SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS UNIFIL MANDATE FOR
NEW YORK, 31 July (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council this morning extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) until 31 January 2002. At the same time, it condemned all acts of violence, expressed great concern about the serious breaches and the air, sea and land violations of the withdrawal line, and urged the parties to put an end to them and to respect the safety of UNIFIL personnel.
Unanimously adopting resolution 1365 (2001), the Council expressed support for the continued efforts of UNIFIL, in force for a further six months, to maintain the ceasefire along the withdrawal line through patrols and observation from fixed positions and close contacts with the parties, with a view to correcting violations and preventing the escalation of incidents.
The Council reiterated its call on the parties to continue to fulfil the commitments they had given to respect fully the withdrawal line identified by the United Nations, to exercise utmost restraint and to cooperate fully with the United Nations and UNIFIL. It also called on the parties to ensure UNIFIL is accorded full freedom of movement in the discharge of its mandate throughout its area of operation.
In a related provision, the Security Council asked the Secretary-General to continue to take the necessary measures to implement the reconfiguration and redeployment of the Force, as outlined in his report and in accordance with a letter of the Council President of 18 May, in the light of developments on the ground and in consultation with the Lebanese Government and troop-contributing countries.
It also asked him to submit to the Council, before the end of the present mandate, a comprehensive report on the Force's activities, taking into account its possible reconfiguration to an observer mission in the light of developments on the ground and the tasks carried out by the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO).
By further terms of the text, the Council called on the Lebanese Government to take more steps to ensure to ensure the return of its effective authority throughout the south, including the deployment of Lebanese armed forces. It encouraged it to ensure a calm environment throughout the south.
The Council also reiterated its strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries, and stressed the need to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on all relevant resolutions.
The Council President for the month of July, Wang Yingfan (China), thanked all of the members for their support and cooperation. He also appreciated their very cooperative and friendly spirit. In addition, he thanked the Secretary-General and the Secretariat members for their invaluable help and assistance.
The full text of resolution 1365 (2001) reads as follows:
"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 and 1337 (2001) of 30 January 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 July 2001 to the Secretary-General (S/2001/677),
"1. Welcomes the report of the Secretary-General on UNIFIL of 20 July 2001 (S/2001/714), 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 6 months, until 31 January 2002;
"3. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to take the necessary measures to implement the reconfiguration and redeployment of UNIFIL as outlined in his 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 take more 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 and the air, sea and land violations of the withdrawal line, and urges the parties to put an end to them 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 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. Looks forward to the early fulfilment of the mandate of UNIFIL;
"14. Requests 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, taking into account its possible reconfiguration to an observer mission in the light of developments on the ground and on the tasks carried out by the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO);
"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 resolution 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967 and 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973."
At its second meeting this morning, the Security Council was to consider an extension of the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon.
According to the Secretary-General’s report on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) (document S/2001/714), the situation during the period from 23 January to 20 July 2001 has been generally stable, with the exception of ongoing tensions and breaches of the Blue Line connected with the dispute over the Shab’a Farms area. There continued to be numerous minor ground violations, those from the Israeli side largely attributable to the construction of a fence along the line. Those from the Lebanese side amounted to crossings by shepherds and occasional vehicles.
Regarding air violations, the report states that Israeli aircraft violated the line on an almost daily basis, penetrating deep into Lebanese airspace. These incursions, particularly those at low level, breaking the sound barrier over populated areas, were especially provocative and caused great anxiety to the civilian population. The report further describes several incidents, including demonstrations on the Lebanese side, exchanges of fire between Israeli soldiers and Hizbollah, and destruction of a Syrian army radar position in the Bekaa Valley.
Also according to the report, the Government of Lebanon continued to maintain the position that, as long as there is no comprehensive peace with Israel, the Lebanese armed forces will not be deployed along the Blue Line. Areas along the Blue Line were monitored by Hizbollah through a network of mobile and fixed positions. Sometimes, Hizbollah acted as surrogate for the civil administration by extending social, medical and educational services to the local population. On several occasions, Hizbollah personnel restricted the freedom of movement of UNIFIL and interfered with its redeployment. In some villages in the south, tensions developed between local residents and former members of the dismantled South Lebanese Army who had returned home after serving their terms in prison for collaboration with Israel.
The focus of UNIFIL operations remained on the Blue Line and the adjacent area, where UNIFIL sought to maintain the ceasefire through patrols, observation from fixed positions and close contact with the parties. The mission continued to assist the civilian population in the form of medical care, water projects, equipment or services for schools and orphanages and supplies of social services to the needy. This assistance was provided from resources made available by troop-contributing countries. Clearance of mines and unexploded ordnance in southern Lebanon gained additional momentum.
The document further reports a controversy that arose between the Israeli authorities and the United Nations over a UNIFIL videotape, filmed on 8 October 2000, of vehicles that may have been used by Hizbollah in the abduction of three Israeli Defence Force soldiers on 7 October 2000. Israel and Lebanon have been offered the opportunity to view the tape, with the identities of non-United Nations personnel obscured, on United Nations premises. An investigation has been initiated into the internal handling of the matter.
Regarding the reconfiguration and redeployment of UNIFIL, the report states that as of 1 August 2001 the Force will return to a strength of around 4,500 and will be composed of troops from Fiji, Finland, France, Ghana, India, Ireland, Italy, Nepal, Poland and Ukraine. The departure of the Irish and Finnish contingents in the autumn will bring the strength of the Force to about 3,600. The UNIFIL was assisted in its tasks by 51 military observers of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO). In addition, UNIFIL employed 371 civilian staff, of whom 127 were recruited internationally and 244 locally. The Secretary-General also reports the death of three members of the Force. A Finnish soldier was killed in an accidental fall, a Nepalese soldier died of natural causes, and an Indian soldier was accidentally killed during a training exercise. Since the establishment of UNIFIL, 238 members of the Force have lost their lives.
The Secretary-General concludes that as the incidents in the area have the potential to threaten the stability of the region, it is of paramount importance that all parties concerned respect the Blue Line, as called for by the Security Council, cease all violations thereof and desist from any action that could serve to destabilize the situation. The Lebanese Government should take more steps to ensure the return of effective Lebanese authority throughout the south, including the deployment of its army. A more energetic and concerted effort to restore basic services to the population, and the full return of the local administration, should be integral to this process.
Recalling his visit to the region in June 2001, the Secretary-General says that he had discussions on the aforementioned issues with the political leadership in Lebanon and Israel. In meetings with President Emile Lahoud and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, he stressed the need for all parties to respect the Blue Line, and appealed to both sides to keep the situation calm.
In a letter dated 9 July 2001 (document S/2001/677), the Permanent Representative of Lebanon to the United Nations conveyed to the Secretary-General his Government’s request that the Security Council extend the mandate of UNIFIL for a further period of six months. In the light of conditions prevailing in the area, the Secretary-General recommends that the Security Council extend the mandate of UNIFIL until 31 January 2002. In making this recommendation, he draws attention to the serious shortfall in the funding of the Force, with unpaid assessments amounting to $163.1 million.
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