UN council exempts Liberia govt from arms embargo


The UN Security Council exempted the government of Liberia from an arms embargo slapped on the West African country six years ago in the wake of a ruinous civil war.

A unanimous council resolution renewed the embargo on everyone else in Liberia except for the 10 000-strong UN peacekeeping force there, but said it would not apply to the government for an experimental 12-month period.

It asked a panel of UN experts to assess the impact of the decision, “specifically the effect on the stability and security of Liberia.”

Liberia, scene of a 1989-2003 civil war from which it has not fully recovered, has a small fledgling army that has been under training by US troops. Hitherto, only limited amounts of arms have been allowed into Liberia, mainly for training.

The council said a UN sanctions committee must be notified in advance of any arms shipments to Liberia and demanded that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s government mark the weapons and keep a registry of them.

Liberia’s former president, Charles Taylor, is currently on trial at a UN-backed court in The Hague for war crimes in neighbouring Sierra Leone, where a 1991-2002 civil war was intertwined with that in Liberia.

The council noted “with serious concern” a finding by the expert panel that little progress was being made in imposing a UN freeze on assets owned or controlled by Taylor, his family and associates. It demanded that Liberia’s government “make all necessary efforts to fulfil its obligations.”

The council also called on Monrovia to redouble efforts to impose controls on trade in so-called “blood diamonds” required by the diamond industry’s Kimberley Process, a certification scheme set up in 2003.