Unresolved issues adding to tensions in Lebanon and wider region – UN envoy

Unresolved issues adding to tensions in Lebanon and wider region – UN envoy

United Nations Special Envoy Terje Roed-Larsen speaks to reporters
Recent tensions in Lebanon and the region highlight the need to tackle unresolved issues related to the country’s sovereignty and stability, such as the presence of armed militias, a senior United Nations envoy said today.

“As long as these unresolved issues are there, there will always be tensions,” Terje Roed-Larsen, Special Envoy for the Implementation of Security Council resolution 1559, told reporters at UN Headquarters following a closed-door meeting with the 15-member body.

Resolution 1559 was adopted by the Council six years ago amid concern about high tensions within Lebanon. It calls for free and fair elections, an end to foreign interference and the disbanding of all militias.

Among the unresolved issues is the “heavily armed militias” operating inside and outside Lebanon, said Mr. Roed-Larsen, who presented Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on resolution 1559 to the Council.

In his report, Mr. Ban warned that the presence of armed militias continues to pose a threat to the country and the region, despite major strides in strengthening Lebanon’s sovereignty such as the holding of free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections, the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, and the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the Middle East neighbours.

The report also noted that while political life in Lebanon has been generally stable over the past six months, there have been some public exchanges of criticism between Lebanese leaders.

“This has generated tension and worsened the political climate, in the wider context of an escalation of rhetoric at the regional level,” wrote Mr. Ban.

Mr. Roed-Larsen said that lately these tensions have risen to a new high, but they are now at “a more normal and low ebb” in Lebanon and in the region.

“The Secretary-General has personally spoken to the key leaders and asked them to lower their rhetoric and act responsibly, and I think his calls have been heeded. This is one of the reasons why the rhetoric is now more… softer and more reconciliatory.”