SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS UNIFIL’S MANDATE
NEW YORK, 28 January (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council this afternoon extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) by a further six months, until 31 July, condemning all acts of violence and expressing great concern about the serious violations of the withdrawal line separating Lebanese and Israeli forces.
Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1391 (2002), the Council urged the parties to put an end to those violations and respect the safety of UNIFIL personnel. It supported the continued efforts of the Force to maintain the ceasefire along the withdrawal line and to correct violations, resolve incidents and prevent their escalation.
In a related provision, the Council requested the Secretary-General to take the necessary measures to implement the reconfiguration of UNIFIL as outlined in his recent report and in accordance with the letter of the Council President of 18 May 2001, in the light of developments on the ground and in consultation with the Government of Lebanon and the troop-contributing countries.
[The Secretary-General states in his recent report that UNIFIL’s tasks should be carried out by a combination of armed infantry and unarmed observers, in view of the conditions in the region. He recommends a phased reconfiguration of the Force to a strength of close to 2,000 all ranks, supported by the unarmed military observers of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), the strength of the latter to remain unaltered.]
The Council also called on the Lebanese Government to continue to take steps to ensure the return of its effective authority throughout the south, including the deployment of Lebanese armed forces. It encouraged the Government to ensure a calm environment in the south.
The meeting began at 1:59 p.m. and was adjourned at 2 p.m.
Following is the full text of resolution 1391 (2002):
"The Security Council,
"Recalling all its previous resolutions on Lebanon, in particular resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978) of 19 March 1978, 1310 (2000) of 27 July 2000, 1337 (2001) of 30 January 2001 and 1365 (2001) of 31 July 2001, as well as the statements of its President on the situation in Lebanon, in particular the statement of 18 June 2000 (S/PRST/2000/21),
"Recalling further the letter from its President to the Secretary-General of 18 May 2001 (S/2001/500),
"Recalling also the Secretary-General’s conclusion that, as of 16 June 2000, Israel had withdrawn its forces from Lebanon in accordance with resolution 425 (1978) and met the requirements defined in the Secretary-General’s report of 22 May 2000 (S/2000/460), as well as the Secretary-General’s conclusion that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) had essentially completed two of the three parts of its mandate, focusing now on the remaining task of restoring international peace and security,
"Emphasizing the interim nature of UNIFIL,
"Recalling its resolution 1308 (2000) of 17 July 2000,
"Recalling further the relevant principles contained in the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel adopted on 9 December 1994,
"Responding to the request of the Government of Lebanon, as stated in the letter from its Permanent Representative to the United Nations of 9 January 2002 to the Secretary-General (S/2002/40),
"1. Welcomes the report of the Secretary-General on UNIFIL of 16 January 2002 (S/2002/55), and endorses his observations and recommendations;
"2. Decides to extend the present mandate of UNIFIL, as recommended by the Secretary-General, for a further period of six months, until 31 July 2002;
"3. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to take the necessary measures to implement the reconfiguration of UNIFIL as outlined in his recent report and in accordance with the letter of the President of the Security Council of 18 May 2001, in the light of developments on the ground and in consultation with the Government of Lebanon and the troop-contributing countries;
"4. Reiterates its strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries;
"5. Calls on the Government of Lebanon to continue to take steps to ensure the return of its effective authority throughout the south, including the deployment of Lebanese armed forces;
"6. Calls on the parties to ensure UNIFIL is accorded full freedom of movement in the discharge of its mandate throughout its area of operation;
"7. Encourages the Government of Lebanon to ensure a calm environment throughout the south;
"8. Reiterates its call on the parties to continue to fulfil the commitments they have given to respect fully the withdrawal line identified by the United Nations, as set out in the Secretary-General’s report of 16 June 2000 (S/2000/590), to exercise utmost restraint and to cooperate fully with the United Nations and UNIFIL;
"9. Condemns all acts of violence, expresses great concern about the serious breaches in the air, sea and land violations of the withdrawal line, and urges the parties to put an end to these violations and to respect the safety of the UNIFIL personnel;
"10. Supports the continued efforts of UNIFIL to maintain the ceasefire along the withdrawal line through mobile patrols and observation from fixed positions and through close contacts with the parties to correct violations, resolve incidents and prevent the escalation of incidents;
"11. Welcomes the continued contribution of UNIFIL to operational demining, encourages further assistance in mine action by the United Nations to the Government of Lebanon in support of both the continued development of its national mine action capacity and emergency demining activities in the south, commends donor countries for supporting these efforts through financial and in-kind contributions and welcomes in this regard the establishment of the International Support Group, takes note of the communication to the Government of Lebanon and UNIFIL of maps and information on the location of mines and stresses the necessity to provide the Government of Lebanon and UNIFIL with any additional maps and records on the location of mines;
"12. Requests the Secretary-General to continue consultations with the Government of Lebanon and other parties directly concerned on the implementation of this resolution;
"13. Requests also the Secretary-General, following appropriate consultations, including with the Government of Lebanon and the troop-contributing countries, to submit to the Council before the end of the present mandate a comprehensive report on the activities of UNIFIL, its technical reconfiguration and the tasks presently carried out by the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO);
"14. Looks forward to the early fulfilment of the mandate of UNIFIL;
"15. 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 and 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973."
The Security Council met this afternoon on the situation in Lebanon. It had before it a report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) (document S/2002/55), which covers developments for the period from 21 July 2001 to 16 January 2002.
In the early 1970s, tension along the Israel-Lebanon border increased, especially after the relocation of Palestinian armed elements from Jordan to Lebanon. Palestinian commando operations against Israel and Israeli reprisals against Palestinian bases in Lebanon intensified. On 11 March 1978, a commando attack in Israel resulted in many dead and wounded among the Israeli population; the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) claimed responsibility for that raid. In response, Israeli forces invaded Lebanon on the night of 14/15 March, and in a few days occupied the entire southern part of the country except for the city of Tyre and its surrounding area.
On 15 March 1978, the Lebanese Government submitted a protest to the Council against the Israeli invasion, stating that the Government had no connection with the Palestinian commando operation. On 19 March, the Council adopted resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978), in which it called upon Israel immediately to cease its military action and withdraw its forces from all Lebanese territory. It also decided on the immediate establishment of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The first UNIFIL troops arrived in the area on 23 March 1978.
Resolution 425 (1978) established two requirements. First, the Council called for strict respect for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries. Second, it called upon Israel immediately to cease its military action against Lebanese territorial integrity and withdraw forthwith its forces from all Lebanese territory.
The Council also decided, in the light of the request of the Government of Lebanon, to immediately establish a United Nations interim force for southern Lebanon. This force was created for three broadly defined purposes: confirming Israeli withdrawal; restoring international peace and security; and assisting the Lebanese Government in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area.
On 17 April 2000, the Secretary-General received formal notification from the Israeli Government that it would withdraw its forces from Lebanon by July 2000 "in full accordance with Council resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978)". He was further informed that in so doing the Government of Israel intended "to cooperate fully with the United Nations".
A map showing the withdrawal line was formally transmitted by the Force Commander of UNIFIL to his Lebanese and Israeli counterparts. On 16 June, the Secretary-General reported to the Council that Israel had withdrawn its forces from Lebanon in accordance with resolution 425 (1978), and had completed the withdrawal in conformity with the Blue Line identified by the United Nations. The Secretary-General said that the Lebanese Government had re-established its effective authority in the area through the deployment of its security forces. He noted that the deployment of the armed forces was an essential element of the return of the effective authority of the Government in the area. That deployment should be conducted in coordination with UNIFIL’s redeployment in its area of operations.
Report of Secretary-General
According to the Secretary-General, the UNIFIL area of operation has been generally calm, with low incident and tension levels recorded since his previous report (document S/2001/714, dated 20 July). The focus of UNIFIL operations remained on the Blue Line and the adjacent area, with UNIFIL working with the parties to avert or correct violations and to defuse tensions.
According to the report of the Secretary-General, serious breaches of the ceasefire in the Shab'a farms area remained a cause of concern. On 3 October, Hezbollah fired 18 missiles and 33 mortar rounds at two positions of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) on the line south-east of Kafr Shuba. On 22 October, Hezbollah fired 10 missiles and 61 mortar rounds at five IDF positions in the same vicinity. In both instances, the IDF responded with heavy artillery and mortar fire to the Lebanese side of the line in the same vicinity, in the latter case also dropping two air-to-ground missiles. There were no casualties from either incident.
Of equal concern, states the Secretary-General, are Israeli air violations of the Blue Line, which continue on an almost daily basis, penetrating deep into Lebanese airspace. These incursions are not justified and cause great concern to the civilian population, particularly low-altitude flights that break the sound barrier over populated areas. The air violations are ongoing, although démarches to the Israeli authorities, calling on them to cease the overflights and to fully respect the Blue Line, have been made repeatedly by the United Nations, including by the Secretary-General, and a number of interested governments.
The Secretary-General once again stressed the critical need for all parties concerned to respect the Blue Line, as repeatedly called for by the Council, to cease all violations, and to refrain from action that could serve to destabilize the situation.
The Government of Lebanon continued to take additional steps to restore its effective authority throughout the south, but this was limited to strengthening the presence of security forces and supporting the local administration, and did not include additional deployment of the Lebanese army. The Government has continued to let Hezbollah operate close to the Blue Line. The Secretary-General also draws attention to the fact that, on several occasions, Hezbollah personnel interfered with the freedom of movement of UNIFIL. Although freedom of movement was re-established after UNIFIL brought specific restrictions to the attention of the Lebanese authorities, the restrictions are recurrent.
The Secretary-General urges the Lebanese Government to take more steps to extend its authority to all of southern Lebanon, as called for by the Council, stressing that it should make a more concerted effort to take full responsibility for the provision of basic services to the population and for the deployment of the army.
Addressing the reconfiguration of UNIFIL, which had now assumed the functions of an observer mission, the Secretary-General recommends that the Force be stabilized at a strength of close to 2,000 (all ranks) by the end of 2002.
The Secretary-General notes that the Observer Group Lebanon is moving towards a more mobile concept; however, in view of the conditions on the ground and the longer-term role of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) in the region, the Group will maintain patrol bases where the observers will be accommodated. Security for those bases will be provided largely by UNIFIL, thus freeing more observers for their patrolling, investigative and liaison functions.
A reconfigured UNIFIL will continue to contribute to stability in southern Lebanon by monitoring and observing along the Blue Line. At the same time, given the tensions in the region, there is an ongoing need for United Nations political and diplomatic support for the parties to establish lasting peace and security.
The Secretary-General states that progress has also been achieved in discussions between the United Nations and Israel on issues connected to the UNIFIL videotapes of events related to the abduction by Hezbollah of three Israeli soldiers on 7 October 2000.
The Secretary-General states, that in the light of conditions prevailing in the area, the Council may also wish to decide to extend UNIFIL's mandate until 31 July 2002. The report also draws attention to the serious shortfall in the funding of the Force. At present, unpaid assessments amount to $166.5 million. This represents money owed to the Member States that contribute the troops who make up the Force. He appeals to all Member States to pay their assessments promptly and in full and to clear all remaining arrears.
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