U.N. Security Council extends ban on Sierra Leone rough diamonds

The United Nations Security Council extended a ban on the export of rough diamonds from Sierra Leone, except for stones that are certified by the government for legal sale, The Associated Press reports.

The ban has been in effect since 2000 and the council has also banned diamond exports by rebels in Angola and by the Liberian government for its alleged links to Sierra Leone’s rebel Revolutionary United Front.

The council resolution, adopted unanimously on Wednesday, Dec.4, welcomed the government’s assessment that the certification program “is helping to curb the illicit trade in diamonds from Sierra Leone,” the AP reports.

The RUF launched an insurrection in 1991 to seize control of Sierra Leone’s government and rich diamond mines. The rebels killed, maimed, raped, burned or kidnapped tens of thousands of civilians.

Under pressure from U.N. and British forces, as well as the army of neighboring Guinea, the rebels signed a cease-fire in late 2000 and started disarming the next year.

The council emphasized the need for the government to strengthen efforts to extend its authority throughout Sierra Leone, including the diamond-producing areas.