16 December 2005
Security Council Demands Syria's Unambiguous, Immediate Response to Commission Investigating Assassination of Former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri
Unanimously Adopting Resolution 1644 (2005), Council Extends Commission Mandate until 15 June 2006
NEW YORK, 15 December (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council today demanded that Syria respond "unambiguously and immediately" to the Commission investigating the terrorist attack that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri last February, and extended the probe initially until 15 June 2006, leaving open the possibility of a further extension.
Acting under Chapter VII in the unanimous adoption of resolution 1644 (2005), the Council also demanded that Syria implement without delay any future request of the United Nations International Independent Commission.
The Council noted with satisfaction the progress of the enquiry achieved since the Commission's last report, and noted with extreme concern that, while the enquiry was not yet complete, it confirmed its previous conclusions and that the Syrian Government had yet to provide the Commission with the full and unconditional cooperation demanded in resolution 1636 (2005).
In a related provision, the Council requested the Commission to report to it on the progress of the enquiry every three months from the adoption of today's resolution, including on the cooperation received from the Syrian authorities, or anytime before that date if the Commission deemed that such cooperation did not meet the requirements of the present resolution and of resolutions 1595 and 1636.
Acknowledging the Lebanese Government's request that those eventually charged with involvement in the terrorist attack be tried by an international tribunal, the Council asked the Secretary-General to help that Government identify the nature and scope of the international assistance needed in that regard, and to report to the Council in a timely manner.
The Council also authorized the Commission, following the request of the Lebanese Government, to extend its technical assistance to that Government with regard to their investigations on the terrorist attacks perpetrated in Lebanon since 1 October 2004. It asked the Secretary-General, in consultations with the Commission and the Lebanese Government, to present recommendations to expand the Commission's mandate to include investigations of those other attacks.
Following the adoption of the resolution, the representatives of Algeria, China and the Russian Federation made statements. The Lebanese and Syrian representatives also spoke.
The meeting that began at 5:30 p.m. was adjourned at 5:50 p.m.
Following is the complete text of resolution 1644 (2005)
"The Security Council,
"Reaffirming all its previous relevant resolutions, including resolutions 1595 (2005) of 7 April 2005, 1373 (2001) of 28 September 2001, and 1566 (2004) of 8 October 2004, and reaffirming in particular resolution 1636 (2005) of 31 October 2005,
"Reaffirming its strongest condemnation of the 14 February 2005 terrorist bombing, as well as of all other terrorist attacks in Lebanon since October 2004, and reaffirming also that all those involved in these attacks must be held accountable for their crimes,
"Having examined carefully the report of the International Independent Investigation Commission (S/2005/775) ("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 this terrorist act, and commending in particular Detlev Mehlis for his leadership in the discharge of his duties as the Head of the Commission and for his dedication to the cause of justice,
"Reiterating its call 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,
"Acknowledging the letter of the Prime Minister of Lebanon to the Secretary-General of 5 December 2005 (S/2005/762) requesting that the mandate of the Commission be extended for a further period of six months, with a possibility of an additional extension as necessary, to enable the Commission to continue to assist the competent Lebanese authorities in the ongoing investigations of the crime, and to explore possible follow-up measures in order to bring the perpetrators of the said crime to justice, and acknowledging also the concurrent recommendation of the Commission in that regard,
"Acknowledging also the letter of the Prime Minister of Lebanon to the Secretary-General of 13 December 2005 (S/2005/783) requesting the establishment of a tribunal of an international character to try all those who are found responsible for this terrorist crime and requesting also that the mandate of the Commission be expanded or that another international investigation Commission be created, to investigate the terrorist attacks that took place in Lebanon since 1 October 2004,
"Noting that Syrian authorities made available Syrian officials for questioning, but deeply concerned at the Commission's assessment of Syrian performance to date, and noting that the Commission is still awaiting the provision of other requested materials from Syrian authorities, "Reaffirming its determination that this terrorist act and its implications constitute a threat to international peace and security,
"Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,
"1. Welcomes the report of the Commission;
"2. Decides, as recommended by the Commission and requested by the Lebanese Government, to extend the mandate of the Commission, as set forth in resolutions 1595 (2005) and 1636 (2005), initially until 15 June 2006;
"3. Takes note with satisfaction of the progress of the inquiry achieved since the Commission's last report to the Council, and notes with extreme concern that, while the inquiry is not yet complete, it confirms its previous conclusions and that the Syrian Government has yet to provide the Commission with the full and unconditional cooperation demanded in resolution 1636 (2005);
"4. Underscores Syria's obligation and commitment to cooperate fully and unconditionally with the Commission, and specifically demands that Syria responds unambiguously and immediately in those areas adduced by the Commissioner and also that it implements without delay any future request of the Commission;
"5. Requests the Commission to report to the Council on the progress of the inquiry every three months from the adoption of this resolution, including on the cooperation received from the Syrian authorities, or anytime before that date if the Commission deems that such cooperation does not meet the requirements of this resolution and of resolutions 1595 and 1636;
"6. Acknowledges the Lebanese Government's request that those eventually charged with involvement in this terrorist attack be tried by a tribunal of an international character, requests the Secretary-General to help the Lebanese Government identify the nature and scope of the international assistance needed in this regard, and requests also the Secretary-General to report to the Council in a timely manner;
"7. Authorizes the Commission, following the request of the Lebanese Government, to extend its technical assistance as appropriate to the Lebanese authorities with regard to their investigations on the terrorist attacks perpetrated in Lebanon since 1 October 2004, and requests the Secretary-General in consultations with the Commission and the Lebanese Government to present recommendations to expand the mandate of the Commission to include investigations of those other attacks;
"8. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to provide the Commission with the support and resources necessary for the discharge of its duties;
"9. Decides to remain seized of the matter."
The Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation in the Middle East, in response to the latest report (document S/2005/775) and briefing by the Commissioner of the United Nations International Independent Commission, Detlev Mehlis, on 13 December. The report was prepared pursuant to Council resolutions 1595 (2005) and 1636 (2005). (For a summary of that report and briefing, please see Press Release SC/8579 of that date.)
The Council had before it two letters from the Prime Minister of Lebanon to the Secretary-General. The first, dated 5 December (document S/2005/762), requests an extension of the Commission's mandate for a further six months. The second, dated 13 December (document S/2005/783), requests the establishment of a tribunal of an international character to try all those who are found responsible for the terrorist crime of 14 February. It also requests that the Commission's mandate be expanded, or that another international investigation commission be created, to investigate the terrorist attacks that took place in Lebanon since 1 October 2004.
Action on Draft Resolution
Following the unanimous adoption of draft resolution 1644 (2005), submitted by France, United Kingdom, and the United States, ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said that since the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri, he had vigorously condemned that abominable crime and insisted that light be shed on it, and that the perpetrators be brought to justice. Algeria had played an active role leading to the unanimous adoption of the draft resolution in the Council establishing the International Commission responsible for assisting the Lebanese in establishing the facts. His delegation had participated in the negotiations of resolution 1636 (2005), which sought to provide the Commission with the means and resources to carry out its mandate and be assured of the Council's full cooperation.
He said that a look at the second report had shown that the conclusions were not final and still needed to be corroborated. In order to preserve the work of the Commission, it must be free from any influence, which could harm one or another party. The Commission had been assured of Syria's cooperation, which was in compliance with the resolution just adopted. He also noted the Council's readiness to positively consider extending the Commission's mandate and expanding it to cover other attacks in Lebanon since October 2004, as well as the request to establish a tribunal of an international character. Although the text was not satisfactory, Lebanon was still clearly committed to the ongoing investigation. The Council had assured him that it would refrain from any premature action, given the present stage of the investigation and the common objective being pursued. While the language in the text concerning the degree of cooperation by Syria with the Independent Commission had not done justice to the "good will" shown by Syria, in a desire to preserve unity, he had voted in favour of the draft.
ZHANG YISHAN (China) said he had taken note of the Mehlis report. At present, the Commission was making headway in the investigation, but a lot remained to be done. He had also taken note of the request by Lebanon. The main purpose of the resolution just adopted was to extend the mandate of the Commission so it could assist Lebanon in establishing the facts surrounding the death of Mr. Hariri. He had voted in favour of the text, and hoped that, with the cooperation of all parties, the Commission would soon uncover the truth.
ANDREY DENISOV (Russian Federation) said that up until the vote, members of the Council had continued to work on the draft, which contained the response of the Council to the Mehlis report. He had hoped that Council members would be able to overcome divergent views and reach consensus. Despite continuing differences, the Council had come to agreement and adopted the text unanimously. His delegation had proposed amendments to give the text a more balanced nature and to remove from it negativism with respect to Syria. He continued to oppose unwarranted pressure on Damascus, which had begun cooperating based on resolution 1636 and still had a considerable distance to cover. The Council was to monitor whether the Syrian side met its obligations and where, if necessary, to assist it. He reaffirmed the need to continue efforts to establish the facts on the death of Mr. Hariri.
IBRAHIM ASSAF (Lebanon) thanked the Council for having adopted the resolution unanimously. The adoption of the text had shown the Council's commitment to help Lebanon in those very difficult circumstances in which it found itself. That was in keeping with the Council's responsibilities for the maintenance of international peace and security, especially in light of the explosions that had taken place in Lebanon since 1 October 2004 and including the terrorist attack that took place the day before yesterday, claiming the life of Representative Tueni. While thanking the Council for its commitment, he also wished to ensure it that the Lebanese people would press ahead in the face of all its challenges to preserve its liberty and independence. It would not turn back.
FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) expressed appreciation for the efforts by a number of Council members to prevent the adoption of a resolution that would have run counter to international law and the independence and responsibilities of the Council in terms of preserving international peace and security. Despite the full cooperation shown by Syria, some had insisted on saying that it had not fully cooperated with the International Independent Commission, or in implementing the relevant resolutions in that very short period of time, while there were many resolutions adopted with respect to the Middle East in the last 38 years that were yet to be implemented. Although contacts between Syria and the Commission were under way and efforts had been taken by both sides to reach mutual arrangements concerning the questioning of Syrian citizens, certain members had overlooked that and everything Syria had stated.
He said that those members had reached "selective conclusions" based on the enquiry's reports and used them in a negative way with respect to his country. Syria had met its responsibilities in a sincere manner, certain that its professional and objective implementation would "lead to its being cleared". Syria had not cooperated just to please certain parties. It had asked Council members to reference the letters from Syria, but regrettably, a number of them had not even wanted to take note of them. The logic and pattern of pressure and attempts to impose something on others ran counter to the principles governing relations between States. That should be based on mutual respect, constructive dialogue, and openness towards others. Syria had expressed its willingness to cooperate fully with the Commission in the period to come.
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