Security Council ends ban on import of Sierra Leone rough diamonds

Citing the Government of Sierra Leone’s increased efforts to control its diamond mining areas and industry, the United Nations Security Council today dropped its ban on precious stones from the West African country imposed in a bid to prevent illicitly traded rough diamonds being used to finance armed conflict. The Council’s President for June, Ambassador Sergey Lavrov of the Russian Federation, also cited Sierra Leone’s full participation in the Kimberley Process as among the reasons the 15-nation body agreed not to renew the three-year old embargo, which expired at midnight yesterday. The Kimberley Process is a negotiating procedure to establish minimum acceptable international standards for national certification covering the import and export of rough diamonds. It also includes participation by the European Community and countries that produce and trade in the stones, industry representatives and civil society. “Members of the Council commended the Government’s efforts to strengthen and improve their management of the diamond industry,” Ambassador Lavrov said in a press statement, adding that they encouraged Freetown to continue these efforts and to work closely with UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) in ensuring the security of the diamond mining areas. He stressed that Council members agreed to continue to pay close attention to the diamond sector of Sierra Leone because of its importance to the future stability and security of the country.