5699th Meeting (AM)
The United Nations Security Council today requested Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to renew a panel of financial experts and specialists in the timber and diamond trades to continue investigating violations of Council sanctions against Liberia, following reports that former Liberian President Charles Taylor, now in The Hague awaiting trial for war crimes, may still have access to considerable wealth.
Acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1760 (2007), asking the Secretary-General to establish, within one month, a three-member Panel of Experts to conduct a follow-up assessment mission to Liberia and neighbouring States, in order to, among other things, investigate and compile a report on the implementation and any violations of the measures outlined in resolution 1521 (2003).
That resolution calls for the creation of a similarly mandated Panel and imposes a travel ban on Mr. Taylor's inner circle, as well as any other individuals "posing a threat to the stability and security in Liberia and the subregion". Today's Council action followed a closed-door meeting held last week to consider the report of the previous Expert Panel, whose mandate expires today. The Panel, which conducted assessments in West Africa and elsewhere between February and June, discovered that Mr. Taylor may have substantial hidden assets in Liberia and Nigeria, and that he retained ties to a large Liberian cell phone company.
Resolution 1760 (2007) sets out the specific objectives for the new Panel's assessment mission, including a further investigation of implementation and violations of Council resolution 1532 (2004), which calls on all Member States to freeze financial assets and economic resources owned or controlled by Mr. Taylor, his wife Jewell Howard Taylor, his son Charles Taylor Junior, and other associates, in order to prevent them from "using misappropriated funds and property to interfere in the restoration of peace in Liberia and the subregion".
The Panel is expected to assess the implementation of forestry legislation passed by the Liberian Congress and signed into law last October by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and to gauge the Government's compliance with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, a mechanism established to keep "blood diamonds" from reaching world markets. The experts are required to report back to the Council through its "1521 Committee", which monitors the United Nations sanctions regime on Liberia, by 6 December 2007 and to provide informal updates as appropriate before that date.
According to the experts' report (document S/2007/340), although Mr. Taylor claims to be indigent and has requested the Special Court for Sierra Leone to cover the costs of his trial on 11 counts of war crimes, there are "credible allegations" of investments in Nigeria that remain unfrozen. The Government of Nigeria did not permit the Panel to investigate those allegations. In addition, Liberia has not yet adopted legislation authorizing a freeze, and Nigeria apparently has not seized any Taylor assets.
The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and ended at 10:19 a.m.
The full text of resolution 1760 (2007) reads as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Recalling its previous resolutions and statements by its President on the situation in Liberia and West Africa,
"Welcoming the sustained progress made by the Government of Liberia since January 2006, in rebuilding Liberia for the benefit of all Liberians, with the support of the international community,
"Recalling its decision not to renew the measures in paragraph 10 of resolution 1521 (2003) regarding round log and timber products originating in Liberia, and stressing that Liberia's progress in the timber sector must continue with the effective implementation and enforcement of the National Forestry Reform Law signed into law on 5 October 2006, including the resolution of land and tenure rights,
"Applauding the Government of Liberia's recent admission as a participant in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme,
"Anticipating the Kimberley Process report to the Council, through the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1521 (2003), as encouraged in paragraph 2 of resolution 1753 (2007),
"Stressing the continuing importance of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in improving security through Liberia and helping the new Government establish its authority throughout the country, particularly in the diamond and timber-producing regions, and border areas,
"Taking note of the report of the United Nations Panel of Experts on Liberia dated 24 May 2007 (S/2007/340, annex),
"Having reviewed the measures imposed by paragraphs 2 and 4 of resolution 1521 (2003) and paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004) and the progress towards meeting the conditions set out by paragraph 5 of resolution 1521 (2003), and concluding that insufficient progress has been made towards that end,
"Underlining its determination to support the Government of Liberia in its efforts to meet those conditions, and encouraging donors to do likewise,
"Determining that, despite significant progress having been made in Liberia, the situation there continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region,
"Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,
"1. Requests the Secretary-General to establish, within one month from the date of adoption of this resolution, in consultation with the Committee, for a period of six months, a Panel of Experts consisting of up to three members, with the range of expertise necessary to fulfil the Panel's mandate described in this paragraph, drawing as much as possible on the expertise of the members of the Panel of Experts reappointed pursuant to resolution 1731 (2006), to undertake the following tasks:
(a) To conduct a follow-up assessment mission to Liberia and neighbouring States, in order to investigate and compile a report on the implementation, and any violations, of the measures imposed by resolution 1521 (2003), including any information relevant to the designation by the Committee of the individuals described in paragraph 4 (a) of resolution 1521 (2003) and paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004), and including the various sources of financing, such as from natural resources, for the illicit trade of arms;
(b) To assess the impact of and effectiveness of the measures imposed by paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004), including particularly with respect to the assets of former President Charles Taylor;
(c) To assess the implementation of forestry legislation passed by the Liberian Congress on 19 September 2006 and signed into law by President Johnson Sirleaf on 5 October 2006, recalling that resolution 1689 (2006) decided not to renew the measure in paragraph 10 of resolution 1521 (2003) that obligated Member States to prevent the import into their territories of all round log and timber products originating in Liberia;
(d) To assess the Government of Liberia's compliance with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, recalling that resolution 1753 (2007) decided to terminate the measures on diamonds imposed by paragraph 6 of resolution 1521 (2003) and renewed by paragraph 1 of resolution 1731 (2006);
(e) To report to the Council through the Committee by 6 December 2007 on all the issues listed in this paragraph, and to provide informal updates to the Committee as appropriate before that date;
(f) To cooperate with other relevant groups of experts, in particular that established on Côte d'Ivoire by resolution 1708 (2006) of 14 September 2006;
(g) To identify and make recommendations regarding areas where the capacity of States in the region can be strengthened to facilitate the implementation of the measures imposed by paragraph 4 of resolution 1521 (2003) and paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004);
"2. Calls upon all States and the Government of Liberia to cooperate fully with the Panel of Experts in all the aspects of its mandate;
"3. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."
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