Saturday, October 24, 2020

UN DAY MESSAGE BY UN SPECIAL COORDINATOR FOR LEBANON AND DEPUTY SPECIAL COORDINATOR/RESIDENT AND HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR


23 Oct
2020

UN DAY MESSAGE BY UN SPECIAL COORDINATOR FOR LEBANON AND DEPUTY SPECIAL COORDINATOR/RESIDENT AND HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR

UN Day Message

UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Mr. Ján Kubiš

UN Deputy Special Coordinator/Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon Ms. Najat Rochdi

 

October 24 -the UN Day- this year marks the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, and 75 years of steadfast partnership between the UN and Lebanon, a founding member.

This anniversary comes at a difficult time for people around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has reversed hard-fought gains in global social and economic development. Fewer children are able to go to school. People have become poorer, and more afraid. It is a time that reminds us of the absolute value of human dignity and of global solidarity.  As in 1945, it is a time that vindicates the need for more and better global cooperation, leadership and responsibility.

The UN and Lebanon are inseparable.  Lebanon and eminent Lebanese contributed to the UN since its inception.  Many Lebanese personalities served in top and other responsible positions with honor and dignity. They contribute to the pursuit of UN objectives both in the UN Headquarters in New York and elsewhere dealing with important files and negotiations, and in numerous UN political and peacekeeping missions and operations all around the world.  Many Lebanese served and continue to do so in UN agencies, funds, and programs with dedication and professionalism.  Many times, in their common history the UN came to help Lebanon to safeguard and strengthen its security and stability, with UNIFIL at the forefront. The UN has helped Lebanon to cope with many humanitarian challenges including those concerning Palestinian and now Syrian refugees. The UN works with Lebanon on sustainable green development, human rights, gender equality or good governance agendas, including fight against corruption or technical assistance on elections. The UN supports the authorities and communities to help them deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Lebanon, 2020 has been a year of deepening hardship and mounting frustration.  The severe economic crisis which sparked widespread popular protests has been compounded by the deepening COVID-19 crisis. The tragic blast of 4 August that caused the death of 193 people, injured many thousands and damaged scores of households, businesses and heritage sites, has once again amplified grave concerns of total lack of accountability for the lamentable situation of Lebanon and management of its public affairs.

The hardest hit by this multi-faceted crisis are the people: Those rapidly growing in numbers who have their stories of shock, neglect, deprivation and loss of livelihoods, perspective and dignity; those who saw lives of their dearest, their homes and futures blown away; those who lost hope and find themselves unable to start again. It is these people who are at the forefront of the UN efforts to end need and put Lebanon back on the path to sustainable development.

This is a critical time for the people of Lebanon and their leaders. A defining moment. And perhaps more urgently than elsewhere, in Lebanon the messages of solidarity and responsible leadership must be taken to heart. Strong political will and firm leadership to pursue a reform agenda are also needed for Lebanon's early recovery, to pave the way for longer-term development, while the people must always be at the center of bringing back and building a better Lebanon.

In the period to come, the UN will continue standing closely with Lebanon and its people, will continue to encourage and facilitate the decisions that are necessary to fulfill their legitimate aspirations for the future.

For many in this region, Lebanon has traditionally shined as a beacon of democracy, pluralism, tolerant coexistence, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, of the media. These longstanding Lebanese traditions based on UN norms and rights have increasingly come under strain. Abuses and violations have been regularly happening, with many challenges ahead. Such regress, such encroachment on rights and liberties are unacceptable.

The people of Lebanon assisted by the international community must remain committed and determined to fight for their rights, for their democratic heritage to be renewed and endured.  Leaders must seek and enact measures to protect and promote its unique model of coexistence and unity in diversity needed to restore people's trust and confidence, to rekindle their hope in stability and renewed prosperity in Lebanon.

The way out of the current crisis is well known: rapid meaningful structural reforms in political, economic, and social areas, good governance with full transparency, accountability and independent judiciary as effective instruments in the fight against corruption and a move towards a truly inclusive civil society devoid of sectarian patronage, where the opportunities, protection, and rights are equal for all, including women and youth.  The voices of Lebanon's women and youth must be heard. Their presence, needs and aspirations must figure at the forefront of a new social contract that will help to create a better Lebanon, where all citizens can enjoy equal rights and opportunities in public and private domains.

For 75 years, Lebanon has supported the UN and the UN has stood with Lebanon. In these difficult times, the UN remains resolute in its commitment to this cherished, unique country and its brave, industrious, resilient people to help them rebuild their country, lives and livelihoods for a better, dignified tomorrow.


Thursday, October 15, 2020

Note to Correspondents: Joint Statement on the Launch of the Israel-Lebanon Maritime Talks  

14 October 2020
The text of the following statement was released by the Government of the United States and the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon    
Representatives from the governments of Israel, Lebanon, and the United States met on October 14 to launch discussions aimed at reaching consensus on a common Israel-Lebanon maritime boundary.  The negotiations were mediated and facilitated by the U.S. team, led by Assistant Secretary David Schenker and Ambassador John Desrocher, and hosted by UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis.  The Israeli delegation was headed by Udi Adiri, Director General of the Ministry of Energy.  The Lebanese delegation was headed by Brigadier General Bassam Yassine, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Lebanese Armed Forces.    
During this initial meeting, the representatives held productive talks and reaffirmed their commitment to continue negotiations later this month.


Saturday, October 03, 2020

SECRETARY-GENERALSTATEMENTS AND MESSAGES

SG/SM/20303
1 OCTOBER 2020
Secretary-General Welcomes Agreement to Start Talks on Delineation of Land, Maritime Borders Between Israel, Lebanon
The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres:
The Secretary-General welcomes the announcements of an agreement to launch talks on the delineation of land and maritime boundaries between Lebanon and Israel, to be hosted by the United Nations at the premises of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in Naqoura.
The Secretary-General acknowledges the sustained diplomatic efforts of the United States to facilitate this agreement.
The United Nations, through its representatives, will remain fully committed to supporting the process as requested by the parties and within its capacity and mandate.

UNIFIL STATEMENT ON THE PROGRESS ON MARITIME NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN LEBANON AND ISRAEL

1 Oct2020

UNIFIL STATEMENT ON THE PROGRESS ON MARITIME NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN LEBANON AND ISRAEL

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) welcomes today's announcement of a framework agreement to launch negotiations between Lebanon and Israel on maritime and land boundary demarcation between the two countries.

UNIFIL stands ready to extend to the parties all the support at its disposal and facilitate efforts towards a resolution of this upcoming negotiations and move forward with Blue Line marking.

Under Security Council resolution 1701, UNIFIL is supporting any agreement between the two countries aimed at reinforcing confidence in getting the parties to re-commit to the sanctity of the Blue Line and the broader border demarcation process.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Joint Statement of International Support Group for Lebanon

SG/2254
23 SEPTEMBER 2020
A ministerial meeting of the members of the International Support Group (ISG) for Lebanon co-chaired by the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, was held on 23 September.  Statements opening the virtual meeting were made by the Secretary-General and Foreign Minister Le Drian.

Following the opening statements, Hassan Diab, Caretaker Prime Minister and President of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Lebanon, delivered remarks.  Interventions were made by Luigi Di Maio, Foreign Minister of Italy; Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary General of the League of Arab States; Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission; the Right Honourable James Cleverly, Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, of the United Kingdom; Niels Annen, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, of the Federal Republic of Germany; David Hale, Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs of the United States of America; Ambassador Zhang Jun, Permanent Representative, People's Republic of China; Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation.  A presentation was also made by Axel Van Trotsenburg, Managing Director of Operations of the World Bank.

Participants thanked the United Nations Secretary-General and France for convening the meeting and reiterated their condolences to the victims and families of the August explosions in Beirut.  They also paid tribute to the resilience of the Lebanese people, the assistance provided by civil society to those in need and all those volunteers from Lebanon and abroad who supported the emergency response.  They expressed their full solidarity with Lebanon and the Lebanese people.

Members of the ISG commended the international community for its swift and immediate response with both financial and logistic support to Lebanon and to the Lebanese people in the aftermath of the 4 August explosions and welcomed the commitments made at the international high-level conference in support of Beirut and the Lebanese people co-chaired by the United Nations and France on 9 August and subsequent commitments through the 14 August UN Emergency Appeal.  The pledged support should be timely, sufficient, consistent with the needs of the Lebanese people and delivered with utmost efficiency and transparency to address emergency relief assistance and early recovery activities.

Members of the ISG also underscored the importance of close and efficient coordination between the United Nations, Governments, donors, humanitarian and development actors and Lebanese state institutions, including the Lebanese Armed Forces in light of their specific role in this response.  Members of the ISG welcomed the joint European Union-United Nations and World Bank assessments as a basis for donor engagement and called upon the international community to swiftly scale up its support to Beirut and the Lebanese people in that context.  Members of the ISG look forward to a follow-up conference in October in Paris, which will be able to take stock of what has been done so far and to assess the most efficient and transparent way forward to promote early recovery (activities aiming at restoring public infrastructure, rehabilitating housing and stabilizing the situation of affected families, as well as support to health and education sectors affected by the explosion).

Members of the ISG urged Lebanon's leaders to unite in support of the timely formation of a Government able to meet the legitimate aspirations expressed by the Lebanese people and committed to addressing Lebanon's multiple and acute challenges, notably its humanitarian, socioeconomic and financial crises, the COVID-19 pandemic, the reconstruction of Beirut and the restoration of Beirut's heritage and historical buildings.  Members of the ISG  took due note of the approval by the Government of Lebanon of a Financial Recovery Plan, as well as of the Government's decision to request an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, and reiterated, on the basis of the implementation of necessary reforms, its continued commitment to support Lebanon.

Members of the ISG strongly urged Lebanese political leaders to undertake critical reforms and welcomed the agreement reached earlier this month by all of Lebanon's political leaders on a comprehensive road map of reforms with an implementation timetable in line with their prior commitments, including those made in the context of the CEDRE conference, and which enjoy the support of the ISG and other members of the international community.

Members of the ISG reiterated the need for those reforms to address the challenges of Lebanon and respond to the aspirations peacefully expressed by the Lebanese people.

Recalling the ISG statement of 11 December 2019, and recent statements of 30 August 2020 and 19 September 2020, members of the ISG urged Lebanon to speedily implement measures to restore economic stability, improve delivery of public services and the credibility of the financial sector, resume effective talks with the IMF and prioritize key governance measures, including credible regulation of key economic sectors, such as the electricity sector, and provide support for the most vulnerable communities in Lebanon, including through social safety nets.

Members of the ISG also urged the Government and political leaders to undertake credible measures to fight corruption and combat tax evasion, to adopt a capital control law, and other measures that ensure concrete changes are made and guarantee both transparency and full accountability to the Lebanese people.  Members of the ISG confirmed their willingness to support Lebanon in undertaking these measures.  They looked forward to the ISG meeting along with other regional and international leaders, which France intends to convene in Paris in October on the reform agenda, in support of Lebanon.

The ISG called on all actors to maintain the peaceful character of the protests, by avoiding violence and respecting the right to peaceful assembly and protest.

Members of the ISG stressed the importance of Lebanon's continued, steadfast commitment to relevant UN Security Council resolutions, including 1559 (2004), 1701 (2006), 1680 (2006), and 2433 (2018), 2485 (2019) and 2539 (2020), the Taif Accords (1989), the Baabda Declaration on the policy of disassociation (2012) and other relevant international obligations, for the country's domestic stability and that of the region.

Members of the ISG reaffirmed their continuous strong support for Lebanon and its people, for its stability, security, territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence.

Note to Editors:

The International Support Group has brought together the United Nations and the Governments of China, France, Germany, Italy, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States, together with the European Union and the Arab League.  It was launched in September 2013 by the UN Secretary-General with former President Michel Sleiman to help mobilize support and assistance for Lebanon's stability, sovereignty and State institutions and to specifically encourage assistance for the Lebanese Army, Syrian refugees in Lebanon and host communities and Government programmes and public services impacted by the Syrian crisis.

Put People Before Politics, Secretary-General Urges Lebanon’s Leaders, Citing ‘Perfect Storm’ Facing Country, at High-Level Event

SG/SM/20273
23 SEPTEMBER 2020
Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres' remarks at the high‑level event of the International Support Group for Lebanon, held today:
Thank you for coming together to reaffirm your support for Lebanon, its people and its stability.
Our hearts are heavy for those who perished or were injured as a result of the devastating 4 August explosions.  Sadly, Lebanon faces a perfect storm — a protracted financial and socioeconomic crisis with an unprecedented rise in unemployment and poverty, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The disastrous explosions last month exacerbated these challenges.  This latest tragedy must be a wake-up call.  Eleven months after so many took to the streets calling for change, we hope for tangible steps to implement economic, social and political reforms.
The designation of Mr. [Mustapha] Adib as Prime Minister is a step in the right direction.  This should be followed by the swift formation of a Government able to meet the legitimate aspirations and needs expressed by the Lebanese people and to quickly deliver on key reforms and fundamental changes.  Without such action, the country's ability to recover and rebuild will be jeopardized, adding to the turmoil and hardship for the Lebanese people.
Now is the time for transformation in a variety of sectors, including financial, banking and energy, as well as customs, public procurement and State‑owned enterprises.  Social reforms, including social protection, are also needed to ensure the well-being of all Lebanese, particularly the most vulnerable.
Ultimately, reforms are not a goal in itself.  They should respond to the legitimate demands of the Lebanese people for greater welfare, accountability, transparency and the capacity to tackle corruption.  That is essential to regain the trust of the Lebanese citizens.  I salute civil society organizations, women's rights activists and social movements as they work to respond to the needs of the population.
Since the explosion, the United Nations has led an urgent humanitarian response while looking at long-term measures that will put Lebanon back on a path to stability and sustainable development.  I welcome your support and cooperation.  The United Nations and our partners are undertaking a three-pronged approach:  one, relief assistance; two, early recovery; and three, reform, recovery and reconstruction.
Scaling up international assistance is central to a people-centred crisis response.  Close coordination is also critical with the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Lebanon, along with Governments, donors and humanitarian and development actors and the Lebanese Armed Forces in light of their leading role in distributing relief efforts.
Let us also remember that apart from Palestine refugees, Lebanon has also generously hosted close to 1 million Syrian refugees.  I welcome France's initiative to host a second donor conference in October.
I want to reiterate my solidarity with the Lebanese people in these difficult times and my hope that Lebanese political leaders will rise to the occasion.  This is the time to prioritize national interest and put people before politics.  This is the time to work together to build a better future for Lebanon.  With your support — and the commitment of the Lebanese Government — we can all do our part for the Lebanese people.  Thank you.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Secretary-General Takes Note of Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s Verdict in relation to Former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s Assassination

SG/SM/20209
18 AUGUST 2020
The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres:

The Secretary-General takes note of today's delivery by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) of the judgement in which Salim Jamil Ayyash was convicted in relation to the 14 February 2005 attack in Beirut that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 21 others and injured 226 more.  In the same judgement, the three other accused — Hassan Habib Merhi, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra — were found not guilty.

The Secretary-General's thoughts are with the victims of the 14 February attack, and their families.  The judgement in the case is a reflection of the international community's commitment to justice for the terrible crimes committed on that day.

The Secretary-General expresses his deep appreciation for the dedication and hard work of the judges and staff involved in this case throughout the years.  The Secretary-General notes the independence and impartiality of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and calls upon all to respect the decision of the Tribunal.

The Secretary‑General also calls on the international community to continue to support the independent judicial proceedings that remain before the STL.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is an independent court of law established at the request of the Government of Lebanon, with a clear mandate from the United Nations Security Council.