Global Policy Forum

NGO Letter to the Security Council


Action for Southern Africa
Africa Policy Information Center
Catholic Institute for International Relations
Center for Development of International Law
Comité Afrique Australe
European Network for Information and Action on Southern Africa
Global Policy Forum
Global Witness
Ibis Denmark
Nederlands Instituut voor Zuidelijk Afrika
Peace Action International
Quaker United Nations Office

To: His Excellency Mr. Robert R. Fowler, President of the United Nations Security Council
Cc: Security Council Member State Delegations

April 14, 2000

Dear Mr. President and other Member State representatives:

The Security Council will soon act on a resolution to implement the recommendations of the Panel of Experts on Violations of Security Council Sanctions against UNITA. We urge the Council to take strong and meaningful action, to promote a peaceful settlement of the long conflict in Angola, and, more generally, to show that targeted and properly-implemented sanctions can work effectively.

Angolans are suffering their fourth period of war since independence. The UN estimates that this current phase of the fighting has displaced 1.7 million people, while causing a very large numbers of casualties. Though the crisis has eased in recent months, it remains serious and could again worsen. Now that Jonas Savimbi's military wing of UNITA is weakened, the Security Council can take conclusive action, to secure lasting peace and a speedy resolution of Angola's deep humanitarian crisis. Peace is vital, not only for the Angolan people, but also for stability and economic progress throughout the region.

International responsibility

After the latest resumption of fighting by UNITA, the Security Council made clear whom it held primarily responsible for the renewed war. In the words of the Secretary-General at the time of MONUA's withdrawal: "The root causes of this deeply regrettable state of affairs are well known. They lie in UNITA's refusal to comply with basic provisions of the Lusaka Protocol that demanded that it demilitarise its forces and allow state administration to be extended throughout the national territory."

The international community must also acknowledge its own responsibility for the renewed conflict - and in particular its failure to recognise and confront systematic and repeated breaches of the Lusaka Protocol and of UN sanctions -- overwhelmingly by UNITA.

Significance of the Expert Panels Report

We welcome the Security Council's clear and action-orientated approach during the past sixteen months. We particularly welcome the Angola sanctions committee's active and creative initiatives under your leadership, Ambassador Fowler, and the excellent work of the Panel of Experts.

The Panel of Experts report provided a clear picture of UNITA's methods, channels and scale of activities to breach Council-imposed sanctions. We welcome the report's specific and direct style, which makes it a UN landmark of clarity and purpose. The report could not be fully comprehensive nor could it satisfy everyone, but it is a document of great force, quality and significance.

The international community must now take action. We endorse the Panel's hope that the Council will now demonstrate that international sanctions can be made to work effectively, that Members States and others will be held accountable to the international community for their actions, and that the Council means what it says when it passes resolutions and takes action in support of peace. The message would be heard not just in Angola, but in many current and potential areas of conflict as well. The long-suffering people of Angola need and deserve the support of the international community in their search for peace and political reconciliation.

In what follows, we will not attempt to respond in detail to each of the important 39 recommendations contained in the report, but instead will highlight a number of key areas of our concern.

Follow-up mechanisms and information sharing

The Council must ensure effective and adequately-resourced mechanisms to investigate and monitor breaches in sanctions, as a follow up the Expert Panel's work. It is also vital that the Council establish a procedure for regular review of action to implement the sanctions as well as further consideration of measures in response to the Panel report.

Member states must make a strong commitment to sharing intelligence about sanctions-busting -- especially those states with the resources and technical capacity to provide access to certain types of vital data such as satellite information or expertise in tracking illicit financial flows.

We support the proposal that the Council work closely with African-based bodies, especially the OAU and SADC, in both monitoring and implementing sanctions. We also welcome the way in which the Panel has worked with non-governmental organisations and would urge that the Council continue this partnership with NGOs in the future.

Arms and military equipment

Legal instruments and governmental procedures for enacting arms embargoes are quite firmly established. Nevertheless, they failed to prevent UNITA re-arming itself with a vast and sophisticated arsenal after 1993. This large quantity of arms was flown into UNITA-held areas when UN peace-keeping troops and monitors were in place.

The Security Council should now pursue three levels of action:


  • Implement follow-on monitoring, investigation and reporting mechanisms, so that breaches in the arms embargoes are quickly brought to light and existing mechanisms then brought to bear in offending countries;
  • Close important loop-holes in existing systems of arms trade controls, notably in relation to international arms brokers, the sale of surplus arms to arms dealers and the strengthening of end-user certification schemes;
  • Take measures against countries found to be the source of, or known trans-shipment points for, arms to UNITA.

    Petroleum and petroleum products

    We urge the Council to implement rigorously the petroleum sanctions, which could have an immediate impact on UNITA's capacity to wage war, particularly now that its stocks have been depleted and it has lost bulk storage capacity.

    We emphasize the need for action not only by UN member states, but also by international oil companies. Both must work together to tackle this problem. The Angolan Government must also address the problem of petroleum supplies reaching UNITA from within Angola, as mentioned in the Panel Report.

    We urge the Council to adopt measures for monitoring, on-site inspection and information-sharing systems in key border areas to prevent shipment of petroleum by land to UNITA's forces. This is especially critical now that UNITA's air supply-lines have been weakened. The active involvement of SADC should be sought - and the international community must commit resources to assist in the implementation of such measures.


    A large and sophisticated transport operation has been vital to UNITA's sanctions-busting operations. As UNITA shifts its logistical tactics in response to the military setbacks of recent months, the Security Council must act accordingly. We call for more effective measures by member states to counter these operations - by air and by land - and for the greater use of legal action against individuals and companies whose sanction-busting is already documented by substantial evidence.

    Diamonds and finance

    The Panel's proposals are strengthened by a variety of other efforts, including discussions within the G8 and a conference convened in South Africa by diamond-producing countries and the diamond industry. We urge the Security Council to take advantage of this new climate to strengthen the implementation of its diamond sanctions against UNITA.

    We recognise the positive role the legitimate diamond industry can play in supporting job creation and economic development in Angola - as it does in other countries in Southern Africa. We believe that the best way to insure the sustainability of, and consumer support for, the diamond market is through strong and effective action to close down UNITA's sanctions-breaking diamond sales.

    We urge action by players at all stages of the chain from producers to the bourses. While we welcome the recent statements by the Belgian authorities and the Diamond High Council on these matters, we will look for rapid and concrete action. We also recognise the great significance of recent steps taken by the Angolan authorities which could result, with significant UN and outside expertise, in tightening up the controls in the Angolan diamond sector. We believe that the international community should give support to the Angolan authorities, to ensure that the government can effectively implement these news policies.

    The Security Council should act to:


  • Make dealing in diamonds originating from UNITA a criminal offence (rather than just the export of such stones, as at present);
  • Develop tough penalties for those dealers involved in sanctions-busting, to be imposed both by law and by industry bodies, e.g., to exclude such dealers from the trade;
  • Press member states to initiate criminal investigations and legal action against those individuals and companies for which good evidence has been presented (action of this kind could prove an important and immediate deterrent to other traders still dealing in stones originating from UNITA) ;
  • Set up a comprehensive system of controls within the year to prevent sanctions-breaking from the source of origin to the bourses - including the primary marketplace of Antwerp, as well as other major marketplaces in the United Kingdom, the United States, India and Israel.
  • Press the diamond industry to actively collaborate with this process and to adopt measures to ensure its members are not breaking sanctions - and that those guilty of sanctions-busting will be commercially ostracised.

    UNITA representation and travel abroad

    UNITA's extensive international network has allowed it to maintain a false international respectability. Particularly in recent years, this network has also facilitated UNITA's diamond and arms trading operations. While most official UNITA "embassies" have now been closed and a number of the senior officials named by the UN expelled, the Security Council should act to close down the "unofficial" offices which still operate fairly openly. The Council should also regularly review and update the list of UNITA key players to keep up with UNITA's attempts to bypass the sanctions. We would agree with the Panel's proposal that the Council should consider measures against member states that knowingly subvert or fail to comply with the sanctions.



    In conclusion, we are grateful for your personal leadership, Ambassador Fowler, and we appreciate very much the accomplishment of the Expert Panel. The time has now come for the Council to act forcefully on the Panel's many constructive recommendations and the other possibilities that are now emerging. We have high expectations that the Council will break new ground in its upcoming resolution and we urge that it adopt the most effective possible ongoing system of enforcement and monitoring. Peace and well-being, not only in Angola but in all Africa, are clearly at stake in this outcome.

    Yours sincerely,


    Ben Jackson
    Action for Southern Africa (London)

    William Minter
    Senior Research Fellow
    Africa Policy Information Center (Washington)

    Ian Linden
    Executive Director
    Catholic Institute for International Relations (London)

    William Pace
    Executive Director
    Center for the Development of International Law (New York)

    Paulette Pierson-Mathy
    Comité Afrique Australe (Brussels)

    Aditi Sharma
    European Network for Information and Action on Southern Africa (Amsterdam)

    James Paul
    Executive Director
    Global Policy Forum (New York)

    Charmian Gooch
    Global Witness (London)

    General Secretary
    Ibis Denmark (Copenhagen)

    Peter Hermes
    Executive Director
    Nederlands instituut voor Zuidelijk Afrika (Amsterdam)

    Tracy Moavero
    International Office Coordinator
    Peace Action Education Fund (New York)

    Jack Patterson
    UN Representative
    Quaker UN Office (New York)

    Peter Davies
    US Representative
    Saferworld (London)



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