Liberia: UN envoy welcomes Security Council lifting of diamond embargo

The senior United Nations envoy to Liberia today welcomed the Security Council's decision to lift its six-year-old ban on the export of diamonds from the country that was introduced to stop proceeds from the sale of these so-called "blood diamonds" from fuelling wars across West Africa.

Alan Doss, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Liberia, issued a statement in which he congratulated the country's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her Government for "working hard to meet the conditions required for the termination of the diamond sanctions and for compliance with the Kimberley Process."

Begun in 2000 by Southern African diamond-producing countries, the Kimberley Process led to the adoption in November 2002 of an international certification scheme for rough diamonds, based primarily on national schemes and on internationally-agreed minimum standards.

Trafficking in blood diamonds is considered one of the root causes of the civil wars that have plagued Africa, especially in Liberia and neighbouring Sierra Leone.

In his statement Mr. Doss called on the Liberian Government "to further intensify its collaborative work with international partners and national stakeholders to ensure that the diamond certification scheme operates effectively for the benefit of all Liberians, including those communities involved in diamond mining."

On Friday the Council voted unanimously to lift the sanctions, observing that Liberia has made enough progress towards establishing the necessary internal controls to satisfy the minimum requirements of the Kimberley Process. But it also agreed to review, if necessary, its decision to lift the embargo within 90 days.