The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Thursday to renew the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) for another year, while urging the Lebanese army to boost its naval capabilities.
Fifteen members of the security council adopted the resolution 2433 to renew Unifil’s mandate. Unifil is a 10,500 strong-force tasked since 1978 to keep the peace on the Lebanese-Israeli border but with expanded responsibilities following the 2006 war.
The renewal push was led by French efforts at the Council, who were able to convince its members to stick to the current mandate, and not reduce the number of the peacekeepers. But the six-page resolution calls on Lebanon to boost its naval capabilities in order to ultimately draw down the Unifil mission. It requests an assessment by the UN Secretary General in six months on the issue.
The new mandate does not mention Hezbollah by name but calls on all member states to take “the necessary measures to prevent, by their nationals or from their territories or using flag vessels or aircraft, the sale or supply of arms and related materiel to any entity or individual in Lebanon other than those authorised by the government of Lebanon or Unifil.”
Lebanon’s permanent representative to the United Nations Amal Mudallali welcomed the vote. It allows Unifil “to continue its work in safeguarding the security and stability in South Lebanon”, Ms Mudallali tweeted:
The United States had offered harsh criticism on Unifil’s performance last year, but voted for the renewal. Addressing the council, US political coordinator at the UN Rodney Hunter said Washington “is pleased to join consensus in support of the mandate renewal today.”
Mr Hunter slammed Hezbollah’s and Iran’s roles in threatening the peace and violating an arms embargo under UN resolution 1701 from 2006. “With the support of Iran, Hezbollah has grown its arsenal in Lebanon in direct threat to peace along the Blue Line and the stability of all of Lebanon” he said while welcoming to expand and strengthen the Lebanese naval capabilities.
Last year, US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said “it’s time the Security Council puts teeth in the Unifil operation … we don’t need to be giving terrorists a pass.” This resolution strengthens Unifil’s operations but it is unclear if it gives it enough teeth to carry its mandate.