Letter dated 20 December 2011 from the Permanent Representative of Lebanon to the United Nations addressed
to the President of the Security Council
I have the honour to transmit herewith the assessment of the work of the Security Council during the presidency of Lebanon in September 2011 (see annex). The document was prepared under my own responsibility, following consultations with other members of the Council.
I should be grateful if you would have the present letter and its annex circulated as a document of the Security Council.
(Signed) Nawaf Salam
Annex to the letter dated 20 December 2011 from the Permanent Representative of Lebanon to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council
Assessment of the work of the Security Council during the presidency of Lebanon (September 2011)
Lebanon assumed the presidency of the Security Council in September 2011, during which the Council was engaged in a comprehensive programme that addressed a range of issues, including: non-proliferation (Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1737 (2006)), Cyprus, Liberia, the Sudan and South Sudan, Libya, Sierra Leone, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Somalia, Haiti, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the maintenance of international peace and security/conflict prevention, the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, and Afghanistan.
On 2 September, the Council held consultations and adopted its programme of work for September 2011. After the consultations, the President of the Council gave a briefing for non-members of the Council and for the press about the programme of work.
During the month, the Council held 20 formal meetings, 3 of which were held in private. The 17 public meetings included six briefings and three debates. The Council also held 13 informal consultations, adopted six resolutions and one presidential statement, and issued four press statements.
The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
On 27 September, the Council heard a briefing on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. The President of the Council of Ministers of Lebanon, Najib Mikati, presided over the meeting and made brief introductory remarks in his national capacity.
Mr. Mikati stated that the “winds of change” in the Middle East had ushered in a “Palestinian spring” that had led to the formal submission by Palestine of an application for membership in the United Nations. He called for an Israeli withdrawal from all Arab lands, as laid out in the Arab Peace Initiative. He condemned the attacks against the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), reaffirmed the commitment of Lebanon to the implementation of resolution 1701 (2006), and called on Israel to end its violations of Lebanese sovereignty. He reaffirmed the commitment of Lebanon to respect all international resolutions, including those related to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs briefed the Council. He stated that it was not easy to chart a way forward, as the Palestinian and Israeli positions remained far apart. He added that the efforts of the Quartet and the expected proposals of the parties could help to resume negotiations. He summarized the Quartet statement of 23 September, explaining that the goals would be to make substantial progress within six months, to convene an international conference in Moscow at the appropriate time, and to reach an agreement no later than the end of 2012. He reaffirmed that settlements were illegal and contrary to the road map commitments of Israel, and condemned the rocket attacks fired into Israel from Gaza. The Under-Secretary-General referred to the Palestinian application for membership in the United Nations. He noted that the matter was before the Council and underlined the institutional readiness of the Palestinian Authority to run a State.
The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs stated that the situation in the UNIFIL area remained generally stable. He noted that the freedom of movement of the force had been impeded in an incident on 13 September that had resulted in minor injury to a UNIFIL soldier. He added that Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace continued on an almost daily basis.
With regard to the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs stated that the political and human rights crisis had escalated in the country and had resulted in at least 2,700 deaths since March 2011. He added that the polarization continued to deepen between the Syrian regime and a growing popular opposition that continued to organize protests across the country. He noted that on 15 September, a coalition of Syrian opposition leaders had announced the formation of the Syrian National Council.
In the consultations that followed, Council members called on the Palestinian and Israeli sides to refrain from taking unilateral actions that might jeopardize the peace process. Some Council members supported the application of Palestine for full membership in the United Nations, and stressed the need to stop all settlement activities and resume negotiations. Some members voiced their opposition to the application of Palestine, and stressed that the two-State solution could be achieved only through direct negotiations.
With regard to the Syrian Arab Republic, some Council members called on the Council to assume its responsibilities, as the Syrian regime continued to use repression and violence against peaceful demonstrators. Other Council members expressed their concern that the direction of the crisis in the country appeared to be towards civil war. These members called for a cautious approach and voiced their refusal to resolve the existing problems in the Syrian Arab Republic through the imposition of sanctions, citing the need to resolve them through dialogue and reform.
Concerning Lebanon, Council members welcomed the affirmation by Mr. Mikati that Lebanon would respect its obligations under the relevant international resolutions, including those related to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and expressed support for the efforts of UNIFIL and the Lebanese army in maintaining security and stability.
Admission of new members
On 26 September, the Council held consultations on the application of Palestine for admission to membership in the United Nations. Council members agreed to hold a formal meeting on 28 September in order to decide on the referral of the application of Palestine to the Committee on the Admission of New Members for examination and report.
In the course of the consultations, differing views were expressed. Many Council members stated that the applicant fulfilled all the criteria for membership set out in the Charter, and that the question of the recognition of the Palestinian State should not be subject to the outcome of negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis. Other members questioned whether the applicant met all of the Charter membership requirements, and stated that the two-State solution through a negotiated settlement remained the only option for a long-term and sustainable peace.
On 28 September, the Council held a public meeting and had before it the application of Palestine. The Council decided to refer the application to the Committee on the Admission of New Members for examination and report.
Document Type: Assessment, Letter
Document Sources: Department of Political Affairs (DPA), Security Council
Subject: Golan Heights, Incidents, Middle East situation, Palestine question, Peace process, Peace proposals and efforts, Peacekeeping, Quartet, Situation in Lebanon, Statehood-related
Publication Date: 20/12/2011