30/01/2004
Press Release
SC/7994



Security Council                                           

4907th Meeting (AM)                                   


EXTENDING UN FORCE IN LEBANON UNTIL 31 JULY, SECURITY COUNCIL URGES PARTIES


TO REFRAIN FROM ACTION THAT COULD ESCALATE TENSION


Resolution 1525 (2004) Adopted Unanimously


Expressing concern over the ongoing tensions and potential for escalation in southern Lebanon, the Security Council this morning approved a six-month extension of the United Nations force monitoring the situation.


The move, which will continue the activities of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) through the end of July, endorses Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s view that the fragile stability of southern Lebanon is under threat after an upsurge in violent incidents during the past six months.


In his most recent report on UNIFIL, Mr. Annan recommended the extension, noting that following recent breaches of the line of withdrawal, or “Blue Line”, by both Israel and Hezbollah militias inside Lebanon, six people had been killed since the end of July.  He also expressed concern over Israel's "provocative air violations" of sovereign Lebanese territory while calling Hezbollah's firing of anti-aircraft rounds across the Blue Line a violation "that poses obvious mortal risk".


Today, under the terms of a unanimously adopted resolution 1525 (2004), the Council urged the parties to put and end to these violations and refrain from any act or provocation that could further escalate tensions.  It also condemned all acts of violence and reiterated its call on the parties to fulfil the commitments they had given to fully respect the withdrawal line, to exercise the utmost restraint and to cooperate fully with UNIFIL.


The Council also encouraged the Government of Lebanon to continue efforts to ensure the return of its effective authority throughout the south, including the deployment of Lebanese armed forces.  It also stressed the importance of the Government of Lebanon continuing to extend those measures and called on it to do its utmost to ensure a calm environment throughout the south, including along the Blue Line.


The meeting began at 11:44 a.m. and ended at 11:46 a.m.


Resolution


Following is the full text of Council resolution 1525 (2004):


The Security Council,


Recalling all its previous resolutions on Lebanon, in particular resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978) of 19 March 1978 and 1496 (2003) of 31 July 2003, as well as the statements of its President on the situation in Lebanon, in particular the statement of 18 June 2000 (S/PRST/2000/21),


Recalling further the letter from its President to the Secretary-General of 18 May 2001 (S/2001/500),


Recalling also the Secretary-General’s conclusion that, as of 16 June 2000, Israel had withdrawn its forces from Lebanon in accordance with resolution 425 (1978) and met the requirements defined in the Secretary-General’s report of 22 May 2000 (S/2000/460), as well as the Secretary-General’s conclusion that United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) had essentially completed two of the three parts of its mandate, focusing now on the remaining task of restoring international peace and security,


Emphasizing the interim nature of UNIFIL,


Recalling its resolution 1308 (2000) of 17 July 2000,


Recalling also its resolution 1325 (2000) of 31 October 2000,


Recalling further the relevant principles contained in the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel adopted on 9 December 1994,


Responding to the request of the Government of Lebanon, as stated in the letter from its Permanent Representative to the United Nations of 14 January 2004 to the Secretary-General (S/2004/35),


Expressing its concern over the tensions and potential for escalation as noted in the Secretary-General’s report of 20 January 2004 (S/2004/50);


“1.   Endorses the report of the Secretary-General on UNIFIL of 20 January 2004 (S/2004/50), and in particular its recommendation to renew the mandate of UNIFIL for a further period of six months;


“2.   Decides to extend the present mandate until 31 July 2004;


“3.   Reiterates its strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries;


“4.   Encourages the Government of Lebanon to continue efforts to ensure the return of its effective authority throughout the south, including the deployment of Lebanese armed forces, stresses the importance of the Government of Lebanon continuing to extend these measures and calls on the Government of Lebanon to do its utmost to ensure a calm environment throughout the south, including along the Blue Line;

“5.   Calls on the parties to ensure UNIFIL is accorded full freedom of movement in the discharge of its mandate throughout its area of operation as outlined in the Secretary-General’s report;


“6.   Reiterates its call on the parties to continue to fulfil the commitments they have given to respect fully the withdrawal line identified by the United Nations, as set out in the Secretary-General’s report of 16 June 2000 (S/2000/590), to exercise utmost restraint and to cooperate fully with the United Nations and UNIFIL;


“7.   Condemns all acts of violence, expresses great concern about the serious breaches and the sea, land and continuing air violations of the withdrawal line, and urges the parties to put an end to these violations, to refrain from any act or provocation that could further escalate the tension and to abide scrupulously by their obligation to respect the safety of UNIFIL and other United Nations personnel;


“8.   Supports the continued efforts of UNIFIL to maintain the ceasefire along the withdrawal line through mobile patrols and observation from fixed positions and through close contacts with the parties to correct violations, resolve incidents and prevent their escalation;


“9.   Welcomes the continued contribution of UNIFIL to operational demining, applauds the progress in demining efforts noted by the Secretary-General in his report, encourages further assistance in mine action by the United Nations to the Government of Lebanon in support of both the continued development of its national mine action capacity and emergency demining activities in the south, commends donor countries for supporting these efforts through financial and in-kind contributions and encourages further international contributions, takes note of the communication to the Government of Lebanon and UNIFIL of maps and information on the location of mines and stresses the necessity to provide the Government of Lebanon and UNIFIL with any additional maps and records on the location of mines;


“10.  Requests the Secretary-General to continue consultations with the Government of Lebanon and other parties directly concerned on the implementation of this resolution and to report thereon to the Council before the end of the present mandate as well as on the activities of UNIFIL and the tasks presently carried out by the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNSTO);


“11.  Looks forward to the early fulfilment of the mandate of UNIFIL;


“12.  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 resolution 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967 and 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973.”


Background


When the Security Council met today, it had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), for the period from 24 July 2003 to 19 January 2004 (document S/2004/50).  According to the report, there were a substantial number of unfortunate incidents involving the use of force in the UNIFIL area of operation, particularly during the first half of the period under review.  Though the violent incidents and serious breaches of the Blue Line that took place were contained, they led to the deaths of six individuals, Lebanese and Israeli.  Tensions were frequently high, and the situation was fragile.  The Secretary-General stresses the need for all parties to abide fully by their obligations under the Security Council’s resolutions, to exercise restraint and to respect the withdrawal line in its entirety to avoid deterioration of the situation on the ground.


It remains a matter of concern, continued the report, that Israel persists in its provocative air violations of sovereign Lebanese territory.  Hezbollah’s firing of anti-aircraft rounds across the Blue Line is also a violation.  Israel’s air strikes against Hezbollah positions added a serious new dimension to the cycle.  The Secretary-General again calls on Israel and Lebanon to ensure that all such violations cease.  He also notes with concern the discovery of explosive devices planted along the Blue Line.  Their presence undermines stability and endangers lives on both sides of the line, including those of UNIFIL personnel.


The Lebanese Government has demonstrated its capacity to exercise its authority throughout southern Lebanon, particularly through the activities of the Joint Security Forces and the Lebanese Army during periods of heightened regional and local tension.  The Secretary-General reiterates the Security Council’s call for Lebanon to extend these measures, including the deployment of Lebanese armed forces in the south, and to do its utmost to ensure calm.  He urges the Government to exert control over the use of force on its entire territory and to prevent all attacks across the Blue Line.


The Secretary-General also notes the success in demining over the past year and its promise for southern Lebanon’s social and economic development.  The rate and pace of development needs to be accelerated by bold and pragmatic measures by all concerned if stability is to be the outcome.  In this respect, he urges both the Government of Lebanon and the international donors to bolster their efforts.  The United Nations remains strongly committed to assisting Lebanon in its economic rehabilitation of the south.  The UNIFIL will continue to contribute to the restoration of international peace and security by observing, monitoring and reporting on developments in its area of operation and maintaining liaison with the parties to preserve calm.


In light of conditions prevailing in the area, the Secretary-General recommends that the Council extend UNIFIL’s mandate until 31 July 2004.  In addition, he again draws attention to the serious shortfall in the funding of the Force.  At present, unpaid assessments amount to $75.2 million.  Eventually, this represents money owed to the Member States contributing the troops that make up the Force.  He appeals to all Member States to pay their assessments promptly and in full and to clear all remaining arrears.


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