The Security Council decided this afternoon to extend the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for one year, authorizing it to take all necessary action to ensure that southern Lebanon was not used for hostile activities.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2373 (2017), the Council, calling for full implementation of resolution 1701 (2006), commended the Force’s positive role for having helped to establish, together with the Lebanese Armed Forces, a new strategic environment in southern Lebanon.
Through the text, extending the Force until 31 August 2018, the 15-nation body welcomed the expansion of coordinated activities between UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces and called for further enhancement of that cooperation. It also reiterated 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 paragraph 8 of resolution 1701 (2006).
It went on to welcome the Government of Lebanon’s intention to deploy a model regiment and an offshore patrol vessel in UNIFIL’s area of operations, and urged further international support for the country’s Armed Forces, particularly in the areas of counter-terrorism and border protection.
Also through the resolution, the Council recalled its authorization to UNIFIL to take all necessary action to ensure that its area of operations was not utilized for hostile activities of any kind; to resist attempts by forceful means to prevent it from discharging its duties and to protect United Nations personnel, facilities, installations and equipment; to ensure the security and freedom of movement of United Nations personnel and humanitarian workers; and — without prejudice to the Government of Lebanon’s responsibility — to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence.
Anne Gueguen (France), recalling her country’s role as UNIFIL penholder, thanked Council members for a cooperative and constructive attitude during a difficult negotiation. UNIFIL provided a regional public good, she said, contrasting its efforts to the deteriorating security situation elsewhere in the Middle East. The Force could do better and do more, but no one on the Council could imagine what the environment would be like without UNIFIL. As a UNIFIL troop contributor, France was aware of the situation in southern Lebanon and it did not want to bring into question the delicate balance there.
Nikki Haley (United States) said she appreciated France’s willingness to make significant improvements to UNIFIL’s mandate. War clouds were gathering over southern Lebanon, but it was baffling that the Force’s commander did not understand the threat posed by Hizbullah which, with Iran’s support, was building up an offensive arsenal. That group was preparing for war, using years of relative quiet to rearm itself in violation of Council resolutions, she said. Describing the status quo for UNIFIL as unacceptable, she said the resolution called on the Force to step up patrols and inspections to disrupt Hizbullah’s illicit activities. It also emphasized that UNIFIL could assist the Lebanese Armed Forces to secure the border and halt the flow of weapons, and required it to report where, when and why it could not see behind roadblocks. The resolution demanded that UNIFIL step up its efforts at a moment when Hizbullah was stepping up theirs, she said, describing today’s adoption as a step forward.
Matthew Rycroft (United Kingdom) expressed his delegation’s concern over violations of resolution 1701 (2006) on both sides of the Blue Line. UNIFIL must be more confident and assertive in carrying out its mandate, he said, adding that the resolution adopted today provided the Force with the mandate it needed to do its job properly.
Vassily A. Nebenzia (Russian Federation) said the mandate extension would allow UNIFIL to continue playing its important stabilizing role. Valuing the tripartite mechanism’s work in addressing areas of concern, he said all issues on the national agenda must be resolved within a legal platform by Lebanon and without external interference.
Cheng Lie (China) said the draft’s unanimous adoption reflected the Council’s support for Lebanon. Recognizing the success of the Force, he said the Government of Lebanon’s cooperation had had a beneficial impact, with the mandate’s extension making the situation conducive to the maintenance of security and further supporting resolution 1701 (2006).
Sebastiano Cardi (Italy) said UNIFIL had contributed to maintaining calm for Lebanon and Israel. Aware of concerns of illicit weapons, he cautioned against blurring the lines of responsibilities of the Force and the Government of Lebanon. Promoting confusion in that regard stripped the Lebanese authorities of their position, he said, noting that operative paragraph 15 did not change the mandate of UNIFIL. Turning to working methods, he said the Council must give due consideration to the views of troop-contributing countries whose men and women were risking their lives on the ground. More should be done to reach working methods that could better serve the Council’s common purpose.
Elbio Rosselli (Uruguay) said that from the perspective of a troop-contributing country, efforts were made to ensure the Force had adequate resources to fulfil its mandate, which included responsibilities in a complex environment. He also supported his counterpart from Italy in his statement on the Council’s working methods.
The meeting began at 3:34 p.m. and ended at 3:55 p.m.
The full text of resolution 2373 (2017) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Recalling all its previous resolutions on Lebanon, in particular resolutions 425 (1978), 426 (1978), 1559 (2004), 1680 (2006), 1701 (2006), 1773 (2007), 1832 (2008), 1884 (2009), 1937 (2010) and 2004 (2011), 2064 (2012), 2115 (2013), 2172 (2014) and 2236 (2015) as well as the statements of its President on the situation in Lebanon and the Press statement dated 19 December 2016,
“Welcoming the continued progress towards genuine reactivation of the Lebanese state institutions: the election of a President of the Republic of Lebanon, the nomination of a President of the Council of Ministers, the formation of a national unity government and the adoption of a new electoral law as well as the announcement of the upcoming legislative elections in Lebanon,
“Responding to the request of the Government of Lebanon to extend the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for a period of one year without amendment presented in a letter from the Lebanese Foreign Minister to the Secretary-General of 1st of August 2017 and welcoming the letter from the Secretary-General to its President of 4 August 2017 (S/2017/680) recommending this extension,
“Reiterating its strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon,
“Reaffirming its commitment to the full implementation of all provisions of resolution 1701 (2006), and aware of its responsibilities to help secure a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution as envisioned in the resolution,
“Expressing concern at the limited progress made towards the establishment of a permanent ceasefire and other key provisions of resolution 1701 (2006) more than ten years after its adoption,
“Calling upon all concerned parties to strengthen their efforts, including by exploring concrete solutions with the Special Coordinator of the Secretary-General and the UNIFIL Force Commander, to fully implement all provisions of resolution 1701 (2006) without delay,
“Expressing deep concern at all violations in connection with resolution 1701 (2006) in particular the incidents which occurred on 20 April 2017 as underlined by the Secretary General in his report, commending the immediate reaction of the Lebanese authorities and recalling the importance of control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory,
“Underlining the risk that violations of the cessation of hostilities could lead to a new conflict that none of the parties or the region can afford,
“Urging all parties to make every effort to ensure that the cessation of hostilities is sustained, exercise maximum calm and restraint and refrain from any action or rhetoric that could jeopardize the cessation of hostilities or destabilize the region,
“Emphasizing to all parties the importance of full compliance with the prohibition on sales and supply of arms and related materiel established by resolution 1701 (2006),
“Recalling the utmost importance that all parties concerned respect the Blue Line in its entirety, welcoming the continued progress in the marking of the Blue Line, and encouraging the parties to accelerate their efforts in coordination with UNIFIL, including through the tripartite mechanism, to continue working in the ongoing process to delineate and visibly mark the Blue Line in its entirety, as well as to move forward on the marking of its points of contention, as recommended by the Strategic Review,
“Condemning in the strongest terms all attempts to threaten the security and stability of Lebanon,
“Reaffirming its determination to ensure that no such acts of intimidation prevent UNIFIL from implementing its mandate in accordance with Security Council resolution 1701 (2006), and recalling the necessity for all parties to ensure that UNIFIL personnel are secure and their freedom of movement is fully respected and unimpeded,
“Recalling the relevant principles contained in the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel,
“Commending the active role and dedication of the personnel of UNIFIL and expressing its strong appreciation to Member States that contribute to UNIFIL and underlining the necessity that UNIFIL has at its disposal all necessary means and equipment to carry out its mandate,
“Recalling the request from the Government of Lebanon to deploy an international force to assist it to exercise its authority throughout the territory, and reaffirming UNIFIL’s authority to take all necessary action in areas of operations of its forces and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind and to resist attempts by forceful means to prevent it from discharging its mandate,
“Welcoming the crucial role played by the Lebanese Armed Forces and security forces in extending and sustaining the authority of the Government of Lebanon, in particular in southern Lebanon, and responding to other security challenges, including the threat of terrorism, and the strong international commitment to support the Lebanese Armed Forces, which has helped strengthen the capability of the Lebanese Armed Forces to provide security for Lebanon,
“Welcoming the efforts of the Secretary-General to keep all peacekeeping operations, including UNIFIL, under close review, and stressing the need for the Council to pursue a rigorous, strategic approach to peacekeeping deployments,
“Recognizing the need to regularly review all peacekeeping operations to ensure efficiency and effectiveness, including reviews of UNIFIL when appropriate, taking into account developments on the ground,
“Bearing in mind the strategic priorities and recommendations identified by the Secretary-General in his letter of 12 March 2012 (S/2012/151) as a result of the Strategic Review of UNIFIL, taking note of his letter of 8 March 2017 (S/2017/202) as a result of the most recent Strategic Review of UNIFIL, and expressing the need for a follow-up and update,
“Calling upon Member States to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces as needed to enable it to perform its duties in line with resolution 1701 (2006),
“Determining that the situation in Lebanon continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security,
“1. Decides to extend the present mandate of UNIFIL until 31 August 2018;
“2. Commends the positive role of UNIFIL, whose deployment together with the Lebanese Armed Forces has helped to establish a new strategic environment in southern Lebanon, welcomes the expansion of coordinated activities between UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces, and calls for further enhancement of this cooperation;
“3. Affirms its strong continuing commitment to the existing UNIFIL mandate and calls for the full implementation of resolution 1701 (2006);
“4. Reiterates 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 paragraph 8 of resolution 1701 (2006);
“5. Reaffirms the necessity of an effective and durable deployment of the Lebanese Armed Forces in southern Lebanon and the territorial waters of Lebanon at an accelerated pace to fully implement the provisions of resolution 1701 (2006) and requests the Secretary-General to include in his future reports assessments of progress made in this regard and calls for renewed engagement of UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces in the Strategic Dialogue, which aims at carrying out analysis of ground forces and maritime assets and setting a series of benchmarks reflecting the correlation between the capacities and responsibilities of UNIFIL vis-à-vis those of the Lebanese Armed Forces, with precise timelines to be jointly and promptly elaborated by the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Secretary-General, with a view to identifying Lebanese Armed Forces progress in implementing tasks mandated in resolution 1701 (2006);
“6. Welcomes in this regard the intention of the Government of Lebanon to deploy a model regiment and of an offshore patrol vessel in UNIFIL’s area of operations to advance the implementation of resolution 1701 (2006) and the authority of the Lebanese State as noted in the 2016-2017 Strategic Review;
“7. Urges further international support for the Lebanese Armed Forces, in response to the capabilities development plan of the Lebanese Armed Forces, as well as in the framework of the International Support Group for Lebanon, through additional and expedited assistance in areas where the Lebanese Armed Forces are most critically in need of support, including counter-terrorism and border protection;
“8. Strongly calls 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;
“9. Welcomes the constructive role played by the Tripartite Mechanism in facilitating coordination and in de-escalating tensions, which has helped to further stabilize the situation along the Blue Line and build trust between the parties, and expresses in this regard strong support for the efforts of UNIFIL to engage with both parties to facilitate liaison, coordination, and practical arrangements on the ground and to continue to ensure that the Tripartite Mechanism enables the parties to discuss a wider range of issues;
“10. Urges all parties to abide scrupulously by their obligation to respect the safety of UNIFIL and other United Nations personnel and to ensure that the freedom of movement of UNIFIL is fully respected and unimpeded, in conformity with its mandate and its rules of engagement including by avoiding any course of action which endangers United Nations personnel, and in this regard, calls for further cooperation between UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces in particular regarding coordinated and adjacent patrols, welcomes the commitment of the Lebanese authorities to protect UNIFIL movements and reiterates its call for the rapid finalization of the investigation launched by Lebanon regarding the 27 May, 26 July and 9 December 2011 attacks in order to bring to justice the perpetrators of these attacks;
“11. Urges all parties to cooperate fully with the Security Council and the Secretary-General to make tangible progress towards a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution as envisioned in resolution 1701 (2006) and on all outstanding issues in the implementation of Security Council resolutions 1701 (2006), 1680 (2006) and 1559 (2004), and other relevant Security Council resolutions;
“12. Urges the Government of Israel to expedite the withdrawal of its army from northern Ghajar without further delay in coordination with UNIFIL, which has actively engaged Israel and Lebanon to facilitate such a withdrawal;
“13. Reaffirms its call on all States to fully support and respect the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani River of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and UNIFIL;
“14. Acting in support of a request from the Government of Lebanon to deploy an international force to assist it to exercise its authority throughout the territory, recalls its authorization to UNIFIL to take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind, to resist attempts by forceful means to prevent it from discharging its duties under the mandate of the Security Council, and to protect United Nations personnel, facilities, installations and equipment, ensure the security and freedom of movement of United Nations personnel, humanitarian workers and, without prejudice to the responsibility of the Government of Lebanon, to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence;
“15. Requests the Secretary General to look at ways to enhance UNIFIL’s efforts as regards paragraph 12 of resolution 1701 (2006) and paragraph 14 of this resolution, including ways to increase UNIFIL’s visible presence, including through patrols and inspections, within its existing mandate and capabilities;
“16. Recalls the decision that UNIFIL shall assist the government of Lebanon, at its request, as set out in paragraph 14 of resolution 1701 (2006) and within its capabilities, to implement resolution 1701 (2006);
“17. 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 preventive and disciplinary action to ensure that such acts are properly investigated and punished in cases involving their personnel;
“18. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to report to the Council on the implementation of resolution 1701 (2006), every four months, or at any time as he deems appropriate, and to include in his reporting a prompt and detailed breakdown of all resolution 1701 (2006) violations, prompt and detailed reports on violations of the sovereignty of Lebanon, prompt and detailed reports on the restrictions to UNIFIL’s freedom of movement, reports on specific areas where UNIFIL does not access and on the reasons behind these restrictions, potential risks to the cessation of hostilities and UNIFIL’s response as well as reports on the implementation of the recommendations of the 2016-2017 Strategic review and on additional identified efficiencies to most appropriately fulfil its mandated tasks; requests the Secretary-General to further develop a reporting mechanism in order to provide concrete and detailed information on the aforementioned issues to the Council;
“19. 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, 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973, 1515 (2003) of 19 November 2003 and 1850 (2008) of 16 December 2008;
“20. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”