

The United States lifted its own economic sanctions on Liberia in November.

Concern about the use of Liberian “blood diamonds” to help fund the civil war helped inspire the creation of the U.N.-backed Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, a programme to certify the origins of diamonds that was set up in 2002 following devastating civil wars in Angola, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The system has made it far more difficult to traffic in conflict diamonds.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also welcomed the end of sanctions on Liberia, calling it another signal of progress made by Liberia and the sub-region in maintaining stability, spokesman Farhan Haq said.