Italy’s premier says Lebanon experience shows potential of UN when States lend support

20 September 2006

The recent decision to strengthen the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in response to the conflict there demonstrated how the world body can respond to crises when it has the full support of all concerned, the Prime Minister of Italy told the General Assembly today

The recent decision to strengthen the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in response to the conflict there demonstrated how the world body can respond to crises when it has the full support of all concerned, the Prime Minister of Italy told the General Assembly today.

The expansion of UNIFL demonstrates “that if the stakeholders are willing to confer upon the UN a strong, central role, the Organization is well able to fulfil it,” Romano Prodi told the annual general debate.

While cautioning that the international response to the recent war in Lebanon has just begun, he was upbeat in his assessment of its significance. “We must be pleased with how the United Nations, its member States, and – allow me to add – the European Union have addressed a situation that only two months ago risked getting out of hand and that today presents a series of opportunities for the Middle East as a whole.”

He said the new mission represents the entire international community, calling it “a tangible expression of the very global partnership that we are discussing today.” With Europe providing the backbone of UNIFIL, “it cannot carry out its mission effectively without the contributions of China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Russia, Turkey, and the many other non-European countries participating,” he added.

For the UN to continue its work in Lebanon and, more broadly, to fulfil the goals set out in its Charter, he said it would be necessary to quickly complete the reform of the Organization. And, he added, the UN must have “the strong and unconditional support of its members.”

Karel De Gucht, Belgium’s Foreign Minister, said that during the recent crisis in Lebanon, his country and its European partners “have clearly demonstrated their willingness to act.” Belgium was providing financial support for the Lebanese Government’s reconstruction projects and was participating in the strengthened UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

“The implementation of resolution 1701 shows that the European Union is becoming more actively involved in the quest for a lasting peace in the Middle East,” he said.

Asserting that “this lasting peace will be predicated on a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he called for measures to open the way for a resumption of dialogue, an end to hostilities, security guarantees for both parties, the liberation of the abducted Israeli soldier, the release of the political leaders arrested during the crisis, humanitarian access and the re-establishment of basic services.

 

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