Govt Whisks Dust Off


Steps toward Removing Diamond Sanction, Will That Yield Fruits?

By J. Ebenezer Daygbo

October 31, 2006

Like many nations across the African Continent endowed with mineral resources, Liberia is as well a blessed country which actively utilized revenues from its mineral sector to address myriad of problems nestling in the way of national progress.

But a satiable achievement hadn't been realized when a so-called revolution changed the pace of events, wrecking the nation, and ushered unprecedented lawlessness sending dozens into illegal mining in high forest with the Taylor-led government being at the epicenter of it and accused of using the revenues there from to fuel regional confrontations.

Stamping its authority, the United Nations Security Council slammed a noxious sanction on the country's diamond and timber industries in 2001 to salvage the situation. However, following frantic efforts by the Johnson-Sirleaf administration, UNSC recently lifted the sanctions on timber and indicated its preparedness to do likewise for the diamond sanction if concrete actions were taken. Now, the government seems to be whisking off the dust stepping toward removing the diamond sanctions; but as J. Ebenezer Daygbor reports, the big question is whether the move will yield fruits.

The government seems not to be napping to endure another protraction to lifting the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on the country's diamond as it is gradually and soberly putting its house in order to have the sanctions lifted in keeping with the demand of the United Nations. Apparently it is in keeping with this goal that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has set up a Task Force to workout plans to meet the requirements set by the United Nations.

Announcing the constitution of the National Task Force to the nation yesterday during his regular Monday press briefing at the Foreign Ministry, Presidential Press Secretary Cyrus Badio said it will work closely with government and the United Nations Security Council as to assist in ensuring the full implementation of the Kimberley process certificate scheme for the lifting of United Nations Sanctions on Liberian rough diamonds.

Members of National Task Force committee, according to him include, Eugene H. Shannon, Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy, Chairman; Alan Doss, Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and Coordinator of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Co-chairman; Donald Booth, Ambassador of the United States of America, member; Mr. Steven Ursino, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Country Director, member; Carney Johnson, member; and Morris G. Saytumah, Minister of State for Finance, Economic and Legal Affairs, member.

Other members of the National Diamond Task Force are Deputy Minister for Planning and Development, Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, A. Kpandel Fayia, member; Chinese Ambassador to Liberia, Lin Songtian, member; Ansumana Cesay, Special Rep. of the Secretary General of ECOWAS, member; Mrs. Hester Williams-Catakaw, Director of the Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS), member and Mr. James Davies, member.

Secretary Badio didn't say what triggered the inclusion of foreign dignitaries on the membership of the committee, but analysts conjectured that it might have been to give the process the needed weight and to signal to the world body that the government is serious about removing the obstacles in the way of lifting the sanctions. Similar process necessitated the lifting of sanctions on diamonds after the government acted accordingly as demanded by the world body with drafting of a new forestry law, observers said.

Until recently, United Nations experts acknowledged that the government was sharpening tools on the Kimberly Process, but hinted that much more needed to be done on the assets freeze to justify the sanctions lift. According to Margaret Ellen Loj, Danish Representative to the United Nations who also chairs the Sanctions Committee on Liberia, "Liberia risks more delay over not coming off the United Nations Diamond ban unless it can do more to enforce the assets freeze ban."

An expert speaking on the condition of anonymity recently told FrontPageAfrica that "one of the main problems is that the assets freeze has not been enforced by the government and thus, the original sanctions are still in place." Government has not made any steps to freeze assets of individuals the United Nations had problems with as far as activities of detained former President Charles Taylor are concerned. At the same time, the government of Liberia has established a National Task Force for the prevention of trafficking in persons.

Also, there seems to be a complication of the issue which centers on freezing of assets and adopting measures in compliance with the Kimberly Certification Process, but observers think Liberia has no other choice more than to respect the aspirations of the United Nations Security Council.

According to Press Secretary Badio, the task force for the prevention of trafficking in persons is established in keeping with the Act of Legislature enacted into law on June 14, 2005. He noted that the functions of the task force is to develop a national plan for the prevention of trafficking in person, to monitor, supervise all member agencies, NGOs, and other partners to ensure sound implementation of the anti trafficking plan to coordinate the collection and sharing of trafficking data among government agencies.

Mr. Badio said the task force would coordinate the sharing of information between agencies for the purposes of determining and the prevention of trafficking also to detect criminal groups engaging in trafficking and to establish policies to enable government to work with NGOs, other elements of civil society to prevent trafficking and assist in the appropriate reintegration of victims of trafficking.

Meanwhile, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has appointed Mr. Roderick Oso Smith as Deputy Minister of Finance for Expenditure and Debt Management.

More Information on the Security Council
More Information on Liberia
More Debates and General Articles on Diamonds in Conflict
More Information on Diamonds in Conflict
More Information on Timber in Conflict
More Information on The Dark Side of Natural Resources

FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C íŸ 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.