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U.N. Security Council bans sale of Sierra Leone diamonds
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday imposed a worldwide embargo on the sale of diamonds from Sierra Leone.
The resolution -- passed by a vote of 14-0 with one abstention -- is aimed at punishing those nations that fuel the civil war in Sierra Leone by helping the rebels there sell illegally obtained diamonds abroad. Mali registered the sole abstention.
The Revolutionary United Front controls about 90 percent of the diamond-producing areas of Sierra Leone. By using the gems to finance its armies, the group keeps the country's government from regulating the industry.
Resolution specifically names Liberia
Global Witness, a diamond industry watchdog group, estimates that for this year alone, sales of approximately $70 million worth of illegal diamonds are funding the civil war.
The diamonds are nearly impossible to trace and often end up being sold in legitimate diamond markets in Belgium, Israel, the United States and elsewhere.
The British-sponsored resolution specifically names Liberia as facilitating the traffic of so-called "conflict diamonds" -- those gems fleeced by warring factions and sold outside the country.
In particular, the resolution calls on all states to "take the necessary measures to prohibit the direct or indirect import of all rough diamonds from Sierra Leone to their territory."
Review scheduled in 18 months
After the embargo has been in effect for 18 months, the council will review its effectiveness and decide whether to extend or modify it. At that point, there will be an evaluation of the government's authority over the diamond-producing areas.
The resolution also requires the Sierra Leone government to ensure that all domestically produced diamonds receive a certificate of origin.
Sierra Leonean rebels keep pressure on U.N. peacekeepers
Government of Sierra Leone
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