UN: Liberia Still Smuggles Diamonds, Arms

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(Rapaport…October 16, 2002) Liberia is still actively trading in illegal arms and diamonds, according to a new United Nations (UN) report obtained by the Associated Press. Its authors recommend expanding sanctions against the country.

The UN Security Council approved an embargo on dealing in diamonds and weapons with Liberia in May 2001, after determining that the government of President Charles Taylor was supporting rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone. The council renewed the sanctions five months ago, claiming Taylor had continued dealing in arms and conflict diamonds.

Now the UN says it has evidence that more than 200 tons of weapons were recently shipped to Liberia from the former Yugoslavia. Liberian diamonds continue to be smuggled to neighboring countries. Several have suffered civil wars or rebellions fueled in part by the conflict diamond trade. The Ivory Coast was the latest to erupt in violence when a failed coup turned into a rebellion last month.

The UN report recommends expanding the Liberian embargo to all armed rebel groups in the region, including the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), which is fighting Taylor’s government.

The panel that wrote the UN report included British diamond expert Alex Vines and Belgian arms and transportation expert Johan Peleman. Investigators from Senegal and India also contributed to the report.

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