29/07/2004
Press Release
SC/8157



Security Council                                                 

 5012th Meeting (AM)                                              


SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS LEBANON FORCE UNTIL 31 JANUARY 2005,


UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1553 (2004)


The Security Council this morning extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) by six months, until 31 January 2005.


Endorsing the Secretary-General’s recommendation that it renew the mandate, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1553 (2004), reiterating its strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries.


It 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.  Stressing the importance of the continued extension of such measures, the Council called upon the Government to do its utmost to ensure a calm environment throughout the south, including the Blue Line.


The Council expressed its concern over the tensions and potential for escalation, as noted in the Secretary-General’s report of 21 July 2004 (document S/2004/572), and reiterated its call on the parties to continue to fulfil their commitments to respect the withdrawal line identified by the United Nations, to exercise utmost restraint and to cooperate fully with the Organization and UNIFIL.


Condemning all acts of violence, the Council also expressed great concern about the sea, land and continuing air violations of the withdrawal line.  It urged the parties to end those violations, to refrain from any act or provocation that could further escalate tension and to abide scrupulously by the obligation to respect the safety of UNIFIL and other United Nations personnel.


The meeting convened at 11:20 a.m. and adjourned at 11:24 a.m.


Council Resolution


Following is the full text of Council resolution 1553 (2004):


The Security Council,


Recalling all its previous resolutions on Lebanon, in particular resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978) of 19 March 1978 and 1525 (2004) of 30 January 2004, 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 the 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 to extend the mandate of UNIFIL for a new period of six months presented in the letter from its Permanent Representative to the United Nations of 9 July 2004 to the Secretary-General (S/2004/560),


Expressing its concern over the tensions and potential for escalation as noted in the Secretary-General’s report of 21 July 2004 (S/2004/572),


“1.   Endorses the report of the Secretary-General on UNIFIL of 21 July 2004 (S/2004/572), 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 January 2005;


“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 the obligation to respect the safety of the 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 successful completion of Operation Emirates Solidarity 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 (UNTSO);


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


Background


The Secretary-General’s latest report on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) (documents S/2004/572 and add.1) warns of mounting tensions at the withdrawal line between Israel and Lebanon, and recommends extending the United Nations force in the area for an additional six months.


The Secretary-General cites the ongoing clashes in recommending that the mandate of the UN Interim Force be extended through January 2005, warning that "considerable risk remains that hostile acts will escalate and lead the parties into conflict".


He also appeals to all sides to rein in their forces.  "I cannot stress enough the need for the parties to abide by their obligations under the relevant Security Council resolutions, to respect the withdrawal line in its entirety and to exercise the utmost restraint."


Mr. Annan voices deep concern that Israel "persists in its provocative and unjustified air violations of sovereign Lebanese territory".  Hezbollah's retaliatory firing of anti-aircraft rounds across the Blue Line "is a violation that poses a direct threat to human life", he adds.


On the positive side, the report notes that the whole of southern Lebanon -- including all villages in the formerly Israeli-occupied zone down to the Blue Line -- successfully took part in municipal elections.


Hailing this development as "a clear assertion of the exercise of authority by the Government of Lebanon", the Secretary-general urges the country's authorities to "ensure the return of its effective authority throughout the south, including the deployment of Lebanese armed forces, and to do its utmost to ensure calm".


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