UN Re-Established Panel of Experts to Investigate Liberia's Compliance with UN Sanctions
January 30, 2003
The sanctions regime (which includes travel ban on President Taylor, Liberian government and military officials) imposed by the United Nations as the result of resolution 1343 (2001) against the Taylor government for fueling the war in Sierra Leone took effect on May 5, 2001. About a month later (June 5, 2001), the Security Council strengthened the sanctions by producing a list of government and military officials affected by the travel ban included in the sanctions. Suggestions to include timber in the sanctions were greeting with stiff resistance from France and China - the major importers of Liberian timber.
Since the imposition of the UN sanctions, there have been numerous reports filed by several organizations including the UN Panel of Experts about sanctions bursting by the Liberian government and its officials. Though the war in Sierra is over, the Taylor regime has used proceeds from timber and maritime to buy weapons in violation of United Nations arms embargo against that West African country.
The travel ban, which was viewed by many as the teeth of the sanctions, has been routinely violated with impunity by government officials. Notorious violators of the travel ban include: Grace B. Minor, Myrtle Gibson, Amelia Ward, Cora Peabody, Freddie Taylor, Benjamin Yeaten, Jonathan Goodrich, Othello Brandy, Jewel Taylor, Daniel Chea, Jenkins Dunbar, Sam Jackson, just to name a few.
At the end of last year, there were some indications that come May, 2003, the sanctions regime may not be renewed because some members of the Security Council felt that the war in Sierra that led to the sanctions is over . But the recent crisis in the Ivory Coast is giving those members a wake up call as evident in the following UN document:
SECURITY COUNCIL RE-ESTABLISHES PANEL INVESTIGATING COMPLIANCE WITH LIBERIA SANCTIONS FOR FURTHER THREE MONTHS
Resolution 1458 (2003) Adopted Unanimously
The Security Council, deeply concerned by the situation in Liberia and neighbouring countries, especially in Côte d'Ivoire, today re-established for a further three months the Panel of Experts investigating compliance with the sanctions imposed on the Liberian Government, including an arms embargo, travel ban for officials, and a ban on the import of its rough diamonds.
Unanimously adopting resolution 1458 (2003), the Council asked the expert Panel to conduct a follow-up assessment mission to the region, in order to investigate any violations of the measures against Liberia, including any involving rebel movements, and to review the audits by the Liberian Government to ensure that revenue derived from the Liberia Shipping Registry and the Liberian timber industry was used for legitimate social, humanitarian and development purposes.
The Secretary-General was asked to appoint up to five experts to the Panel and to make the necessary financial arrangements to support its work. The Panel will commence its work not later than 10 February and will report to the Council by 16 April.
Under Security Council resolution 1408 of 6 May 2002, sanctions against Liberia, originally imposed in 2001, were extended for another year, the Council deciding that Liberia had not fully complied with demands that it halt its support for the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and other armed rebel groups in the region. The Council also asked the Secretary-General to establish, within three months, a panel of experts, and it called on the Liberian Government to establish transparent and internationally verifiable audit regimes.
Today's meeting began at 5:39 p.m. and adjourned at 5:41 p.m.
The full text of resolution 1458 (2003) reads as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Reaffirming its resolution 1408 (2002) of 6 May 2002,
"Noting that the next six-monthly review by the Security Council of the measures imposed by paragraphs 5 to 7 of resolution 1343 (2001), and extended by paragraph 5 of resolution 1408 (2002), is scheduled to take place on or before 6 May 2003,
"Deeply concerned by the situation in Liberia and neighbouring countries, especially in Côte d'Ivoire,
"Recognizing the importance of monitoring the implementation of the provisions of resolutions 1343 (2001) and 1408 (2002),
"1. Takes note of the report of the Panel of Experts on Liberia dated 25 October 2002 (S/2002/1115) submitted pursuant to paragraph 16 of resolution 1408 (2002);
"2. Expresses its intention to continue to give full consideration to the report;
"3. Decides to re-establish the Panel of Experts appointed pursuant to paragraph 16 of resolution 1408 (2002) for a further period of three months commencing no later than 10 February 2003;
"4. Requests the Panel of Experts to conduct a follow-up assessment mission to Liberia and neighbouring States, in order to investigate and compile a report on the Government of Liberia's compliance with the demands referred to in paragraph 2 of resolution 1343 (2001), and of any violations of the measures referred to in paragraph 5 of resolution 1408 (2002), including any involving rebel movements, to conduct a review of the audits referred to in paragraph 10 of resolution 1408 (2002), and to report to the Council through the Committee established by paragraph 14 of resolution 1343 (2001) (‘the Committee') no later than 16 April 2003 with the Panel's observations and recommendations in relation to the tasks set out herein;
"5. Requests the Panel of Experts, as far as possible, to bring any relevant information collected in the course of its investigations conducted in accordance with its mandate to the attention of the States concerned for prompt and thorough investigation and, where appropriate, corrective action, and to allow them the right of reply;
"6. Requests the Secretary-General, upon the adoption of this resolution and acting in consultation with the Committee, to appoint no more than five experts, with the range of expertise necessary to fulfil the Panel's mandate referred to in paragraph 4 above, drawing as much as possible and as appropriate on the expertise of the members of the Panel of Experts appointed pursuant to paragraph 16 of resolution 1408 (2002), and further requests the Secretary-General to make the necessary financial arrangements to support the work of the Panel;
"7. Urges all States, relevant United Nations bodies and, as appropriate, other organizations and interested parties to cooperate fully with the Committee and Panel of Experts, including by supplying information on possible violations of the measures imposed by paragraphs 5 to 7 of resolution 1343 (2001);
"8. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."