October 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 September 2006
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Expected Council Action
Lebanon is likely to take a considerable amount of the Council’s time and attention in October. Members will be following developments related to the implementation of resolution 1701, which called for a cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah and authorised a reinforcement of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which has a mandate that expires on 31 August 2007.

A report by Under Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Nicolas Michel, on the tribunal of an international character to try those responsible for the bombing that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and others in Lebanon is expected by the Council in October. The report will contain detailed information on the form of the tribunal and an annex with the draft agreement between the Secretary-General and the Lebanese authorities (the tribunal’s constituting treaty) and the statute of the tribunal. The Council may present amendments to the agreement.

The Council in October will also receive a report by Terje Røed-Larsen, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the implementation of resolution 1559, on steps taken to implement the resolution, which calls for the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon and the disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militia, and supports the extension of the control of the Lebanese government over all Lebanese territory. The Council may react to the report by adopting a presidential statement.

Key Recent Developments
On 14 August the Council adopted resolution 1701 which called for a cessation of hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel, strongly reinforced the mandate and troop level of UNIFIL, and provided some elements for a permanent ceasefire. Those elements included a call for the full implementation of the relevant provisions of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006) that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon. The resolution also requested the Secretary-General to develop proposals within thirty days on the implementation of those provisions as well as for the delineation of the international borders of Lebanon, especially in the Sheb’a Farms (for additional information, please refer to our 25 September Special Research Report on resolution 1701).

The Secretary-General presented his report on 12 September, in which he noted that he would come back to the Council at a later stage on the issue of the Sheb’a Farms because he needed to study further the implications of a transfer of the area from Syria to Lebanon. On the issue of disarmament, he noted that the fourth semi-annual report on implementation of resolution 1559 would provide a further update. The Council, under a tight schedule, did not react. There has been no progress since last April on the issues of border delineation between Lebanon and Syria or on the disarmament of militias as the Lebanese national dialogue was interrupted because of the hostilities. At a mass rally on 22 September in Beirut, Hezbollah proclaimed that no army in the world would make it disarm.

On the issue of implementation of resolution 1701, the Council may:

  • adopt a presidential statement reacting to the 12 September report indicating that it looked forward to receiving the next report on implementation; and
  • ask the Secretary-General to appoint a Special Representative for UNIFIL as there is none at the moment.

After receiving the Røed-Larsen report, the Council has the following options:

  • adopt a presidential statement welcoming the report, encouraging the parties to work harder within the Lebanese national dialogue to meet the requirements of resolution 1559 and reiterating that Syria has to undertake concrete steps to delineate its common border with Lebanon; and
  • provide clarifications, as part of a broader statement or in a separate document, on the reporting methods for resolutions 1559, 1680 and 1701 as some elements of these resolutions overlap.

Following the report on the tribunal, the Council may:

  • provide its quiet assent to the agreement as it is (a Council resolution is not necessary for the Secretary-General to have the authorisation to sign the agreement);
  • adopt a presidential statement welcoming the agreement and asking for wide cooperation with the tribunal; and
  • initiate consultations and propose amendments to the bilateral agreement and the statute of the tribunal via a letter to the Secretary-General.

Key Issues
Because resolution 1701 encompasses elements of resolutions 1559 and 1680, including the disarmament of Lebanese and non-Lebanese militia and the delineation of the Syria/Lebanon border in the Sheb’a Farms area, a single report on implementation of resolution 1701 may be satisfactory in the future. But it seems that the Council is not willing to “dilute” the Røed-Larsen report, because 1559 is still considered to be the basis for a solution in Lebanon. Also, this apparent confusion over the reporting mechanisms in fact provides the Secretary-General with more flexibility.

Another issue is whether the Secretary-General wholly fulfilled his mandate under operational paragraph 10 of resolution 1701 given the absence of concrete recommendations in his report.

The other issue for the Council to decide is whether to step into a leadership role in carrying forward the agenda of resolution 1701, or retreat to the minimalist approach which characterised its response to the crises in Gaza and Lebanon in 2006, and which attracted much criticism.

With regard to the tribunal, its format is likely to resemble the format of the special court for Sierra Leone with a hybrid domestic and international character, and with an agreement between the UN and the government as the constituting treaty. The Council will consider the draft agreement, whose details are unknown at the time of writing, and will likely discuss the following issues.

  • Jurisdiction The tribunal’s jurisdiction could be limited to those charged with the death of Hariri and 22 others killed in the attack, or expanded to include other attacks in Lebanon since 1 October 2004. Resolution 1644 authorised the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) to extend its technical assistance to the Lebanese authorities for their investigation on the terrorist attacks perpetrated in Lebanon since 1 October 2004. Resolution 1686 supported the Commission’s intention to extend this assistance further, which could indicate that the tribunal’s jurisdiction will be broader in scope as well. However, UNIIIC has the lead on the Hariri investigation and only provides assistance for the other investigations.
  • Applicable Law The Lebanese authorities wish to have Lebanese substantive criminal law applied. But the UN will insist that the tribunal operates in a manner consistent with international fair trial standards. For example, Lebanese criminal law allows for the death penalty, whereas the UN has always insisted on excluding capital punishment from tribunals that it has helped establish.
  • Location For security reasons and the perception of objectivity, it will be difficult to locate the tribunal on Lebanese territory. News sources have mentioned Cyprus as a possible location, due to its advantageous geographical location. One issue will be to determine whether that country’s internal law requires a Security Council resolution for the proceedings to be held on its soil (as was the case with the Netherlands for the trial of Charles Taylor).
  • Composition Lebanon has emphasised that it considers significant international participation essential for the tribunal’s success. But an equilibrium between the Lebanese and international character of the court is an issue because Lebanon also wants to keep the lead in the process.
  • Funding While the majority of the costs may be shouldered by Lebanon, the UN or other donors could also contribute. The risk of a lack of funding and therefore a lack of continuity, as with the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the Cambodia tribunal, needs to be avoided.
  • Timing It is unlikely that a date for commencing the trials will be set at this point, as this depends on the progress made in the investigation. Also, Lebanon will have to ratify the tribunal’s constituting treaty.
  • Detention Several human rights organisations as well as Under Secretary-General Michel have raised concerns about the suspects currently in Lebanese custody and the length of pre-trial detention.
  • Cooperation by Syria If Syrian nationals are implicated in the attacks, it is questionable whether Syria would be willing to extradite the suspects. Syria had previously stated that any Syrian suspects would be tried by Syrian courts.

Council Dynamics
France, the UK and the US are willing to keep pressure on the Syrian government on the issues of delineation of the border with Lebanon, establishment of diplomatic relations and prevention of flow of arms to Lebanon.

The main point of contention with regard to the Lebanese tribunal is the issue of jurisdiction.  Some members favour a broader approach while others would prefer that the tribunal focus only on the Hariri murder, an option that would also reduce the costs of the tribunal. The Lebanese authorities also seem to be cautious about the degree of international involvement.

While some consider that a broad approach for the whole Middle East region is necessary to secure a long-term solution, others like the US remain reluctant to create linkages and believe that each conflict (Israel/Lebanon, Israel/Syria and Israel/Palestine) has a better chance of being resolved separately and sequentially.

Finally, the Council remains divided on the issue of its active involvement for a long-term solution of the Lebanese conflict as some members are willing to let the Secretary-General take initiatives.

Selected UN Documents on the Hariri Assassination

 Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1686 (15 June 2006) extended UNIIIC’s mandate by one year.
  • S/RES/1664 (29 March 2006) requested negotiation with Lebanon on a tribunal of an international character.
  • S/RES/1644 (15 December 2005) authorised expanded technical assistance to Lebanon and extended UNIIIC’s mandate until 15 June 2006.
  • S/RES/1636 (31 October 2005) urged Syria to cooperate with the investigation and established sanctions against suspects in the Hariri assassination.
  • S/RES/1595 (7 April 2005) established UNIIIC.
 Selected Reports
  • S/2006/760 (25 September 2006) was the last UNIIIC report.
  • S/2006/176 (21 March 2006) was the report of the Secretary-General on the establishment of an international tribunal.

Selected UN Documents on Resolution 1559

 Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1680 (17 May 2006) encouraged Syria to respond positively to the Lebanese request to delineate their common border and called for further efforts to disband and disarm Hezbollah and to restore fully Lebanon’s control over all Lebanese territory.
  • S/RES/1559 (2 September 2004) urged Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon and the disbanding of militias.
 Last Secretary-General’s Report

UN Documents on Resolution 1701

 Security Council Resolution
  • S/RES/1701 (11 August 2006) called for a cessation of hostilities, authorised a reinforcement of UNIFIL and extended the mandate until 31 August 2007.
 Secretary-General’s Reports
  • S/2006/730 (12 September 2006) was the report on implementation of resolution 1701.
  • S/2006/670 (18 August 2006) was the report on the implementation of the cessation of hostilities.

For more details please refer to our: 25 September Special Research Report on resolution 1701; September 2006 Forecast on Lebanon; August 2006 Forecast and Update Report of 20 July on Lebanon/Israel; June 2006 Forecast on UNIIIC; April 2006 Forecast on resolution 1559; and the December 2005 Forecast on the Golan Heights and UNDOF.
Other Relevant Facts

Other Relevant Facts

 Secretary-General’s Personal Representative to Lebanon
 Geir O. Pedersen (Norway)
 UNIFIL Force Commander
 Major-General Alain Pellegrini (France)
 UNIFIL Strategic Cell within the UN DPKO
 Director: Giovanni Ridino (Italy)
 Deputy Director: François Estrate (France)
 Size and Composition of Mission
  • (22 September 2006): 5,028 troops, assisted by some around fifty military observers of UNTSO
  • Troop contributing countries: Belgium, China, Italy, France, Ghana, India, Ireland, Norway, Poland and Spain. There are pledges from Germany, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Indonesia and Finland
 Cost (approved budget)
 1 July 2006 – 30 June 2007: $97.58 million (gross) This amount does not yet take into account the financial implications of the expansion of UNIFIL.

Useful Additional Resources

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