Members of the Security Council today welcomed a report from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that showed he was making “substantial progress” in setting up an international tribunal to try those responsible for the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
After the 15-member body was briefed by Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Nicolas Michel, the Council President for March, Vitaly Churkin of the Russian Federation, read out a press statement saying that Mr. Ban’s efforts in establishing the court were “based on the highest international standards of criminal justice.”
Among the progress noted by the Council was the signing of a headquarters agreement with the Netherlands, the appointment of the Prosecutor as well as the Registrar of the Special Tribunal, and the establishment of a management committee.
The Council also welcomed the contributions and pledges received by the tribunal. In the report, the Secretary-General said that adequate start-up funds had been deposited into a trust fund made up of contributions of UN Member States.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Michel said that $60.3 million dollars had been received as of today, in both contributions and pledges.
In addition, Mr. Michel said he could not predict when the tribunal would actually begin trying cases, but he said that decision would be made by the Secretary-General based on funding, consultation with the Lebanese Government and progress in the related international investigation.
The International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) is charged with probing the murder of Mr. Hariri, who was killed along with 22 others in a massive car bombing in 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.
“In implementing the mandate entrusted to the Secretariat by the Security Council, the Secretariat has acted in keeping with the spirit that animated the early foundations of the Tribunal,” Mr. Michel stressed, recalling that the court had been requested by the President of Lebanon and endorsed by all parties in the so-called Lebanese Dialogue.