No Liberian Diamonds in Bush America
May 24, 2001
U.S. President George W. Bush has issued an Executive Order prohibiting the importation of all rough diamonds into the United States from the Republic of Liberia. The executive Order, issued on May 23rd, 2001, is a response to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1343 of March 7, 2001, which led to the imposition of sanctions on Liberia for its support to the rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) of Sierra Leone, and its illicit trade in "blood" of conflict diamonds - used to purchase arms that have fueled the war in Sierra Leone.
Underscoring how Liberia's involvement in the illicit trade in diamonds threatens U.S. foreign policy objective in the region, the Executive Order unequivocally states that:
"The Government of Liberia's complicity in the RUF's illicit trade in diamonds and its other forms of support for the RUF are direct challenges to United States foreign policy objectives in the region as well as to the rule-based international order that is crucial to the peace and prosperity of the United States."
Considering this as a national emergency, President Bush has directed that other additional measures be taken as stipulated in the Executive Order:
"Except to the extent provided in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding the existence of any rights or obligations conferred or imposed by any international agreement or any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the effective date of this order, the direct or indirect importation into the United States of all rough diamonds from Liberia, whether or not such diamonds originated in Liberia, on or after the effective date of this order is prohibited."
These new measures not only further clarifies the banning order, but tightens existing loopholes that could be exploited and thereby undermine the sanctions regime. Observers are calling for similar measures to be taken on the travel ban, which is even more loosely defined.