"I find hope in the work of long-established groups such as the Arms Control Association...[and] I find hope in younger anti-nuclear activists and the movement around the world to formally ban the bomb."

– Vincent Intondi
Author, "African Americans Against the Bomb: Nuclear Weapons, Colonialism, and the Black Freedom Movement"
July 1, 2020
UN Says Liberia Illegally Importing Arms

The United Nations released a report October 25 revealing that Liberia illegally imported more than 200 tons of weapons from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) between June and August of this year. Liberia is prohibited from receiving arms under a March 2001 UN arms embargo imposed for its support of rebel forces fighting at the time in Sierra Leone.

A panel of four UN experts reported that six weapons shipments, consisting mostly of automatic rifles, pistols, hand grenades, mines, missile launchers, and ammunition, were flown into Liberia even though export documents listed Nigeria as the destination. The documents were discovered to be false.

Temex, the Yugoslav company making the sale, claimed it considered the deals legal because the company believed that it had legitimate contracts with Nigeria’s Ministry of Defense. But Nigeria is a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which has had a moratorium on small arms imports since 1998. Liberia is also an ECOWAS member.

Yugoslav arms trade practices are already under scrutiny because the United States revealed earlier in October that Yugoslav companies were illegally helping Iraq, which is subject to a 1990 UN arms embargo, upgrade its military aircraft. (See ACT, November 2002.) The FRY responded quickly by firing public officials and launching an investigation. In addition, the United States confirmed in late November that it has arms experts conducting an investigation in the FRY regarding the country’s controls over arms sales.

The four UN experts recommended that the arms embargo on Liberia remain in place and called upon the 15 members of ECOWAS to step up their efforts to stop the flow of arms into West Africa. To date, the experts concluded that “there are few results in terms of combating arms trafficking” in the region.