Friday, August 24, 2007

Security Council extends mandate of Lebanon force until 31 august 2008

24 August 2007
Security Council

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

5733rd Meeting (AM)

Security Council extends mandate of Lebanon force until 31 august 2008, Unanimously adopting resolution 1773 (2007)

Determining that the situation in Lebanon continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security, the Security Council this morning extended the present mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for another year, until 31 August 2008.

By the terms of resolution 1773 (2007), which was unanimously adopted, the Council called upon all parties concerned to respect the cessation of hostilities and the Blue Line in its entirety and urged them to cooperate fully with the United Nations and UNIFIL and scrupulously respect the safety of their personnel, avoiding any action that endangered those staff and according them full freedom of movement within the Force's area of operation.

Further, the Council also called upon the parties to cooperate fully with the Security Council and the Secretary-General to achieve a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution, as envisioned in resolution 1701 (2006), and emphasized the need for greater progress in that regard.

The Force's mandate was extended at the request of the Prime Minister of Lebanon (document S/2007/396) and the recommendations of the Secretary-General, who, in his recent letter to the President of the Council (document S/2007/470), noted that, while the swift and effective deployment of UNIFIL had helped to establish a new strategic, military and security environment in southern Lebanon, much work remained to be done, as tragically shown by recent events in the country.

The vicious attack perpetrated against UNIFIL on 24 June, in which six peacekeepers serving with the Spanish contingent had been killed, as well as the rocket attack on Kiryat Shemona on 17 June, had highlighted the precarious security situation in the Force's area of operations, the Secretary-General said.  The threat to the mission had been underlined once again on 16 July, when a UNIFIL military police vehicle of the Tanzanian contingent had been attacked.

In the aftermath of the attacks, the Secretary-General stated the United Nations would not be deterred from implementing its mandated activities.  The Force continued to carry out all its activities in the area of operations and facilitate negotiations on critical issues between the parties, through the regular tripartite meetings.

Prior to and following action on the resolution, statements were made by representatives of South Africa, France, Italy, Qatar, Indonesia, Ghana, Belgium, United States and Russian Federation.

The meeting was called to order at 10:21 a.m. and adjourned at 10.50 a.m.


The full text of Security Council resolution 1773 (2007) reads as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Recalling all its previous resolutions on Lebanon, in particular resolutions 425 (1978), 426 (1978), 1559 (2004), 1680 (2006) and 1701 (2006), as well as the statements of its President on the situation in Lebanon, in particular the statement of 3 August 2007 (S/PRST/2007/29),

"Recalling also the report of the Secretary-General of 28 June 2007 (S/2007/392) and the letter from the Secretary-General to its President of 2 August 2007 (S/2007/470),

"Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally-recognized borders and under the sole and exclusive authority of its Government,

"Reiterating its strong support for full respect for the cessation of hostilities and the Blue Line in its entirety,

"Reaffirming its attachment to the full implementation of all provisions of resolution 1701 (2006), and aware of its responsibilities to help secure a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution as envisioned in the resolution,

"Emphasizing the need to address the causes of the conflict, including that the abducted Israeli soldiers have not been released, nor has proof of life been provided, and calling once again for their immediate and unconditional return,

"Encouraging the efforts aimed at urgently settling the issue of the Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel,

"Welcoming the steps taken by the Government of Lebanon to extend its authority over its territory, through its own legitimate Armed Forces, such that there will be no weapons without the consent of the Government of Lebanon and no authority other than that of the Government of Lebanon, and encouraging it to continue its efforts in this regard,

"Welcoming also the tripartite arrangements referred to in the aforementioned report, and encouraging the parties to coordinate further with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), notably to visibly mark the Blue Line and reach an agreement on the northern part of Ghajar,

"Condemning in the strongest terms all terrorist attacks against UNIFIL and emphasizing the need for further coordination between UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces in particular regarding the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL, and for UNIFIL to enhance its investigative capacities in response to these attacks,

"Underlining the importance of continued efforts to clear unexploded ordnance from Southern Lebanon and calling on all parties to support these efforts,

"Reaffirming UNIFIL's authority to take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind and to resist attempts by forceful means to prevent it from discharging its mandate,

"Recalling the relevant principles contained in the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel,

"Commending the active role and dedication of the personnel of UNIFIL, notably of its Commander, as well as of the Special Coordinator of the United Nations for Lebanon,

"Expressing its strong appreciation to Member States that contribute to UNIFIL and underlining the necessity that UNIFIL have at its disposal all necessary means and equipment to carry out its mandate,

"Responding to the request of the Government of Lebanon to extend the mandate of UNIFIL for a new period of one year without amendment presented in the letter from the Lebanese Prime Minister to the Secretary-General of 25 June 2007 (S/2007/396),

"Determining that the situation in Lebanon continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security,

"1.   Decides to extend the present mandate of UNIFIL until 31 August 2008;

"2.   Commends the positive role of UNIFIL, whose deployment together with the Lebanese Armed Forces has helped to establish a new strategic environment in Southern Lebanon, and looks forward to its increased cooperation with the LAF in the discharge of its mandate;

"3.   Calls upon all parties concerned to respect the cessation of hostilities and the Blue Line in its entirety;

"4.   Urges all parties to cooperate fully with the United Nations and UNIFIL and to abide scrupulously by their obligation to respect the safety of the UNIFIL and other United Nations personnel, including by avoiding any course of action which endangers United Nations personnel and by ensuring UNIFIL is accorded full freedom of movement within its area of operation;

"5.   Calls upon all parties to cooperate fully with the Security Council and the Secretary-General to achieve a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution as envisioned in resolution 1701 (2006), and emphasizes the need for greater progress in this regard;

"6.   Reiterates its intention to consider further steps to contribute to the implementation of a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution;

"7.   Welcomes the efforts being undertaken by UNIFIL to implement the Secretary-General's zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and to ensure full compliance of its personnel with the United Nations code of conduct, requests the Secretary-General to continue to take all necessary action in this regard and to keep the Security Council informed, and urges troop-contributing countries to take preventive and disciplinary action to ensure that such acts are properly investigated and punished in cases involving their personnel;

"8.   Requests the Secretary-General to continue to report to the Council on the implementation of resolution 1701 (2006) every four months, or at any time as he deems appropriate;

"9.   Stresses the importance of, and the need to achieve, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on all its relevant resolutions including its resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967, 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973, and 1515 (2003) of 19 November 2003;

"10.  Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."


Prior to action on the draft, DUMISANI S. KUMALO ( South Africa) said that his country supported the extension of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for an additional year, as recommended by the Secretary-General and requested by the Prime Minister of Lebanon, but would have preferred a resolution of a technical nature.  There was no reason to include in the text unrelated sensitive issues, which the Council had already commented on in different resolutions and presidential statements.  He was concerned that they tended to be selectively chosen from other texts of the past.  While not entirely satisfied with the draft before the Council, he would vote in its favour, because he continued to believe that UNIFIL had a positive role to play in Lebanon.

Speaking after the vote, JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX ( France) said his country welcomed the unanimous adoption of the resolution extending UNIFIL's unchanged mandate.  That decision reflected the Council's full support for the Force's activities, as well as the international community's gratitude for UNIFIL's discharging of its mandate.  UNIFIL had contributed to the creation of a new security environment in Lebanon.  He paid tribute to the military and civilian personnel of UNIFIL, in particular to the Spanish soldiers killed on 21 June and the French demining expert who had also been killed.

He said UNIFIL continued to operate in a difficult and unstable environment.  Support for the Force required the pursuit and strengthening of the tripartite mechanisms and the full implementation by the parties of all the demands set out in resolution 1701 (2006) and reiterated today, in particular respect for the Blue Line and the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Lebanon.  It also required progress in finding a durable ceasefire and long-term political solution.  Reaffirming his country's full commitment to UNIFIL, he recalled that it had contributed some 1,000 soldiers to the Force.

ALDO MANTOVANI ( Italy) said that today's unanimous renewal of the mission for another year was a major result of the negotiations that acknowledged the key stabilizing role of UNIFIL in the region.  A year later, he could say that UNIFIL had had an overall success in guaranteeing stability and security in southern Lebanon and along the Blue Line, thus making a vital contribution to the quest for peace in the Middle East.  It was also crucial that the resolution reaffirmed the target of a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution.  His delegation was firmly convinced that full stabilization of southern Lebanon was strictly linked with the fundamental aim of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

The Force had not had an easy task, he continued.  It faced many challenges and risks, as recent tragic events had proven.  In that connection, he paid tribute to the peacekeepers from Colombia, France and Spain who had lost their lives in Lebanon.  It was of fundamental importance that UNIFIL be provided with the necessary assets to face the existing threats and risks.  He was sure that the Secretary-General would keep working on the best-suited measures to guarantee full security for the mission's personnel.  Realizing the importance of UNIFIL's tasks, his delegation had worked from the beginning for prompt, consensual approval of the resolution.  Coming in advance of the expiration of the Force's mandate and with unanimous support of the Council, today's vote sent a strong message of support for the Force and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, highlighting the consensus in the Council and the international community on the effective and irreplaceable role of UNIFIL.

HAMAD AL-HENZAB ( Qatar) said he had voted in support of the resolution out of respect for the sovereignty of Lebanon and for that country's request for a mandate extension.  His country strongly supported all those who worked in UNIFIL, to which it was a contributor.  Expressing the hope that the parties would reach a permanent ceasefire soon, he looked forward to the Council making efforts to bring stability to the whole region.

HASAN KLEIB ( Indonesia) said that unanimous adoption of today's resolution reflected continued commitment of the Council and the United Nations to the realization of a peaceful and stable Lebanon.  After a year of deployment, UNIFIL had not only provided the people of Lebanon with the opportunity to rebuild and restore their daily lives, but had also helped to establish a new strategic military and security environment in southern Lebanon.  The extension of UNIFIL's mandate and its continued presence in Lebanon would bring greater tangible results only when all parties concerned fulfilled their obligations under resolution 1701, including the obligation to provide detailed data on the use of cluster munitions in southern Lebanon.  All parties must also exercise restraint from actions that could undermine resolution 1701 and UNIFIL, including continued violations of Lebanon's airspace.  Unfortunately, the resolution did not reflect those matters in an appropriate way.   Lebanon's sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected in their entirety.

He added that the permanent ceasefire, as envisaged by resolution 1701 was still distant.  The role of UNIFIL in monitoring the cessation of hostilities and achieving a permanent ceasefire remained critical.  Thus, extending the mandate of UNIFIL was of paramount importance.   Indonesia reiterated its commitment to UNIFIL through its unflagging political support, as well as the continued presence of its contingent in Lebanon and its intended contribution of additional assets to UNIFIL's Maritime Task Force.

LESLIE KOJO CHRISTIAN ( Ghana) welcomed today's unanimous vote and commended UNIFIL for its role in the implementation of resolution 1701.  He also welcomed cooperation between the Lebanese Armed Forces and UNIFIL, which should be sustained.  By providing humanitarian assistance, the Force contributed to the stability in the country.  At the same time, he was concerned about threats to the Force's personnel and attacks, which had resulted in the deaths of personnel and equipment damage.  He looked forward to the outcome of the investigation of those incidents that would bring perpetrators to justice.  He also welcomed the measures taken by the Secretary-General so far to enhance the safety of the Force's personnel.  As a troop-contributing country, Ghana welcomed the renewal of the existing mandate of UNIFIL, whose continued presence would consolidate peace efforts in Lebanon.

OLIVIER BELLE ( Belgium), welcoming the unanimous adoption of the resolution, said that, as a troop contributor, Belgium fully supported the resolution and the mandate extension for 12 months for UNIFIL, which undeniably continued to be a stabilizing element.  The Council was sending a clear and strong signal, endorsing the undeniable success of the mission and expressing its confidence in the Force.  The security of its personnel, however, remained essential for the mission's success.

ALEJANDRO D. WOLFF (United States) also welcomed the unanimous adoption, a vote that was a clear signal of the Council's support for the peacekeepers and its commitment to full implementation of 1701 (2006).  Although the primary aim of the technical resolution was to extend UNIFIL's mandate, it also reaffirmed the Council's resolutions on Lebanon, including 1559 (2004), 1680 (2006) and 1701, as well as for the presidential statements adopted since last summer.

Commending progress achieved since adoption of resolution 1701 -- including the fact that the Lebanese Armed Forces had deployed throughout the country for the first time in 30 years -- the deadly 24 June attack against UNIFIL and the 17 June rocket attack against Israel demonstrated that unauthorized armed elements in South Lebanon posed a danger both to regional stability and the safety of United Nations personnel.  Those and other threats to peace underscored the need to fully implement the provisions of the Taif Accords and resolution 1559, calling for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militia.  "Peace will never be fully secured until this call is met," he said.

He reiterated his country's deep concern about continued illegal weapons transfers across the Syrian-Lebanese border which directly threatened both the stability of Lebanon and the safety of United Nations peacekeepers, and called on Syria and Iran to honour their obligations under the 1701 resolution's arms embargo.  Recalling that one year had passed since the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hizbullah and welcoming the progress achieved, he deplored the fact that the cause of the conflict, namely Hizbullah's abduction of the two Israeli soldiers, had not been resolved.  The Council should not relent in demanding progress on that issue, as well as all the others required for a ceasefire and long-term solution between Israel and Lebanon.

IGOR N. SHCHERBAK (Russian Federation) welcomed the unanimous adoption of the resolution extending the mandate of UNIFIL for another year, saying that it was a major step on the way to strengthening the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Lebanon.  He expressed gratitude to the Force for its stabilizing role in the maintenance of peace and security in the country.  At the same time, he considered that the resolution was a compromise text. Other issues raised in the statements today, including the smuggling of weapons, were not related to the text.  While he could continue the list of problems indicated during the discussion on the resolution, he wanted to stress his delegation's gratitude for the unanimous adoption of the draft.

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