Diamonds for Blood

For years, the war in Angola was given several ideological covers and political pretexts. Like those given for most other conflicts around the world, nothing could be further from the truth. Almost all those closely involved know that the fighting in Angola was between those who controlled the oil and those who controlled the diamonds. It would have been diamonds for oil, except that people were involved. Indeed, far too many innocent people. In his last report, the UN Secretary General mentioned that over the last ten years alone, about 5 million people have lost their lives or livelihoods to such conflicts around the world. Angola is just one example now brought to the attention of the international community through a report to the Security Council by a group led by Robert Fowler, ambassador of Canada.

The following are the some of the main findings of the report:

Conclusions Relating to Arms and Military Equipment:

The Panel noted that a substantial quantity of UNITA's arms and equipment were captured by UNITA from Government forces in battle. In addition to this, UNITA was also able to import large quantities of arms and military equipment - mainly as a result of four key factors. First has been the willingness of certain countries in Africa to provide their end-user certificates to UNITA and to facilitate the passage of arms and military equipment through their territory to UNITA - most notably Zaire under Mobutu, Togo, and Burkina Faso. Second has been the willingness of some arms supplying countries, officially or unofficially, to sell weapons with little or no regard for where those arms would actually end up - in this case, most notably Bulgaria. Third has been the eagerness of international arms brokers and air transport carriers to act as intermediaries between UNITA and the suppliers of the arms and military equipment. A fourth factor has been the capacity of UNITA to continue to pay for what it wants.

Conclusions Relating to Petroleum and Petroleum Products:

The Panel confirmed the critical importance of fuel supplies to UNITA's political and military operations, and that UNITA took advantage of the peace in Angola to build stockpiles for war. The Panel concluded that a number of former and current Heads of State in Africa helped UNITA to circumvent Security Council sanctions against the provision of petroleum products to UNITA. Those implicated include the former President of Zaire, Mobutu Sese Seko; the former President of the Republic of Congo, Pascal Lissouba; and the former Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo, Gen. Joachim Yhombi Opango; and the President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré. The Panel also concluded that there was significant complicity by Zambian nationals in the violation of the petroleum sanctions, but the Panel is unable to say with certainty whether or not this occurred with the support of Zambian Government officials. The Panel further concluded that there had been significant acquisitions of fuel by UNITA from within Angola, resulting both from inadequate controls and from outright corruption. The Panel also noted that fuel supplies continued to be smuggled into UNITA controlled areas in support of commercial entities and private individuals operating there. These supplies come across areas of the Zambia and DRC borders adjacent to UNITA controlled areas, and to a lesser extent they appear also to cross the border from Namibia.

Conclusions Relating to Diamonds:

The Panel concluded that UNITA's ability to sell its diamonds is based on three key factors. First, is that fact that UNITA has had access to diamond rich territories and has been able to extract diamonds for its benefit. Second, is the easy and protected access which UNITA has to external locations where diamond deals can be transacted. Third, is the ease with which illegal diamonds can be sold and traded on major diamond markets, particularly in the largest diamond market - Antwerp.

The Panel concluded that authorities at the highest levels in Burkina Faso and Rwanda have violated the sanctions prohibiting trade in UNITA diamonds by facilitating meetings between UNITA and diamond dealers from Antwerp, by providing protection for those participating in such transactions, and by facilitating the exchange of UNITA diamonds for cash and/or arms. The Panel concluded that South Africa was also a place where transactions occurred, including transactions in UNITA diamonds, but that such activities were not conducted with the support or participation of the Government of South Africa.

The Panel also concluded that the lax controls and regulations governing the Antwerp diamond market facilitate and perhaps even encourage illegal trading activity. The Panel noted the apparent inability or unwillingness of the responsible authorities in Belgium effectively to police the smuggling of illegal Angolan diamonds onto the market there. The Panel also concluded that lax controls within Angola have facilitated diamond smuggling in that country, including the passage of diamonds from UNITA controlled areas into official channels. The Panel welcomed the steps being taken by the Government of Angola to enhance enforcement of the sanctions, and urged that close attention be paid to the implementation of these measures.

Conclusions Relating to UNITA Finances and Assets:

The Panel concluded that for practical as well as logistical reasons the bulk of UNITA's assets are retained in the form of rough diamonds which are packaged and sold as needed, with the proceeds sometimes going to UNITA officials or representatives abroad who may deposit the money in banks for short periods of time in order to complete or facilitate particular transactions. For the purchase of very high value items such as weapons, arms brokers accepted payment in diamonds after the value had been agreed between the experts on each side. Nonetheless, a network of banks, financial institutions and money managers continue to be connected with UNITA and its representatives and suppliers, and to be used by them for important though limited purposes.

The Panel concluded that President Eyadema of Togo and deposed President Bediô of Côte d'Ivoire aided UNITA in trying to circumvent the sanctions on financial assets imposed by the Security Council. The Panel concluded that UNITA representatives in a number of countries were in control of financial assets on behalf of the organization, and the Panel specifically noted the apparent absence of any action by Morocco to track down or freeze UNITA assets that had been transferred to that country with the knowledge of Moroccan officials prior to the imposition of financial sanctions by the Security Council.

Conclusions Relating to UNITA Representation and Travel Abroad:

With respect to UNITA representation abroad, the Panel concluded that while UNITA no longer operates formal "Embassies," UNITA personnel still conduct business on the organization's behalf and actively look after its interests through unofficial offices or other arrangements. The Panel concluded that a number of countries provided actual support and protection for UNITA representatives and easy access for senior UNITA officials wishing to travel there. These countries were identified as Burkina Faso, Togo, Côte d'Ivoire, Zambia and Rwanda. In a number of other countries, UNITA is able to maintain an "unofficial" representative presence with the knowledge but without the direct support of the host government. These countries include the United States, France, Belgium, Portugal, Switzerland, and South Africa.

With respect to travel, the Panel concluded that a number of countries have disregarded the Council's ban on travel by senior UNITA officials and members of their immediate families. The worst offenders were identified as Burkina Faso, Togo and Côte d'Ivoire - all of whom facilitated the travel of persons prohibited by the sanctions from traveling, while Rwanda Zambia and South Africa were also found to have lax or selective enforcement. A number of countries were either unable for legal reasons or unwilling to prevent senior UNITA officials and/or adult members of their immediate families from residing in or transiting their territories. These countries include in particular Belgium, France and Portugal - all of which continue to be regularly visited by senior UNITA officials and/or provide a haven for Savimbi's children and those of other senior UNITA leaders.