UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- An arms embargo instituted against Sierra Leone more than a decade ago has been lifted, the U.N. Security Council decided.
Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world, suffering from years of turmoil tied to so-called conflict diamonds. The U.N. Security Council in 1998 hit the country with an arms embargo and other sanctions because of a civil war that left more than 75,000 people dead.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his latest report on the Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone, or UNIPSIL, said underemployment and economic issues were among the "immense challenges" remaining in the country.
The Security Council voted unanimously to terminate the sanctions imposed by Security Council Resolution 1171.
Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the imposed sanctions were an effective tool, noting the country has made great strides in demobilizing armed groups during its post-conflict recovery.
"While challenges such as political intolerance, youth unemployment and drug trafficking endure, Sierra Leone has made tremendous progress with the strong support of the international community," she said in a statement.
The Security Council also voted to extend the mandate for UNIPSIL for another year while calling on the government to continue preparing for elections in 2012.