UNIFIL 2

Remember back to summer 2006. Hezbollah rockets rained down in northern Israel and Israeli retaliatory air strikes left hundreds of thousands internally displaced in Lebanon. For weeks, the situation remained hopelessly stuck. The Security Council had discussed ways to stop the fighting, and on August 14 authorized a peacekeeping force. But until the peacekeeping force actually asserted itself in northern Lebanon, Israel would not withdraw its forces and neither would Israel lift its sea and air blockade until other parts of the resolution were implemented.

In late summer Kofi Annan traveled to the region to address these outstanding issues and shore up the Security Council resolution. During a frantic bout of shuttle diplomacy that took the then Secretary General to 12 countries in 11 days, Annan was able to win the right set of concessions from both parties and convince member states to rapidly deploy peacekeepers to southern Lebanon.

Now, six months later, the new Secretary General has set foot in southern Lebanon where the ceasefire is holding.

From The New York Times:

“We are enjoying a situation in which we have no major incidents and no open display of weapons by anyone,” said Maj. Gen. Claudio Graziano of Italy, the commander of the force, known as Unifil. “We call this Unifil 2,” said General Graziano as he showed Mr. Ban around the new base here, built on what six months ago was a barren rock-strewn hillside.

While it’s true that the now 14,000 strong UNIFIL peacekeeping force has been able to prevent an outbreak of fighting, there are still some outstanding issues that challenge the region. For one, unexploded ordinances are wreaking havoc on the internally displaced who have returned home to rebuild. (Here the United Nations demining teams are taking the lead.) Also, although the resolution called for the disarmament of Hezbollah, there has been little indication that any actual disarmament has taken place. The August 14th ceasefire resolution did not grant Unifil the mandate to disarm Hezbollah, leaving that job to Lebanese authorities. But at this point, without a political settlement between Hezbollah and state authorities, any moves to disarm Hezbollah could spark a civil war. Still, despite these unresolved issues, the ceasefire in Southern Lebanon and Israel is holding strong.

Get occasional updates from UN Dispatch

* indicates required

Want Our Social Media List?