UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Thursday to maintain sanctions on Ivory Coast for another year, including an arms embargo and a ban on importing rough diamonds from the West African nation.
A resolution adopted by the council also renews financial sanctions and travel bans on political figures for violating human rights and blocking peace, including former president Laurent Gbagbo, who is facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.
Ivory Coast headed to the brink of civil war in early 2011 after then-president Gbagbo refused to concede defeat after losing the presidential runoff vote to Alasanne Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of the election. Ouattara was sworn in last May.
The council welcomed "the steady progress and achievements" the country has made in the past months in restoring stability, by holding parliamentary elections, addressing immediate security challenges, advancing economic recovery and strengthening international and regional cooperation. It also acknowledged the efforts by all Ivorians to promote national reconciliation and consolidate peace.
It authorized several exceptions to the arms embargo, including for training security and military forces and for activities to support reform of the security sector. Civilian vehicles can also be provided to the Ivorian security forces.
But the Security Council expressed concern about "the unresolved challenge of reforming the country's security sector and disarming and reintegrating former combatants, and it said the situation in the country "continues to pose a threat to international peace and security in the region."
U.N. sanctions on Ivory Coast, including the arms embargo and ban on importing rough diamonds, have been in effect since 2004.
The resolution adopted Thursday extends sanctions until April 30, 2013.
Last week, the Security Council examined a report from a panel of experts monitoring implementation of sanctions which reported violations of the arms embargo and diamond smuggling.
It reported gun-running into Ivory Coast from Ghana, Guinea, Mali and Senegal from munitions companies and suppliers in countries as far-flung as France, Belarus and Romania up until Gbagbo's ouster last year.