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UNIFIL: Guterres welcomes extension mandate, says it will continue enhance activities

NEW YORK, AUGUST 31 – The UN Secretary-General welcomed the unanimous adoption by the Security Council of resolution 2373 extending the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) until 31 August 2018

The Secretary-General reiterates that UNIFIL, in close cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces, will continue to enhance its operational activities to effectively implement its mandate, consistent with resolution 2373. The Secretary-General urges the international community to further support the Government of Lebanon in this regard. 
The Secretary-General emphasizes the need for the parties to build on the prevailing calm, to focus on the goal of a permanent ceasefire and to act proactively to address all outstanding issues in the implementation of resolution 1701 and other relevant Security Council resolutions. UNIFIL, in close coordination with the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator, is ready to lend its full support to the parties in this process. 

The Secretary-General extends his gratitude to the countries contributing troops to UNIFIL. He expresses his confidence in the leadership and staff of the mission.  

The annual renewal of the mandate for the force had become a contentious issue in the council. It basically pitted the United States against members who have made significant troop contributions to Unifil. Washington had insisted that Unifil must be more muscular in policing Hezbollah weaponry, and had suggested that it would not agree to renewing the mandate without significant changes.

France, along with Italy and other members, objected to any adjustments in Unifil’s role — authorizing its soldiers to inspect private homes, for example — that would be seen as infringing on Lebanon’s sovereignty. They also argued that the resolution of 2006, which empowered Unifil’s border functions, already included language authorizing the force to “ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind.”

Lebanon opposed any change in Unifil’s role, but wanted the force to remain in the country. “Preserving the mandate of @unifil is necessary for peace and stability, otherwise will jeopardize efforts of @UN,” the foreign minister, Gebran Bassil, said in a Twitter posting on Tuesday.  Under compromise language in a Security Council resolution reauthorizing the mandate, Unifil’s soldiers will play a greater role in assisting Lebanon’s military in keeping the border area secure. The resolution requests that Secretary General António Guterres examine ways to “increase Unifil’s visible presence, including through patrols and inspections.” (@OnuItalia)

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