May 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 27 April 2007
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Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to review Liberia diamond sanctions by 20 April.  A briefing by the chair of the Liberia Sanctions Committee (1521 Committee) is likely.  Preceding the review, the Committee expects a briefing by the Panel of Experts.  The Kimberley Process is also expected to inform the Committee of its assessment of Liberia’s progress towards joining the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.  Depending on these reports, the Council may choose to take action ranging from a press statement encouraging Liberia’s further progress to a resolution lifting the sanctions prior to their current expiration in June.

Key Recent Developments
In its December 2006 report, the Panel of Experts said that while progress continued in Liberia, the country was “not yet in a position to demonstrate the internal controls necessary for the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme” and that lifting diamond sanctions, as imposed by resolution 1521, was not warranted.  The Panel pointed out that certain components, such as a diamond valuation scheme, were still missing and that other components required stronger leadership from the government-particularly the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy-to function coherently in a durable and credible fashion.

Having considered the Panel’s findings, the Council on 20 December 2006 adopted resolution 1731, renewing diamond sanctions for six months with a review after four months.  This was intended to allow the Liberian government sufficient time to meet the benchmark set in resolution 1521 for lifting of sanctions by establishing a transparent and internationally verifiable certificate of origin regime for trade in Liberian rough diamonds with a view toward joining the Kimberly Process.

Resolution 1731 requested the Panel of Experts to report to the Council through the Sanctions Committee by 6 June and provide it with informal updates in the meantime.  The resolution also requested that the Panel undertake a follow-up assessment mission to Liberia and neighbouring countries to investigate implementation of resolution 1521, but at this time no travel appears to be planned. At press time, the Panel’s evaluation remains unclear. Considering the remaining challenges that the report of the Panel of Experts described in December, it is possible that Liberia does not yet meet the criteria set in resolution 1521 and that lifting of the sanctions is not yet warranted.  But this remains to be seen.

Depending on the findings of the Panel of Experts and the information received from the Kimberley Process, the Council may choose one of the following options. 

  • If the benchmarks set in resolution 1521 have been achieved, the Council may adopt a resolution lifting Liberia’s diamond sanctions.
  • If progress is substantial, but still lacking some essential elements, the Council may opt for a supportive message to the Liberian government in the form of a press statement.

Key Issues
Considering the role that diamonds have played in fuelling conflict in the region, the key issue for the Council will be to ensure that Liberia establishes a transparent and verifiable certificate of origin regime to enable it to join the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. 

Council Dynamics
Members generally agree that compliance with resolution 1521 is necessary before sanctions are lifted. The findings of the Panel of Experts as well as the Kimberley Process appear to carry much weight. 

Underlying Problems
Liberia’s fragile stability continues to be threatened by disenchanted ex-combatants, youth unemployment and problems with the rule of law.

UN Documents

 Selected Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1731  (20 December 2006) renewed diamond sanctions for six months.
  • S/RES/1689 (20 June 2006) renewed sanctions.
  • S/RES/1647 (20 December 2005) renewed sanctions.
  • S/RES/1521 (22 December 2003) established the 1521 Committee, requested the appointment of a Panel of Experts and established the sanctions regime
 Latest Secretary-General’s Report
  • S/2007/151 (15 March 2007) was the latest report on the UN mission in Liberia.
 Latest Report of the Panel of Experts

For background and a more complete list of documents, please consult our October and December 2006 and March 2007 Forecasts.

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