Following are UN Deputy Secretary‑General Amina Mohammed’s remarks at the Ministerial Meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon, in Paris today:
Let me begin by conveying the best wishes and gratitude of Secretary‑General António Guterres to all of you for coming together in support of the people of Lebanon.
To President [Emmanuel] Macron and the Government of France, thank you for convening this meeting and for leading vital diplomatic efforts over recent weeks which have helped get us to this point.
I also thank the members of the International Support Group, and all others here today. Your participation is a demonstration of your enduring and unified support to Lebanon and our collective efforts to promote stability, security and development in the region.
As we all know, developments in the Middle East often have direct implications for Lebanon. In recent years, the conflict in Syria has caused extreme security and humanitarian challenges.
Lebanon, a country of 4 million people, has responded with exceptional generosity and resilience in hosting over one million Syrian refugees, in addition to Palestine refugees for many years.
Recent events have further underscored the vulnerability of Lebanon to regional tensions. But current events also present an opportunity. We have an opportunity for Lebanon to underscore its commitment to a stable and secure future — one in which State institutions are effective throughout its territory and one in which Lebanon is shielded from regional tensions.
We also have an opportunity as the international community, to emphasize our support for a secure and stable Lebanon, whose territorial integrity and sovereignty is fully respected. It is paramount that the unity for Lebanon is maintained, as constantly reaffirmed by the Security Council.
This meeting is further evidence of this unified support. Just one year ago, Lebanon overcame a two‑year institutional stalemate and presidential vacuum through dialogue. Today, against a backdrop of regional turmoil, Lebanon finds itself once again having faced a serious challenge to its political stability.
I welcome Prime Minister [Saad] Hariri and acknowledge the calm and measured response of the Lebanese leadership over the past several weeks. The responsible actions of President [Michel] Aoun and the Lebanese political leadership served to unify the Lebanese people, across communities and across the political spectrum. We must all, together, seize this moment to consolidate and sustain Lebanon’s stability and unity.
This is a critical moment to address some fundamental issues for Lebanon. I note the national consultations initiated by the President and the Prime Minister’s decision to withdraw his resignation. I note the decision of 5 December by the Council of Ministers reaffirming Lebanon’s commitment to disassociation from any regional conflicts and wars, and from internal affairs of Arab countries.
The international community is committed to helping Lebanon chart its way forward. In this regard, I reiterate the importance the international community attaches to key principles and commitments of Lebanon, including disassociation and adherence to Security Council resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1701 (2006) to name a few.
Lebanon’s stability is a public good for the region. It is important that all parties — domestic, regional and international — cooperate in efforts to defend Lebanon’s stability and shield it from regional tensions. “Business as usual” should not be an option. We must all work together to help deliver results.
Safeguarding Lebanon from regional tensions is our common goal; therefore, an earnest and determined commitment to disassociation is a must. We need for Lebanon to resume the National Dialogue, with the goal of formulating a National Defense Strategy. A Lebanese‑led process is the only viable means of addressing the issue of weapons outside State control.
Strengthening the Lebanese armed and security forces, and their deployment throughout the country remain a priority. We need deliverables on resolution 1701 (2006). In particular, we should focus our efforts on facilitating the extension of state authority throughout the Lebanese territory.
The United Nations reiterates its appreciation for the troop contributing countries — many of whom are represented here today — for their important support to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The peacekeeping Mission’s role in southern Lebanon is ever more important in the prevailing context.
For our part, the United Nations will continue to be active in supporting Lebanon in three key areas. First, peace and security — including by coordinating support to the Lebanese armed and security forces. Second, political stability, by assisting the conduct of timely elections, scheduled for May 2018. Third, support to refugees and host communities, and to Lebanon’s development needs including through reforms and economic investment plans.
In closing, Prime Minister Hariri, allow me to reiterate: The United Nations stands with you and with Lebanon. Let us make the most of the opportunities before us to make a real difference in ensuring a stable and secure future of Lebanon and the region. Thank you.