Letter to Congressional Leaders on the Prohibition of Importation of Rough Diamonds From Sierra Leone
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
Pursuant to section 204(b) of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, 50 U.S.C. 1703(b) (IEEPA), and section 301 of the National Emergencies Act, 50 U.S.C. 1631, I hereby report that I have exercised my statutory authority to declare a national emergency in response to the unusual and extraordinary threat posed to the foreign policy of the United States by Sierra Leone's insurgent Revolutionary United Front's (RUF's) illicit trade in diamonds from Sierra Leone to fund its operations and procurement of weapons and by the RUF's flagrant violation of the Lome Peace Agreement of July 7, 1999, between the Government of Sierra Leone and the RUF. I also have exercised my statutory authority to issue an Executive Order that prohibits the importation into the United States of all rough diamonds from Sierra Leone except for those importations of rough diamonds that are accompanied by a Certificate of Origin or other satisfactory documentation demonstrating that the rough diamonds were legally exported from Sierra Leone with the approval of the Government of Sierra Leone. These actions are mandated in part by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1306 of July 5, 2000.
The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is authorized to issue regulations in exercise of my authorities under IEEPA and the United Nations Participation Act, 22 U.S.C. 287c, to implement this prohibition. All Federal agencies are also directed to take actions within their authority to carry out the provisions of the Executive Order.
I am enclosing a copy of the Executive order I have issued. The order was effective at 12:01 a.m. eastern standard time on January 19, 2001.
I have authorized these measures in response to the RUF's illicit trade in diamonds from Sierra Leone to fund its operations and procurement of weapons and in response to the actions and policies of the RUF in failing to fully abide by the terms of the Lome Peace Agreement of July 7, 1999. The people of Sierra Leone have suffered the ravages of a brutal civil war for nearly a decade. The world's conscience has been shocked by the horrific actions of the RUF in Sierra Leone during this conflict. The widespread crimes against humanity perpetrated by RUF forces include mass amputations, rape, summary execution, and forced labor.
In late May 2000, United Nations Secretary General Annan encouraged the U.N. Security Council to consider taking measures to prevent the RUF from reaping the benefits of its illicit trade in diamonds that had been plundered from Sierra Leone. On July 5, 2000, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1306. The resolution determines that the situation in Sierra Leone continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region, expresses concern at the role played by the illicit trade in diamonds in fueling the conflict in Sierra Leone, and decides that all states shall take the necessary measures to prohibit the direct or indirect importation of all rough diamonds from Sierra Leone to their territory. The resolution, in recognition of the economic importance of the legitimate diamond trade to Sierra Leone, further decides that rough diamonds controlled by the Government of Sierra Leone through a Certificate of Origin regime shall be exempt from the trade embargo.
Military forces of the Government of Sierra Leone and Military Observer Group forces provided by the Economic Community of West African States were engaged in military operations' in Sierra Leone against the RUF until mid-1999. At that time, the Government of Sierra Leone and the RUF signed the Lome Peace Agreement, which provides for an end to hostilities and the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of the insurgent RUF forces. The United Nations Security Council in U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1270 and 1289 established the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) to facilitate implementation of the Lome Peace Agreement and to provide security at key locations and government buildings and at all sites of the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration programs, among other tasks. The Lome Peace Agreement brought an end, sadly only temporarily, to the killings and the atrocities perpetrated by the RUF.
RUF forces have repeatedly violated the terms of the Lome Peace Agreement throughout this spring, when they engaged in deliberate and unprovoked armed attacks on U.N. peacekeepers and committed serious abuses against civilians and international and national aid workers. In May 2000, as UNAMSIL expanded its efforts to establish monitoring and disarmament sites in or near RUF-controlled territory, RUF forces initiated military activity in those areas, killing U.N. peacekeepers and capturing or isolating hundreds of UNAMSIL personnel. These actions brought the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration processes agreed to in the Lome Peace Agreement to a virtual standstill and represent a direct hostile challenge to U.S. foreign policy objectives in the region, which include restoration of peace in Sierra Leone and promotion of democracy and the rule of law throughout the region. Failure to respond to this challenge would encourage other potential rogue organizations to transgress the rulebased international order, which is crucial to the peace and prosperity of the United States.
For the reasons discussed above, the RUF's illicit trade in diamonds from Sierra Leone and its flagrant violation of the Lome Peace Agreement constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States. The measures we are taking will serve to bring an end to the illicit arms-for-diamonds trade through which the RUF perpetuates the tragic conflict in Sierra Leone. They also reflect our outrage at the RUF's repeated, widespread, and serious violations of the Lome Peace Agreement and the RUF's continuing hostilities against the people of Sierra Leone and UNAMSIL personnel.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
NOTE: Letters were sent to J. Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Albert Gore, Jr., President of the Senate. An original was not available for verification of the content of this letter. The Executive order of January 18 is listed in Appendix D at the end of this volume.
William J. Clinton, Letter to Congressional Leaders on the Prohibition of Importation of Rough Diamonds From Sierra Leone Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/228015