The UN Security Council on Friday lifted a six-year ban on Liberian diamond exports. The 15-nation council voted unanimously on ‘Resolution 1753 (2007)’ and ended the embargo imposed in 2001. Back then, it was widely held that diamond exports from Liberia were being used to finance insurgency in Sierra Leone – thus, being tagged ‘blood diamonds.’ The unanimous vote by the Council was the second instance of it reposing faith in the new President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Last June, the Council had lifted a similar ban on Liberian wood. To quote current Security Council president, British ambassador Sir Emyr Jones Parry: That’s a recognition of the progress made in Liberia, the fact that the conditions imposed in the Kimberly Process are being met, and our expectation is that Liberia would now move forward and fully join the Kimberly Process. Conditions have been established in Liberia which permitted today the lifting, and that’s a reflection of our confidence in that country, in its leadership and our wish that it should now progress quickly. The resolution passed by the Security Council said that Liberia had taken action to meet the minimum demands of the Kimberly process, a mechanism that requires participating governments to provide certificates for rough diamonds to show that they come from legitimate operations. Liberia submitted its application on March 27 to join the Kimberley Process, a voluntary 71-nation group created out of the furor over diamond-funded wars in Sierra Leone and Angola. Liberian President had lobbied hard for a favorable decision saying that the money was badly needed to finance reconstruction in her country torn by back-to-back civil wars. Liberia’s U.N. Ambassador, Nathaniel Barnes rejoiced at the decision and said: This is a positive thing. The unemployment rate in Liberia right now is 85 percent. And a good portion of that number is ex-combatants. This is an industry that is very labor-intensive. Once we have gotten through this process and begin to get the kind of investment that we are looking for, it will be a major source that will allow us to put young people to work.
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