With the UN Security Council set to discuss the renewal of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the Secretary General has called for all Lebanese non state actors to disarm.
At the end of this month the UN Security Council is due to vote on renewing the mandate of the UNIFIL. Ahead of the vote, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres circulated a letter to the Council emphasising his intention look at ways UNIFIL could “enhance efforts regarding the illegal presence of armed personnel, weapons or infrastructure inside its area of operations”.
The Secretary-General had criticisms of both parties, saying that despite “long period of relative calm and stability in southern Lebanon and along the Blue Line” neither Israel nor Lebanon have fulfilled their obligations under the Security Council resolution that ended the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
Mr. Guterres referenced Hezbollah, stating that “The government of Lebanon must exercise effective authority over all Lebanese territory, prevent hostile actions from its territory, ensure the safety and security of the civilian population, in addition to United Nations personnel, and also ensure the disarmament of all armed groups”.
The Secretary-General reiterated that ensuring that there are no weapons or “authority” in the south except the Lebanese government and army is vital “in moving from the fragile cessation of hostilities to a permanent cease-fire.”
Responding to the letter, US Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley said that the US will seek “significant improvements” to its mandate.
Haley reiterated that the US shares the Secretary-General’s desire to enhance UNIFIL’s efforts to “prevent the spread of illegal arms in southern Lebanon” and stated that “UNIFIL must increase its capacity and commitment to investigating and reporting these violations.”
Israel has complained numerous times that Hezbollah continues to operate freely in Lebanon despite the presence of UNIFIL.
The Secretary-General is expected to discuss UNIFIL’s mission when he visits Israel and the Palestinaian Authority later this month.
UNIFIL was established in 1978 and was augmented according to UN resolution 1701 followinga the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
There are currently 10,500 troops operating under the UNIFIL mandate in Southern Lebanon.