Press Release / June 22, 2006

United Nations Security Council lifts Liberia timber sanctions despite insufficient reform of the industry

The United Nations Security Council has voted not to renew sanctions on the Liberian timber industry despite insufficient progress by the Government of Liberia in meeting the criteria set out in Resolution 1521 (2003).

“The Security Council’s decision reflects the need to recognise the significant progress made by the Liberian government,” says Natalie Ashworth, Campaigner at Global Witness. “Yet by lifting the sanctions prematurely, the Council not only risks opening up the Liberian timber industry to possibly predatory logging practices before sufficient safeguards are in place but also undermines the sanctions regime as a whole.”

The Security Council decided to review the decision after 90 days and threatened to reinstate the measure if appropriate forestry legislation is not passed within this period.

The Liberian government does not yet exert full control of forest areas. Many reforms of the timber industry are still in the planning stage and have yet to be implemented.

Liberia is in need of funds to help rebuild its shattered infrastructure and to meet the basic needs of its population. However, restarting the timber industry now will not provide an immediate source of revenue. Unless the government takes full control of its forests, it cannot guarantee security or economic benefits for the Liberian people. The timber industry has not yet been sufficiently reformed to ensure that revenue will be captured or that the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) - the government agency responsible for the timber industry and forests - will be able to control the operations of timber companies.

Global Witness urges the Government of Liberia to pass a moratorium on the resumption of industrial logging and export of timber until the government has regained full control of the forests and the sector has been satisfactorily reformed. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf recently announced plans to institute such a moratorium. These reforms should include participatory forest/land use planning, a comprehensive national forest inventory, a new forest use system, definition of chain of custody and related control systems and structures including an independent forest monitor.

“The Government of Liberia is going to need the continued support of its international partners to successfully reform the timber industry,” said Natalie Ashworth. “In particular, the UN peacekeeping force UNMIL should continue to provide support to the FDA in its efforts to gain full control of Liberia’s forests.”

For further information, please contact:

Natalie Ashworth: in the UK + 44 7968160377 +44 207 561 6369


A more detailed Global Witness report, “Cautiously Optimistic: the case for maintaining sanctions in Liberia”, published in June 2006, can be found at

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