Thursday, March 28, 2019

Kubis Says 'Everyone Cares about Lebanon Stability', Even Israel

U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis has reassured that all countries care about the stability of Lebanon.

"I am very glad that in my new capacity as the Special Coordinator for Lebanon, I had the opportunity to brief the Security Council about my activities but notably about the country, about Lebanon. I spoke about opportunities and some risks as well," Kubis said at the media stakeout after Security Council consultations at the U.N. headquarters in New York.

"I mentioned also certain risks, first again economy. Economic, social issues, it is obvious from my meetings in the past six weeks that this is very high in the agenda of the government . Hopefully soon the Government will adopt the budget and the budget that hopefully will send a very strong signal that it is a reform budget," Kubis added.

Noting that there is "a national consensus even, political consensus among the major political parties, in favor of return of Syrian refugees back home," the U.N. official said "there is another big discussion about how to do it, if there is room to do it, how to cooperate and there is another topic about how to shape relations between Lebanon and Syria as such."

Responding to a question on whether returning refugees might face security risks in Syria, Kubis emphasized upon "the principles of safe, voluntary and dignified return."

"You cannot expect from the U.N., any side or any part of the U.N., to do and think in any other different way," he stressed.

As for the impact of the tense regional circumstances on Lebanon in light of the situation in Gaza and the U.S. recognition of the Golan as Israel's territory, Kubis said: "I would say that by and large, there is a strong interest, and it is my assumption and assessment, not to go too far in destabilizing the situation."

"Everyone cares about stability of Lebanon, including the regional countries. This is what I heard also in Israel. So from that perspective, I am of course following this with certain concern, but I don't think we should expect any total instability," he reassured.

Source Naharnet

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

UN Chief: Hezbollah Weapons Threaten Stability

Tuesday, 19 March, 2019 - 05:45
New York - Ali Barada
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed "grave concern" that Hezbollah's weapons would "endanger the stability of Lebanon and the region."

In an implicit reference to Iran, Guterres called on member states to "carry out their duties" in terms of not supplying arms and military equipment to entities and individuals in Lebanon. He also urged the Lebanese government to take "all necessary measures" to disarm the militias in accordance with the Taif Agreement and international resolutions.

The new Lebanese government is encouraged to abide by the policy of dissociation, in line with the Baabda Declaration of 2012, said the secretary-general in his latest report on the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1701.

He also emphasized that all Lebanese powers must "stop interfering in the Syrian war and other conflicts in the region," denouncing the "alleged movement of fighters and military equipment across the Lebanese-Syrian border."

Turning to the Lebanese-Israeli border, Guterres voiced "deep concern" over the presence of tunnels along the Blue Line and urged the Lebanese army to conduct all necessary investigations to ensure that the border tunnels were no longer a security threat.

He strongly encouraged Lebanon and Israel to reach an agreement on resolving the points of contention along the Blue Line, stressing that unilateral actions in these areas would escalate tensions and must be avoided. He expressed the readiness of UN Special Coordinator in Lebanon Jan Kubis and UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Commander General Stefano Del Cole to assist in this regard.

The top UN official said he was deeply concerned about the continuation of Israeli air breaches, saying that they constituted a violation of resolution 1701 and Lebanese sovereignty. He also rejected the continued occupation of the northern part of the town of Ghajar and the adjacent area north of the Blue Line, condemning "all violations of Lebanese sovereignty."

His remarks were made days before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to arrive in Beirut, which is hoping for Washington's support to return Syrian refugees back to their homeland.


15 Mar2019

On the occasion of the first anniversary of the Rome II ministerial conference held on 15 March 2018 under the auspices of the International Support Group for Lebanon and the chairmanship of the United Nations and the Government of Italy, United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis reflected on Lebanon's commitment to strengthening the security, stability and sovereignty of the country and continuing relevance of the International community's support to Lebanon as it works towards this endeavour.  He lauded the 41 countries who had participated in Rome and expressed their commitment to Lebanon in its efforts to strengthen its security institutions on the basis of Lebanon's five-year capacity development plans for the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Internal Security Forces.

"Having had discussions with the constitutional leaders, respective ministers as well as with the LAF, ISF, and General Security leadership during my short time in country on the security challenges and progress to date, I am impressed by their professionalism and determination to ensure the security of the country, its borders and its population," said SCL Kubis, echoing the praise expressed in Rome.

Within the framework of Security Council Resolutions 1701 (2006), 2373 (2017) and 2433 (2018), UNSCOL, in close coordination with UNIFIL, welcomes all steps taken to date by the Government of Lebanon in extending and consolidating the presence of the Lebanese State across its territory, including towards the deployment of a LAF Model Regiment and the gradual build-up of the LAF Navy.  Echoing the Rome joint statement that the LAF are the only legitimate armed forces of Lebanon, as enshrined in the Lebanese Constitution and the Taif Agreement, Mr. Kubis also commended the robust deployment of the LAF's Land Border Regiments along the northern and eastern borders, an important marker of the country's extension of State authority. Mr. Kubis encouraged Lebanon to continue in these efforts throughout its territory as well as to resume the discussions on a National Defence Strategy. He also urged Member States to continue supporting the LAF and ISF.

The UN welcomes the steps taken by Lebanon towards increasing respect for human rights and the participation of women in the armed and security forces, in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security and as pledged in Rome "The increased participation of women in the security forces, and the implementation by the LAF and the ISF of codes of conduct are important steps towards greater effectiveness,  respect for human rights and accountability as is the recent appointments of the members of the National Human Rights Institution, including its National Preventive Mechanism against torture.  I look forward to it becoming operational."

Mr. Kubis further observed that, "a strong and sustained security environment in which human rights and rule of law are respected will contribute to building the confidence necessary for increased economic investment and long-term development for a more stable and prosperous country."


18 Mar2019


I am very grateful that His Excellency the Prime Minister is giving me his time frequently and regularly. This is very important as well due to my forthcoming meeting with the Security Council of the United Nations next week in New York. So I wanted to check some messages and the most important message that I received from His Excellency the Prime Minister but also I confirm on my side is how to support the Government, how to support His Excellency, other ministries and of course political forces in making sure that the reform programme of the Government proceeds forward, that there is no disruption, no diversion from the objectives of reform, the delivery of services to the people, improving the environment, including as regards fighting corruption, by any other topics that might create disruption. So it is very important to make sure that the Government can proceed with reforms.  

One of the most important steps is to make sure that the budget of the country is adopted as soon as possible but also the budget is a reformed one that would address, including such important issues as gradual reduction of fiscal deficit etc. etc. And here I pledged the support of the international community. I will discuss before my departure with the critical international  partners of the country how to provide more support for the reform programme.

There were other topics on the agenda. I also acknowledged the very strong performance of the country and His Excellency at the Brussels III conference with messages that confirm an urgent need to ensure safe, voluntary and dignified return of Syrian refugees home, according to the international humanitarian norms but as soon as possible under these norms and full respect of these norms, to treat this as a humanitarian issue. And here again expectation that the UN and the humanitarian community will continue in facilitating these returns as much as possible. Another very important message was also to support the host communities here in Lebanon. Presence of refugees is a heavy burden and there is a need to support also communities that are temporarily still hosting them.

There were many other topics I believe about my discussions with visiting delegations, including Under-Secretary-General (Jean-Pierre) Lacroix who was here to inspect UNIFIL operations and we discussed all the measures that are important to keep calm and to make sure that occasional problems are not creating any problems of a bigger nature.

All in all, it was a very good and very substantive meeting and I am grateful to His Excellency that he gave me his time.


Thursday, March 14, 2019


14 Mar 2019
The United Nations Under Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, yesterday concluded his 5-day visit to Lebanon, where he held talks with top Lebanese officials in the capital, Beirut, and saw first-hand the crucial work of UNIFIL peacekeepers in the southern part of the country.
During talks with President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Minister of Foreign Affairs Gebran Bassil, Minister of Defense Elias Bou Saab, Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Commander General Joseph Aoun and head of General Security Abbas Ibrahim, Mr. Lacroix underlined the importance of the Lebanese Government's continued cooperation with UNIFIL in maintaining calm in south Lebanon and ensuring implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which forms the core of UNIFIL's mandate.
"With the new national unity government in place in Beirut, we hope to see the further strengthening of the LAF, including its reinforced presence in the south working alongside UNIFIL peacekeepers, as well as the strengthening of Lebanon's naval capabilities," said Mr. Lacroix before wrapping up his visit. "The consolidation of LAF-UNIFIL cooperation is vital in building on the nearly 13 years of stability and in moving forward to a permanent ceasefire as envisaged in the resolution 1701."
UNIFIL is mandated to support the LAF and help enhancing its capacities, including by supporting the deployment of the LAF in South Lebanon. Since October 2006, the Mission's Maritime Task Force also continues to assist the Lebanese Navy in securing the country's territorial waters and raising its capabilities.
During meetings with Lebanese leaders and interactions with UNIFIL peacekeepers, Mr Lacroix underlined UNIFIL's strong preventive role through its actions on the ground and its tripartite, liaison and coordination arrangements.
"UNIFIL will continue to do its utmost to support efforts towards a permanent ceasefire and long-term solution to the conflict," he said. "A peacekeeping operation is a tool to enable diplomatic efforts towards a political solution; it cannot be a substitute for a political solution."
Throughout his interactions with Lebanese interlocutors, Mr. Lacroix highlighted the importance of ensuring UNIFIL's freedom of movement, allowing it to carry out its work independently and in an impartial manner, within its area of operation in south Lebanon.
During his visit, Mr. Lacroix also toured key hotspots along the Blue Line and interacted with peacekeepers on the ground, including women peacekeepers, whose work is essential to build a relation of confidence with the population. He also addressed UNIFIL military and civilian staff in a town hall meeting in the Mission headquarters in Naqoura.


11 Feb 2019 UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col today held his first meeting with the newly appointed Lebanese Minister of Defence Elias Bou Saab in Beirut to discuss the situation in the UNIFIL area of operation and the continued cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).
While congratulating Minister Bou Saab on his appointment, Major General Del Col said the UN mission is looking forward to advancing UNIFIL-LAF cooperation in south Lebanon. He also briefed the Minister on the situation in UNIFIL's 1,060 square kilometre area of operation and along the Blue Line, which continues to remain calm.
Major General Del Col expressed gratitude for the continued support of Lebanese authorities in the implementation of UNIFIL's mandate.
During the meeting, the UNIFIL head also reiterated the UN's call for the LAF to undertake follow-up actions on the recently discovered tunnels north of the Blue Line.
Separately, in line with UN Security Council resolution 2433, adopted in August 2018, Major General Del Col stressed the importance for the LAF to scale up the rapid deployment of its Model Regiment in south Lebanon.
"UNIFIL is engaged with a variety of potential donors to facilitate this process; however, at the same time it is vital that the LAF be seen as prioritizing this effort," he said. He also called on the LAF to build a "right-sized and sustainable naval component."
With the formation of a new Cabinet last week, Minister Bou Saab replaced Yaacoub Sarraf as the Minister of Defence.