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Annan appoints Panel monitoring Liberian sanctions

Annan appoints five-member Panel of Experts monitoring Liberian sanctions

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today appointed a five-member Panel of Experts to monitor the renewed sanctions regime the Security Council imposed on Liberia after receiving reports that the West African country’s natural resources were not being used to benefit its people.

The latest Panel of Experts comprises Arthur Gregory Blundell of Canada, who will be the chairman, Damien Callamand of France, Caspar Fithen of the United Kingdom, Tommy Garnett of Sierra Leone and Rajiva Bhushan Sinha of India, Mr. Annan said in a letter to the Council.

Last month the Security Council renewed the sanctions it had first imposed on the war-torn country in May 2001 and which now include timber, travel, arms and diamond embargoes. The Council also re-established the Panel of Experts to conduct follow-up assessments of the sanctions and said it would review the measures, with a view to ending them, at the request of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s new Government.

The Council has welcomed the determination of President Johnson-Sirleaf to meet its conditions and has encouraged her Government to implement reforms, especially in the management of the country’s timber and diamond resources.

The Council initially approved the Liberian sanctions after determining that former President Charles Taylor’s Government had helped the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone fight against the Government there during the country’s brutal decade-long civil war.

In 2003, citing Liberia’s “active support” of rebel groups which were having a destabilizing effect on West Africa, the Council renewed and expanded the sanctions, and decided the measures would remain in effect until peace was maintained, export transparency was established and the Government controlled the national forests.

A Panel of Experts appointed last July to assess the implementation and impact of the sanctions regime in Liberia noted that the requirements for lifting the embargo on Liberian rough diamonds and timber had not been met. In addition, agreements reached on iron ore exports suggested that Liberians could not rely on their Government or on the international community to protect their interests.

Instead, it said, the country needed transparent business negotiations.

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