Friday, November 10, 2017

Secretary-General's remarks at press stakeout [scroll down for Q & A] 10 November 2017

Question:  Thank you, Mr. Secretary-General. I want to ask about the rising tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia and especially about Lebanon and the situation in Lebanon and the fate of our... the Prime Minister there, Saad Hariri. Do you have anything to say about that?
Do you... are you going to use your good offices in order to reduce tensions in the region?
And when are you going to appoint your new Special Coordinator for Lebanon since the situation is very dangerous?
Secretary-General:  First of all, I've been in very intense contacts the day before yesterday and yesterday at the different levels, political level and diplomatic level, with namely Saudi Arabia and Lebanon but also with several other countries of the region or with an influence in the region.
This is a matter of great concern to us. And what we want is for peace to be preserved in Lebanon. It is essential that no new conflict erupts in the region, it could have devastating consequences.
And at the same time, it is important to preserve the unity, the stability of Lebanon, and the functioning of Lebanese institutions. That is the logic of the demarches I have been doing. They are delicate, you will allow me not to elaborate on them, they will go on today.
We are indeed very worried and we hope that we won't see an escalation in the region that would have tragic consequences.
Question: The replacement of Sigrid Kaag?
Secretary-General: We will be doing the replacement as quickly as possible.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Lebanon

5 November 2017 
The Secretary-General is concerned by news of the offer of resignation of Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Hariri. He hopes all sides will focus their efforts on supporting the continuity of Lebanon's State institutions, in adherence with the constitution, and safeguarding the country's security and stability. 
The United Nations remains committed to supporting the security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Lebanon.
Stephane Dujarric
Spokesman for the Secretary-General

Thursday, October 19, 2017


New York, 18 October 2017 


Question:  Also, on Lebanon, does the… Hezbollah is heavily participating in the fight against terrorism. Does that give Hezbollah any legitimacy to keep their arms in Lebanon and beyond? Thank you.

Secretary-General: And, in relation to Lebanon, we are strong believers that the state of Lebanon must be a state with the monopoly of the use of force inside the country, like my own state and any other state, and this is something that I believe should be a goal for all Lebanese, knowing all the difficulties and complexities of the situation.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Readout of the Secretary-General’s meeting with H.E. Mr. Michel Aoun, President of the Lebanese Republic

21 September 2017
The Secretary-General met with H.E. Mr. Michel Aoun, President of the Lebanese Republic. They discussed developments in the region. The Secretary-General thanked Lebanon for its generosity in hosting refugees. 
The Secretary-General and the President discussed efforts to increase international support for the country.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General 15 SEP 2017


Question:  Yes. On Wednesday, the Secretary-General emphasized the importance of beefing up and supporting the Lebanese army in helping to stabilize the country, but he didn't address the question at the time about the role of Hizbullah, given their influence in the Government and so forth.  So I would like to know whether you could comment on whether the Secretary‑General believes that Hizbullah is playing a constructive role or a destructive role in Lebanon.

Spokesman:  I think issues related to armed groups in southern Lebanon are reported by the UN on a regular basis through its reports to the Security Council. There are also… Hizbullah is also a member of the Lebanese Government.  The Secretary‑General believes that it is important for Lebanon to have strong institutions and a strong national army that can be present throughout the country.

Question:  But given the reported buildup of rockets in southern Lebanon by Hizbullah and its destabilizing activities in Lebanon and Syria, and you're aware of what Ambassador Nikki Haley has said specifically about Hizbullah, I want to try to get some clarity on where the Secretary-General stands in relation to Hizbullah's activities.

Spokesman:  I think… as I said, I would refer you to the various reports that we've issued on the situation in Lebanon, specifically in southern Lebanon and for the Secretary-General, as I said, he believes in a strong… that Lebanon needs strong State institutions, and that all those political parties who are part of the Government should support those institutions, including the national army.  Abdelhamid?


Question:  On Hizbullah, the question that was asked:  The Security Council resolutions say that there should be no armed militias other than the Lebanese army.  Hizbullah is not dividing itself between the political and the military, so isn't there a self-contradictory [sic] in what you're saying, that, on the one hand, there needs to be… or the Security Council saying that there needs to be disarming of all militias, except for the army, and on the other hand, the same organization that is… that has a militia being a member of the Government and you want them to cooperate?

Spokesman:  I stand by what I said.  I don't think I'm capable of self-contradicting myself.  Matthew?

Question:  I don't understand the answer.

Spokesman:  The answer is we report on a regular basis on the situation in Southern Lebanon and what UNIFIL [United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon] observes.  The Secretary-General in his letter to the Security Council said he was looking at strengthening the reporting and the way UNIFIL does its work.  Our position is that Lebanon needs a strong national institution, including a strong national army, that is… has the ability to project itself throughout the country.

Question:  But the army answers to a Government that has a majority of the same party that has the militia, that is supposed to be…

Spokesman:  That is a valid observation.  Oleg?

Monday, September 11, 2017


11 Sep2017


The Minister of National Defense of Lebanon, Yaacoub Riad Sarraf, today visited UNIFIL headquarters in Naqoura as well as the main base of UNIFIL's French-led Force Commander's Reserve (FCR).


The Minister's discussion with UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Michael Beary centred around the importance of the expansion and enhancement of coordinated activities between UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in the area south of the Litani river.


"We discussed modalities related to the importance of strengthening the LAF presence in UNIFIL's area of operations to preserve stability in the south, to prevent escalation along the Blue Line and to act proactively to address all outstanding issues in the implementation of resolution 1701 and other relevant Security Council resolutions,said the UNIFIL head after the meeting. "It has been a very special visit, and we look forward to additional LAF troops being deployed to south Lebanon very soon."


In his comments, Minister Sarraf reconfirmed Lebanon's commitment to Security Council resolution 1701. "I am here to confirm to you and to everybody in the international community that, as promised, Lebanon is committed to increase the presence of the LAF south of the Litani, and once more we do engage, assure and deliver on what we promised,he said. "I am here to assert and confirm that UNIFIL-LAF cooperation will grow."


Major General Beary noted that the cooperation between UNIFIL and the LAF has been crucial for preserving stability along the Blue Line for more than 11 years.


He conveyed to Minister Sarraf UNIFIL'particular appreciation for the LAF that continues to demonstrate exemplary resolve and professionalism in working with UNIFIL peacekeepers despite numerous security challenges around the country.


UNIFIL has around 10,500 peacekeepers coming from 41 troop contributing countries. The Mission maintains an intensive level of operational and other activities amounting to approximately 13,500 activities per month, day and night, in the area of operations. About 17 per cent of these activities are carried out jointly with the LAF. UNIFIL is also complemented by a seven-vessel strong Maritime Task Force that carries our maritime interdiction operations to prevent the illegal entry of weapons and other materials into Lebanon and which also contributes to a safe and stable maritime environment.


31 Aug2017


The United Nations Security Council yesterday voted unanimously to renew UNIFIL's mandate under Security Council resolution 1701, expressing a strong commitment to the existing mandate.  UNIFIL will continue to work to fulfill the mandate to its fullest in order to preserve the stability and calm in its area of operations in south Lebanon, which has already lasted for an unprecedented 11 years. 


Based on its commitment to the resolution, the Mission will continue to work with both parties to maintain the cessation of hostilities, maintain stability in areas along the Blue Line, and prevent tensions or misunderstandings from escalating. UNIFIL will continue to enhance the effectiveness of its activities to efficiently implement its mandate. The Mission will also continue to support the Lebanese Armed Forces in strengthening their capacity and presence in southern Lebanon.


UNIFIL has around 10,500 peacekeepers coming from 41 troop contributing countries. The Mission maintains a high operational tempo carrying out approximately 13,500 activities per month focused on patrolling and monitoring by air, land and sea - day and night - in the area of operations. About 17 per cent of activities are carried out jointly with the Lebanese Armed Forces.


UNIFIL is complemented by a seven-vessel strong Maritime Task Force that carries out maritime interdiction operations to prevent the illegal entry of weapons and other materiel into Lebanon and which also contributes to a safe and stable maritime environment.