BEIRUT – Members of the UN Security Council emphasized the need for Lebanon to “deliver reforms in order to ensure effective international support” in a press statement released on Friday.
Here’s what we know:
• The statement expressed the Security Council members’ favorable views of the resumption of cabinet meetings on Jan. 24 and encouraged “the swift adoption of an appropriate budget for 2022 that would enable the quick conclusion of an agreement with the IMF.” The cabinet’s discussion of the draft budget has been ongoing since the resumption of meetings with an upcoming session scheduled for next Thursday at the presidential palace in Baabda.
• The Security Council members’ statement also drew attention to the nearing May 15 parliamentary elections, urging the Lebanese government to “full, equal and meaningful participation of women as candidates and voters in the election” and to “enable the Supervisory Commission for Elections to carry out its mandate.”
• The Security Council members condemned attacks against the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon personnel that had taken place on Dec. 22, 2021 and on Jan. 4, 13 and 25. The statement called on Lebanese authorities to carry out the necessary investigation and protect UNIFIL peacekeepers from further attacks. Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi had called on south Lebanon mayors to take action to prevent further attacks.
• The statement renewed the call for “a swift, independent, impartial, thorough, and transparent investigation” in the Aug. 4 Beirut Port Blast. The investigation has faced political intervention with the numerous complaints being filed against the lead investigator, Judge Tarek Bitar, halting his probe. The loss of quorum in the Court of Cassation has rendered it impossible to issue rulings on the complaints against Bitar.
• The Security Council finally called for the implementation of “a tangible policy of disassociation from any external conflicts ... as spelled out in previous declarations, in particular the 2012 Baabda Declaration.”
• On Friday, Reporters Without Borders submitted a complaint to the UN who they urged “to press the Lebanese authorities to guarantee the safety and protection of journalists”, describing their conditions as having deteriorated “since the start of anti-corruption protests in 2019 and the Aug. 4 port blast in 2020.” On Thursday, the Human Rights Watch identified “multiple failures, gross negligence and procedural violations” in four politically sensitive murder investigations.