Security Council extends ban on import of Sierra Leone rough diamonds

The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday approved an 11-month extension of its ban on imports of rough diamonds from Sierra Leone that aims to reduce the role played by the illicit trade in diamonds in fuelling the conflict in the country. Both the original ban imposed in July 2000, and its current extension, fall under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which makes them legally binding on all Member States. The ban will be reviewed after six months, and whether or not it is lifted will depend on the general situation in Sierra Leone, including the extent of the Government’s authority over the diamond-producing areas. By its unanimous action, the Council also welcomed ongoing efforts by the diamond industry and others to break the link between trade in illicit diamonds and armed conflict, and expressed its support for the export diamond certification regime set up by neighbouring Guinea, and for efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to develop a region-wide certification regime. The ban’s establishment followed reports that diamonds from Sierra Leone were presented on international markets as deriving from neighbouring countries, and that funds from their sale were used to finance the activities of the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF), which controlled many of the diamond-rich areas. While noting that there had been significant progress in the Sierra Leone peace process recently, and the Government, with the support of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), had taken steps to extend its authority over those areas, the Council said today that this authority was not yet fully effective. Rough diamonds whose origin is certified by the Government of Sierra Leone are exempt from the ban.

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