4267th Meeting* (AM)
SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS UNIFIL MANDATE TO 31 JULY
Looking forward to the early fulfillment of the mandate of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the Security Council this morning decided to extend its presence for a further period of six months, until 31 July.
In unanimously adopting resolution 1337 (2001), the Council stressed the importance of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East and decided to change the authorized military strength of UNIFIL to its previous operational level, as recommended by the Secretary-General, of 4,500 all ranks, and endorsed the recommended reconfiguration of the force.
By other terms of the resolution, the Council called on the Government of Lebanon to ensure the return of its effective authority and presence in the south, and in particular to increase the rate of the deployment of its armed forces. It encouraged the Government of Lebanon to ensure a calm environment throughout the south, including through the control of all checkpoints. The Council also called on the parties to fulfil the commitments they had given to respect the withdrawal line identified by the United Nations fully, to exercise the utmost restraint and to cooperate fully with the United Nations and with UNIFIL.
The Council condemned all acts of violence, expressed concern about the serious breaches and violations of the withdrawal line and urged the parties to put an end to them, and urged respect for the safety of UNIFIL personnel.
The Council also reiterated its strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries.
The meeting started at 10:16 a.m. and was adjourned at 10:20 a.m.
The full text of resolution 1337 (2001) 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, 520 (1982) of 17 September 1982 and 1310 (2000) of 27 July 2000, as well as its resolutions and the statements of its President on the situation in Lebanon,
* The 4266th meeting of the Security Council was closed.
“Recalling further its resolution 1308 (2000) of 17 July 2000,
“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16 June 2000, Israel had withdrawn its forces from Lebanon in accordance with resolution 425 (1978) and met the requirements defined in the Secretary-General’s report of 22 May 2000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),
“Emphasizing the interim nature of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL),
“Recalling 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 of the United Nations of
5 January 2001 to the Secretary-General (S/2001/14),
“1. Welcomes the report of the Secretary-General on UNIFIL of
22 January 2001 (S/2001/66), and endorses his observations and recommendations;
“2. Decides to extend the present mandate of UNIFIL for a further period of 6 months, until 31 July 2001;
“3. Decides to return the military personnel of UNIFIL to the operational level referred to in paragraph 24 of the Secretary-General’s report of 22 January 2001 by 31 July, and requests that the Secretary-General take the necessary measures to implement this decision, including taking into account the upcoming rotations of the battalions, in consultation with the Government of Lebanon and the troop-contributing countries;
“4. Reiterates its strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries;
“5. Calls on the Government of Lebanon to ensure the return of its effective authority and presence in the south, and in particular to increase the rate of the deployment of the Lebanese armed forces;
“6. Welcomes the establishment of checkpoints by the Government of Lebanon in the vacated area, and encourages the Government of Lebanon to ensure a calm environment throughout the south, including through the control of all checkpoints;
“7. Calls on the parties 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 with UNIFIL;
“8. Condemns all acts of violence, expresses concern about the serious breaches and violations of the withdrawal line, and urges the parties to put an end to them and to respect the safety of UNIFIL personnel;
“9. Commends UNIFIL for having fulfilled its mandate regarding verification of Israeli withdrawal, and supports its continued efforts to maintain the ceasefire along the withdrawal line through patrols and observation from fixed positions and close contacts with the parties, with a view to correcting violations and preventing the escalation of incidents;
“10.Welcomes the contribution of UNIFIL to operational demining, 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, and calls on donor countries to support these efforts through financial and in-kind contributions;
“11.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 to the Security Council thereon;
“12.Looks forward to the early fulfilment of the mandate of UNIFIL;
“13.Endorses the general approach for reconfiguration of UNIFIL, as outlined in paragraph 23 of the report of the Secretary-General of
22 January 2001, and requests the Secretary-General to submit to the Council a detailed report by 30 April 2001 on UNIFIL reconfiguration plans and on the tasks that could be carried out by the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO);
“14.Decides to review the situation by early May 2001 and to consider any steps it deems appropriate regarding UNIFIL and UNTSO, on the basis of this report;
“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.”
Report of Secretary-General
When the Council met today it had before it the report of the Secretary-General on UNIFIL (document S/2001/66), which covers developments in the area from 18 July 2000 to 18 January 2001. In the report, the Secretary-General gives an overview of the situation in the mission's area of operations, makes suggestions for reconfiguring the Force and also recommends further extending its mandate for a period of six months.
According to the report, the situation in UNIFIL’s area of operation remained generally stable throughout the reporting period, although there were numerous minor violations of the Line of Withdrawal -- the so-called “Blue Line”. Such violations were largely the result of Israeli construction work on a technical fence along the line, of crossings by Lebanese shepherds and sometimes crossings by vehicles in places where the Israeli fence is some distance from the line. There were, however, occasional incidents at certain sensitive locations and five serious breaches of the line.
The overall security situation in UNIFIL’s area of operation has remained good, and has further improved since October, the report states. Residents who were away during the Israeli occupation continued to return. In addition, former
members of the former de facto forces and their families (about 1,600 in all) have returned to Lebanon.
Because of the high tension in Arab-Israeli relations, the Secretary-General writes, he did not consider it prudent last October to submit suggestions for the reconfiguration of the United Nations presence in south Lebanon, as he had intended and as the Security Council had requested in resolution 1310 (2000). Although the situation in the region has remained tense, he states that he believes he should now convey his thoughts on this subject to the Security Council for its consideration.
Of the three parts of its mandate, UNIFIL has essentially completed two, he writes. It has confirmed the withdrawal of Israeli forces and assisted, to the extent it could, the Lebanese authorities as they returned to the area vacated by Israel. UNIFIL functions in close cooperation with those authorities and no longer exercises any control over the area of operation. UNIFIL cannot, of course, compel the Lebanese Government to take the last step and deploy its personnel down to the Blue Line.
UNIFIL now focuses on the remaining part of its mandate: the restoration of international peace and security, the report continues. Pending a comprehensive peace, UNIFIL seeks at least to maintain the ceasefire along the Blue Line, through patrols and observation from fixed positions and close contact with the parties, with a view to correcting violations and preventing the escalation of incidents. It would appear that the need for the United Nations to perform such functions will continue to exist in the foreseeable future.
The functions described above are those of an observer mission, the Secretary-General writes. However, in view of the conditions in the region, he states that he would be reluctant to entrust the task to unarmed observers alone, and would recommend instead a combination of armed infantry and unarmed observers. He suggests two infantry battalions, a group of UNTSO observers and support.
In view of the situation in the region, a prudent approach is appropriate, he writes. Should the Security Council opt for the suggested configuration, it may consider proceeding in stages. A possible first stage might be to return UNIFIL to the strength it had before the augmentation last year, that is, to about 4,500 all ranks.
He then notes that Lebanon requested that the Council extend the mandate of UNIFIL for a further period of six months. In the light of the conditions prevailing in the area, the Secretary-General states that he supports the extension and recommends that the Council extend UNIFIL’s mandate until
In making that recommendation, the Secretary-General draws attention to the serious shortfall in the funding of the Force. At present, unpaid assessments amount to $126.1 million. That 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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