New York

26 September 2014

Secretary-General's closing remarks at Ministerial Meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon [as prepared for delivery]

On behalf of the Secretary-General, I want to thank all delegations for their active participation at today’s meeting.  One year after its establishment, International Support Group for Lebanon is a strong signal and reminder of international unity in assisting Lebanon withstand the multiple challenges to its security and stability. 

The impact of the crisis in Syria and in the region has grown more severe over the past year.  Terrorism and extremist violence, as well as the presence of rising numbers of refugees, call for redoubling our efforts to stand with Lebanon in its hour of need.    

The chairman’s summary of today’s meeting is the result of extensive consultations.  It is being made publicly available.  It highlights five key outcomes.

First, we express our appreciation for the leadership of Prime Minister Salam and our support for the unity of the Government.  We stress the importance of ensuring the continuity of State institutions.  We underline that a successful response to the challenges facing Lebanon requires national unity, which is incomplete without a President.  We look to Lebanon’s political leaders to show the sense of urgency and flexibility needed to resolve this issue and elect a president without further delay, in the interest of all in Lebanon. 

Second, we condemn the attacks and acts of brutality and terrorism by violent extremist groups, including reportedly by elements of ISIL and Jabhat an Nusra, as spill-over from the fighting in Syria. We underline the importance of Lebanon’s policy of disassociation.  Many recalled the Security Council’s appeals in respect of commitment to the Baabda Declaration.    

Third, we pay tribute to the crucial role of the Lebanese Armed Forces in addressing complex security challenges, including terrorism and the volatile situation on the Lebanon-Syria border.  We also refer to their work together with UNIFIL to maintain calm along the Blue Line in implementation of resolution 1701.  We welcome the substantial international assistance forthcoming or pledged to the Lebanese Armed Forces.  This includes border control and counter terrorism, following the recent attack by violent extremist groups on Arsal.  This assistance also includes the welcome commitment of $1 billion dollars by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in addition to its earlier commitment of $3 billion dollars.  We stress the urgency of such assistance.

Fourth, we encourage assistance for refugees and host communities, and welcome the intention of UN agencies, the Government and donors to work on a national crisis response plan for the coming year. We encourage the Government and UN agencies to cooperate closely for the effective management of the refugee presence and facilitation of their safe return as soon as possible.  We recognize the need for burden sharing.  This includes the importance for Lebanon of sustained effort to secure the resettlement of a greater number of Syrian refugees.  We look forward to the international conference Germany plans to hold in Berlin on 28 October on the refugee presence in Syria’s neighbours, at which Lebanon’s particular needs will be highlighted.

Fifth, regarding economic assistance, we welcome the updating of the Government Roadmap for Stabilization, the approval of projects funded under the World Bank-managed Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Lebanon, and the contributions to the Fund by Member States and the World Bank.  We note the need for the Government to ensure fast-track approval for priority stabilization projects and encourage further assistance through the fund as well as other channels.    

Finally, we look forward to working as partners on an ongoing basis in this Group.  We also welcome the prospect of future meetings with broader participation, including at the ISG meeting that will take place prior to the Berlin conference.

Thank you.