UN Renews Cote d’Ivoire Diamond Ban

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RAPAPORT… The United Nations Security Council has renewed its ban on rough diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast,) extending the embargo for another year until October 31, 2008.

The resolution also extended the ban on the trade of arms for a year, as well as targeted measures, such as travel restrictions and the freezing of funds, against certain individuals.

Earlier in October, a UN-appointed team of experts said that diamonds from Cote d’Ivoire were being smuggled to Mali, and called on all countries bordering Ivory Coast and Ivorian authorities, to tighten controls.

According to the World Diamond Congress (WDC,) Cote d’Ivoire is the only source of conflict diamonds in the market today, constituting less than one percent of the global total.

In Monday’s (October 29, 2007) vote, the council unanimously adopted the resolution, which it said would come under review once parties had fully implemented the Ouagadougou agreement. Signed on March 4, 2007, the agreement marked the end of the 5-year conflict between the rebel-held north and the government-controlled south. The council set an April 30, 2008 deadline for these conditions to be met.

Under the Ouagadougou agreement, parties committed to forming a new transitional government in Ivory Coast, to hold free and fair presidential elections, merge the forces nouvelles and the national defense and security forces through the establishment of an integrated command center, and dismantling the militias and disarming ex-combatants, enrolling them in civil services programs.

The council stressed that it was ready to impose targeted measures against persons who are determined to be a threat to the peace and national reconciliation process in Ivory Coast as well as others undermining peace and threatening human rights there.

The move came despite an appeal by the country’s President Laurent Gbagbo, who in September called for a partial lifting of the weapons embargo so that the country can “carry out its task of protecting people and goods,” the UN News Service said.

He told the General Assembly on September 26 that sanctions remain on individuals who have “put heart and soul into seeking peace,” and asked the UN to lift those measures as they applied to three individuals: Charles Goudé Ble, Eugène Djue, and Kouakou Fofie.

Political unrest has been rife in Cote d’Ivoire since the mid-1990s, during which time two coup d’états have been staged. After a peace agreement was signed in 2003 between the government and rebels, forming a unity government, violence broke again in 2004 when rebels refused to disarm. The violence continued through to March 2007 when another peace deal was signed between the government and the rebels.

The UN said in the report that while tension abated after signing the agreement, “the process of emerging from the crisis has not significantly progressed beyond symbolic acts.”

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