The Security Council this morning extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for a further six months until 31 July. UNIFIL was established in March 1978 to carry out a number of tasks, including confirming the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon and assisting the Government of Lebanon to ensure the return of its effective authority in the area.
By unanimously adopting resolution 1223 (1999), the Council reiterated that UNIFIL should fully implement its mandate as contained in resolutions 425 (1978), 426 (1978) and all other relevant resolutions. Israel was called upon to withdraw its forces from all Lebanese territory by the terms of resolution 425 of 19 March 1978, while resolution 426, of the same date, established UNIFIL.
By other provisions of today's resolution, the Council also reiterated its strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries. It condemned all acts of violence committed in particular against UNIFIL, and urged the parties to put an end to them.
Also this morning, in a statement read out by its President, Celso L. M. Amorim (Brazil), the Council expressed its concern over the continuing violence in southern Lebanon, regretted the loss of civilian life and urged all parties to exercise restraint. It noted, with deep concern, the high level of casualties which UNIFIL had suffered and paid special tribute to all those who had given their lives while serving in the Force.
The Council again asserted that all States should refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.
Noting the further extension of UNIFIL's mandate under the basis of resolution 425 (1978), the Council again stressed the urgent need for its implementation in all its aspects. It reiterated its full support for the 1989 Taif Agreement -- by which Lebanese leaders undertook to achieve national accord -- and for the continued efforts of the Lebanese Government to consolidate peace, national unity and security, while successfully carrying out the reconstruction process.
The meeting, which began at 11:40 a.m., was adjourned at 11:45 a.m.
The text of resolution 1223 (1998) reads as follows:
"The Security Council
"Recalling its resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978) of 19 March 1978, 501 (1982) of 25 February 1982, 508 (1982) of 5 June 1982, 509 (1982) of 6 June 1982 and 520 (1982) of 17 September 1982, as well as all its resolutions on the situation in Lebanon,
"Having studied the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon of 19 January 1999 (S/1999/61) and taking note of the observations expressed and the commitments mentioned therein,
"Taking note of the letter dated 8 January 1999 from the Permanent Representative of Lebanon to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary- General (S/1999/22),
"Responding to the request of the Government of Lebanon,
"1. Decides to extend the present mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon for a further period of six months, that is until 31 July 1999;
"2. Reiterates its strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries;
"3. Re-emphasizes the terms of reference and general guidelines of the Force as stated in the report of the Secretary-General of 19 March 1978 (S/12611), approved by resolution 426 (1978), and calls upon all parties concerned to cooperate fully with the Force for the full implementation of its mandate;
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"4. Condemns all acts of violence committed in particular against the Force, and urges the parties to put an end to them;
"5. Reiterates that the Force should fully implement its mandate as defined in resolutions 425 (1978), 426 (1978) and all other relevant resolutions;
"6. Encourages further efficiency and savings provided they do not affect the operational capacity of the Force;
"7. Requests the Secretary-General to continue consultations with the Government of Lebanon and other parties directly concerned with the implementation of the present resolution and to report to the Security Council thereon."
The text of the Presidential Statement, to be issued as S/PRST/1999/4, reads as follows:
"The Security Council has noted with appreciation the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) of 19 January 1999 (S/1999/61) submitted in conformity with resolution 1188 (1998) of 30 July 1998.
"The Security Council reaffirms its commitment to the full sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries. In this context, the Council asserts that all States shall refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.
"As the Security Council extends the mandate of UNIFIL for a further interim period on the basis of resolution 425 (1978), the Council again stresses the urgent need for the implementation of that resolution in all its aspects. It reiterates its full support for the Taif Agreement and for the continued efforts of the Lebanese Government to consolidate peace, national unity and security in the country, while successfully carrying out the reconstruction process. The Council commends the Lebanese Government for its successful effort to extend its authority in the south of the country in full coordination with UNIFIL.
"The Security Council expresses its concern over the continuing violence in Southern Lebanon, regrets the loss of civilian life, and urges all parties to exercise restraint.
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"The Security Council takes this opportunity to express its appreciation for the continuing efforts of the Secretary-General and his staff in this regard. The Council notes with deep concern the high level of casualties which UNIFIL has suffered and pays a special tribute to all those who gave their life while serving in UNIFIL. It commends UNIFIL's troops and troop- contributing countries for their sacrifices and commitment to the cause of international peace and security under difficult circumstances."
When the Security Council met this morning to consider the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), it had before it a report of the Secretary-General, in which he recommends extending the Force's mandate for six months until 31 July 1999, as the Government of Lebanon had requested.
The Force was established in 1978 by Council resolution 425 (1978) to confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon and assist the Government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority there. While it has been prevented from fully implementing its mandate, UNIFIL contributes to the stability of the area and protection of the population, the report states.
The Secretary-General's report covers developments in UNIFIL's area of responsibility from 16 July 1998 to 15 January 1999. During that period, fighting in south Lebanon increased and civilians were killed and injured in UNIFIL's area of operation and beyond. The situation remains volatile, the Secretary-General reports, with hostilities continuing between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and their local Lebanese auxiliary, the de facto forces (DDF), on the one hand, and armed elements who proclaimed their resistance against the Israeli occupation, on the other.
At times, UNIFIL encountered hostility from both sides, the report says. The number of incidents of armed elements operating close to United Nations positions and firings at or near United Nations positions and personnel increased to 98 from 72, during the reporting period.
The Force assisted the civilian population in its area of operation and in the Israeli-controlled area (ICA), by providing medical care, harvest patrols, equipment and services to schools and orphanages, water projects, and supplies to social services and needy people, the report states. It provided medical care to more than 4,000 persons per month, disposed unexploded ordnance and helped fight fires which devastated large tracts of land in late summer.
In the ICA, Israel maintained a civil administration and security service, the Secretary-General reports. Infrastructure was improved with funds provided by the Government of Lebanon, but the ICA remained economically
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dependent on Israel, where more than 2,500 of the inhabitants go to work every day. Late in October, Israeli contractors removed topsoil from the al-Marj area and took it to Israel, but stopped after UNIFIL raised the issue with the IDF.
The cost for extending the Force until the end of July would be limited to the monthly rate of $11.9 million gross approved by the General Assembly in June 1998 when it appropriated some $143 million gross for UNIFIL for 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999, the report states. Drawing attention to the serious shortfall in the funding of the Force, the Secretary-General appeals for payment of owed assessments amounting to some $112.9 million.
As of December 1998, UNIFIL comprised 4,483 troops from Fiji (588), Finland (492), France (247), Ghana (646), India (617), Ireland (611), Italy (46), Nepal (604) and Poland (632). Since the Force was established, 222 members have lost their lives, while 334 have been wounded by firing, or by mine or bomb explosions.
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