Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for greater efforts to implement provisions of a 2004 United Nations resolution aimed at strengthening Lebanon’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence, citing a lack of progress in recent months.
“To my deep regret, owing to the political crisis and institutional paralysis in Lebanon, there has been no progress towards the implementation of the remaining provisions of resolution 1559 (2004),” Mr. Ban writes in his latest report to the Security Council.
He notes that the delineation of the Syrian-Lebanese border has not yet taken place. “More importantly, the existence and activities of Lebanese and non-Lebanese militia continue to pose a threat to the stability of the country and the region,” he states.
Political tensions increased “markedly” since last October, fuelled by speculation over the proceedings of the UN-backed tribunal set up to try suspects in the 2005 murder of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. The collapse of the national unity government led by Mr. Hariri’s son, Saad, in January only heightened those tensions.
“In addition, the widespread proliferation of weapons outside of the State’s control, combined with the continued existence of heavily armed militias, are ominous for domestic peace and the prosperity of Lebanon,” states Mr. Ban.
The country’s political leaders must focus on strengthening Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence as well as its institutions, he says, a process that must ultimately result in the complete disarmament of all militias.
The issue of Hizbollah’s weapons was again thrust into the spotlight with the collapse of the government in January, the Secretary-General notes. The group’s arsenal creates “an atmosphere of intimidation and poses a key challenge to the safety of Lebanese civilians and to the Government’s monopoly on the use of force.”
He calls on Hizbollah’s leaders to quickly complete the group’s transformation into a solely Lebanese political party and to disarm.
Mr. Ban also calls for a reconvening of the National Dialogue, a process which is chaired by President Michel Sleiman and brings together the country’s main political leaders. Lebanese leaders must also make progress towards adopting a national defence strategy that will address the issue of armed groups outside the State’s control and lead to their disarmament.
“The absence of a functioning government in Lebanon for several months has created a power and security vacuum of which extremist and armed groups could take advantage, in an already fragile and polarized situation,” Mr. Ban warns.
He calls on the Government that will be formed to commit to the implementation of resolution 1559 and to take tangible measures towards this end.
The subject of Lebanon also came up during a meeting today at UN Headquarters between Mr. Ban and German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere, with the Secretary-General stressing the value of German support to UN peace operations there.
They also had extensive discussions on Afghanistan, as well as on the situation in Somalia and the UN’s partnership with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).