Liberia’s peace and security threatened by the unabated and illegal exploitation of Liberia’s natural resources by ex-combatants.

An upsurge in illegal diamond mining and logging by ex-combatants in Liberia is undermining international efforts to promote good governance and stability in the worn torn West African country, and could fuel a return to warlordism, according to a new report by Global Witness (1). http://www.globalwitness.org/reports/show.php/en.00083.html

“An Architecture of Instability,” released today by Global Witness, warns that the government and its international donors have failed to grasp the challenge of demobilising thousands of ex-fighters who are finding jobs in the illegal mining and logging industries.(2)

The regulation of the diamond (3) and timber (4) industries are crucial to the prospects for peace in Liberia because revenues from illegal resource extraction during the civil war funded warlords like the notorious Charles Taylor, now in exile in Nigeria.

Ex-combatants were supposed to have been reintegrated into the Liberian economy through a disarmament, demobilisation, rehabilitation and reintegration (DDRR) programme run by United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). But the programme has failed to find sufficient funds to provide enough rehabilitation places, and a lack of employment opportunities has caused these ex-fighters to drift instead into natural resource extraction.

“Illegal diamond mining and logging by ex-combatants, who have held onto their wartime command structures, could threaten the peace by creating unregulated profits which could end up in the hands of warlords” said Global Witness campaigner Natalie Ashworth. ”It is also high time for Charles Taylor to face justice.”

Global Witness has found that the Liberian government and UNMIL have failed to exert their control over natural resource extraction, or to control the country’s borders to stop the export of diamonds in violation of UN sanctions. Charles Taylor also continuous with impunity to violate the terms of his exile and meddle in Liberia’s political affairs. “There is an urgent need for a joined-up effort which integrates ex-combatants more effectively into the Liberian economy, under government oversight, while also pushing ahead with reforms of natural resource governance,” said Ashworth.

See http://www.globalwitness.org/reports/show.php/en.00083.html

For press inquires on Liberia please contact Natalie Ashworth of Global Witness at +44 (0)20 7561 6369, or +1 347 431 5342, or Reiner Tegtmeyer of Global Witness at +44 (0)20 7561 6371.

For questions on diamonds, please contact Corinna Gilfillan of Global Witness at +1 202 288 6111, or Susie Sanders of Global Witness at +44 (0)20 7561 6397.


(1) Global Witness is an investigative non-governmental organisation that focuses on the links between natural resource exploitation and conflict and was co-nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize. For more information on Liberia, see other Global Witness reports and briefing documents, available at www.globalwitness.org
(2) In his 8th Progress Report on the United Nations Mission in Liberia, UNSC S2005/560, 1 September 2005, p4, No 15, the Secretary General notes the same concern
(3) Diamond sanctions first came into effect through UN Security Council Resolution 1343 (2001), re-established by Resolution 1521 (2003) and renewed for 6 months through Resolution 1579 (2004), and further extended for 6 months by Resolution 1607 (2005)
(4) Timber sanctions were first imposed through UN Security Council Resolution 1478 (2003). They were re-established by Resolution 1521 (2003) and renewed for 12 months through Resolution 1579 (2004).