Tuesday, October 27, 2009


New York, Oct 27 2009
Disbanding militias in Lebanon – especially Hizbollah, which fought a war with Israel in 2006 – is “of vital importance” to the country’s democracy and sovereignty, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes in a new report, where he voices satisfaction at progress made towards stability.

“The threats posed by the existence of militias outside the control of the State, especially Hizbollah’s vast paramilitary infrastructure, cannot be overstated,” he writes, calling on the militant group’s leaders to transform into a purely political Lebanese party.

“For this reason, I appeal to all parties, inside and outside of Lebanon, to halt immediately all efforts to transfer or acquire weapons and to build paramilitary capacities outside the authority of the State,” he adds, noting “with deep concern” that Hizbollah leaders have publicly spoken of the support it provides to Palestinian militants, including military assistance.

The report, the latest on implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559 of 2004 calling for free and fair elections, an end to foreign interference and disbanding of all militias, calls Hizbollah’s arsenal a direct challenge to the sovereignty of the Lebanese State and cites Palestinian militias as “another serious threat.”

Mr. Ban also notes that Israel, violating Lebanon’s sovereignty and relevant Security Council resolutions, continues to fly into Lebanese air space, has still not withdrawn from the northern part of the town of Ghajar, and that diplomatic efforts to resolve Shab’a Farms, another disputed area, have not yet yielded any positive results. “I deplore these violations and call on Israel to cease such overflights,” he writes.

He also notes that conditions of hardship inside Palestinian refugee camps are strengthening radical groups and calls for improving the living conditions of the refugees “in the best interest of the wider security situation in the country.”

On the positive side, Mr. Ban cited the highest voter turnout in Lebanese history in recent parliamentary elections, which was hailed as a major success with international and local observers deeming them free and fair despite shortfalls. He also noted the opening of full diplomatic relations between Lebanon and Syria, which for years maintained troops in its smaller neighbour, with embassies in each other’s capitals for the first time since their independence.

But despite his efforts to encourage both countries to begin the full delineation of their common border, little tangible progress has been made, he reports.

Mr. Ban’s Special Envoy on the implementation of resolution 1559, Terje Roed-Larsen, briefed the Security Council on the contents of the report today.