Security Council Diamond Sanctions and the Kimberly Process
Security Council Diamond Sanctions
The Council’s review in October of the Liberia diamond sanctions will highlight international efforts to prohibit the trade in conflict diamonds. The illicit trade in diamonds has fuelled a number of conflicts in West Africa: Liberia, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire and Angola. Studies on causes and prevention of conflicts have drawn attention to illicit exploitation of extractive natural resources as an important source of revenue for armed groups. The illicit diamond trade has been linked directly to the financing of arms and ammunition by rebel groups.
Preventing the illicit exploitation of commodities in conflict situations thus became a priority for the international community. The Council recognised the need to establish controls over the trade of rough diamonds, beginning with the diamond sanctions on Angola in 1998 (resolution 1173). It has prohibited importation of rough diamonds from conflict states and urged them to establish Certificate of Origin regimes for the trade in rough diamonds. The General Assembly, in resolution 55/56 of 1 December 2000, called on all concerned parties-including countries that produce, process, export or import diamonds-to “find ways to break the link between diamonds and armed conflict.”
Increasingly, the Council has turned to the use of targeted sanctions as a tool for conflict prevention and resolution, particularly in Africa. There have been some successes, particularly with regard to diamond sanctions imposed on UNITA (União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola) in Angola, the RUF (Revolutionary United Front) in Sierra Leone, and against Liberia to end Charles Taylor’s support and facilitation of the RUF.
However, while the Council is apt to employ targeted sanctions more widely in conflict situations, the effectiveness of sanctions regimes often suffers from lack of full implementation by many countries. In some cases, this is due to lack of capacity and, in others, lack of commitment. Moreover, a number of outstanding recommendations to further improve the implementation of sanctions regimes are yet to be adopted by the Council. Nevertheless, there have been significant improvements in sanctions regimes in recent years resulting primarily from changes in the design and implementation of sanctions, prompted by the Interlaken, Bonn-Berlin and Stockholm processes.
The international community’s responses to the problem of conflict diamonds, particularly the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme for Rough Diamonds, are having a significant impact on the illicit trade in rough diamonds. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which was adopted 5 November 2002 after almost two years of negotiations, went into effect January 2003. It requires governments to implement import- and export-control regimes that certify and control the trade in rough diamonds, and it creates a documentary trail from the extraction to the polishing of diamonds.
The UNITA sanctions were broadly supported by the Non-Aligned Movement, Organisation of African Unity, and the Southern African Development Community. In 2000 a number of initiatives were made in support of diamond sanctions. These included: efforts by the Belgian government to curb diamond sanctions and by the Diamond High Council (a non-profit diamond trade organisation) to make Angola diamond sanctions more effective; the African diamond-producing countries’ proposal to convene a conference of experts for the purpose of devising a system of controls to facilitate the implementation of the measures contained in resolution 1173 (1998); and South Africa’s announcement of its intention to host the conference. It was contemplated that the conference would develop arrangements allowing for increased transparency and accountability in the control of diamonds from point of origin to the bourses. The conference, held at Kimberley, South Africa in May 2000, began the process of establishing the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.
The Council adopted resolution 1459 on 28 January 2003 specifically endorsing the Kimberley Process and welcoming the Certification Scheme as a valuable tool against the traffic in conflict diamonds. The Council’s subsequent approach used its Chapter VII powers to require countries, including Liberia, to establish a Certificate of Origin regime in conformity with the requirements of the Certification Scheme and to adopt relevant laws and an effective administrative mechanism to become a member of the Kimberley Process. The Council’s use of its powers under Chapter VII – under which all sanctions resolutions are adopted – to impose the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme’s requirements on governments in conflict situations has contributed significantly to the Scheme’s early success. In less than three years, the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme has been credited with reducing significantly the illicit trade in diamonds, denying rebel armies a major source of funding.
Before the Kimberley Process, the Council began imposing the Certificate of Origin regime requirement on governments of conflict-ridden, diamond-exporting countries. First employed against UNITA, the Council decided in resolution 1173 of 12 June 1998 that all states must take the necessary measures to prohibit all imports from Angola of all diamonds not controlled by the Angolan government’s Certificate of Origin regime.
In 2000, while chairing the Angola Sanctions Committee in the Council, Canada initiated visits to the region and the diamond centres of Europe in an effort to improve the effectiveness of the sanctions against UNITA. The chairman made a dramatic presentation of evidence to the Council vividly highlighting sanctions violations. This exposed the extent to which UNITA relied on rough diamonds to finance its rebellion. These efforts by the Canadian chairman set unprecedented new standards for the work of Council sanctions committees and triggered tougher measures against UNITA. Resolution 1295 (2000), while imposing further restrictions on Angolan conflict diamonds, encouraged states hosting diamond markets to impose significant penalties for possessing rough diamonds imported in contravention of resolution 1173. It emphasised that non-compliance constituted a violation of the UN Charter and that implementation of the measures required the use of an effective Certification of Origin. Resolution 1295 also established a monitoring mechanism to collect additional information and investigate relevant leads relating to violations of the sanctions measures.
The Sierra Leone-Liberia Link
The role of diamonds in the Sierra Leone conflict was similar to that of Angola. However, the RUF received from the Liberian government significant support that served as a conduit for the illicit trade in Sierra Leone diamonds as well as a source of arms supplies. The Council expressed concern about the relationship between the conflict and the diamond trade and confirmed reports that such diamonds were transiting neighbouring countries, including Liberia. Consequently, it adopted resolution 1306 of 5 July 2000 imposing a prohibition on trade in all rough diamonds from Sierra Leone.
The Council requested the Sierra Leonean government to establish a Certificate of Origin regime for the export of rough diamonds and to notify the Sanctions Committee of its details when fully operational. Once the Committee reported to the Council that an effective regime was fully operational, diamonds exported by the government under the new regime would be exempt from the sanctions. The Council requested the Sanctions Committee to hold an unprecedented exploratory hearing in New York to assess the role of diamonds in the Sierra Leone conflict and the link between trade in Sierra Leone diamonds and the trade in arms and related materiél in violation of resolution 1171 (1998). The Council also asked for the Committee to report to it on its hearings. Participants included representatives of interested states and regional organisations, the diamond industry and other experts.
The Council authorised establishment of a Panel of Experts to collect information on possible violations of the diamond sanctions and the link between the trade in diamonds and the trade in arms and related materiél, and to report their findings and recommendations to the Council through the Committee.
A subsequent report by the Panel of Experts (S/2000/1195) confirmed that diamonds represented a major and primary source of income for the RUF, that the bulk of RUF diamonds left Sierra Leone through Liberia, and that such illicit trade could not have been conducted without the permission and involvement of Liberian government officials at the highest levels. Concerned about the unequivocal and overwhelming evidence presented implicating the Liberian government as actively supporting the RUF at all levels, and since the Liberian government had ignored all of the Council’s efforts to cease its support of the RUF, in March 2001, the Council adopted resolution 1343. In this resolution the Council demanded that the Liberian government end its support to the RUF, and cease all direct or indirect imports of Sierra Leonean rough diamonds not controlled by the Certificate of Origin regime of the Sierra Leonean government in accordance with resolution 1306.
Also in resolution 1343, the Council imposed a number of sanctions on the Liberian government and its senior government and military leaders. These included an embargo on importation of diamonds from Liberia whether or not originating from Liberia territory, a provision aimed specifically at prohibiting the illicit trade of Sierra Leone diamonds through Liberia.
In this resolution, the Council also called on the Liberian government to establish an effective Certificate of Origin regime for trade in rough diamonds, transparent and internationally verifiable and approved by the Sanctions Committee. The Council urged all West African diamond-exporting states to establish their own Certificate of Origin regimes similar to that adopted by the Sierra Leone government.
The Liberia Sanctions Panel of Experts confirmed that the Liberian government continued to breach the sanctions measures. The Council repeatedly called on the Liberian government to establish a Certificate of Origin regime, bearing in mind the discussions then taking place in the Kimberley Process. It renewed the diamond sanctions through a series of resolutions ending with resolution 1689 of 20 June 2006.
The inauguration of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on 16 January as president of Liberia launched a new chapter in the relationship between the Council and Liberia. In resolution 1689, the Council welcomed the cooperation of the new Liberian government with the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme and the progress towards compliance. However, noting the findings of the Panel of Experts, the Council extended the sanctions on Liberia’s diamonds for another six months to be reviewed in four months. This period would allow the Liberian government sufficient time to establish an effective Certificate of Origin regime that is transparent and internationally verifiable, with a view to joining the Kimberley Process.
As reported by the Panel of Experts in June in its most recent report, with US assistance in achieving Kimberley Process compliancy, Liberia’s new government is increasingly moving toward meeting the necessary objectives for the lifting of the sanctions on Liberian diamonds. The report noted that there was still much to be done in areas of technical and logistical capability, the implementation of internal controls and reforming procedural frameworks for the export of diamonds. The report also noted that illegal mining activities continued unabated. The Panel of Experts concluded that while most of the components for a credible, internationally accredited certification scheme are now available, the harmonisation of these components into a functioning mechanism was still some months away. The Panel emphasised that the need for continued international assistance is critical if Liberia is to make a successful application for participation in the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme.
Liberia’s successful establishment of an effective Certificate of Origin and readiness to join the Kimberley Process will be the main criteria for the lifting of the sanctions. The October review will be the first Council review of diamond sanctions set specifically against the standards of the Kimberley Process.
In response to the conflict in Côte d’Ivoire, the Kimberley Process Plenary Meeting in Moscow in November 2005 adopted a resolution setting out a series of measures to prevent the introduction of conflict diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire into the legitimate diamond trade. In its final communiqué, the Plenary cited evidence of ongoing illicit production of diamonds in the northern, rebel-controlled regions of Côte d’Ivoire, and concluded it posed a threat to the Certification Scheme. It agreed to conduct, in cooperation with the UN, a detailed assessment of the volume of rough diamonds produced in and exported from Côte d’Ivoire, and to identify where Ivorian diamonds are entering the trade. The Plenary also requested all participants to take action against any of their nationals or companies found to be involved in illicit diamond trade or production in Côte d’Ivoire.
Taking note of the decisions of the Kimberley Process Plenary, and recognising the linkage between the illegal exploitation of natural resources linked to the conflict, the Council adopted resolution 1643 on 15 December 2005 imposing a prohibition on the import of rough diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire. The Council welcomed the measures agreed by the participants in the Kimberly Process and called upon all states in the region which are not participants in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme to intensify their efforts to become members in order to increase the effectiveness of monitoring the import of diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire.
The Côte d’Ivoire diamond sanctions are scheduled to be reviewed by the Council by 15 December 2006.
|Selected Security Council Resolutions|
|Selected Meeting Records|
|Selected Panel of Experts’ Reports|
Useful Additional Sources
For information on the Kimberley Process visit www.kimberleyprocess.com