SECURITY COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY ENDORSES FINDINGS OF INVESTIGATION INTO MURDER OF RAFIK HARIRI, CALLS FOR SYRIA’S FULL, UNCONDITIONAL COOPERATION
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5297th Meeting (AM)
SECURITY COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY ENDORSES FINDINGS OF INVESTIGATION INTO MURDER
OF RAFIK HARIRI, CALLS FOR SYRIA ’S FULL, UNCONDITIONAL COOPERATION
Resolution 1636 (2005), Adopted at Ministerial Level, Decides
On Assets Freeze for Suspects, Warns of ‘Further Action’ for Non-Compliance
Formally endorsing the Report of the United Nations Independent Investigation Commission that found evidence of Syrian involvement in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the Security Council this morning, in a ministerial meeting, called for Syria to cooperate fully and unconditionally with the Commission and insisted it not interfere in Lebanese affairs.
Through its unanimous adoption of resolution 1636 (2005) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Council also decided that all individuals suspected by the Commission or the Government of Lebanon of involvement in planning, sponsoring, organizing or perpetrating the murder be subject to travel restrictions and freezing of assets. It also endorsed the Commission’s conclusion that Syrian authorities must clarify a number of questions that remained unresolved and detain Syrian officials or individuals the Commission considers as suspects.
Defining the crime as a terrorist act, the Council said that the involvement of any State in it would constitute a serious violation of that country’s obligations to prevent and refrain from supporting terrorism in accordance with previous resolutions. It said it would also amount to a serious violation of the sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon. It requested the Commission to report to the Council by 15 December on the investigation’s progress, including on Syria’s cooperation, so the Council could consider further action.
The 14 February 2005 bombing, which killed Mr. Hariri and 22 others, led to renewed calls for the withdrawal of all Syrian troops and intelligence agents, who had been in Lebanon since the early stages of the country’s 1975-1990 civil war. The Security Council set up the Commission after an earlier United Nations mission found Lebanon’s own investigation seriously flawed and Syria primarily responsible for the political tension preceding the murder.
Speaking after the vote, the sponsors of the resolution –- France, United Kingdom, United States -- emphasized the importance of bringing to justice those responsible for what they called a “heinous act”. Through the text, Philippe Douste-Blazy, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, said the Council was sending a message of support to the Lebanese people and the Commission, and a message to Syria that it must cooperate with the investigation, saying the Council would Decide on the consequences of any failure by the Syrian authorities to meet their obligations.
Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of State of the United States, said that Syria had been working consistently to thwart the will of the Lebanese people and the international community. With the decision today, the Council showed that Syria had isolated itself through destabilizing behaviour and support for terrorism.
Calling the assassination a “medieval” crime, Jack Straw, Foreign Minister of the United Kingdom, emphasized that the report was clear on indicating where its evidence pointed, although the presumption of innocence still stood. The resolution put Syria on notice that the Council’s patience was limited in obtaining its necessary cooperation.
Other Council Members explained why they had worked to remove a more pointed threat of sanctions out of the text. Foreign Minister Mohamed Bedjaoui of Algeria said that the resulting text properly called on Syria to cooperate; he commended Syria’s pledges to do so. The Council’s prime consideration should now be to help the Commission complete its work and not call for premature action or delve into the issue of terrorism, which should be dealt with in separate resolutions.
He said that political elements in the text, such as those that prematurely incriminated Syria, harmed the consistency of the resolution and those had been properly taken out. It was in that context that the threats of sanctions had been removed. Under Chapter VII, the resolution was already binding. China’s Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said that the Council could not threaten sanctions, it could only authorize the use of sanctions with prudence in light of actual situations.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov of the Russian Federation said he made sure that no provisions be included that cast doubt either on the presumption of innocence or the impartiality of the Council, or set up a precedent of allowing the placement of sanctions as the prerogative of the Commission. It was important that the people of the region see the Council as an impartial arbiter.
As for the Lebanese, its Foreign Minister, Boutros Assaker, said that truth and justice were their priorities. Lebanon was in the midst of working to reform its institutions and economy to better serve the Lebanese people, and the application of law would help that effort. He called on all parties to cooperate with the Commission so that the investigation could run its full course.
The Syrian Foreign Minister, Farouk Al-Shara, said that Foreign Minister Straw was right when he compared the Hariri assassination to a medieval event. However, the investigation could be described as medieval, as well, in its presumption of Syria’s guilt. He said the resolution repeated nearly verbatim the unclear accusations against Syria in the Commission’s report, which forgot that there had to be a presumption of innocence and which hampered the search for the true perpetrator.
More grave than such presumptions were the accusations that Syria had not cooperated in substance with the Independent Commission, he said. After Detlev Mehlis’ visit to the Council, Syria had ensured the Commission of its cooperation, and the Commission could have defined its requirements.
Also making statements today were the Foreign Ministers of: Brazil, Celso Luiz Nunes Amorim; Denmark, Per Stig Moller; Greece, Petros Molyviatis; Philippines, Alberto G. Romulo; and Romania, Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu.
The representatives of Argentina, Benin, Japan and United Republic of Tanzania also spoke.
The meeting, which began at 10:58 a.m., adjourned at 1 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning at the ministerial level to discuss the situation in Lebanon, including the findings of the United Nations Independent Investigation Commission, which is assisting the Lebanese authorities in their investigation of the 14 February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. [For further information on the Commission’s report, see Press Release SC/8535 of 25 October 2005.]
The Council had before it the draft resolution sponsored by France, United Kingdom and the United States (document S/2005/684), which reads, as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Reaffirming all its previous relevant resolutions, in particular resolutions 1595 (2005) of 7 April 2005, 1373 (2001) of 28 September 2001, and 1566 (2004) of 8 October 2004,
“Reiterating its call for the strict respect of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence of Lebanon under the sole and exclusive authority of the Government of Lebanon,
“Reaffirming that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to peace and security,
“Having examined carefully the report of the international independent investigation Commission (S/2005/662) (“the Commission”) concerning its investigation into the 14 February 2005 terrorist bombing in Beirut, Lebanon, that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others, and caused injury to dozens of people,
“Commending the Commission for the outstanding professional work it has accomplished under difficult circumstances in assisting the Lebanese authorities in their investigation of all aspects of this terrorist act, and taking note of the Commission’s conclusion that the investigation is not yet complete,
“Commending States which have provided assistance to the Commission in the discharge of its duties,
“Commending also the Lebanese authorities for the full cooperation they have provided to the Commission in the discharge of its duties, in accordance with paragraph 3 of resolution 1595 (2005),
“Recalling that pursuant to its relevant resolutions, all States are required to afford one another the greatest measure of assistance in connection with criminal investigations or criminal proceedings relating to terrorist acts, and recalling in particular that it had requested in its resolution 1595 (2005) all States and all parties to cooperate fully with the Commission,
“Taking note of the Commission’s findings that although the inquiry has already made considerable progress and achieved significant results, it is of the utmost importance to continue the trail both within and outside Lebanon in order to elucidate fully all aspects of this terrorist act, and in particular to identify and hold accountable all those who bear responsibility in its planning, sponsoring, organization and perpetration,
“Mindful of the demand of the Lebanese people that all those responsible for the terrorist bombing that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and others be identified and held accountable,
“Acknowledging in this connection the letter of the Prime Minister of Lebanon to the Secretary-General of 13 October 2005 (S/2005/651) requesting that the mandate of the Commission be extended to enable the Commission to continue to assist the competent Lebanese authorities in any further investigation of the various dimensions of the terrorist crime,
“Acknowledging also the concurrent recommendation of the Commission that continued international assistance is needed to help the Lebanese authorities get right to the bottom of this terrorist act, and that a sustained effort on the part of the international community to establish an assistance and cooperation platform together with the Lebanese authorities in the field of security and justice is essential,
“Willing to continue to assist Lebanon in the search for the truth and in holding those responsible for this terrorist act accountable for their crime,
“Calling upon all States to extend to the Lebanese authorities and to the Commission the assistance they may need and request in connection with the inquiry, and in particular to provide them with all relevant information they may possess pertaining to this terrorist attack,
“Reaffirming its profound commitment to the national unity and stability of Lebanon, emphasizing that the future of Lebanon should be decided through peaceful means by the Lebanese themselves, free of intimidation and foreign interference, and warning in this regard that attempts to undermine the stability of Lebanon will not be tolerated,
“Taking note of the Commission’s conclusions that, given the infiltration of Lebanese institutions and society by the Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services working in tandem, it would be difficult to envisage a scenario whereby such a complex assassination plot could have been carried out without their knowledge, and that there is probable cause to believe that the decision to assassinate former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri could not have been taken without the approval of top-ranked Syrian security officials,
“Mindful of the Commission’s conclusion that while the Syrian authorities, after initial hesitation, have cooperated to a limited degree with the Commission, several Syrian officials have tried to mislead the investigation by giving false or inaccurate statements,
“Convinced that it is unacceptable in principle that anyone anywhere should escape accountability for an act of terrorism for any reason, including because of his own obstruction of the investigation or failure to cooperate in good faith,
“Determining that this terrorist act and its implications constitute a threat to international peace and security,
“Emphasizing the importance of peace and stability in the region, and the need for peaceful solutions,
“Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,
== I ==
“1. Welcomes the report of the Commission;
“2. Takes note with extreme concern of the Commission’s conclusion that, there is converging evidence pointing at the involvement of both Lebanese and Syrian officials in this terrorist act, and that it is difficult to envisage a scenario whereby such complex assassination could have been carried out without their knowledge;
“3. Decides as a step to assist in the investigation of this crime and without prejudice to the ultimate judicial determination of the guilt or innocence of any individual;
(a) that all individuals designated by the Commission or the Government of Lebanon as suspected of involvement in the planning, sponsoring, organizing or perpetrating of this terrorist act, upon notification of such designation to and agreement of the Committee established in subparagraph (b) below, shall be subject to the following measures:
-- All States shall take the measures necessary to prevent entry into or transit through their territories of such individuals, provided that nothing in this paragraph shall obligate a state to refuse entry into its territory to its own nationals, or, if such individuals are found within their territory, shall ensure in accordance with applicable law that they are available for interview by the Commission if it so requests;
-- All States shall: freeze all funds, financial assets and economic resources that are on their territories that are owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by such individuals, or that are held by entities owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by such individuals or by persons acting on their behalf or at their direction; ensure that no funds, financial assets or economic resources are made available by their nationals or by any persons within their territories to or for the benefit of such individuals or entities; and cooperate fully in accordance with applicable law with any international investigations related to the assets or financial transactions of such individuals, entities or persons acting on their behalf, including through sharing of financial information;
(b) to establish, in accordance with rule 28 of its provisional rules of procedure, a Committee of the Security Council consisting of all the members of the Council to undertake the tasks described in the annex to this resolution;
(c) that the Committee and any measures still in force under subparagraph (a) will terminate when the Committee reports to the Security Council that all investigative and judicial proceedings relating to this terrorist attack have been completed, unless otherwise decided by the Security Council;
“4. Determines that the involvement of any State in this terrorist act would constitute a serious violation by that State of its obligations to work to prevent and refrain from supporting terrorism, in accordance in particular with resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1566 (2004) and that it would amount also to a serious violation of its obligation to respect the sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon;
“5. Takes note with extreme concern also of the Commission’s conclusion that, while the Syrian authorities have cooperated in form but not in substance with the Commission, several Syrian officials tried to mislead the Commission by giving false or inaccurate information, and determines that Syria’s continued lack of cooperation to the inquiry would constitute a serious violation of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including 1373 (2001), 1566 (2004), and 1595 (2005);
“6. Takes note of the recent statement by Syria regarding its intention now to cooperate with the Commission and expects the Syrian Government to implement in full the commitments it is now making;
== II ==
“7. Acknowledges that continued assistance from the Commission to Lebanon, as requested by its Government in its letter to the Secretary-General of
13 October 2005 and recommended by the Commission in its report, remains necessary to elucidate fully all aspects of this heinous crime, thus enabling that all those involved in the planning, sponsoring, organizing and perpetrating of this terrorist act, as well as their accomplices, be identified and brought to justice;
“8. Welcomes in this regard the decision of the Secretary-General to extend the mandate of the Commission until 15 December 2005, as authorized by the Security Council in its resolution 1595 (2005), and decides that it will extend the mandate further if recommended by the Commission and requested by the Lebanese Government;
“9. Commends the Lebanese authorities for the courageous decisions they have already taken in relation to the inquiry, including upon recommendation of the Commission, in particular the arrest and indictment of former Lebanese security officials suspected of involvement in this terrorist act, and encourages the Lebanese authorities to persist in their efforts with the same determination in order to get right to the bottom of this crime;
== III ==
“10. Endorses the Commission’s conclusion that it is incumbent upon the Syrian authorities to clarify a considerable part of the questions which remain unresolved;
“11. Decides in this context that:
(a) Syria must detain those Syrian officials or individuals whom the Commission considers as suspected of involvement in the planning, sponsoring, organizing or perpetrating of this terrorist act, and make them fully available to the Commission;
(b) the Commission shall have vis-à-vis Syria the same rights and authorities as mentioned in paragraph 3 of resolution 1595 (2005), and Syria must cooperate with the Commission fully and unconditionally on that basis;
(c) the Commission shall have the authority to determine the location and modalities for interview of Syrian officials and individuals it deems relevant to the inquiry;
“12. Insists that Syria not interfere in Lebanese domestic affairs, either directly or indirectly, refrain from any attempt aimed at destabilizing Lebanon, and respect scrupulously the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence of this country;
== IV ==
“13. Requests the Commission to report to the Council on the progress of the inquiry by 15 December 2005, including on the cooperation received by the Commission from the Syrian authorities, or anytime before that date if the Commission deems that such cooperation does not meet the requirements of this resolution, so that the Council, if necessary, could consider further action;
“14. Expresses its readiness to consider any additional request for assistance from the Lebanese Government to ensure that all those responsible for this crime are held accountable;
“15. Decides to remain seized of the matter.
The following are the functions of the Committee established pursuant to paragraph 3 of this resolution:
1. To register as subject to the measures in paragraph 3 (a) in this resolution an individual designated by the Commission or the Government of Lebanon, provided that within two working days of receipt of such designation no member of the Committee objects, in which case the Committee shall meet within fifteen days to determine the applicability of the measures in paragraph 3 (a).
2. To approve exceptions to the measures established in paragraph 3 (a) on a case-by-case basis:
(i) with respect to the travel restrictions, where the Committee determines that such travel is justified on the ground of humanitarian need, including religious obligation, or where the Committee concludes that an exemption would otherwise further the objectives of this resolution;
(ii) with respect to the freezing of funds and other economic resources, where the Committee determines that such exceptions are necessary for basic expenses, including payments for foodstuffs, rent or mortgage, medicines and medical treatment, taxes, insurance premiums, and public utility charges, or exclusively for payment of reasonable professional fees and reimbursement of incurred expenses associated with the provision of legal services, or fees or service charges for routine holding or maintenance of frozen funds or other financial assets or economic resources;
3. To register the removal of an individual from the scope of the measures in paragraph 3 (a) upon notification from the Commission or the Government of Lebanon that the individual is no longer suspected of involvement in this terrorist act, provided that within two working days of receipt of such designation no member of the Committee objects, in which case the Committee shall meet within fifteen days to determine the removal of an individual from the scope of the measures in paragraph 3 (a).
4. To inform all Member States as to which individuals are subject to the measures in paragraph 3 (a).”
Action on Text
At the beginning of the meeting, the text was unanimously adopted as Security Council resolution 1636 (2005).
PHILIPPE DOUSTE-BLAZY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, said that on 14 February 2005, former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri and 22 others had been assassinated in a cowardly terrorist attack in the heart of Beirut. The Council had solemnly gathered today to reaffirm its resolve to seek the truth and punish those guilty of the heinous act. On behalf of his Government, he paid tribute to the memory of Rafik Hariri, who embodied Lebanon’s indestructible wish for independence, democracy and freedom, a wholly legitimate wish that France, linked to the country by so many ties, had consistently supported and encouraged. The Lebanese people were deeply shocked by the tragedy, which occurred at a time when Lebanon was gradually recovering its sovereignty and regaining control of its destiny. The Lebanese people, like the international community, demanded to know the full truth about the political assassination, so justice was done and there was an end to impunity.
The Council had heeded that call, he said. By deciding to establish an international independent commission of inquiry last spring, it had restored hope to an entire people. The Commission had done remarkable work under very difficult circumstances. Its findings, after several months of rigorous investigation, were extremely serious, including that there was converging evidence pointing at both Lebanese and Syrian involvement in the act and that Syria had not cooperated in good faith with the Commission and was obligated to clarify a good many of the unresolved questions. The Council could not remain silent in the face of findings of such seriousness. France, with the United States and the United Kingdom, had, therefore, proposed that a firm resolution recognize all the consequences of the report by the Commission. He was pleased that the Council had been able to reach an agreement on the text quickly. It had only one aim -- the whole truth about Rafik Hariri’s assassination, so that those responsible for it answered for their crime.
By adopting the resolution unanimously today, the Council was sending three messages, he said. First, it sent a message of solidarity with the Lebanese people and Government who had shown unwavering courage and determination in the past months. It had also sent an important message of support to the independent Commission and its Commissioner, who must be able to continue their work alongside Lebanon’s judicial officials under the best possible circumstances. The Council also made a clear, firm and urgent appeal to Syria. The Syrian authorities must today cooperate fully with the Commission, so that full light was shed as quickly as possible on the attack that took Hariri’s life. Syria’s leaders must understand that the Council, and through it the international community as a whole, would not tolerate anything less than immediate and complete cooperation, and that it would draw the consequences of any failure by the Syrian authorities to meet their obligations.
It had been eight months since the tragic assassination of Rafik Hariri and 22 others, he said. Despite continuing attacks and attempts at destabilization, Lebanon had stood firm. The legislative elections in June had taken place in freedom and transparency. The new Government led by Fouad Siniora was working and moving forward. The Lebanese people had shown they were equal to their destiny and that they had no intention of weakening or yielding in the face of terrorism. It was the international community’s duty to help Lebanon at the crucial time in its history. Resolutely continuing the inquiry into the 14 February terrorist attack, revealing the truth and punishing those guilty were essential for strengthening Lebanon’s sovereignty and stability. The resolution adopted today would contribute to that.
JACK STRAW, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, said that the firm language of the resolution sent out a strong message to Syria of the need for them to cooperate fully with the Independent Investigation Commission. The assassination was profoundly shocking, even in the context of Lebanon’s violent history, because it suggested that there were entities that wished to resolve Lebanon’s future through the medieval method of political assassination.
Congratulating Commissioner Detlev Mehlis on his work, he emphasized that, although the presumption of innocence should stand, the report was clear on where its evidence pointed. For the Commission to have a chance to finish its tasks, it needed both more time and the unconditional cooperation of Syria. It was clear from the report that such cooperation had not been forthcoming, so far. The resolution put Syria on notice that the Council’s patience was limited in obtaining such cooperation. Judy
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, Secretary of State of the United States, said by passing resolution 1636 the United Nations had declared support for the Commission’s search for truth. It had also affirmed the just demands of the Syrian Government and made clear that failure to comply would lead to serious actions. For the past 30 years, Syria’s occupation of Lebanon had penetrated all aspects of its society. Last year, Syria’s occupation had become so corrupt that it began to galvanize action against itself. Last August, the Syrian Government had dictated the extension of President Lahoud’s term of office. In response, the international community had acted, though some on the Council had not wanted to single out Syria by name. Hence, by adopting resolution 1559, the Council had called for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon. When the Syrian Government met none of those demands, Hariri had resigned his post in protest. Four months later, Prime Minister Hariri had been assassinated in a terrorist bombing that had also claimed the lives of 22 others. After mourning their murdered leader, 1 million Lebanese had united to publicly call for truth, justice and freedom from Syrian domination.
The Council had supported the aspirations of the Lebanese people and had helped them to compel Syria to withdraw its forces from the country. The Council had adopted resolution 1595 to examine the crime and identify the guilty. The Council had now received the interim report and its findings were deeply disturbing, including converging evidence pointing at both Lebanese and Syrian involvement and that Syrian officials had sought to impede the investigation by intentionally misleading the Commission. Syria had offered no truthful explanation of the allegations, but had chosen to dismiss the report as politically motivated. The Syrian Government had worked to break the will of the Lebanese people and to thwart the international community’s will. With the resolution adopted today, the United Nations was taking a step to hold Syria accountable for further failure to cooperate and to consider further action, if necessary. The Chapter VII resolution was the only way to compel the Syrian Government to accept the United Nations just demands and cooperate fully with the investigation.
Concluding, she said the Council had showed that Syrian had isolated itself from the international community through its support for terrorism, interference in the affairs of its neighbours and its destabilizing behaviour. Syria’s Government needed to make a strategic decision. The international community remained united and resolute in its pursuit of truth and support of liberty for the brave and courageous people of Lebanon.
MOHAMED BEDJAOUI, State Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Algeria, said he was convinced that Lebanon would recover from this difficult moment and contribute to the stability of the region. He pledged his country’s continued support for its people and its sovereignty. He hoped that the absolute evil that was at the heart of the meeting today should be the last example of such in the region. The cowardly terrorist crime must not, under any pretext, go unpunished.
The investigation must, therefore, proceed with scientific exactness and impartiality, he said. Since the investigation was not over, the Council must deal with the matter with the greatest of care and avoid the presumption of guilt or innocence. It must, then, avoid any premature decision. Its prime duty now was to give the Commission the resources and time it needed.
The resolution, he said, properly called on Syria to cooperate. He commended Syria’s statements to do so. The Council’s prime consideration should now be to help the Commission to complete its work and not call for premature action or delve into the issue of terrorism, which should be dealt with in separate resolutions. Political elements that incriminated Syria harmed the consistency of the resolution and those had been properly taken out. It was in that context that the threats of sanctions had been removed. Under Chapter VII, the resolution was already binding.
The premature accusations of Syria contrasted, he said, with the treatment of non-Arab parties. Trust must be now placed in the impartiality of the Commission, so that the Council’s action can be seen to be in the service of law and not in the pursuit of political purposes. Only in that way could the memory of Mr. Hariri truly be honoured.
CELSO LUIZ NUNES AMORIM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Brazil, noted that Brazil maintained strong historical ties with both Syria and Lebanon. President Lula had been keen in intensifying Brazil’s dialogue with the Arab world. Out of a concern with possible undue interference in a delicate internal situation, as well as with stability in the region, Brazil had decided to abstain on
resolution 1559. Subsequent developments had created a new and troubling scenario. Brazil condemned in the strongest terms the 14 February terrorist attack in Beirut. The international community was unanimous in its support for resolution 1595, which had pledged assistance to the Lebanese authorities in their efforts to clarify the circumstances of Rafik Hariri’s death. It was imperative that those responsible for that crime be brought to justice.
He commended the Commission, under the leadership of Detlev Mehlis, for the serious work carried out in establishing the facts related to the events of
14 February. As the report noted, the investigation was not complete. It was, thus, most appropriate that the Council had expressed its support for the Secretary-General’s decision to extend the Commission’s mandate until 15 December. The demand for greater cooperation by those who had not been forthcoming was entirely justifiable. The initial draft of the resolution had gone beyond the scope of the Commission’s report and did not include language that ensured respect for the presumption of innocence, among other shortcomings. Brazil would not have been in a position to support a text that sought to promote objectives other than those strictly related to the investigation of Rafik Hariri. A number of its concerns had been dealt with in the revised draft.
He said he had voted in favour of the text on the understanding that any additional measures could only be taken on the basis of a collective assessment by Council members of the Commission’s final conclusions. In other words, Brazil considered that the references to Chapter VII of the Charter neither implied nor authorized the application of measures against Syria in the absence of a collective decision by the Council, based on careful evaluations of the facts. The present situation in the Middle East was marked by tension, on the one hand, and hopes for peace, on the other. Under such circumstances, the Council must be guided by a sense of balance and realism. The Council’s decisions must reconcile a firm determination to bring to justice those responsible for Hariri’s assassination and the pursuit of stability through institutional and political progress. While the Council needed to send a strong political message, Brazil did not favour hasty decisions that might lead to an undesirable escalation of the situation or further endanger stability in the region.
LI ZHAOXING, Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, said the assassination of Mr. Hariri last February was, indeed, distressing. Today’s meeting carried positive significance, not only for searching for the truth and bringing the perpetrators to justice, but also for preventing the recurrence of similar incidents. In the past several months, the Independent Investigation Commission had done much work, and China took the questions in the Commission’s report seriously. The Council was duty-bound to urge the relevant parties to have full and serious cooperation with the Commission under Council resolution 1595. He hoped that the Commission would continue the investigation with openness and impartiality, acquire “ironclad” evidence as early as possible, and bring the truth to light, so as to do justice to the victims and safeguard the Council’s authority.
It was for that reason that China believed it necessary to adopt a resolution urging the relevant parties to strengthen their cooperation with the Commission, with a view to sending an unequivocal signal to the international community. China always held the view that no wilful use or threat of sanctions should be allowed in international relations. The use of sanctions could only be authorized by the Council with prudence, in light of actual situations. The Mehlis Report was still a preliminary report, and the Commission itself also believed that the investigation was yet to be completed, as there was no final conclusion.
Under such circumstances, it was inappropriate for the Council to prejudge the investigations outcome and threaten to impose sanctions, he said, as it did not help with the settlement of the issue and would add new destabilizing factors to the already complex situation in the Middle East. That was a legitimate and reasonable concern of China, Islamic countries and many other nations. The current situation in the Middle East was complicated with various intertwining factors. The Council should, therefore, take into full consideration the unique and complicated situation in the Middle East, and respect the sovereignty of those countries and the will of their people, so as to avoid causing new tension and turmoil in the region.
PER STIG MØLLER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark, said that the report of the Independent Investigation Commission had set out a disturbing and compelling case. Converging evidence gathered by the Commission, so far, seemed to suggest that there might have been a conspiracy among senior Syrian and Lebanese security officials behind the terrorist assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri on 14 February. That was a preliminary report, however, and the presumption of innocence applied. In that regard, his delegation fully supported the Secretary-General’s decision to extend the investigation until 15 December. In order to complete the investigation, the full, immediate and unconditional cooperation of all relevant parties was essential, and while welcoming the full cooperation extended by the Lebanese authorities, his delegation was seriously concerned with the lack of substantive cooperation on the part of Syria.
In such circumstances, it was imperative that the Council ensured proper working conditions for the Investigation Commission to finish its work, he said. The draft resolution in front of the Council aimed at exactly that. It relayed the strong and unambiguous message to the Syrian Government that its immediate, full and substantial cooperation in the investigation was expected. At the same time, the resolution stipulated that continued non-cooperation by Syria would have further consequences. Unanimous adoption reinforced that message.
It had been argued that by pursuing the investigation and the truth about the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri, the Council risked jeopardizing the stability of Lebanon and the region. But, an important prerequisite for regional stability was, in fact, respect for Lebanon’s political independence. That had evidently been violated in the case of the Hariri assassination, and the Council must continue to strive for full implementation of both resolutions 1559 and 1595. Syria must realize that it constituted a real danger for peace in the region by being involved in arming terrorist groups, and by not securing its borders with Iraq.
PETROS G. MOLYVIATIS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece, said that the February 2005 terrorist bombing in Beirut had shaken the international community and threatened to destabilize Lebanon at a most difficult and sensitive transitional period. Terrorism constituted one of the most serious threats against peace, freedom and human dignity. Acts of terrorism were under no circumstances justifiable, be they political, religious or philosophical. Those who had committed those horrendous acts must be brought to justice, he said.
The resolution that had just been adopted did not prejudge the outcome of the investigation, he said. It was primarily meant to assist, and equip with the necessary tools, the International Investigative Commission so that it would be able to fulfil its mandate. His delegation hoped that Syria would cooperate fully and unconditionally with the Commission in order to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of the terrorist act, thus, facilitating peaceful settlement of the issue and opening a new chapter in its relations with Lebanon. His delegation believed that the full implementation of the resolution would not only do justice, but would also preserve the unity and political independence of Lebanon and, therefore, help restore security and stability in the Greater Middle East.
ALBERTO G. ROMULO, Foreign Affairs Secretary of the Philippines, said that history had taught the tragic lesson that political assassinations could lead to strife, conflict and war, adding, “We have also learned that justice is a powerful force for peace.”
He voted in favour of the resolution just adopted, for, like the rest of the world, he sought justice for former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and the other victims, he continued. The Mehlis investigation pointed towards a massive conspiracy and must be allowed to continue. He commended the cooperation of Lebanon and expressed concern that the Syrian authorities cooperated only in form, and not in substance. Of even more concern, several Syrian officials had tried to give false or inaccurate information to the Commission.
The questions raised on the complicity of Syria must be answered, he said. When the investigation was completed, it would be the Government of Lebanon that would pursue further legal action under its criminal justice system. The international community, however, must lend all possible material assistance, as well as political and moral support, for the Lebanese Government and people. “The extension of the mandate of the Commission until December 2005 is a good and powerful message. It is a practical step towards ensuring international awareness and support for all efforts to see that justice is done”, he said. Today, the Council not only cast a vote for peace and justice, but also struck a blow against those who used political assassination to sow fear and terror.
SERGEY LAVROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that the resolution showed the resolve of the international community to find the truth in this case. He supported the Commission’s work and all the provisions of the resolution that aided a clear-cut search to that truth. At the same time, he made sure that no provisions be included that cast doubt either on the presumption of innocence or the impartiality of the Council or set up a precedent of allowing the placement of sanctions as the prerogative of the Commission.
It was important that the people of the region see the Council as an impartial arbiter, and that there were no provisions that could be seen to support a political agenda, he said. The priority of the text was to ensure the full cooperation of all parties in finishing the work of the Commission. He was convinced that the Commission would work professionally and within its mandate, and that way help the stability of Lebanon and the situation of the Middle East as a whole.
CESAR MAYROAL ( Argentina) said he placed great importance on clarifying the matters that had led to the assassination of Rafik Hariri. Argentina believed it was necessary for the planners and authors of the brutal terrorist act to be brought to justice immediately. For that reason, he supported the work of the Independent Commission under the leadership of Detlev Mehlis and welcomed the progress it had achieved so far. Bearing in mind that the Commission had not yet concluded its work, Argentina supported the Secretary-General’s decision to renew the mandate until 15 December. He hoped that, by then, new progress would have been made and that the next report to the Council would be definitive. On 25 October, to conclude its work, the Commission had underlined the need for cooperation with anyone with relevant information, in particular from the Syrian authorities. For that reason, Syria would provide the cooperation requested of it by the Security Council. In that regard, he was pleased that on 21 October, Declaration 96 had been signed, establishing the creation of a special judicial committee for Syria’s cooperation with the international community and the Lebanese judicial authorities. That was a positive initiative and was an expression of good will on the part of the Syrian authorities to resolve the matter.
The successful conclusion of the investigation must be the main objective of the Security Council regarding the matter, he said. For that reason, from the outset of negotiations, he had maintained the need for the Council to adopt a constructive approach and to avoid confrontation. Also, the Council's action must respect the principles of due process and presumption of innocence and avoid any reference to aspects outside the Commission’s mandate. On that basis, his delegation had submitted a number of amendments to the draft. He was pleased that the vast majority of them had been included. He also expressed thanks to the co-sponsors for their additional efforts. Within that framework, Argentina had agreed to the unanimous adoption of the draft. Argentina placed great importance on Council unity. He committed his country to helping find a just and lasting solution to the conflict in the Middle East region, in accordance with the resolutions adopted.
SIMON BODEHOUSSE IDOHOU ( Benin) said that after receiving Mr. Mehlis’ report, the Council had spared no effort in bringing about consensus to support the work of the Commission. He had supported the resolution to show his country’s disapproval of a terrorist attack which had severe consequences. He also supported extending the mandate of the Commission to finish its work, and the resolution had no other purpose but to help the Commission do that.
He supported the creation of a committee to monitor the setting of sanctions on individuals to ensure that imposition of such sanctions followed the procedures of the rule of law. It would avoid politicizing the matter, which was extremely important. The politicization of the investigation could only benefit those who executed the attack and harm efforts to end terrorism and impunity, and to make democracy possible as a form of government.
KENZO OSHIMA ( Japan) conveyed the regrets of his Foreign Minister, who had been newly reappointed in a cabinet reshuffle in Tokyo today. He welcomed the adoption of resolution 1636 with unanimous support, and expressed appreciation to the co-sponsors of the draft for taking the lead. In resolution 1595, the Council had tasked the Commission with assisting the Lebanese authorities in the investigation of a serious incident, namely, the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri. The Commission had since demonstrated its remarkable professionalism in carrying out the investigation. As its report clearly indicated, the approach taken by the international community through resolution 1595 had been the right one.
The Commission’s investigation was yet to be finished, he said. To facilitate prompt work for the early conclusion of the investigation, two points needed to be addressed, namely, the extension of the Commission’s mandate and the need to ensure serious cooperation with the investigation, as it would be the main focus for completing the remainder of the investigation. The resolution adopted today addressed those essential points. It gave adequate consideration to ensuring the fairness to the investigation, including due consideration of the presumption of innocence. It was also firm in requesting the Syrian Government to cooperate to get to the bottom of the incident.
The text was also balanced in dealing with the sensitivities involved in the current Middle East situation, he said. At the suggestion of his delegation and others, appropriate amendments had been made to the text, including in operative paragraph 12. He hoped that, under the resolution, Syria would extend full cooperation, and the investigation would make rapid progress and soon establish the truth. Japan took note of the recent Syrian assurances for cooperation and the establishment of a special judicial committee to deal with the investigation. He hoped that such efforts would contribute to the early establishment of the truth.
AUGUSTINE MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) said that he voted for the resolution after several revisions were accommodated that better aligned the draft resolution with its central objective of ensuring compliance with the work of the Commission. Lawlessness and impunity at national and international levels should not be allowed to undermine international peace and security. Those responsible for the crime must be held accountable.
In order to complete its work, he said the Commission required more cooperation from Syria, as well as all other States and parties. That was not only a legal obligation, but also a moral and ethical one. He acknowledged Syria’s pledge to extend further cooperation to the Commission and encouraged Syria to deliver everything that the Commission had asked. He hoped that such cooperation would “render the conditionalities implicit in this resolution inoperative and unnecessary” when the Council next considered the issue.
MIHAI-RAZVAN UNGUREANU Minister for Foreign Affairs of Romania, said the resolution, “before anything else, is an act of conscience -- of legal, moral and political conscience”. He had voted in favour for four main reasons. First, his delegation wished to fully back Detlev Mehlis and his Commission. They were courageous enough, competent enough and resolute enough to be the only key Lebanon, and indeed the international community, may have for unearthing the truth about the killing for former Prime Minister Hariri. Second, the resolution sought to secure Syria’s full and immediate cooperation with the Hariri investigation. Syria had expressed its intention to cooperate, but that had not been the case so far. Syria now had the opportunity and the obligation to deliver on the good faith professed.
The third reason his delegation had supported the resolution was that, while respectful of the need to uphold the presumption of innocence, the resolution laid down a series of guarantees that those suspected or found responsible in connection with the terrorist act in Beirut would be made available to justice or properly held accountable. Finally, the suggestions of the Romanian delegation for improving the text had been adequately considered and reflected in the draft. The outcome of common efforts in the Council was a balanced text, reflective of the broadly shared need for a strong, early and credible reaction to the disturbing findings of the Commission’s report and its far-reaching implications.
BOUTROUS ASSAKER, Acting Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants of Lebanon, expressed to the Council and the Secretary-General his deep thank for the efforts they continued to make to follow up the implications of the assassination of late Prime Minister Hariri. He also wanted to thank the ministers for their kind words and sentiments of solidarity with the people of Lebanon, as well as their confidence in the ability of the Lebanese people to overcome the obstacles they were facing. The Government of Lebanon, at the current juncture, reaffirmed what it had said at last week’s Council meeting, namely, that the main aim of the Commission was to find out the whole truth and all the facts and aspects of the heinous terrorist crime. The Lebanese Government, while reiterating its appreciation for the solid work of the Commission, was convinced that identifying the perpetrators of the crime and punishing them, and the establishment of justice contributed greatly to the consolidation of Lebanon’s national unity and to its security and stability, as well as that of the region.
Lebanon had entered a new phase in it history, he said, a phase full of ambition for its sons and daughters to consolidate its political independence, enhance its sovereignty and establish foreign relations with sister and friendly countries on the basis of equality. Lebanon, with the assistance of friendly countries, was seeking to develop its political system and to reform its economy in consonance with social realities and the needs of its people. His Government reiterated its call on all concerned parties to seriously cooperate with the Commission, so that justice could run its full course. Prime Minister Hariri had believed in the United Nations, its principles and message to uphold justice and to protect Member States and their peoples. He also believed in Lebanon as a country and homeland for democratic Arab coexistence, which was open to all cultures and civilizations. Lebanon also shared that belief and adhered to those principles.
FAROUK AL-SHARA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Syria, said the resolution repeated nearly verbatim the accusations against Syria in the Commission report, which forgot that there had to be a presumption of innocence, and hampered the search for the true perpetrator. The reuse of the report’s unclear terminology cast doubt on its work and led one to believe that it started out with the presumption of the identity of the guilty parties.
He said that if it was impossible to “envisage” the non-involvement of security forces that were in a country during a terrorist attack, then it would be impossible to envisage the non-involvement in the terrorist attacks in the United States, where there were many American security forces. It was an illogical implication. Terrorists would be the first to delight in such a presumption.
More grave than such presumptions were the accusations that Syria had not cooperated in substance with the Commission, he said. After Mr. Mehlis’ visit to the Council, Syria had ensured the Commission of its cooperation, and the Commission could have defined its requirements. Instead, the resolution merely repeated the wording of the Commission’s report.
The Commission must provide evidence for its statements, he said. In addition, the investigation continued and had not been completed. Syria was willing to meet in closed session with the Council to prove its cooperation with the Commission. The Council was not acting even-handedly. It had not set up a Commission to investigate the Qana massacre and Israel’s involvement, and had allowed Israel to refuse cooperation with investigations of its actions in refugee camps. Syria had issued legislation to create a special judicial commission to investigate both civilian and military Syrians who were suspected of involvement in the Hariri murder.
The politicized accusations against Syria made it difficult for his country to investigate the crime any earlier. The objective of presenting the report targeted Syria and its positions towards the future of the region. Foreign Minister Straw was right, he said, when he compared the Hariri assassination to a medieval event. The investigation could be described as medieval, as well, in its presumption of guilt.
Mr. STRAW, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, said he was not going to respond until he had heard Syria’s Foreign Minister make the most grotesque and insensitive comparison between the situation in which the Syrian Government found itself and the positions of the Governments of the United States on 11 September 2001, Spain on 3 March 2004, and the United Kingdom on 7 July 2005. To compare the state of knowledge or lack of knowledge of those Governments in the face of appalling and unprovoked terrorist atrocities with the position of Syria’s Government was, at best, absurd. If any colleagues had had misgivings on the need to make resolution 1636 a Chapter VII resolution, they were allayed by the lengthy statement just heard, which appeared to be resisting at each stage any suggestion that there would, in spirit, be full cooperation with the Mehlis investigation as required by the resolution.
Commissioner Mehlis had made clear that the presumption of innocence was still obtained, he continued. What he was dealing with was commonplace in all investigations, namely, the establishment of prima facie evidence to see if an investigation was required. Because of a lack of cooperation on substance, he had found it necessary to refer the matter to the Council. Had there been full cooperation on the matter by Syria, the report would have been very different and there would not have even been the need to hold a ministerial-level meeting, or to adopt a resolution. The lack of substantive cooperation had impeded the investigation.
He said he wholly rejected any comparison between the position of the United States, Spain and the United Kingdom Governments and the position of the Syrian Government. The Commissioner had concluded that there was probable cause that the decision to assassinate Prime Minister Hariri could not have taken place without the approval of top-ranking Syrian officials. If the Syrian representative was suggesting that what happened on 11 September, 3 March or 7 July had happened with the approval of those Governments, he needed to say so, or his comparison was entirely worthless. Like all colleagues, he looked forward to Syria’s full cooperation in substance, as well as form, with the Commission. After what he had heard, however, he was not holding his breath.
Mr. AL-SHARA, Foreign Minister of Syria, said that while he did not want to go into controversies, he needed to elucidate on some of the points made. The Syrian Government had not denied anything to Judge Mehlis. The Judge himself had control over everything undertaken. After having conducted his interviews, he had indicated that he would not return. Some of the investigators accompanying him had expressed amazement at the beauty of Syria, even expressing a wish to come back as tourists. He had welcomed them, but he would not go into further detail on that.
He said Syria had condemned the 11 September terrorist attacks dozens of times. He could not think of a single lecture or event on peace in the Middle East that had failed to condemn those events. Syria was paying the price for those attacks, and not the terrorists who had perpetrated them. Syria had suffered terrorism before many other States had. At the time, many States had not stood with Syria, as it had stood with the United States, the United Kingdom and Spain. He had even contacted Jack Straw by telephone to express his condolences personally.
Syria wanted to uncover the truth -- no more or no less -- by conclusive evidence, he said. All could agree on that point. He wanted to uncover the truth of who had assassinated Rafik Hariri. He was talking in good faith, and was not presuming any hidden agendas.
* *** *For information media • not an official record