Friday, September 27, 2013

Chairperson’s Summary of Inaugural Meeting of International Support Group for Lebanon, at United Nations Headquarters, 25 September 2013

25 September 2013

1.          The inaugural meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon was held on 25 September 2013 at United Nations Headquarters in New York and was chaired by the United Nations Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon.  Participants invited to the meeting were: the People's Republic of China, the Republic of France, the Republic of Lebanon, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the European Union, the League of Arab States, the World Bank, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Development Group, the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon and the Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).


2.          Statements during the opening session were made by the Secretary-General, and H. E. Mr. Michel Sleiman, President of the Republic of Lebanon.  Interventions were made during the meeting by H.E. Mr. Liu Jieyi, Permanent Representative of China; H.E. Mr. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs of France; H.E. Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation; H.E. Mr. William Hague, Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom; H.E. Mr. John Kerry, Secretary of State of the Unites States of America; H.E. Ms. Catherine Ashton, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union; and H.E. Mr. Nabil ElAraby, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States.  Presentations were also made by Mr. Antonio Guterres, High Commissioner for Refugees, and Mr. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank.


3.          Participants thanked the Secretary-General for convening the International Support Group.  They noted that the United Nations' commitment to stability in Lebanon lies at the heart of resolution 1701 (2006) and other relevant resolutions. The formation of the International Support Group stems from that, and comes in response to the increasing impact of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon.  It builds upon the 10 July 2013 presidential statement of the Security Council (S/PRST/2013/9) which stressed "the need for strong, coordinated international support for Lebanon to help it continue to withstand the multiple current challenges to its security and stability."  Participants undertook to work together to mobilize support for Lebanon's sovereignty and State institutions and to highlight and promote efforts to assist Lebanon where it is most affected by the Syrian crisis, including in respect of strengthening the capacity of the Lebanese Armed Forces, assistance to refugees and vulnerable communities affected by the crisis and structural and financial support to the Government.


4.          Participants expressed their appreciation for the leadership of President Sleiman in seeking to uphold Lebanon's sovereignty, unity and stability and the continuity of State institutions, to promote dialogue and to safeguard Lebanon from the impact of the Syrian crisis.  They stressed the importance of continued commitment by all Lebanese parties to the Baabda Declaration of 12 June 2012 and Lebanon's policy of disassociation.


5.          Participants joined in condemning the recent terrorist bombings in Lebanon and underscored the need for those responsible to be brought to justice.  There should be no return to impunity in Lebanon.


6.          Participants were encouraged by the calm that continues to prevail along the Blue Line.  They acknowledged the important role played by UNIFIL in working to prevent escalation and take forward resolution 1701 (2006), and expressed appreciation for the commitment UNIFIL's troop-contributing countries have demonstrated towards Lebanon.


7.          Participants acknowledged the critical role played by the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in working alongside UNIFIL to help maintain the calm on the Blue Line and in addressing the growing threats to security within Lebanon and along its borders as a result of the Syrian crisis.  They noted the extraordinary pressures now placed on LAF capabilities.  They welcomed the LAF's recently launched five-year capabilities development plan, of which the Strategic Dialogue plan agreed with UNIFIL is an important and discrete element.  They welcomed the Lebanese Government's support for the plan and the international assistance already being given to the LAF, and encouraged others in the international community in a position to do so to follow suit.  Participants encouraged UNSCOL (Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon) and UNIFIL to work with the LAF to activate coordination mechanisms in support of the plan and the Strategic Dialogue.


8.          Participants commended Lebanon's generosity in hosting nearly 800,000 refugees from Syria registered or awaiting registration, a figure which could reach more than 1 million by the end of the year if current trends continue.  They recognized the huge burden the influx of refugees was placing on Lebanon, and highlighted the urgent need to increase and expedite assistance both to refugees and to vulnerable communities affected by the crisis within a coordinated humanitarian and development response.  As a next step, they looked forward to the UNHCR (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) Executive Committee high-level segment on solidarity and burden sharing with countries hosting Syrian refugees to be held in Geneva on 30 September, at which further commitments in respect of financial assistance, enhanced resettlement and other support from the international community were expected.


9.          Participants welcomed the assessment the World Bank has conducted in partnership with the Government of Lebanon and the United Nations on the impact of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon.  The assessment demonstrates the severe negative impact the crisis, including the significant increase in the country's population resulting from the refugee influx, has had on economic activity in Lebanon, on Government finances and on key sectors, such as health and education and on infrastructure, as well as on vulnerable communities affected by the crisis.  Participants welcomed discussions between the World Bank, the Government of Lebanon and the United Nations on establishing additional funding mechanisms, including possibly a multi-donor trust fund, to help address Lebanon's immediate and longer-term structural and development needs.  They looked forward to the planned discussion of the results of the assessment and the response in the margins of the annual meeting of the World Bank in October.


10.      Participants strongly underlined the urgency of formation of an empowered Government in Lebanon.  They stressed the importance of this if the many security, humanitarian and development challenges facing Lebanon are to be met effectively.

11.  Participants welcomed the opportunity to discuss Lebanon at this critical time for the region.  They looked forward to working together on an on-going basis as partners in the International Support Group for Lebanon.  They welcomed the prospect of future Group meetings with broader participation and anticipated that the Group would meet at differing levels as needed.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Readout of the Secretary-General’s meeting with H.E. General Michel Sleiman, President of the Republic of Lebanon

New York, 25 September 2013
The Secretary-General met today with H.E. General Michel Sleiman, President of the Republic of Lebanon. They discussed the need to preserve Lebanon's stability and security from the continuing impact of the conflict in Syria.
They also exchanged views on the international support for Lebanon's sovereignty, disassociation policy, and State institutions, including the Lebanese Armed Forces. They discussed the Secretary-General's initiative to establish an International Support Group for Lebanon to help address immediate challenges in the humanitarian, economic and security areas.
The Secretary-General commended President Sleiman for his leadership and thanked the people of Lebanon for their generosity in hosting and assisting refugees from Syria.

Secretary-General's remarks at inaugural meeting of the International support Group for Lebanon

New York, 25 September 2013  
I am pleased to convene this inaugural meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon in the presence of His Excellency President Michel Sleiman.
This initiative follows the July appeal by the Security Council for "strong, coordinated international support for Lebanon" as well as your calls, Mr. President, for assistance in maintaining Lebanon's stability and addressing the multiple challenges Lebanon now faces.
The conflict in Syria has driven nearly 800,000 refugees from Syria to seek safety and assistance from the United Nations in Lebanon. That figure is expected to surpass 1 million by the end of this year, an extraordinary challenge for any country to face. I commend the Lebanese Government and people for their openness and generosity in hosting the refugees. The United Nations, through UNHCR and our partners, continues to work with the Lebanese authorities to keep up with the needs of the refugees
and host communities.
The refugee presence, and the crisis in Syria more generally, are also placing significant pressure on Lebanon's public services, infrastructure and economy. That impact has now been assessed in a joint study undertaken by the World Bank, the United Nations and the Lebanese Government.
The High Commissioner for Refugees and the President of the World Bank will shortly speak to these issues. I would also like to draw attention to the profound repercussions the conflict is having on Lebanon's security. This is another area where international support is essential.
The Lebanese Armed Forces and security services face unprecedented challenges in their efforts
to maintain security and stability internally, along the border with Syria and in the south along the Blue Line.
I condemn last month's bombings in Beirut and Tripoli – acts of terrorism which killed dozens and wounded hundreds.
The situation along the border with Syria is dangerous, as local communities are exposed to shelling, rockets and small arms fire.
In the south, the Lebanese Armed Forces continue to uphold their obligation to work alongside UNIFIL in fulfilment of resolution 1701.
As the Lebanese themselves acknowledge, the Lebanese Armed Forces are stretched and insufficiently equipped to address these myriad tasks. I welcome the adoption by Lebanon of a plan to ensure that the Armed Forces are equipped to respond effectively.
I have asked my Special Coordinator for Lebanon and the UNIFIL Force Commander to work closely with the Lebanese Armed Forces to deliver coordinated international support. I hope that the International Support Group will be at the heart of these efforts.
The creation of this International Support Group signals the international community's united commitment to Lebanon's stability and to the country's policy of disassociation from regional conflicts. It also underscores our commitment to supporting the institutions of the Lebanese State. Here, I wish to pay tribute to the wise leadership of President Sleiman in promoting dialogue and in upholding Lebanon's sovereignty, unity and stability and the continuity of state institutions.
The International Support Group will work closely with all stakeholders to assist Lebanon in those areas where it is being most affected by the Syrian crisis, including assistance to refugees and host communities, structural and financial support to the Government, and strengthening the capacity of the Lebanese Armed Forces. Support in these areas will also contribute to the longer-term needs of the country.
Beyond our meeting today, I count on your close cooperation with my Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Mr. Derek Plumbly, to advance this Group's work in each of these areas.
The United Nations has an important and wide-ranging presence in Lebanon, and we are strongly committed to providing our utmost support.
I look forward to hearing from President Sleiman and others here today, and I thank all participants for your commitment to Lebanon's stability and security.
The inauguration of this International Support Group for Lebanon sends an important public signal that the international community and the United Nations are standing with Lebanon at this time of heightened pressure. I know that others are also ready to join as advocates to see Lebanon and its people through this crisis and on to a better future.
Thank you. Merci.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly Statement following Meeting with Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati

Office of the Special Coordinator for Lebanon
Bureau du Coordinateur Spécial
pour le Liban
(Delivered in Arabic)
Beirut, Lebanon
Friday, 13 September 2013
I just had a very good meeting with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
I told the Prime Minister that the international community remains united in its support for Lebanon's security and stability during this period. Our talks focused on the preparations for the inaugural meeting of the International Support Group which will be convened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and which is scheduled to take place in New York on 25 September in the margins of the UN General Assembly. The meeting will focus on support for stability in Lebanon against the backdrop of the Syrian crisis, and three priority areas for international assistance: to refugees and vulnerable communities, structural and financial support to the Government of Lebanon; and support to the Lebanese Armed Forces.
We also discussed the situation in Lebanon and the region. Obviously we greatly welcome the present diplomatic opening, but the situation remains serious, still further emphasizing, if that were possible, the importance of Lebanon's policy of dissociation and the principles of the Baabda Declaration.
Finally, we discussed the need for the formation of a capable government as soon as possible in order to have an effective partner in all the areas of cooperation that I have mentioned between Lebanon and the United Nations.
QUESTION: Mr. Plumbly, are you optimistic about the possibility of a political or diplomatic solution in Syria?
Special Coordinator Derek Plumbly: (UN and Arab League Joint Special Representative) Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi is currently present in Geneva and his focus obviously is on this issue in particular. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has repeatedly stressed the need to make progress at the political level. In Geneva, the discussions are on a specific issue between Russia and the United States but obviously the issue is in the background.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

UNIFIL Welcomes Mandate Renewal until 31 August 2014

06 September 2013
The United Nations Security Council, on the request of Lebanon, unanimously adopted resolution 2115 (2013), extending without any changes the mandate of the United Nations Interim Mission in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for one year, until 31 August 2014.

UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Paolo Serra welcomed the decision and reaffirmed UNIFIL's commitment to the tasks mandated by the Security Council. He said: "The unanimous decision of the Security Council to extend UNIFIL's mandate without changes is an important and significant endorsement of the work of our peacekeepers.

This attests to the satisfaction of all local and international stakeholders at our achievements on the ground in strategic partnership with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and with the cooperation of all parties concerned."

Major-General Serra said: "This is not only an encouraging demonstration to our efforts, but it also commended the positive role of UNIFIL, whose deployment together with the Lebanese Armed Forces has helped to establish a new strategic environment in southern Lebanon and welcomed the expansion of coordinated activities between UNIFIL and the Lebanese armed forces, and calling for further enhancement of this cooperation"

"The Security Council has welcomed the constructive role played by the tripartite mechanism in de-escalating tensions and has expressed support for the efforts of UNIFIL to engage with both parties to further develop liaison and coordination arrangements.
This is at the core of our efforts to further stabilize the situation along the Blue Line. Through these arrangements, we have been able to facilitate a number of measures and arrangements so that possible points of friction are removed and future incidents prevented."

"It is of the utmost importance that all parties concerned respect the cessation of hostilities, to prevent any violation of the Blue Line and to respect it in its entirety and to cooperate fully with the United Nations and UNIFIL".

"Withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from northern Ghajar, stop to Israeli air violations, as well as ensuring that our area of operations are free from any hostile activities or unauthorised armed presence are all important imperatives that we will continue to pursue with the parties."

"UNIFIL's freedom of movement and the security and safety of our personnel is integral to the effective execution of our tasks. I count on our strong relations with the people of south Lebanon and with the LAF in furthering our operations in a cooperative spirit with full transparency and mutual appreciation of our common objective of peace and security in southern Lebanon."