LIC Delegation Holds Meetings at the United Nations

Press Release

01-20-2015

 

An official delegation from the Lebanese Information Center in Washington, led by its President Dr. Joseph Gebeily, held a series of meetings over two consecutive days at the United Nations headquarters in New York on January 15-16, 2015. The delegation included Dr. Fadi Deek, head of LIC Office of UN Relations, Mr. Fadi Farhat, head of LIC New York Office, and members of the LIC-UN Office, Dr. Joseph Issa, Ms. Elizabeth Olson and Mr. Augustus Sleiman.  The delegation met with a number of diplomatic missions and international bodies, including the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the State of Chile, which is currently serving as UNSC President this month, and Jordan, which currently represents the Arab countries within the UNSC.

The LIC delegation also met with the offices of the Undersecretary General of the United Nations for Political Affairs Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman, and of the Special UN Representative for the Implementation of Resolution 1559, Ambassador Terje Roed-Larsen. The delegation also held a lengthy meeting at the invitation of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which included representatives of international organizations working in Lebanon, including: UNRWA, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Development Program(UNDP), the International Organization for Migration(IOM) and UNICEF.

 Throughout these meetings, members of the Security Council and political affairs officers at the UN agreed on the urgent need to hold presidential elections in Lebanon. UN member states noted that while diplomatic relations with the Government of Lebanon are ongoing, the Presidency of the Republic remains the lynchpin of international engagement. Member states agreed on the importance of overcoming obstacles to presidential elections, whether local or regional. This includes ending the political boycott of the elections and reinstating full participation in the constitutional process, which will ensure the reactivation of governmental institutions in Lebanon.

 On the security challenges currently facing Lebanon, all UN Officials reiterated the importance of fully implementing international resolutions on Lebanon, particularly UNSCR 1559 and 1701. Implementing these decisions will secure the Lebanese state’s authority over all its territories and will disarm militias and any armed groups.

 UN officials praised the unity of the Lebanese people in the face of terrorist attacks carried out by the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda affiliate, the Nusra Front. The officials emphasized the importance of meeting the funding and technical needs of the Lebanese Armed Forces and Internal Security Forces, who have repelled numerous terrorist incursions on Lebanese land.

 On the Syrian refugee crisis, international officials recognized the large burden that displaced populations are placing on Lebanon. With close to 1.5 million Syrian refugees residing within its borders, Lebanon has the highest per capita rate of refugees to residents in the world. The LIC discussed the Lebanese government’s recent efforts to regulate the entry of Syrians into Lebanon. UN officials stressed the importance of continuing to allow entry into Lebanon for Syrian refugees fleeing violence.

 Throughout these meetings, particularly those with relevant humanitarian institutions, the LIC reiterated the need for full implementation of mechanisms agreed to between the Lebanese Government and UN organizations and for increased aid to Lebanon. The LIC called on UN officials to assist in getting the various states to fulfill their pledges of aid to the refugee response; according to the UN, only 45% of aid pledges have actually been delivered. In addition, the LIC stressed that resettlement programs bringing refugees to third countries should prioritize Lebanon and seek to reduce the number of refugees there as it resettles Syrians in 2015 and 2016. 

 The LIC engaged also in talks with UN officials on the ongoing Syrian conflict, which remains the central driving force behind the largest refugee crisis in the world today, and the instability in Lebanon and the region. The international representatives with whom the LIC met agreed that reaching an end to the conflict continues to be a priority. This end, they said, must achieve the aspirations of the Syrian people for a civil, democratic state that respects all rights and is based on justice, equality, and a commitment to the principles of international conventions on neighborly relations.

 LIC Concerns and Recommendations

During its meetings, the LIC presented its policy paper, “Safeguarding Lebanon’s Existence: Pressing Concerns and Recommendations,” to the international officials with whom it met.

 The paper highlighted how the looming threat of the Islamic State and the Nusra Front, the presence of huge numbers of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, the ever-chaotic and porous Syrian-Lebanese borders, Hezbollah's involvement in the Syrian conflict and its heavy-handed influence on Lebanese politics, and the continued constitutional void at the Head of State level are pushing Lebanon deeper and faster into its downward spiral. 

The paper also presented recommendation on how the international community can support Lebanon in addressing:

1.    The Islamic State threat

2.    The refugee problem

3.    Border control with Syria

4.    The Presidential elections

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