Recently the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2373, which extends the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, for another year.
UNIFIL has been in Lebanon for nearly four decades. However, after the Hezbollah-Israeli conflict in 2006, it was charged with monitoring the cessation of hostilities and accompanying and supporting the Lebanese Armed Forces as they deployed in southern Lebanon. UNIFIL was also mandated to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces to establish southern Lebanon as an area free of any armed personnel, assets, and weapons other than those of the Lebanese government or UNIFIL. The newly adopted resolution strengthens this mandate, and comes at a time when the United States and others have pointed out that Hezbollah, responsible for initiating the 2006 conflict, has not only rebuilt, but increased its arsenal in Lebanon over the past decade.
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley welcomed the renewal of UNIFIL’s mandate. “This resolution gives UNIFIL robust authority to help Lebanon keep the south safe. What we sought in this renewal is to make sure UNIFIL is doing its job to the fullest extent possible.”
Ambassador Haley called current conditions in southern Lebanon “very dangerous.” “At the direction of its patron Iran, the terrorist organization Hezbollah …[has] thousands of missiles and thousands of trained fighters – all beyond the control of the Lebanese government.”
The renewal of UNIFIL’s mandate by the Security Council, among other measures, calls for UNIFIL to step up its patrols and inspections, thereby helping to disrupt Hezbollah’s illegal activity. More importantly, Ambassador Haley noted, the renewed mandate “require[s] UNIFIL to report when it is prevented from seeing something it wants to inspect. From now on, when the peacekeepers encounter a Hezbollah roadblock,” she said, “they have to tell us the details of where, when and why they got stopped. This transparency will put an end to the ignorance about what’s really going on in southern Lebanon.”
“For the United States, this is a time for strength, resolve and accountability at the United Nations,” Ambassador Haley declared. The renewal of the UNIFIL mandate, she emphasized, “is an important step, but there is much more to do…Just as Hezbollah is stepping up its efforts, the United States, and now the United Nations, [are] stepping up our efforts against them.”