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UN Security Council Passes Resolution to Freeze Assets of Former Liberian Leader - 2004-03-12

The U.N. Security Council has approved a U.S. draft resolution freezing all assets of the exiled former Liberian leader, Charles Taylor. Mr. Taylor is also facing war crimes charges.

The resolution was adopted unanimously. It urges all U.N. member states to search for and freeze all resources owned or controlled by Mr. Taylor, his family and associates.

The former Liberian president went into exile in Nigeria last August, as rebels laid siege to the capital, Monrovia.

A recent U.N. report concluded that Mr. Taylor is continuing to divert government revenues, even from exile. The Security Council resolution states that he is using the funds to undermine peace and stability in Liberia and the region.

After the Council's vote, U.S. Ambassador Stuart Holliday called the resolution an important step in tracking where Liberia's revenues are going.

"I think that's in the resolution is the call for an investigation into where those assets are. They're probably spread over a number of states, and we'll be working vigorously to follow up within the Council and bilaterally on identifying where those assets are, and making sure they are ultimately returned to the people of Liberia," he said.

Secretary of State Colin Powell first called for the assets freeze last month during a Liberia donors' conference at U.N. headquarters. That conference produced pledges of more than $500 million.

Freezing Mr. Taylor's money and property is part of a greater effort to isolate the exiled leader, who also faces a war crimes indictment for backing insurgents in neighboring Sierra Leone. The indictment is pending in a U.N. backed tribunal.

The United Nations has more than 11,000 peacekeepers in Liberia.