UN takes steps for establishment of Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has begun the steps and measures to formally establish a special tribunal to try the suspected killers of the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri, after Lebanon missed a deadline to ratify the tribunal itself.
In a resolution of 30 May 2007 the Security Council said the agreement setting up the tribunal would take effect after 10 June if the Lebanese Government had not notified the UN by then that it had taken the legal requirements for entry into force.
“In establishing the Tribunal, the Secretary-General will work in coordination with the Government of Lebanon wherever appropriate,” his spokesperson said in a statement.
The Council resolution was introduced after Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora sent a letter to Mr. Ban last month asking for the 15-member body to put the tribunal into effect as a matter of urgency because all domestic options for ratification had been exhausted.
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 on 14 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.
“The Secretary-General believes that the establishment of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will make an important contribution toward ending impunity for the crimes falling within its jurisdiction,” the spokesperson's statement added.
A senior UN official told reporters today that it is likely to take at least a year for the tribunal to begin operations as funds have to be generated, a seat for the court must be found, judges and other officials appointed and security arrangements for staff, victims and witnesses determined.
According to the applicable rules, the Tribunal will not be established until there are sufficient financial contributions to create the court and run it for a year and enough pledges to meet the expected expenses of another two years.
The senior UN official said about $30 million could be needed to finance the court's first year, but that amount may change depending on whether the Tribunal is housed in existing buildings, a renovated complex or an entirely new structure. The Tribunal will be based outside Lebanon at a venue to be determined.
Also today, a spokesperson for Mr. Ban said in a statement that the Secretary-General has extended the appointment of Serge Brammertz, the head of the International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC), through 31 December this year.
In April 2005 the Security Council set up the 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.
Mr. Brammertz 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.
Mr. Ban's spokesperson thanked Mr. Brammertz “for his leadership in advancing the investigation and for his commitment to providing continuity in the Commission's work.”