The United Nations Security Council said Friday all governments have a binding obligation to prohibit the trade in diamonds and weapons with the Sierra Leone rebels, Reuters reports. According to diplomats, the statement was a veiled warning to Liberian President Charles Taylor, who was singled out in a December U.N. report for trading guns for diamonds with RUF rebels. The Security Council also stressed the "importance of countries, through whose territory illicit diamonds might pass, taking the necessary steps" to implement the U.N. resolution that bans dealings in uncertified Sierra Leone diamonds, Reuters reports.
Also last week, the United States began circulating a draft resolution among the Security Council that seeks to impose a global ban on all Liberian diamond exports until the government shows it's no longer supporting RUF rebels and smuggling conflict diamonds, the Associated Press reports. The draft resolution also proposes an arms embargo on Liberia, which would forbid countries from providing Liberia with any arms, ammunition or paramilitary equipment.
Proposed sanctions against Liberia have sparked concerns from the head of the Organization of African Unity. OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim says sanctions for arms trafficking and diamond smuggling would have catastrophic effects on the country, AP reports. "If they are applied, sanctions will certainly have an effect on not only those targeted, but the ordinary people," Salim says. Despite his concern, Salim urged Taylor to cooperate with the international community and address concerns about diamond and weapon smuggling. Thus far, Taylor has denied all allegations.
- by Julia M. Duncan