Experts monitoring the ban on Liberia’s diamond trade say without external funding, the country will not be able to institute a certificate-of-origin regime for trade in the gemstones—a condition considered necessary for the United Nations Security Council to lift the sanctions.
In its first progress report since the panel was re-established in June, the experts say the Liberian Government is still some time away for fulfilling the criteria to participate in the Kimberley Process, an international regime set up to verify the origin and authenticity of rough diamond exports.
The government has not signed a contract with a company to make the plates for the printing of Kimberley-compliant certificates and to supply those certificates to diamond exporters because of a lack of funds, the report states, describing the problem as the “biggest obstacle” to lifting the sanctions.
An assessment mission by the Kimberley Process committee is also unlikely to be held before late November at the earliest, according to the report, which means it will probably not be able to take part in the scheme until next year, the statement says.
The panelists, who visited Liberia last month, say that the West African nation is otherwise “proceeding well” towards achieving the conditions for lifting sanctions: mining activity remains low and illegal exports are negligible.
But they warn that illegal exports may rise as more diggers return to mining areas now that the annual dry season is beginning and more sections of the country are becoming stable following the disarmament of ex-combatants.
“It may be necessary for the Government of Liberia to review this situation and introduce temporary controls to prevent an upsurge of illegal smuggling abroad,” the report states.
The Security Council sanctions also include an arms embargo, restrictions on the export of round logs and timber products, and a travel bans on individuals posing a threat to the stability and security of Liberia.
The sanctions were imposed in 2001 and extended last year, as Liberia’s 14-year civil war ended, to try to discourage instability in the troubled region.
The five experts on the panel are: Chairman Atabou Bodian of Senegal, Arthur Blundell of Canada, Damien Callamand of France, Caspar Fithen of the United Kingdom and Tommy Garnett of Sierra Leone.