Eighth semi-annual report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1559 (2004)
C. Disbanding and disarmament of Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias
32. The continued existence of Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias undermines the consolidation of the Lebanese State and the stability of the country and the region. It is also incompatible with the objective of strengthening Lebanon’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence. The most significant Lebanese militia is the armed component of Hizbullah. In addition, several Palestinian militias operate in the country, inside and outside of refugee camps.
33. Over the reporting period, there has been no tangible progress towards the disbanding and disarming of militias as called for in the Taif Agreement and resolution 1559 (2004)[Link].
45. Another serious threat to the stability and sovereignty of Lebanon is posed by non-Lebanese armed groups. Over the past six months, there has been no progress towards the disarming of Palestinian militias, in accordance with the agreement reached in the Lebanese National Dialogue of 2006 that Palestinian militias outside the camps would be disarmed.
46. In its policy statement, while rejecting the permanent resettlement of Palestinians in Lebanon, the Government of Lebanon acknowledged their right to a dignified life and pledged to continue its efforts to resolve their humanitarian and social concerns inside and outside the camps. The policy statement emphasized the need for the Palestinians to respect the sovereignty of the State and its laws. The Government also expressed its intention to work with the Palestinians to implement the decisions of the National Dialogue of 2006, while assuming the responsibility to protect the camps from any attack.
47. During an historic visit to Lebanon on 28 and 29 August, the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, reiterated his support to the above-mentioned decisions of the National Dialogue of 2006 and to the need for the Palestinians in Lebanon to respect the sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon. He commended the efforts by the Government of Lebanon to improve the living conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
48. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command and Fatah al-Intifada maintain significant paramilitary infrastructures in and outside refugee camps, and along the border between Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic. As the two Palestinian militias are headquartered in Damascus and in line with relevant Security Council resolutions, I urge the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, as a Member State, to ensure that these groups abide by the decisions of the Government of Lebanon and Lebanese law.
49. Continuing security incidents in Ain al-Hilweh camp and the precarious situation of Al-Beddawi camp indicate that the restoration of law and order in the refugee camps will be a key to ensuring stability and security in Lebanon. The refugee camps provide safe haven for those who seek to escape the State’s authority, such as militants, extremists, criminals and arms smugglers, in addition to Palestinian armed factions across all party lines. While security coordination and cooperation between the Lebanese security agencies and the Palestinian factions have improved, and attempts by the Palestine Liberation Organization to regain control of security in some camps have yielded some positive results, apart from the destroyed Nahr al-Bared camp, Lebanese authorities still do not maintain a permanent presence inside the camps. These facts constitute a reminder of the grave threat that armed groups pose to the stability and sovereignty of Lebanon, underlining the urgency of disarming them.
50. Given the detrimental effects of living conditions in the camps on the wider security situation in Lebanon, I remain convinced that it is imperative that progress be made not only towards disbanding and disarming Palestinian militias in Lebanon, but also towards improving the conditions in which the refugee population lives, without prejudice to the settlement of the Palestinian refugee question in the context of an eventual Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
51. I welcome the commitment by the Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora, and the Government of Lebanon, negotiated with the relevant Palestinian authorities and announced at the international donor conference held in Vienna on 23 June for the reconstruction of the Nahr al-Bared camp, to take joint responsibility for security inside the reconstructed camp. It is my hope that this arrangement will serve as a model for Lebanon’s other Palestinian refugee camps. I also wish to commend the Government of Lebanon for its continued support to the comprehensive programme for the improvement of living conditions in the camp areas, run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and encourage donors to provide the Agency with the resources required for this purpose.
52. While many Member States have responded generously to the appeals for funds for the reconstruction of Nahr al-Bared, and the rehabilitation of surrounding Lebanese villages, issued by the Government of Lebanon and UNRWA, the amounts raised to date have been insufficient to permit this important project to proceed. UNRWA also faces an acute shortfall in the funds required to sustain the displaced population of some 27,000 persons in the period ahead. Bearing in mind the potential political and security implications of any failure to sustain those displaced and make rapid and visible progress in reconstructing the original camp, I urge all those in a position to assist the United Nations efforts to respond to the Nahr al-Bared crisis to do so expeditiously.
53. In conclusion, the clashes in May and violent incidents since then have raised my concern that groups on all sides of the political spectrum may be rearming in contravention of both the Taif Agreement and resolution 1559 (2004). I call on Lebanese parties to halt immediately all efforts to acquire and build paramilitary capacities. In the meantime, I am mindful of the regional dimensions of this issue. Any foreign interference is in violation of Security Council resolutions.
54. I reiterate my firm conviction that the disarmament of Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias should be carried out through a political process that will lead to the monopoly on the use of force by the Government of Lebanon throughout all of its territory. The ultimate purpose of disarmament is the establishment of a strong Lebanese State for all inhabitants of Lebanon, as the Taif Agreement stipulated. Such a political process presupposes, in the first instance, clear respect of the Constitution from all parties, as well as dialogue and a spirit of cooperation and conciliation between the various political forces in Lebanon.