Transcript of Remarks at Security Council Press Stakeout - 1701 Report (Lebanon)
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
Remarks to the press by the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations and President of the Security Council for November 2014, HE Mr Gary Quinlan, following UN Security Council consultations on the 1701 report (Lebanon).
Good evening. Thank you for waiting.
We've had a busy day today. There was an adoption of a resolution on combatting Somali piracy this morning, renewing the mandate for that. Then we had briefings in the Chamber and consultations on Liberia and the mandate considerations that we need to go through over the next few weeks in reviewing the mandate for Liberia (UNMIL), which had a temporary extension until the end of December; we need to look at that. Then we had an emergency session on Ukraine. And we've just now had consultations on Lebanon.
Special Coordinator on Lebanon Derek Plumbly will really go into the detail, be available to talk to you, about Lebanon and the nature of the crises that Lebanon is facing. I would just emphasise one or two things about the destabilisation Lebanon faces – there's the security situation, particularly now with the threat of ISIL and even al Nusra. There is the extraordinary situation in respect of the refugee population – Derek obviously will speak about that. But 30% of the population of Lebanon are refugees – that's 30%. In a population of 4.2 million people, almost 1.2 million are Syrian refugees. So there are issues there.
And then, of course, we have the political situation. In respect of the political situation, I think you know, the political stalemate was partly broken in February with agreement to form a new government of national unity ahead of presidential elections scheduled in May when the term of President Sleiman ended. Of course, there has not been an agreement on filling the office of the President, so it's seven months without a Head of State, who also occupies the position of Chief of the Armed Forces. So we spent quite a lot of time talking through these issues.
The Council has agreed a number of points, press elements, on that situation in particular – that is, the political situation of the Presidency, which I've been asked to read to you.
We had briefings as I indicated, from Derek Plumbly, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, but also Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.
The members of the Security Council expressed concern at the prolonged vacancy in the office of the Presidency. With a view to preserving the stability and unity of Lebanon, they underlined the importance of the Parliament, the Lebanese Parliament, acting to ensure that presidential elections take place as soon as possible. The members of the Council strongly encouraged Lebanon's leaders to show the sense of urgency and flexibility needed to open the way to the achievement of that goal – that is, to settle the question of selection of the president – without further delay.
Finally, Council members underlined the importance of all Lebanese parties preserving national unity, consistent with their commitment in the Baabda Declaration and all stressed the importance of all Lebanese parties respecting the policy of disassociation. You know this is the policy of disassociation with the conflict in Syria.
That's what I've been asked to transmit to you, to express to you, on behalf of all Council members. I now hand over to Derek Plumbly, Special Coordinator.