U.N. Closer to Resolution on Sierra Leone

June 30, 2000

U.N. Closer to Resolution on Sierra Leone

The United Nations Security Council is closer to imposing a global embargo on diamond exports from Sierra Leone, where the rebels' gems-for-guns trade is fueling the civil war.

According to Reuters, a draft resolution was sent to governments of the 15-nation council for possible approval before the weekend. It suggests a ban on all rough diamonds from Sierra Leone until the government can set up a proper certification system for diamond exports and regain rebel-controlled diamond mines. The ban will last 18 months and can be renewed by another council vote.

Hearings on the role of diamonds in the Sierra Leone conflict will be held within a year if the resolution is approved. In addition, all countries will be required to report to the council about what they have done to enact legislation making it a crime to transport and sell weapons to the RUF rebels, who are under a U.N. arms embargo.

Two other resolutions on Sierra Leone are awaiting approval as well. The first is a proposal from Britain to increase U.N. peacekeepers in Sierra Leone by 3,000. The other is a U.S. proposal on ways to prosecute RUF leader Foday Sankoh and others, Reuters reports.

In other conflict diamond developments, earlier this week leading diamond importing nations discussed plans to eliminate the conflict diamond trade. Representatives from India, Israel, Belgium, the U.S. and Britain, with observers from Russia and Canada, discussed plans for a global certification system for rough diamonds using forgery-proof papers and sealed containers.

They also discussed proposals on greater regulation in diamond trading centers, inspections of imports, penalties for traders dealing with conflict diamonds and bank cooperation against conflict diamond traders.

- by Julia M. Duncan