Liberia Sanctions & Panel of Experts Renewal
Tomorrow (Wednesday, 14 December), the Council is scheduled to renew both the Liberia sanctions regime and the mandate of the Panel of Experts monitoring the sanctions. A draft resolution was circulated to Council members on 6 December requesting the Secretary-General to reappoint the panel and renew the sanctions regime for 12 months.
The panel’s latest report was discussed by the Council on 9 December. It seems that during the consultations some members expressed concern about the sanctions regime being outdated. (These sanctions were first imposed in 2003.) Others felt that it was not the right time to remove the sanctions regime and that it would be better to wait until the situation became more stable. However, it appears likely that members may be more ready to consider removing the sanctions regime by the end of 2012.
It appears that other areas covered during consultations were the arms embargo and the Liberian mercenaries— who are now back in Liberia—hired and deployed by former Côte d’Ivoire President Laurent Gbagbo during the conflict in that country. A substantial part of the panel’s report deals with the impact of the return of an estimated 4,500 Liberian mercenaries who had been involved in the Côte d’Ivoire conflict. Apparently many of these mercenaries are now engaged in illicit gold mining. The report also highlights that the funds accruing from illicit gold mining are now likely to surpass that of the declining diamond mining. The panel therefore suggests a need for gold mining to be properly monitored. (Gold mining is currently not part of the sanctions regime.) With regard to the measures imposed on arms, the report notes very few combat weapons were found in unofficial hands.
As it has in the past, the draft resolution requests the panel to monitor the exploitation of natural resources within Liberia. However, the focus in the panel’s recent report on gold mining activities appears to have led to an inclusion of a request in the draft resolution for the Liberia sanctions panel to coordinate with the Côte d’Ivoire and DRC sanctions panels of experts on gold mining activities.
The draft resolution also calls on the panel to assess the impact, effectiveness, and continued need for the sanctions. It requests the panel to provide a midterm report to the Council by June 2012 and a final report by December 2012. It also asks the panel to identify and make recommendations on how the capacity of Liberia and neighbouring states in the region can be strengthened to facilitate the implementation of the sanctions measures.