U.N. Lifts Timber Sanctions Against Liberia

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to lift timber sanctions against Liberia to help spur economic growth in one of Africa's poorest nations, but said it will review the decision in 90 days.

Unless Liberia has adopted legislation on forestry reforms by the time, the council said it will reinstate the timber sanctions.

The council decided to maintain sanctions on Liberian diamond exports for six months but said it will review the measures in four months to give the government sufficient time to establish an international regime to certify the origin of the country's gems.

CountryWatch: Liberia

The Security Council imposed arms and diamond embargoes on Liberia in May 2001 to stop government revenues from those industries from being used to fuel civil war. A new ban on the timber trade took effect in July 2003.

A resolution adopted on Dec. 20, which extended the diamond and timber sanctions for six months, expired Tuesday.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf argued in a May 24 letter to the council that sanctions limiting the trade of arms, timber, and diamonds — and restricting the travel of designated individuals — were stunting the country's economy and were no longer needed.

She called the diamond and timber industries "two significant life wires in the economy of the country" and said the government would not be able to fight poverty effectively without them.