December 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 November 2007
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Expected Council Action
At press time Council action on Lebanon was very hard to predict because of the failure of the Lebanese parties to elect a president to replace Emile Lahoud who left office on 24 November. A further complicating factor was the delay in holding consultations on resolution 1701. Political developments in Lebanon could lead to all these matters being taken up in December.

Regularly scheduled business on Lebanon in December is likely to include a public briefing, followed by consultations, on the latest report of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. This will be the last time Serge Brammertz, UNIIIC’s chief commissioner will report to the Council in this capacity as he has been appointed as prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Council is not expected to take any action.

In December the panel on the selection of judges for the special tribunal for Lebanon is also expected to propose to the Secretary-General four Lebanese judges and seven international judges to serve on the court.

Key Recent Developments

On 24 November Emile Lahoud left office as required. However, President of Parliament Nabih Berri cancelled an electoral session on 21 November to elect a successor. At press time it seemed that efforts to negotiate a compromise candidate would continue for at least a week. France has been playing a leading role in trying to broker a compromise. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also went to Beirut on 15 November and met the Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir, who reportedly has a list of candidates that may be acceptable to government and opposition leaders. He also met Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and Saad Hariri, leader of the 14 March majority movement, as well as Nabih Berri.

On 5 November, the Council was briefed by the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for implementation of resolution 1559, Terje Roed-Larsen. In a press statement, the president of the Council said that elections must occur in a free and fair manner conforming with the Lebanese constitution and without any foreign interference. He also stressed that the parties should resolve all political issues on the basis of reconciliation and dialogue.

In his 30 October report on resolution 1701, the Secretary-General indicated, in particular, that:

  • the Lebanese Armed Forces, in defeating the terrorists of Fatah al-Islam in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp had emerged as a “vehicle of stability and territorial defence”;
  • “All members in the region, in particular the Syrian Arab Republic and the Islamic Republic of Iran, have a key responsibility” regarding breaches of the arms embargo in Lebanon;
  • the first steps that the Lebanese government took to enhance its border management capacities were encouraging;
  • the UN Cartographer arrived at a provisional geographical definition of the Sheb’a Farms; and
  • he was concerned by the looming scenarios of two competing administrations in Lebanon or a constitutional vacuum if presidential elections failed to happen on time.

On 12 November, Daniel Bellemare, former Deputy Attorney General of Canada was appointed as UNIIIC commissioner and prosecutor of the special tribunal.

On 4 September, the Secretary-General submitted his report on progress made toward establishing the tribunal. He said the following:

  • the Netherlands had agreed to host the tribunal and a UN delegation was sent to The Hague to discuss modalities;
  • the Lebanese government forwarded to him a list of 12 judges proposed by the country’s Supreme Council of the Judiciary. The list will remain secret until the selection process of all judges starts;
  • the tribunal would require a staffing level of between 415 and 430 posts and a budget of $35 million for the first year, $45 million for the second year and $40 million for the third year of its activities; and
  • the UN Secretariat created a trust fund to receive voluntary contributions by member states to cover 51 percent of the costs of the tribunal.

At press time, because of the uncertainty as to how the political situation in Lebanon would evolve, it seemed likely that the Council would need to consider a range of options in December.

Regarding the UNIIIC report, an option is to adopt a press statement welcoming it and commending Serge Brammertz for his work as the head of the Commission.

Key Issues
At this point the main issue arising from UNIIIC is when the tribunal should start its activities. This largely depends on when the tribunal could become fully operational. A related issue is whether UNIIIC would continue its activities in parallel or wind up and transfer its activities to the prosecutor’s office. Discussions may begin in December but are unlikely to be resolved until the new year, bearing in mind that UNIIIC’s mandate continues until 15 June 2008.

Council Dynamics
There is a consensus in the Council on the desirability of the Lebanese parties reaching agreement on a presidential candidate. The US seems not to rule out, however, that while the president should be elected with the broadest support, if necessary, election by a simple majority should take place.

For dynamics within the Council on 1701 issues and the presidential elections in Lebanon generally, please see our 26 October Update Report on Lebanon and our November Forecast.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1757 (30 May 2007) established the tribunal under Chapter VII and requested a report within ninety days.
  • S/RES/1748 (27 March 2007) extended the mandate of UNIIIC until 15 June 2008.
  • S/RES/1701 (11 August 2006) called for a cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah and authorised a reinforcement of UNIFIL.
  • S/RES/1595 (7 April 2005) established UNIIIC.
  • S/RES/1559 (2 September 2004) called upon all foreign forces to withdraw from Lebanon, for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias, supported the extension of the control of the Lebanese government over all Lebanese territory and declared its support for a free and fair electoral process in Lebanon in accordance with Lebanese constitutional rules and without foreign interference.

Selected Presidential Statements

  • S/PRST/2007/29 (3 August 2007) was the statement welcoming the latest 1701 report and the recommendations of the Lebanon Independent Border Assessment Team (LIBAT) report.

Selected Reports

Selected Letters

  • S/2007/669 (12 November 2007) and S/2007/670 (14 November 2007) was an exchange of letters between the Secretary-General and the Council on the appointment of Bellemare as the next UNIIIC commissioner and as the tribunal’s prosecutor.
  • S/2007/662 (9 November 2007) was a letter from Iran rejecting allegations contained in the latest 1701 report concerning the transfer of weaponry to Lebanon.
  • S/2007/655 (5 November 2007) was a letter from Lebanon on Israeli violations of Lebanon’s territorial integrity in October.
  • S/2007/646 (2 November 2007) was a letter from Iran rejecting allegations contained in the latest 1559 report that it provided the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command with military and training support in Lebanon.


Other Relevant Facts

UNIIIC Chief Commissioner

Serge Brammertz (Belgium) until 31 December 2007, to be replaced by Daniel Bellemare (Canada)

Composition of the Judges Selection Panel for the Special Tribunal

  • Judge Mohamed Amin el-Mahdi (Egypt)
  • Judge Erik Mose (Norway)
  • UN Under Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Nicholas Michel (Switzerland)

Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for implementation of resolution 1559

Terje Roed-Larsen (Norway)


Useful Additional Sources
5 November oral statement by the President of the Council.

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