Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Secretary-General Appoints Najat Rochdi of Morocco Deputy Special Coordinator, Resident Coordinator for Lebanon

SG/A/1964*
19 JUNE 2020
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today announced the appointment of Najat Rochdi of Morocco as his Deputy Special Coordinator for Lebanon, in the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon and Resident Coordinator.  Ms. Rochdi will also serve as Humanitarian Coordinator.

Ms. Rochdi succeeds Philippe Lazzarini of Switzerland, who completed his assignment on 31 March.  The Secretary-General is grateful for his accomplishments and wishes him continued success in his new appointment as Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Ms. Rochdi brings over 20 years of experience in development and humanitarian assistance and international coordination in conflict and post‑conflict areas, including through her latest assignment as Senior Adviser to the Special Envoy for Syria and Director of Peer to Peer with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Geneva.

Prior to this, Ms. Rochdi served as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).  Earlier, she served as Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Cameroon and Deputy Director of the Representative Office of the United Nations Development Programme in Geneva.

Ms. Rochdi holds a doctorate in information systems from the National Institute of Statistics and of Applied Economics in Rabat, and a master's degree in mathematics and fundamental applications from the University of Paris Sud 11.  She is fluent in Arabic, English and French.

Born in Morocco in 1961, she has four children.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

UN Security Council Press Elements on Lebanon (Res. 1559), May 13, 2020

USG Rosemary Di Carlo briefed the Security Council on the situation in Lebanon and presented the last report of the Secretary General during the regular consultations on the implementation of resolution 1559 (2004).

The Members of the Security Council reaffirmed their strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon, in accordance with relevant UNSC resolutions, and that the preservation of Lebanon's stability is essential to regional stability and security.

The Members of the Security Council underscored their previous calls on all Lebanese parties to recommit to Lebanon's policy of dissociation and to cease any involvement in any external conflict, consistent with their commitment in the Baabda declaration.

They recalled the importance of fully implementing UNSCR 1559, which require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon so that there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than those of the Lebanese State, and they recalled that the violations of the Lebanese sovereignty, by air and land, should immediately stop.

They also recalled that the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) are the only legitimate armed forces of Lebanon, as enshrined in the Lebanese constitution and in the Taif Agreement and encouraged the international community to continue its support to the LAF's capabilities.

The Members of the Security Council discussed the urgent need for the Lebanese authorities to respond to the aspirations of the Lebanese people by implementing meaningful economic reforms, and notably the commitments made in the framework of the CEDRE conference as well as at the International Support Group for Lebanon meeting held in Paris on the 11th of December. On the basis of those necessary reforms, the Members of the Security Council expressed support to Lebanon to help it exit the current crisis and to address the economic, security, humanitarian challenges , as well as the impact of COVID-19 facing the country, and called the international community, including international organizations, to do so. The Members of the Security Council took due note of the approval by the Government of Lebanon of an economic plan as well as of the commencement of negotiations between Lebanon and the IMF.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Statement of the International Support Group

Statement of the International Support Group
Beirut, 13 May 2020
The ISG takes due note of the unanimous adoption by the Government of Lebanon of its Financial Recovery Plan as a constructive framework for future reforms as well as its decision to request an IMF program as a first step in the right direction.

The ISG also takes due note of the assessment by the World Bank that the Plan recognizes the nature and depth of the crisis, the necessary structural reforms and adjustments needed to ensure a vibrant economy with sustainable growth and productive sectors, in a business climate and conditions favorable for private sector development and the prosperity of the Lebanese people.

Recognizing the importance of domestic political support necessary for successful conduct and rapid completion of negotiations with the IMF, the ISG encourages the Government of Lebanon to engage all relevant stakeholders, most importantly the Lebanese people in consultations on the contents of the plan and ways to expedite its implementation. 
Equally, the ISG encourages the Government and Parliament to work together in creating the necessary conditions for timely
implementation of the needed reforms and to ensure full transparency and accountability as demanded by the citizens of Lebanon. Recalling the statement of the International Support Group meeting in Paris on 11 December 2019 and on the basis of the necessary reforms, including the implementation of the commitments made in the framework of the CEDRE Conference, the ISG expresses support to Lebanon to help it overcome the current economic, monetary, and fiscal crisis and to address economic, social, security, humanitarian challenges, as well as the impact of COVID-19 facing the country, and calls upon the international community, including international organizations and financial institutions, to support Lebanon as it seeks to address the current crisis.

The ISG notes with concern the worsening economic situation, the growing poverty and the hardships on the population. It encourages the Government to remain committed to protect the rapidly growing number of poor and vulnerable segments of the population and encourages the Government to quickly finalize all necessary measures to unlock additional external financial assistance to address the increasingly dire humanitarian needs of the population.

The ISG reaffirms the need for internal stability and the right to peaceful protect to be protected.

The ISG welcomes the press elements from the Security Council following its meeting on 4 May 2020 on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1701 and reiterates its strong support for Lebanon and its people, for its stability, security, territorial integrity, sovereignty, political independence and non-interference into internal matters in accordance with Security Council resolutions 1701 (2006), 1680 (2006), and 1559 (2004).

Note to Editors
The International Support Group has brought together the United Nations and the governments of China, France, Germany, Italy, the Russian Federation, the 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 programs and public services impacted by the Syrian crisis.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Press Elements from the Security Council Meeting on Resolution 1701 and Lebanon

5 May2020

PRESS ELEMENTS FROM THE SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING ON RESOLUTION 1701 AND LEBANON

UN Special Coordinator Jan Kubis and Under-Secretary-General Jean-Pierre Lacroix briefed the Security Council on the situation in Lebanon during its regular meeting on the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701. The members of the Security Council commended the key and continued efforts of UNIFIL to maintain calm along the Blue Line. Its cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces with the aim of extending the control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory and expressed the importance of UNIFIL being able to fulfil its mandate.

The members of the Security Council expressed their deep concern following the recent incidents which occurred along the Blue Line and in UNIFIL's area of operations, as well as all the violations of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, including by land and air. They recalled that all parties should make every effort to ensure that the cessation of hostilities is sustained, exercise maximum calm and restraint, and refrain from any action or rhetoric that could jeopardize the cessation of hostilities or destabilize the region. The members of the Security Council welcomed the will of the concerned parties to make the best use of the tripartite mechanism. They condemned any attacks against UNIFIL peacekeepers.

In addition to those exchanges on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701 and considering the major and acute crisis Lebanon is now facing, the members of the Security Council took due note of the approval by the Government of Lebanon of an economic plan as well as of its decision to request an IMF program. They took note of the urgent need for the Lebanese authorities to respond to the aspirations of the Lebanese people by implementing meaningful economic reforms, and notably the commitments made in the framework of the CEDRE Conference, as well as the International Support Group for Lebanon meeting held in Paris on the 11th of December. On the basis of those necessary reforms, the members of the Security Council expressed support to Lebanon to help it exit the current crisis and to address the economic, security and humanitarian challenges, as well as the impact of COVID-19 facing the country, and called the international community, including international organizations, to do so.

The members of the Security Council recognized the additional challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic, also on the Lebanese economy, and commended the preventive measures taken by UNIFIL in that regard.

The members of the Security Council reaffirmed the strong support for the stability, security, territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon, in accordance with relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.

 


Friday, May 01, 2020

SPOKESPERSON FOR THE UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ON LEBANON PROTESTS

1 May 2020 - Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Lebanon Protests

We are deeply concerned by the renewed violence that has erupted in Lebanon this week, claiming the life of one protester and leaving dozens of other civilians and law enforcement officers injured, as well as causing significant damage and destruction to public and private property.

We call on everyone to exercise utmost restraint, to refrain from violence against other people, and to respect property.

We remind law enforcement officers that they have an obligation to abide by international norms and standards on the use of force, particularly the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality.

We also urge demonstrators not to resort to violence, and stress that the right to peaceful assembly protects non-violent gatherings.

After a relative lull in the six-month old demonstrations, due to the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic, protests against the country's rapidly worsening economic crisis resumed this week. Some of those protests quickly turned violent.

On 26 April, a protester who was hit -- reportedly by a rubber bullet -- died of his injuries. We have also received reports that at least 77 civilians were injured between 26 and 30 April. The Lebanese Armed Forces, or LAF, reported that at least 159 of its personnel have been hurt, of whom 15 are in a critical condition. These casualty figures underline the alarming intensity of the violence.

We understand that LAF used tear gas and rubber bullets, and that live ammunition was fired in the air. Protesters, for their part, reportedly used tear gas, grenades, petrol bombs, iron chains, wooden sticks and other weapons.

We have also received reports of instances of use-of-force violations by the LAF.

We welcome the announcement of investigations by the competent authorities into these incidents. Victims and their families have the right to justice and to the truth.

While certain measures such as physical distancing may be warranted in a bid to contain COVID-19, we remind the authorities that people have the right to participate in public affairs, raise concerns, and shape all decisions that affect their lives.

The High Commissioner reiterates that our Office stands ready to continue to support the strengthening of Lebanon's institutions and reaffirms the commitment of our Office to inclusive dialogue and the sustainable development of the country.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

ASG KHIARI CONCLUDES ASSESSMENT MISSION TO LEBANON

6 Mar 2020 
A nine-member UN delegation led by Assistant Secretary-General Khaled Khiari today concluded a weeklong visit to Lebanon and the UNIFIL area of operations, as part of an assessment of UNIFIL's resources. During the visit, ASG Khiari was accompanied by UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col.
The visit was pursuant to a request to the Secretary-General by the UN Security Council in its Resolution 2485, adopted in August last year, to conduct and provide the Council by 1 June 2020 with such an assessment, also taking into consideration the troop ceiling and the civilian component of UNIFIL.
During its mission, the UN delegation led by Mr. Khiari, who is the Assistant Secretary-General for Middle East, Asia and the Pacific in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, met with senior Lebanese officials as well as UN officials and diplomatic representatives in Beirut.
Among the officials Mr. Khiari met during the assessment mission were Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Hassan Diab, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense Zeina Akar, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nassif Hitti, Lebanese Army Commander General Joseph Aoun.
Earlier in the week, UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col received the delegation in Naqoura and briefed them on the security situation in the area of operations and along the Blue Line. While in Lebanon, the delegation also visited the area and saw first hand the work of UNIFIL peacekeepers, both on ground and at sea, in furthering peace in south Lebanon and along the Blue Line.
In his remarks at the end of the visit, Mr. Khiari said the work of implementing Security Council Resolution 1701 is geared towards supporting the extension of state authority and to the maintenance of cessation of hostilities between Lebanon and Israel.
"I am encouraged by the strong commitment of Lebanese officials as well as the members of the diplomatic corps to support the work of UNIFIL and UNSCOL in the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701," he said.
"Consultations in Lebanon show consensus on the extent to which the Lebanese authorities rely on UNIFIL to preserve stability along the Blue Line" he continued. "We also looked at ways to optimize the operations of UNIFIL, working together with and in support of its strategic partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces."

Monday, February 10, 2020

INTERVIEW OF UN SPECIAL COORDINATOR FOR LEBANON JAN KUBIS WITH INDEPENDENT ARABIA

Interview with Independent Arabia Feb 10 2020

UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon: Government Promises Alone not Enough for Lebanon

The international and Arab position seems more united than ever regarding the economic and financial crisis sweeping Lebanon in an unprecedented way in its history. Although there are some slight divergences over its political crisis that emanated as a result of the alliances that shaped its political decision, due to the intersection of regional interests with internal factors related to the country's power system.

Ambassadors of major powers unanimously agree that Lebanon's ability to overcome the crisis sparked by the popular uprising against the ruling political class is also unprecedented. The solution is in the hands of the Lebanese, after the country's politicians became used to requesting foreign assistance to address the imbalances of its public finances during the past decades, without fulfilling reform promises.

A single expression

"No blank cheque" for Lebanese authorities, pending the demonstration of its seriousness in implementing reforms to halt squandering and corruption that resulted from sectarian and partisan quotas, especially in the past few years. This is the expression repeated by all ambassadors in Beirut.

The clearest evidence of the unity of the international and Arab position regarding Lebanon's crisis is the latest statement of the International Support Group for Lebanon – which includes the five permanent UN Security Council members, in addition to Germany, Italy, the United Nations, the European Union, and the Arab League – following the formation of the new government headed by Hassan Diab. It recalled the roadmap it put forward on 11 December 2019, less than two months after the outbreak of the popular uprising and the resignation of Saad Hariri's government, in an event attended by representatives of major Arab countries.

Tips for Diab

The ambassadors of the International Support Group have made it clear that official Lebanese reform promises are not trusted, and concrete measures are required.

In parallel, the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis has reiterated in the recent months a message he delivered to senior officials in Lebanon. Diplomatic sources told "Independent Arabia" that he offered advice to Prime Minister Hassan Diab on what the ministerial statement must include in terms of reform plans, in response to protesters in the streets and the international community, and based on the latest ISG statement, in terms of disassociation from regional conflicts, the implementation of Security Council resolutions and reforms, and the importance of setting timeframes for that.

"Independent Arabia" has met with the renowned diplomat who previously mastered crises like the one Lebanon is experiencing, and who realizes the intertwinement between Lebanon's crisis and the complexities of the region, especially since he previously worked in Iraq and delved into the evolving regional situation.

He commented on the remarks of United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres about the importance of the stability of Lebanon for the stability of the region and about what can be done by the UN to maintain this stability. "The stability and security of Lebanon for the UN, the region and the Lebanese people should be of crucial importance because it is a positive factor, just as instability is a negative factor in a difficult, fragile and conflict-stricken region. The position of the Secretary-General confirms this, and he reaffirms the commitment of the UN to work for the stability and security of Lebanon. This is a positive indication that highlights the position of the entire international community, not only the UN. I can confirm that this position stems from the meetings of the Security Council and the ISG."

"How can this be achieved? You will find the answer in the Security Council, ISG and Secretary-General positions and resolutions, that is, through the quick, clear, and decisive implementation of a set of proposed reforms to address the reasons that led the country towards its deep economic, financial and social crisis. The socioeconomic factor is now the main component of the crisis and should be addressed to preserve stability and make the country safer too. I hope that the government will focus in its program on economy and social needs. I also hope it will set concrete goals, steps and standards in a way that enables both the government and the political forces that will back it in Parliament to be held accountable for delivering on the reforms or not. This is important regardless of whatever the program is and whoever will back the government. I hope that this will be the solution for the government's program and first steps. I expect the government's intentions to be quickly implemented and translated into an action plan, standards, goals, timeframes, that can allow the people to judge the commitment to the pledges, because words and promises are not enough. The programs of previous governments included many unfulfilled promises. Now, transparency, responsibility and accountability are crucially important for the government's credibility.

Addressing the banking crisis begins at home

Asked about whether the international community will assist Lebanon in dealing with its liquidity crisis before the implementation of reforms to prevent a total collapse, Kubis says: "this is not the case. Previous governments requested help after gaining the vote of confidence. This time, we have to see the government's first steps, its commitment to its obligations, accountability, good governance. Before that, there will not be many countries ready to offer blank cheques. What I hear is quite the contrary: no blank cheques. Regarding the availability of liquidity, this should be address by the government, the Central Bank, the banking sector, based on a clear plan that starts with transparency. There are many speculations about the available foreign reserves in the Central Bank. No one has a clear answer on that. If there is a will to solve the crisis, transparency should be the starting point, in order to have a clear idea about the country's exact situation and prepare a comprehensive rescue plan to allow the government to start implementing its first steps. Only then, and not before that, Lebanese officials can come to their international partners and ask them for support in the implementation of their own part of the plan."

International humanitarian aid

As he reiterated that there will be "no blank cheques," Kubis stressed that "the stability of Lebanon is very dear to the international community, but they have had their own experiences at the same time. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the government and political forces of Lebanon to convince the Lebanese people first, then the international community, that what is happening is not business as usual, and that they are serious and have a vision, a plan, based on transparency and accountability for all, and that they really want to break with previous practices."

However, Kubis was keen on affirming that "humanitarian assistance will continue. The UN is seeking to draw the attention of its partners that it is increasingly important to meet the needs of more and more Lebanese who are becoming poorer. There will be more mobilization at this level, and we, at least as UN, will provide more assistance to the Lebanese people in the coming period. But this only addresses the symptoms and consequences. The country needs radical solutions to the root causes of this difficult and existential crisis that Lebanon is facing."

Everyone is fed up

Asked about the responsiveness of the officials he met with the need to listen to protesters and take their demands into account, Kubis said: "I don't know. My message was 'listen to the people, not only those who are protesting, but also those who are not protesting but share the same concerns and needs with protesters.' Everyone is fed up with the lack of 24/7 electricity, unemployment, rampant poverty, lack of a social safety net, lack of proper healthcare for basic needs. These are concerns shared by everyone and not only protesters who are raising their voices."

Therefore, Kubis considers that "the government's ministerial statement will offer an early indication into its intentions, that should be quickly followed by concrete and clear steps, not only in the fields I mentioned but also in other fields as well. There are alarming priorities, including waste management that triggered the 2016 protests, and in which I think people have not witnessed significant progress. There are many issues on the agenda that need to be prioritized and translated into practical steps. Then, I would be able to answer whether the country's politicians heard the voice of the people. It is up to them to support the government's reform plan or not. If they fail to support the government's plan and act as the driving force behind it – and this includes those who back the government and those who are in the opposition because Lebanon is at stake and it is not a mere political game – then I would be able to answer if they have listened to the voice of the people. At the time being, I only see a chance."

The peace plan and Palestinian refugees

Assessing the implications of U.S. President Donald Trump's peace proposal on Lebanon, Kubis said that "the plan was announced and many of its elements have been divulged to the public opinion, and many have been implemented prior to the announcement. I don't have an answer at the time being, because there is an inclination to hold a Security Council meeting on this issue. We are monitoring what is happening in Israel following the announcement of the plan. Some countries – including some Arab countries – are encouraging the parties to engage in negotiations. For the UN, there is no need to repeat what the Secretary-General said regarding the total commitment to Security Council resolutions, the two-state solution, the respect of the pre-1967 lines, and this is the UN's main approach. As for its implications on Lebanon, I hope that the issue will not be excessively politicized here, and that this will not turn against the interests of the Palestinians in Lebanon. I know that the situation is difficult for the Lebanese, and it is also difficult for the Palestinians. They have the right to return, and we understand that this is Lebanon's position, along with the rejection of all naturalization attempts. But at the same time, I hope that this will not make things more difficult for the Palestinians where they are temporarily present, despite having been present there for a long time, and they should continue to live normally as part of the population of Lebanon."