Global Policy Forum

Angola Calls on UN to Consider Sanctions on Countries


By Edith M. Lederer

Associated Press
February 23, 2001

Angola's foreign minister has called on the Security Council to seriously consider introducing sanctions against countries that have been violating an arms and diamond embargo imposed on UNITA rebels to force them to end the country's 25-year civil war. ''There are countries that have been systematically mentioned ... as sanctions-busters,'' Joao Miranda said in an interview after a council meeting late Thursday on a U.N. report accusing Burkina Faso and Togo of violating the sanctions. ''The council should not hesitate to discipline its own members,'' Miranda said.

The Security Council imposed an arms and fuel embargo on UNITA in 1993, a year before the United Nations brokered a peace agreement between the two sides. In 1998, six months before the war resumed, the council expanded the measures to include a ban on rebel diamond exports, which are estimated to have supplied UNITA with up to dlrs 4 billion since 1992.

The embargoes have hurt the rebels' ability to wage war, but UNITA has still managed to circumvent the embargoes through a complex network of arms traffickers, friendly African governments and diamond smugglers, the report said.

Miranda urged the council to consider so-called secondary sanctions against countries that continue to support UNITA and adopt measures to combat organized crime networks, which he said were operating in direct support of UNITA rebels.

Burkina Faso and Togo have denied any dealings with UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi and said they have imposed new measures to keep out the rebels.

Burkina Faso's U.N. ambassador, Michel Kafando, told the council that ''instead of continuing to accuse certain member states,'' it should cooperate with regional groups and organize better monitoring of arms and diamond sales.

The 63-page report, released in December, was a follow-up to a groundbreaking expose in March that accused the presidents of Burkina Faso and Togo of accepting ''blood diamonds'' from Savimbi in exchange for illegal arms and fuel shipments. The December report didn't name the presidents, but referred to the complicity of authorities in the two countries in allowing UNITA representatives to do deals in their countries.

The UNITA rebels began fighting government forces shortly after Angola gained independence from Portugal in 1975. UNITA is the Portuguese acronym for the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola.

Canada, which led the council's push to enforce sanctions against UNITA, strongly backed secondary sanctions. ''Sanctions violators are well aware of their responsibilities and of the potential consequences of evading them,'' said Canada's U.N. Ambassador Paul Heinbecker.

But French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte cautioned against further sanctions, saying punitive embargoes are a ''false response to a true problem.'' He said the council should instead focus on helping countries implement the original sanctions.

The Angolan minister told the council the sanctions have significantly reduced ''the military capacity of the rebels,'' and the number of UNITA members joining the government's reconciliation programs is increasing. Angola is more stable politically and economically and now looks to the future ''with confidence and optimism,'' Miranda added. ''The United Nations and the international community must apply pressure to persuade the rebels to follow the path of peace,'' he said.

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