|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5241st Meeting (AM)
SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF LEBANON FORCE UNTIL 31 JANUARY 2006,
UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1614 (2005)
Gravely concerned at the persistence of tension and violence along the Blue Line in Lebanon, the Security Council today extended the mandate of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which was to expire on 31 July, until 31 January 2006.
Unanimously adopting resolution 1614 (2005), the Council called upon the Government of Lebanon to fully extend its “sole and effective” authority throughout the south, including through the deployment of sufficient numbers of armed and security forces and to exert “control and monopoly over the use of force” on its entire territory. In that connection, the Council welcomed the Secretary-General’s intention to discuss with the Lebanese Government the next steps in preparing for an expansion of its authority in the south.
The Council took note of the Secretary-General’s opinion, in his report S/2005/460, that the situation did not support a change in UNIFIL’s mandate or another reconfiguration of the Force at the current stage. [In its latest mandate extension (resolution 1583 (2005) of 28 January, Press Release SC/8299), the Council had expressed its intention to review the Force’s mandate and structure in view of the activities actually performed by the Force.] However, the Council expressed its intention to keep the mandate and structures of UNIFIL under regular review.
The Council requested the Secretary-General to continue to take all necessary action to implement in the Force his zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and to ensure full compliance of its personnel with the United Nations code of conduct. The Council urged troop-contributing countries to take appropriate preventive action, including predeployment awareness training, and to take disciplinary and other action to ensure full accountability in cases of such conduct involving their personnel.
The meeting started at 10:12 a.m. and was adjourned at 10:14 a.m.
The full text of resolution 1614 (2005) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Recalling all its previous resolutions on Lebanon, including resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978) of 19 March 1978 and 1583 (2005) of 28 January 2005, 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,
“Reaffirming that the Council has recognized the Blue Line as valid for the purpose of confirming Israel’s withdrawal pursuant to resolution 425 (1978) and that the Blue Line must be respected in its entirety,
“Gravely concerned at the persistence of tension and violence along the Blue Line, in particular the hostilities that took place in May and the grave incident on 29 June, which demonstrated once more that the situation remains volatile and fragile, as outlined in the Secretary-General’s report of 21 July 2005 (S/2005/460),
“Emphasizing once again 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 Chargé d’Affaires to the United Nations of 11 July 2005 to the Secretary-General (S/2005/444),
“Taking note of the Secretary-General’s opinion that the situation does not support a change in UNIFIL’s mandate or another reconfiguration of the Force at this stage, and his recommendation that its mandate be extended with no changes to the strength and composition of the Force,
“1. Endorses the report of the Secretary-General on UNIFIL of 21 July 2005 (S/2005/460);
“2. Decides to extend the present mandate until 31 January 2006;
“3. Reiterates its strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries and under the sole and exclusive authority of the Government of Lebanon;
“4. Condemns all acts of violence, including the recent incidents across the Blue Line that have resulted in deaths and injuries on both sides, 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 the UNIFIL and other United Nations personnel, including by avoiding any course of action which endangers United Nations personnel;
“5. Reiterates its call on the parties to continue to fulfil the commitments they have given to respect fully the entire withdrawal line identified by the United Nations, as set out in the Secretary-General’s report of 16 June 2000 (S/2000/590), and to exercise utmost restraint;
“6. Calls upon the Government of Lebanon to fully extend and exercise its sole and effective authority throughout the south, including through the deployment of sufficient numbers of Lebanese armed and security forces, to ensure a calm environment throughout the area, including along the Blue Line, and to exert control and monopoly over the use of force on its entire territory and to prevent attacks from Lebanon across the Blue Line;
“7. Welcomes the Secretary-General’s intention to discuss with the Lebanese Government the next steps in preparing for an expansion of its authority in the south;
“8. Supports the continued efforts of UNIFIL to maintain the ceasefire along the withdrawal line through mobile land and air patrols and observation from fixed positions and through close contacts with the parties to correct violations, resolve incidents and prevent their escalation, while stressing the primary responsibility of the parties in this regard;
“9. Welcomes the continued contribution of UNIFIL to operational mine clearance, 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 clearance of the remaining mine/UXO threat in the south, commends donor countries for supporting these efforts through financial and in-kind contributions and encourages further international contributions, and stresses the necessity for provision to the Government of Lebanon and UNIFIL any additional existing maps and minefield records;
“10. Calls on the parties to ensure UNIFIL is accorded full freedom of movement throughout its area of operation as outlined in the Secretary-General’s report, requests UNIFIL to report any obstruction it may face in the discharge of its mandate, and reiterates its call on the parties to cooperate fully with the United Nations and UNIFIL;
“11. 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 appropriate preventive action including the conduct of predeployment awareness training, and to take disciplinary action and other action to ensure full accountability in cases of such conduct involving their personnel;
“12. 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);
“13. Expresses its intention to keep the mandate and structures of UNIFIL under regular review, taking into account the prevailing situation on the ground, the activities actually performed by the Force in its area of operation, its contribution towards the remaining task of restoring international peace and security, the views of the Lebanese Government and the implications for the Force of an increased presence of the Lebanese army in the south;
“14. Looks forward to the early fulfilment of the mandate of UNIFIL;
“15. 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.”
The report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) (document S/2005/460) covers developments since January 2005. The report also contains recommendations on UNIFIL’s mandate, which expires on 31 July, and structures based on an assessment mission by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) to Lebanon from 8 to 10 May.
A fragile quiet prevailed in the UNIFIL area of operation during most of the period under review, although the situation was often marked by tension, the report says. Violations of the Blue Line continued, most often in the form of recurring air violations by Israeli jets, helicopters and drones, as well as ground violations from the Lebanese side, primarily by Lebanese shepherds. Hostilities in the area escalated in May with armed exchanges between Hezbollah and the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) with rocket firing by unidentified armed elements. The situation deteriorated significantly on 29 June, when Hezbollah and the IDF engaged in a heavy exchange of fire in the Shab’a farms area, resulting in the death of one IDF soldier and the wounding of four others and the death of two Hezbollah fighters.
The hostilities that occurred in May and the grave incident on 29 June demonstrated, once more, that the situation remains volatile, with the potential for a deterioration of conditions, the Secretary-General states. Both Israel and Lebanon regularly declare their desire to avoid confrontation and destabilization of the area. The Secretary-General encourages the parties to do their utmost to avoid all violations of the Blue Line and to promote calm. The rocket firing incident across the Blue Line into Israel in May, perpetrated by unidentified armed elements, carried significant potential for military escalation. The IDF acted with restraint, and did not respond militarily to the attack. The Lebanese authorities have taken an official position against such attacks emanating from their territory and expressed a commitment to halting the infringements. It remains a matter of deep concern, the Secretary-General states, that Israel continues to use air incursions to violate Lebanese sovereignty and territorial integrity, as the air incursions elevate tension and disrupt the fragile calm along the Blue Line. There should be no air violation from either side of the line.
Economic development of the south is inextricably linked to peace and security, the report continues. The Secretary-General calls on the Government, international donors, United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations to increase their efforts towards the economic rehabilitation and development of southern Lebanon.
The report goes on to say that since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri on 14 February, Lebanon has undergone a period of increased political instability, manifested by large-scale demonstrations in the capital, the resignation of the Government, several bomb attacks in various areas of Beirut, the assassinations of journalist Samir Kassir and politician George Hawi, and most recently, the attack on the envoy of Defence Minister Elias Murr. The withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon by the end of April made possible the holding of free and fair parliamentary elections over a four-week period in May and June. Lebanese armed forces now have to show that they can maintain effective security throughout the country, at a time when the size of the Lebanese Army is being reduced significantly.
While stability in the area depends largely on Lebanon’s Government exercising its authority over all of its territory, that level of authority and control remains limited, the report states. The Lebanese army is deployed in areas at a distance to the Blue Line and the Joint Security Forces and Gendarmerie units conduct some mobile patrols and maintain some checkpoints in the area of operation. These circumstances make it possible for Hezbollah forces to be visible close to the Blue Line, to maintain posts that are sometimes immediately adjacent to IDF and UNIFIL positions and, at times, to carry out attacks across the Blue Line. The Secretary-General hopes that the newly formed Government will seize the opportunities that the changed political situation in Lebanon presents and heed the Council’s call to make return its full authority throughout the south, including the deployment of Lebanese armed forces, and to do its utmost to ensure calm.
Turning to the assessment carried out by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Secretary-General concurs with its view that in the existing political and security situation in southern Lebanon, a combination of armed infantry and unarmed observers remains necessary for UNIFIL to carry out its mandated tasks. The current level of forces is required to maintain the critical positions in the areas of operation that monitor the Blue Line and its approaches and to provide appropriate protection for the personnel and assets of both UNIFIL and the Observer Group Lebanon. Without exception, Lebanese authorities and diplomats confirmed that, in the currently prevailing uncertain political and security conditions, UNIFIL continues to play a crucial role in implementing its mandate in accordance with Council resolution 425 (1978).
The present situation in Lebanon and the wider region does not support a change in the UNIFIL mandate or another reconfiguration of the Force at the current stage, the Secretary-General concludes, recommending that the Force continue its work contributing to the restoration of international peace and security through observing, monitoring and reporting on developments in its area of operation and liaising with the parties to maintain calm. In light of prevailing conditions, he recommends that the Council extend the mandate until 31 January 2006 with no changes to the Force’s strength and composition.
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