Thursday, May 27, 2010

Intercultural dialogue crucial for world peace, Ban tells Security Council

26 May 2010 – The Security Council today highlighted the vital role of intercultural dialogue in securing global peace, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warning that while the world is growing more connected through migration, trade and technology, it is also growing more apart.
“At a time when prejudice and hatred are all too common, when extremists seek new recruits through incitement and identity-based appeals, when politicians use divisiveness as a strategy to win elections, dialogue can be an antidote,” he told a day-long session the 15-member body, chaired by Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon, which holds this month’s rotating Council presidency.

He stressed that while countries coming into more frequent contact with each other and many are becoming more multicultural and diverse, this enrichment, a matter of celebration for many, can be confusing and intimidating for others.

“This underscores the need to build space for cooperation and to strengthen mutual understanding and respect,” he said. “We do not do this as a feel-good exercise. We do this because it is essential for achieving peace and security in the broadest sense. Dialogue can defuse tensions, and keep situations from escalating. It can promote reconciliation in the aftermath of conflict. It can introduce moderate voices into polarized debates.”

Mr. Ban praised the Alliance of Civilizations, whose third forum he will be attending in Rio de Janeiro on Friday. Set up under UN auspices in 2005 at the initiative of Spain and Turkey, it seeks to overcome prejudice among nations, cultures and religions.

“Support for the Alliance keeps growing,” he declared. “We just welcomed the 100th member, the United States. I hope its membership and work will expand further still. It is the right initiative at the right time. Our world is changing rapidly. And it is changing in unpredictable ways.”

Noting that the General Assembly proclaimed 2010 the International Year for Rapprochement of Cultures, he said everyone agreed on the importance of intercultural dialogue and shared values for peace and security.

“The challenge now for the Security Council in particular is to follow up on today’s discussion by incorporating intercultural dialogue more fully into your efforts to maintain international peace and security,” he said, adding that many members had ample experience in the problems that can ensue from cross-cultural tensions and perceptions of injustice.

“But you are also well versed in the benefits of dialogue and the great strength to be found in diversity,” he concluded. “I urge the Members of the Council to draw more on these experiences and share the lessons you have learned. Intercultural dialogue is an important tool in the diplomat’s toolkit. I urge you to make greater use of it.”

Mr. Ban met with Mr. Hariri separately to discuss implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701, adopted in August 2006 after fighting between Israel and Hizbollah, which called for an end to hostilities, respect for the so-called Blue Line separating the Israeli and Lebanese sides, disarming of militias and an end to arms smuggling.

The talks focused on violations of the Blue Line, allegations of arms smuggling and the situation in Ghajjar, where Israel continues to occupy the northern part of the village although it is north of the Blue Line.

The two also discussed the Middle East peace process in general and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, an independent body based in The Hague, Netherlands.

The tribunal was set up following a probe by an independent international commission, after an earlier UN inquiry found that Lebanon’s own probe into the 2005 car bombing that killed Mr. Hariri’s father, former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, and 22 others was seriously flawed and that Syria was primarily responsible for the political tensions that preceded that attack.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Williams: Leaders' visits to Lebanon confirm their commitment to preserve the region's stability

21/05/10 NNA - Head of LF Executive Body, Samir Geagea, received on Friday the representative of UN Secretary General, Michael Williams, in presence of LF foreign relations' consultant, Elie Khoury.
Williams said shortly after the meeting that the leaders' visits to Lebanon confirm their commitment to preserve the Lebanese and regional security.
As for implementing resolution 1701, William said "the Israeli violations and Hezbollah's weapons hinder the implementation of this resolution."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

UN blue helmets investigating explosion in southern Lebanon

13 May 2010 – The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is looking into yesterday’s accidental explosion which resulted in the injuries of several peacekeepers.
The incident occurred during routine activity at one of the mission’s positions in the country’s south.

UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters in New York today that preliminary reports point to the accidental detonation of munitions as being behind the accident.

One soldier who sustained serious injuries in the incident was evacuated for medical treatment, and is in stable condition.

In 2006, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1701, which expanded UNIFIL – currently around 13,000 military personnel – and called for an end to hostilities, respect for the so-called Blue Line separating the Israeli and Lebanese sides, disarming militias including Hizbollah, and an end to arms smuggling.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Unresolved issues adding to tensions in Lebanon and wider region – UN envoy

29 April 2010 – Recent tensions in Lebanon and the region highlight the need to tackle unresolved issues related to the country’s sovereignty and stability, such as the presence of armed militias, a senior United Nations envoy said today.
“As long as these unresolved issues are there, there will always be tensions,” Terje Roed-Larsen, Special Envoy for the Implementation of Security Council resolution 1559, told reporters at UN Headquarters following a closed-door meeting with the 15-member body.
Resolution 1559 was adopted by the Council six years ago amid concern about high tensions within Lebanon. It calls for free and fair elections, an end to foreign interference and the disbanding of all militias.
Among the unresolved issues is the “heavily armed militias” operating inside and outside Lebanon, said Mr. Roed-Larsen, who presented Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on resolution 1559 to the Council.
In his report, Mr. Ban warned that the presence of armed militias continues to pose a threat to the country and the region, despite major strides in strengthening Lebanon’s sovereignty such as the holding of free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections, the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, and the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the Middle East neighbours.
The report also noted that while political life in Lebanon has been generally stable over the past six months, there have been some public exchanges of criticism between Lebanese leaders.
“This has generated tension and worsened the political climate, in the wider context of an escalation of rhetoric at the regional level,” wrote Mr. Ban.
Mr. Roed-Larsen said that lately these tensions have risen to a new high, but they are now at “a more normal and low ebb” in Lebanon and in the region.
“The Secretary-General has personally spoken to the key leaders and asked them to lower their rhetoric and act responsibly, and I think his calls have been heeded. This is one of the reasons why the rhetoric is now more… softer and more reconciliatory.”