The Security Council today extended the mandate of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) until 31 August 2020, reiterating its call for Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution based on the principles and elements set out in resolution 1701 (2006).
Unanimously adopting resolution 2485 (2019), the Council condemned all violations of the Blue Line, both by air and ground, strongly calling upon all parties to respect the cessation of hostilities, to prevent any violation of the Blue Line and to respect it in its entirety, and to cooperate fully with the United Nations and UNIFIL.
The Council also urged the Government of Israel to expedite the withdrawal of its army from northern Ghajar without further delay in coordination with UNIFIL.
The 15-member organ also requested the Secretary-General to provide an assessment no later than 1 June 2020 of the continued relevance of UNIFIL’s resources and options for improving the efficiency and effectiveness between the mission and the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon.
By other terms of the text, the Council urged all parties to ensure that the freedom of movement of UNIFIL and the Force’s access to the Blue Line in all its parts is fully respected and unimpeded, calling on the Government of Lebanon to facilitate the mission’s access in line with resolution 1701 (2006), while respecting the country’s sovereignty.
The Council also requested the Secretary-General and the troop-contributing countries to seek to increase the number of women in UNIFIL, as well as to ensure their full, effective and meaningful participation in all aspects of operations.
After the vote, the representative of France, which led the drafting of the resolution, welcomed the unanimous support it enjoyed, saying that her delegation incorporated various concerns of Council members into the text and sought to maintain unity of the organ. “We are all guarantors” of security in Lebanon, she said, stressing the mediating role of UNIFIL in deterring escalation.
Kuwait’s delegate welcomed the extension of UNIFIL’s mandate without amendments and a troop‑level reduction, reflecting the continued support of the Council and the Force’s importance. Negotiations on the mandate renewal coincided with worrying events that threatened Lebanon’s sovereignty, he said, calling for an end to Israel’s airspace violations.
The representative of the United States said that his delegation joined consensus on renewing the mandate of UNIFIL, which de-escalates tensions along the Blue Line, reiterating its commitment to ensuring security in Lebanon. However, UNIFIL has been prevented from free movements in the area of operation. The Force has yet to gain access to Hizbullah sites related to the tunnels that were discovered crossing the Blue Line. His delegation made serious efforts to address the access issue, but was unable to include a timeframe in the resolution. Given that UNIFIL cannot fulfil a task within its mandate, it’s time to re-examine the Force’s troop strength and resource efficiency.
Germany’s delegate, welcoming the mandate renewal as proof of the Council’s support for the mission, called on Lebanon and Israel to use UNFIL mechanisms to ease current tensions.
Indonesia’s delegate said it was unacceptable for UNIFIL objectives to be undermined, including by actions that attempt to weaken peacekeeping operations. As a troop-contributing country, Indonesia recognizes the importance of a mission being able to discharge its mandate on the ground. As such, the Secretary‑General’s assessment must be conducted in consultation with all parties, including troop‑contributing countries.
China’s delegate, noting that the mandate renewal demonstrates the Council’s support to UNIFIL, commended the role played by troop-contributing countries and peacekeeping personnel. For its part, UNIFIL should focus on its core mandate of ensuring stability along the Blue Line.
The representative of the United Kingdom, reiterating the need for all parties to allow UNIFIL to discharge its mandate, remained concerned about tensions between Israel and Lebanon.
The representative of the Dominican Republic called on all parties to strengthen their commitment to provisions in resolution 1701 (2006) and respect UNIFIL and its mandate.
The meeting began at 3:01 p.m. and ended at 3:25 p.m.