The present report is my nineteenth semi-annual report on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1559 (2004). It provides a review and assessment of the process of the implementation of the resolution since my previous report on the subject was issued on 16 October 2013 (S/2013/612). I note herein the continued lack of progress on key provisions of the resolution, in addition to highlighting increasing concerns threatening the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Lebanon, including challenges to efforts to uphold that country’s policy of disassociation from the Syrian crisis. I also note positive developments on the political front.
There were serious security challenges to stability in Lebanon and further political polarization during the reporting period. In response to acts of terrorism during the period, the Security Council issued seven press statements, on 19 November (SC/11180), 27 December (SC/11232), 2 January (SC/11239), 16 January (SC/11249), 21 January (SC/11256), 1 February (SC/11269) and 19 February (SC/11287), in which Council members appealed to all Lebanese citizens to preserve national unity in the face of attempts to undermine the country’s stability and stressed that it was important for all Lebanese parties to respect the country’s policy of disassociation and to refrain from any involvement in the Syrian crisis, consistent with their commitment in the Baabda Declaration.
Lebanon witnessed many terrorist incidents during the reporting period, leading to at least 65 fatalities and more than 400 injuries. Incendiary explosive devices and car bombs had a significant impact on security and stability in many parts of the country. On 27 December, a former minister, Mohamad Chatah, was assassinated in a car bombing that also killed five other people. There were three suicide bombings in the area of Hermel, three in the eastern Bekaa, four in Beirut and one in Choueifat, north of Beirut, as well as two targeting Lebanese Armed Forces checkpoints in Sidon, all of which led to further loss of life and many injuries.
The conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic continued to have an impact on the security and stability of Lebanon. There were at least five attacks by the Syrian air force on the area around the Lebanese town of Aarsal, close to the Syrian-Lebanese border. There was also at least one air strike on the northern area of Wadi Khalid, reportedly leading to the death of at least two Lebanese citizens. Cross-border shooting, shelling and rocket attacks from the Syrian Arab Republic into Lebanon continued to cause death, injury and material damage. The President of Lebanon,
Michel Sleiman, maintained his calls for all Lebanese parties to disassociate themselves from the war in the Syrian Arab Republic and to respect their commitment to the principles of the Baabda Declaration.
There were positive developments on the political front during the reporting period. For example, on 15 February, after extensive consultations across the political spectrum, the Prime Minister, Tammam Salam, succeeded in forming a 24-member national interest government. The Government won Parliament’s vote of confidence on 20 March, with 96 of 128 parliamentarians giving their support. In the Government’s ministerial statement, it committed itself to, among other things, preserving the sovereignty and improving the security of Lebanon, respecting Security Council resolutions, supporting the National Dialogue, including resuming discussions concerning the national defence strategy and implementation of decisions taken at earlier sessions, building the capabilities of the armed forces, including by expediting a $3 billion donation from Saudi Arabia, and following up on decisions agreed upon in the context of the International Support Group for Lebanon. The Government stressed the need to approve a new electoral law for parliamentary elections and committed itself to holding the presidential election on time and on the basis of constitutional procedures and democratic practice.
Lebanon, the smallest and most vulnerable of the countries neighbouring the Syrian Arab Republic, continues to host the largest number of Syrian refugees and is facing significant humanitarian and socioeconomic challenges as a consequence. In its ministerial statement, the Government underlined its commitment to addressing practically the humanitarian challenges arising from the presence of 1 million registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon who had fled the violence in their country, through the activation of assistance programmes through the multi-donor trust fund established by the World Bank and other mechanisms. There was also a further influx into Lebanon of Palestine refugees from the Syrian Arab Republic during the reporting period. Lebanon and its people deserve the highest praise for the way in which they have maintained an open door to refugees fleeing the violence in the Syrian Arab Republic. The United Nations and the Government of Lebanon have continued to work closely together to raise funds to help Lebanon to respond to the humanitarian crisis.