February 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 January 2009
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MIDDLE EAST

Lebanon

Expected Council Action
Lebanon will be on Council members’ minds in February because the mandate of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC), considering the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, is due to expire. However, the Council is expected to let it lapse. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is scheduled to commence functioning on 1 March.

Key Facts
UNIIIC was established by resolution 1595 in 2005 to assist the Lebanese authorities in their investigation of the Hariri assassination on 14 February 2005. In December 2005, the Council expanded UNIIIC’s mandate to include assistance to the Lebanese authorities investigating other terrorist attacks and political assassinations that took place in Lebanon between 1 October 2004 and 12 December 2005.

The Lebanese government subsequently requested that UNIIIC extend assistance to investigation of new attacks. As a result, UNIIIC has been involved in the investigation of twenty other attacks.

The Special Tribunal was established in 2007 by resolution 1757. Its mandate is to continue to investigate and then prosecute perpetrators of the Hariri assassination. It also has jurisdiction over all other attacks where UNIIIC is assisting in the investigation if it is found that they are connected to the Hariri murder and are of similar nature and gravity. The latest UNIIIC reports indicate that some involved in the Hariri murder were associated with other attacks.

Resolution 1757 noted that the Special Tribunal shall commence functioning on a date to be determined by the Secretary-General in consultation with the Lebanese government, taking into account the progress the investigation.

Key Recent Developments
In his latest report on the Tribunal on 26 November, the Secretary-General said the Tribunal was on track to begin functioning on 1 March. From that date investigations would be led by the Office of the Prosecutor in The Hague. He also indicated that UNIIIC would not need to be prolonged beyond that date. On 18 December the Secretary-General confirmed in a letter to the Council that the Special Tribunal would commence functioning on 1 March.

On 2 December, the Council received Commissioner Daniel Bellemare’s request for an extension of UNIIIC’s mandate to 28 February, so investigations could continue without interruption and operations, staff and assets could gradually be transferred to The Hague.

Bellemare briefed the Council on 17 December. The same day the Council adopted resolution 1852 extending UNIIIC’s mandate until 28 February.

Overall, the situation in Lebanon has been calm in the last two months. However, on 8 January, the firing of three rockets from southern Lebanon into Israel raised fears that this might trigger a wider conflict given the ongoing war between Hamas and Israel in Gaza. The UN Secretary-General condemned this incident and reminded Israel and Hezbollah of their obligations to respect the 2006 ceasefire. Additional troops from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon and Lebanese forces were deployed in the south and patrols intensified to deter further incidents.

Options
A press statement acknowledging the end of UNIIIC’s mandate is a possible option.

Key Issues
The end of UNIIIC means that the investigation will no longer be covered by the provisions of resolution 1636, a key provision of which was a call for states’ cooperation with the investigation. Resolution 1757 and the Tribunal’s statute do not specify whether states other than Lebanon have an obligation to cooperate with the Tribunal.

A related issue is the question of sanctions under resolution 1636. Individual sanctions against suspects can only be designated following decisions by UNIIIC or the Lebanese government. It is unclear whether this issue will be problematic.

Council Dynamics
There is consensus at this stage that UNIIIC’s mandate should be allowed to lapse. At press time there was no urgency for discussing issues relating to the provisions of resolution 1636.

UN Documents

Resolutions on UNIIIC and the Tribunal

  • S/RES/1852 (17 December 2008) extended UNIIIC’s mandate until 28 February.
  • S/RES/1815 (2 June 2008) extended UNIIIC’s mandate until 21 December 2008.
  • S/RES/1757 (30 May 2007) established the Tribunal under Chapter VII.
  • S/RES/1748 (27 March 2007) extended UNIIIC’s mandate until 15 June 2008.
  • S/RES/1686 (15 June 2006) extended UNIIIC’s mandate by one year.
  • S/RES/1664 (29 March 2006) requested the Secretary-General to negotiate an agreement with the Lebanon to establish a tribunal of international character.
  • S/RES/1644 (15 December 2005) extended UNIIIC’s mandate by six months and expanded its mandate.
  • S/RES/1636 (31 October 2005) urged Syria to cooperate with the investigation and established sanctions against suspects in the assassination.
  • S/RES/1595 (7 April 2005) established UNIIIC.

Recent UNIIIC Reports

Secretary-General’s Reports on the Tribunal

  • S/2008/734 (26 November 2008)
  • S/2008/173 (12 March 2008)
  • S/2007/525 (4 September 2007)
  • S/2006/176 (21 March 2006) identified the international assistance needed to try those eventually charged with the Hariri assassination before a tribunal of international character.

Letters from Lebanon and the Secretary-General requesting UNIIIC’s Technical Assistance for Other Cases

  • S/2008/60 (31 January 2008) was on the murder of Major Wissam Eid.
  • S/2007/735 (12 December 2007) was on the murder of General François el-Hajj.
  • S/2007/556 (20 September 2007) was on the murder of parliamentarian Antoine Ghanem and others.
  • S/2007/356 (14 June 2007) was on the murder of parliamentarian Walid Eido.
  • S/2007/90 (13 February 2007) and S/2007/91 (15 February 2007) was an exchange of letters on the Ain Aaleq bombings.
  • S/2006/914 (22 November 2006) was on the murder of Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel.
  • S/2005/783 (13 December 2005) was a letter from Lebanon requesting the expansion of UNIIIC’s mandate to include investigation of attacks in Lebanon from 1 October 2004.

Other Recent Letters

  • S/2009/27 (8 January 2009) was a letter from Israel complaining about the firing of three Katusha rockets from Lebanon to Israel.
  • S/2008/824 (18 December 2008) and S/2008/825 (29 December 2008) was an exchange of letters between the Secretary-General and the Council regarding the Secretary-General’s decision to commence the Tribunal on 1 March 2009.

Other Relevant Facts

UNIIIC Commissioners

  • Daniel Bellemare (Canada) 1 January 2008-present
  • Serge Brammertz (Belgium) 11 January 2006-31 December 2007
  • Detlev Mehlis (Germany) 13 May 2005-11 January 2006

Special Tribunal Prosecutor

Daniel Bellemare (Canada)

Tribunal’s Registrar

Robin Vincent (UK)

Tribunal Location

The Hague, Netherlands

Tribunal Cost

  • Amount available in the trust fund for the first year of operations: $51.2 million
  • Amount pledged for the second year: $2.3 million
  • Amount pledged for the third year: $2.3 million

Useful Additional Sources

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