Historisk arkiv

Review of the report by the expert group concerning sanctions on Sierra Leone - Statement by Ambassador Deputy Representative Strømmen

Historisk arkiv

Publisert under: Regjeringen Stoltenberg I

Utgiver: Utenriksdepartementet

Ambassador Deputy Representative Strømmen

Review of the report by the expert group concerning sanctions on Sierra Leone

New York, 7 March 2003

Mr. President,

We commend the Panel of Experts on their thorough work and welcome their report and their recommendations on improving the adherence of the sanctions regime. The report is a vital follow-up to the adoption of Resolution 1306 last year, and it is important that the report is discussed in an open meeting like this, thus focusing publicly on the issues of diamonds and arms as they relate to the conflict in Sierra Leone.

The linkage between the illegal trade in arms and diamonds and RUF’s war in Sierra Leone is well documented. The lasting political tension and instability in Sierra Leone and the neighbouring countries have grave humanitarian consequences, for instance in the shape of mass movement of refugees and internally displaced persons in the region. The conflict in Sierra Leone is one of the most violent wars in recent African history, and the physical and mental torture conducted on the civilian population has made the humanitarian needs enormous.

The regional aspects of the conflict in Sierra Leone give reason for great concern. Following the cease-fire between the RUF and the Government of Sierra Leone in November last year, we have seen increased fighting in the border areas between Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The fighting has forced humanitarian workers to leave the area and refugees and IDPs are on the move deeper into Guinea, to Conakry and back to Sierra Leone. Tighter implementation of the sanctions and a general improvement with the circulation of small arms in the region would improve the security situation for the civilian population and the humanitarian workers.

Mr President,

We have carefully studied the recommendations in the report of the Panel of Experts, and would like to comment on some of the more general suggestions on how to improve the sanctions regime implemented by resolution 1306 in particular, and other UN sanctions and embargoes in general.

Before I go into the specifics, I would like to make a few general remarks on the use of sanctions. We think sanctions are an important tool for the Security Council and the international community in the efforts to protect international peace and security. The conclusion of the recent report on Angola that the sanctions against UNITA are hurting UNITA’s ability to wage war, exemplifies this. Sanctions should however be used with caution, and they must be shaped so that they target the real problem at hand. Consequently we must do what we can to avoid the sanctions from giving unwanted side effects, for instance in the form of negative humanitarian effects on the civilian population that one indeed want to protect.

Let me in this connection also stress the importance of the general responsibility of member States to implement the obligations deriving from UN resolutions establishing sanctions regimes. Although countries neighboring conflict areas are acting in contempt of the UN sanctions regime, countries in Europe and other Western states must also pay heed to the fact that importation of illicit diamonds from Africa and exportation of arms from Europe to none-state actors, fuel conflicts. Authorities must make all efforts to prevent the sanctions from eroding by curbing shady businesses and practices.

However, as is also evident from the report of the Panel of Experts, the UN sanctions regimes are not always followed up accordingly. In order to make existing and future sanctions more effective, we find that the recommendation from the Panel of Experts regarding the establishment of a general monitoring mechanism deserves further and serious consideration. From the recent reports on sanctions related to Sierra Leone and Angola we see that both regimes share many of the same problems and weaknesses as regards implementation and violation of the sanctions. We also see from both reports that monitoring is a key issue. The creation of a central capacity within the UN Secretariat for on-going monitoring of adherence to Security Council sanctions and embargoes could be a useful tool in strengthening the implementation of sanctions. It could also be a useful contribution towards achieving the goals already stated in the December 1, 2000 General Assembly resolution on conflict diamonds. However, the further details as regards the possible establishment, mandate and shape of such an instrument is a question that needs careful consideration.

Mr. President,

Norway supports the idea of establishing as soon as possible a standardized global certification scheme for diamonds. As pointed out in the report, existing control mechanisms in Sierra Leone are worthless as long as there are no control in neighboring countries. Being a co-sponsor to the General Assembly Resolution of 1 December 2000, Norway has already stated its commitment to establishing a global certification mechanism to reduce the trade in conflict diamonds. Pending the establishment of a global certification scheme, Norway supports the establishment of a regional system covering all diamond exporting states in West Africa.

Many of the recommendations in the report and the problems that they address are related to the primary supporter of the RUF, namely Liberia. Norway shares the concern of the Panel of Experts that Security Council resolutions on diamonds and weapons are being broken with impunity. Norway shares the opinion that the role played by Liberia in this conflict demands concrete action from the Security Council. In our view it is now time to go to the heart of the matter and impose sanctions on Liberia in an attempt to make the country stop destabilising the whole region through its activities relating to for instance diamonds and weapons. This conduct is a threat to international peace and security, and the Security Council is currently considering a draft resolution on sanctions against Liberia. This work has Norway’s full support.

Thank you, Mr. President