What's In Blue

Posted Tue 9 Jul 2013

Lebanon Presidential Statement

The Security Council is expected to adopt a presidential statement on Lebanon this week, possibly as early as tomorrow (10 July). The draft statement was discussed following a briefing in consultations by Special Coordinator Derek Plumbly and peacekeeping head Hervé Ladsous on the Secretary-General’s most recent report on the implementation of resolution 1701, which in 2006 called for a cessation of hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel (S/2013/381). At press time it looked like the discussion had gone smoothly and the draft presidential statement is expected to go under silence this evening. Separately, a draft press statement on the car bombing in Beirut today was also put under silence until 6 pm.

The draft presidential statement was circulated to Council members early this morning by France following discussions among P5 members which began last Wednesday. However, it seemed like P5 members had come to agreement on the potentially controversial issues in the draft text prior to circulating to the wider Council membership.

It seems the focus of the draft presidential statement is to express the Council’s heightened concern over the spillover effects of the Syrian crisis on the political and security situation in Lebanon and the humanitarian impact of the influx of Syrian refugees. While the Council most recently signaled concern about such spillover effects in a 14 March press statement (SC/10941), it has been more than five years since the Council adopted a presidential statement on Lebanon (S/PRST/2008/17 of 22 May 2008).

The draft also apparently references a marked increase of cross-border fire from Syria into Lebanon, arms trafficking across the border and the involvement of Lebanese parties in the fighting in Syria. It seems language used to reference the involvement of Lebanese parties in the Syrian conflict was one of the issues discussed among the P5 before wider circulation. The P3 seem to have preferred a more explicit reference to the impact of Hezbollah’s acknowledged military involvement in Syria on the escalating sectarian tension in Lebanon. However, Russia preferred a more opaque reference used in the circulated draft —Lebanese parties in Syria—as it also encapsulated credible reports of Lebanese Sunni elements fighting in Syria with anti-government armed opposition.

The draft statement also seems to echo the concern raised by President Michel Sleiman of Lebanon in an 18 June letter (S/2013/370) that cross-border fire from Syria, by both the Syrian government and armed opposition groups, violates Lebanon’s sovereignty. The call on all parties in Lebanon to recommit to the Baabda Declaration of 11 June 2012—the official Lebanese policy of disassociation from the Syrian crisis—seems to be one of the less controversial elements of the draft statement.

The draft also apparently urges the swift formation of Prime Minister designate Tammam Salam’s government, encourages a resumption of efforts toward parliamentary elections (recently postponed from June 2013 to November 2014), reiterates its support for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and encourages increased international support for the Lebanese Armed Forces—in particular towards strengthening its border control capacities.

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