UNIFIL mandate extended with extra powers

The UN Security Council unanimously extended its peacekeeping mission on the Israel-Lebanon border on Wednesday, and gave the mission wider authority to address Hezbollah’s weapons build-up in the area.

By adopting resolution 2373, the Security Council extended UNIFIL for another year, called “for full implementation of resolution 1701 (2006)” and “commended the Force’s positive role for having helped to establish, together with the Lebanese Armed Forces, a new strategic environment in southern Lebanon”.

The resolution to renew the mandate also included changes to strengthen the mission, including granting UNIFIL the authority to “take all necessary actions” in areas where its forces are deployed and to ensure that its area of operations is “not utilised for hostile activities of any kind”.

UNIFIL is also asked to provide “prompt and detailed” reports on where and why its troops are stopped by Hezbollah, as has happened in the past.

The resolution was supported by the Israeli mission to the UN and the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, described the vote “as a victory for Israel” saying the resolution requires UNIFIL to “open its eyes, and forces it to act against Hezbollah’s terror build-up in the area”.

Haley had said the “status quo for UNIFIL was not acceptable,” and that changes to the UNIFIL’s mandate will ensure it “has the power and the will to do its job”.

During the Security Council session Matthew Rycroft, the UK’s Ambassador to the UN, expressed his delegation’s concern over violations of Resolution 1701 on both sides of the border.

He said that UNIFIL must be more “confident and assertive” in carrying out its mandate, adding that the resolution adopted today “provided UNIFIL with the mandate it needed to do its job properly”.

Italy, which is among the biggest contributors of troops to UNIFIL, said it was concerned about the changes but accepted them for the sake of the Council’s unity. Italian Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi said it was important not to blur lines between peacekeepers’ duties and those of Lebanese forces.

UNIFIL currently has 10,500 personnel and a US $489m budget. It has been deployed in southern Lebanon since 1978. Despite the peacekeeping force being significantly expanded after 2006, Hezbollah has maintained a strong presence in southern Lebanon.

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