UNSC to lift Ivory Coast diamond ban

Comment on this story
iol news pic diamonds

UNITED NATIONS/ABIDJAN - The UN Security Council is set to lift a nearly decade-long diamond embargo on Ivory Coast, diplomats said on Friday, despite UN experts reporting that ban has failed to stop the illicit production and trafficking of rough diamonds.

The West African country, emerging from a decade-long crisis that culminated in a brief war in 2011, has been pressing the Security Council to end the embargo that was put in place nine years ago in the wake of an initial 2002-2003 civil war.

A draft resolution circulated among the 15 Security Council members proposes lifting the diamond embargo, diplomats said. The council is due to adopt the resolution next week.

“There is consensus on this issue,” said one council diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. A second diplomat said the proposal was not expected “to be controversial for council members.”

Ivory Coast received a clean bill of health in November from the Kimberley Process, the body tasked with preventing the sale of so called “blood diamonds” from fuelling armed conflict.

But the UN group of experts reported to the Security Council this month “that the measures and restrictions imposed by the Security Council ... still do not prevent the trafficking of Ivorian rough diamonds.”

“The group furthermore notes that, in spite of having identified violations of the diamond embargo in its public reports since 2006, the Ivorian authorities have made no progress in combating the smuggling of diamonds nor taken any concrete initiatives to date,” according to the report.

The UN experts, charged with monitoring compliance with a sanctions regime including an arms embargo, have written to the Kimberley Process stating their concerns and inviting officials to discuss with them how best they could be addressed.

The experts reported that a senior Ivory Coast army officer is breaking the diamond embargo and there was “strong evidence” he was using the profits to support soldiers loyal to him within the army. The experts also voiced concern that diamond profits may be used to purchased weapons in violation of an arms embargo.

In October, the experts estimated the annual value of illicit diamond trade to be between $12 million and $23 million.

Before the embargo, Ivory Coast produced about 300,000 carats of diamond a year, valued at around $25 million, according to industry experts. Ivorian authorities have said they would like to relaunch the sector to fund post-war reconstruction.

Blood diamonds were thrust into the global spotlight in the 1990s during a succession of African conflicts where their trade financed arms purchases and resulted in human rights abuses.


sign up

Comment Guidelines

  1. Please read our comment guidelines.
  2. Login and register, if you haven’ t already.
  3. Write your comment in the block below and click (Post As)
  4. Has a comment offended you? Hover your mouse over the comment and wait until a small triangle appears on the right-hand side. Click triangle () and select "Flag as inappropriate". Our moderators will take action if need be.

  5. Verified email addresses: All users on Independent Media news sites are now required to have a verified email address before being allowed to comment on articles. You are only required to verify your email address once to have full access to commenting on articles. For more information please read our comment guidelines