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Rough Diamond Sales/Arms Exports

Volume 403: debated on Tuesday 8 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what measures the Government is taking at the UN Security Council to ensure that the embargo on rough diamond sales and arms exports, and the travel ban on key personnel from Liberia will be extended and that a ban on timber exports will be adopted when these issues are discussed in May; [105888](2) what assessment his Department has made of the role of the Liberian timber industry in the smuggling of arms into Liberia during the current UN embargo; and if he will make a statement; [105887](3) pursuant to his answer of 26 March 2003,

Official Report, column 258W, what action the UK Government will take at the next meeting of the UN Security Council on Liberia in May on the timber industry. [106670]

The UN imposed sanctions on Liberia as a result of the Liberian Governments' complicity in fuelling the conflict in Sierra Leone. Liberia remains a serious threat to the stability of the sub-region. We believe sanctions should be maintained until Liberia stops its destabilising efforts in the region and meets in full the demands of the UN Security Council.We share the concern of the UN Panel of Experts that the revenues from timber sales are being used to fund arms purchases in breach of UN sanctions. In resolution 1408(2002) the UN Security Council called on the Government of Liberia to undertake the audit of shipping and timber revenues and to use the revenues from the timber trade for social, development and humanitarian purposes.We have played a leading role in trying to restrict the Government of Liberia's sanction busting activities. We will be calling for the Council to examine all sources of revenue, including timber sales, used to make arms purchases, and to consider ways of addressing the problem in order to prevent the Liberian regime from making illicit arms purchases.The Government supports the Africa Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (AFLEG) process, which calls on all African governments and trading partners to take action to control illegal activities in the logging sector and associated trade. The UK will be represented at an AFLEG Conference in April 2003 to push this process forward.