Liberia - EP 3

Duration: 06-May-2003 to 22-Dec-2003

With the improvement of the situation in the Sierra Leone, the focus of the UNSC shifted back toward the continuing conflict in Liberia. The Taylor regime was weakened over time, and rebel forces backed by Guinea advanced to within 10 km of Monrovia in March 2003. UNSCR 1478 (6 May 2003) focused primarily on the conflict within Liberia and the Government of Liberia's support for rebel armed groups throughout the region (Sierra Leone and Côte d'Ivoire), added timber sanctions to the existing measures, and expanded the travel ban list.

Charles Taylor attended peace talks in Ghana between Liberia and rebel forces in June 2003 and, while in Accra, was indicted for war crimes by the Special Court in Sierra Leone. The 17 June Accra agreement established a cease fire and secured Taylor's commitment to leave power. Taylor left Monrovia for exile in Nigeria in August. ECOWAS peacekeepers (ECOMIL) arrived to prevent the rebels from over-running the capital and a transitional government was established on 14 October 2003.


Coerce Liberia and the LURD to enter bilateral cease fire negotiations and coerce the government to participate actively in regional peace initiatives.


Constrain government of Liberia from being able to support armed groups in neighboring countries.


Signal (and stigmatize) the government of Liberia about its destabilizing role in the region.


Ongoing arms imports embargo on all parties to the conflict, ban on exports of rough diamonds, travel ban on anybody providing support to armed rebel groups in countries neighboring Liberia, and diplomatic travel ban on senior members of the Liberian government and the military (expanded to include armed rebel groups).

Newly imposed ban on export of all round logs and timber from Liberia.

No individual targets specified.

Potential scope of impact


UN sanctions can have some non-discriminating impact on the general population, since they include arms embargoes, diplomatic sanctions, and/or restrictions on the conduct of particular activities or the export of specific commodities.

Sanctions were imposed for a limited time period. Imposition of timber exports ban (for 10 months) was deliberately delayed by 2 months, ongoing sanctions were renewed immediately for 1 year. Sanctions Committee and Panel of Experts in place. Designation criteria were specified and targets designated. Enforcement authorities specified.



Policy outcome

Taylor and the LURD agreed to a ceasefire on 17 June and subsequently participated in and agreed to a comprehensive Liberian peace settlement (including a ceasefire, transitional government, DDR, SSR, TRC) on 18 August 2003.

Sanctions contribution

Loss of territory to LURD and MODEL forces, Nigerian mediation, and indictment by the Sierra Leone Tribunal played a significant role.



Policy outcome

Taylor acknowledged that he was constrained by the timber sanctions, arguing that the international community had denied Liberians the right to defend themselves by imposing an arms embargo and that timber sanctions starved Liberia of revenue: "Something as simple as a toothpick cannot be exported from Liberia," according to Taylor.

Sanctions contribution

Acknowledgement by the target; but changes on the ground, diplomatic pressure (Nigeria), and limited use of force (LT 100 US marines) also played a role in constraining (and eventually toppling) the regime.



Policy outcome

Taylor and the Government of Liberia were strongly stigmatized in UNSCR 1478.

Sanctions contribution

Special Court indictment and Nigerian mediation (offering Taylor asylum) also contributed to stigmatization.



Increase in corruption and/or criminality, increase in international regulatory capacity in different issue domains, increase in international enforcement capacity in different issue domains, humanitarian consequences, widespread harmful economic consequences.



  • Renews UNSCR 1343 arms imports embargo, diamond exports and travel ban (1 year).
  • Expands UNSCR 1343 travel ban by individuals violating UNSCR 1343 arms imports ban, including LURD or other armed rebel groups (as determined by the Committee).
  • Imposes timber exports ban from Liberia (10 months).


  • Delays timber sanctions implementation (until 07.07.2003).
  • (Re-)establishes Panel of Experts (5 months) and specifies its mandate.
  • Sets sanctions review (before 07.11.2003, then every 6 months).



  • Declares readiness to establish follow-up UN stabilization force (deployed by 01.10.2003).
  • Adds UNSCR 1343 arms imports embargo exemption for Multinational Force.


  • Authorizes establishment of Multinational Force in Liberia and specifies its mandate.
  • Authorizes UNAMSIL to extend logistical support to ECOWAS element of Multinational Force (1 month).



  • Adds UNSCR 1343 arms imports embargo exemption for UNMIL.


  • Establishes UNMIL (1 year) and specifies its mandate and composition.