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former IAEA Director-General

UN Imposes Arms Embargo on Liberia
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On March 7, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution imposing a new arms embargo on Liberia for supporting the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a rebel group that has waged a guerrilla war in Sierra Leone.

Security Council Resolution 1343 prohibits all states from selling or supplying Liberia with arms and related material and from providing Liberia with technical training to manufacture, maintain, or use arms and related material. The resolution orders the government of Liberia to "immediately cease its support for the RUF in Sierra Leone and for other armed rebel groups in the region" by expelling RUF members from its territory and halting financial and military backing to the RUF.

Under the resolution, Liberia must also stop trading rough diamonds from Sierra Leone that are not controlled through the certificate-of-origin regime currently in place. Developed under a July 2000 Security Council resolution to curb illicit arms-for-diamonds trafficking, the regime formally certifies Sierra Leone diamonds mined in government-controlled areas and bars all states from importing Sierra Leone diamonds without official documentation.

The diamond trade is a primary source of revenue for the RUF's activities, and a December 2000 UN report confirmed that Liberia smuggles arms to and diamonds from Sierra Leone with the "permission and involvement" of Liberian President Charles Taylor.

Sponsored by the United States and the United Kingdom, the resolution passed unanimously in the 13-member Security Council. The new arms embargo took effect immediately, replacing another arms embargo the Security Council had instated against Liberia in 1992 because of its civil war. That war ended in 1996, but the embargo was never lifted.

Liberia must comply with the resolution's demands by May 7 or face further sanctions prohibiting all states from importing rough diamonds from Liberia and banning travel by senior Liberian government officials. The arms embargo and all additional sanctions will remain in effect until May 7, 2002, or until Liberia meets the resolution's terms.

Posted: April 1, 2001