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UN helps Liberia qualify for diamond sanction end

UN mission to help Liberia qualify for end to diamond sanctions

The senior United Nations envoy to Liberia has called on the international community to work with the country’s Government to pave the way for the lifting of international sanctions banning diamond exports.

Alan Doss met yesterday in Monrovia with officials from the Kimberley Process, a certification scheme to track illegal diamond exports which have funded civil strife in Liberia.

He told Mark Van Bockstael, the founding chair of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) Working Group of Diamond Experts, and Leslie Wright, a KPCS consulting geologist, that Liberians are “anxious to get the sanctions lifted so that people are not deprived of a legitimate source of income.”

Expressing his appreciation for the efforts made by the Kimberly Process in Liberia, he added that the international community should work with the Government to put in place the necessary mechanisms to enable the Security Council to lift sanctions.

Mr. Van Bockstael, who originated the global certificate scheme for diamonds, underlined the importance of carrying out a geological assessment in Liberia and putting in place the tracking and internal control system which would also prevent diamonds smuggled from other countries from passing through Liberia.

Mr. Doss said the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) would continue to help the Government by providing air support for surveillance activities in the mining areas. UNMIL is also prepared to assist the Land, Mines and Energy Ministry in the mapping of mining areas, he said.

The KPCS delegation was in Liberia to help the Government meet the benchmarks for compliance and eventual membership with the scheme, a necessary step to lift the UN Security Council sanctions on the export of Liberian rough diamonds. The sanctions have been in place since 2001 and are reviewed by the Security Council every six months, most recently on 20 December.

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