The Security Council agreed today that the special tribunal set up to try the suspected killers of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri will enter into force on 10 June unless Lebanon ratifies the tribunal itself before that date.
A resolution endorsing the tribunal’s formal establishment was adopted after 10 Council members voted in favour and no members voted against. Five countries – China, Russia, Indonesia, Qatar and South Africa – abstained.
The resolution was introduced after Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora sent a letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier this month asking for the Council to put the tribunal into effect as a matter of urgency.
Mr. Ban told Council members in a subsequent letter that he concurred with Mr. Siniora “that, regrettably, all domestic options for the ratification of the Special Tribunal now appear to be exhausted, although it would have been preferable had the Lebanese parties been able to resolve the issue among themselves based on a national consensus.”
The tribunal will be of “an international character” to deal with the assassination of Mr. Hariri, who was killed along with 22 others in a massive car bombing in downtown Beirut in February 2005.
Once it is formally established, it will be up to the tribunal to determine whether other political killings in Lebanon since October 2004 were connected to Mr. Hariri’s assassination and could therefore be dealt with by the tribunal.
In April 2005 the Security Council set up the International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) after an earlier UN mission found that Lebanon’s own inquiry into the Hariri assassination was seriously flawed and that Syria was primarily responsible for the political tensions that preceded the attack.
Serge Brammertz, the current head of the IIIC, told the Council last September that evidence obtained so far suggests that a young, male suicide bomber, probably non-Lebanese, detonated up to 1,800 kilograms of explosives inside a van to assassinate Mr. Hariri.