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UN Security Council Resolution 1559
September 02, 2004

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Resolution 1559 was an attempt to discourage Syrian meddling in Lebanon. Syrian troops had been in Lebanon since the spring of  1976, putting an end to the Lebanese civil war and making a semblance of order in Lebanon under the Taif accord, but at the same time presiding over brutalities such as the 1976 massacre of over 2,000 Palestinians in the Tel Al-Zaatar refugee camp. Syria dictates Lebanese foreign policy and provides support as well as control of the Hizbullah terrorist group and militia.

Since 1990, the Lebanese constitution has been amended for every presidential election: once in 1995, allowing then President Elias Hrawi an extra three years, and again in 1998 - allowing Lahoud, who was army commander at the time and thus ineligible, to seek the post.

In the summer of 2004, the Syrians initiated a move to amend the Lebanese constitution so that their favored candidate, Emile Lahoud, could continue to be president. The United States and other countries objected to continued Syrian interference in Lebanese affairs, and the United Nations Security Council passed resolution 1559 calling for non-interference in Lebanese affairs, for disarming of militias and for Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon in accordance with previous UN resolutions.

The resolution was adopted by a vote of 9 in favour (Angola, Benin, Chile, France, Germany, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom, United States) to none against, with 6 abstentions (Algeria, Brazil, China, Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation)

A Lebanese representative made the following remarkable statement, quoted in the UN Press Release:  >

MOHAMAD ISSA, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants of Lebanon, said that there were no militias in Lebanon. There was only the national Lebanese resistance, which appeared after the Israeli occupation and which would remain so long as Israel remained. The resistance force existed alongside the Lebanese national forces. Lebanon determined the presence and size of the force, depending on the countryís need. The authority of Lebanon extended to all parts of Lebanon except those areas occupied by Israel.

He said that submitting the draft resolution confused two matters. The first was the distinguished relations linking Lebanon and Syria, which achieved their joint interests, particularly the interests of Lebanon. Friendly Syria had helped Lebanon to maintain stability and security within its borders. It had warded off radicalism and violence, fed by the violence exercised by Israel against the Palestinians. Secondly, the matter was purely internal, and related to the presidential elections to be held in Lebanon. Syrian troops came to Lebanon in accordance with legitimate requests. Their presence was guarded by an agreement concluded by two sovereign States. Those troops had been redeployed several times. They contributed to rebuffing the radical reactions emanating from repulsive Israeli actions.

Hence, saying that Syria supported radical movements in Lebanon was not true. To the contrary, Syria supported the Lebanese national resistance, which desired to liberate the territories occupied by Israel. The draft resolution was talking about supporting free and just elections in Lebanon. He did not believe that that internal matter had ever been discussed in the Council relating to any Member State. It was an internal matter, he stressed. The United Nations had not interfered in that matter with regard to any other State. There was no justification for the draft resolution, which constituted an interference in the internal affairs of a Member State.

In addition, it discussed bilateral relations between two friendly nations, neither of which had filed any complaint concerning those relations. He called for the withdrawal of the draft resolution.

The Lebanese parliament  ignored the resolution and voted for the constitutional amendment, amid widespread reports of arm-twisting and Syrian threats. Beirut MP Nabil de Freige stated, "Of the 96 people who voted for the amendment, I can guarantee not even seven are really for it." Four ministers resigned to protest the passage of the amendment. One of whom, former Economy Minister Marwan Hamadeh, was wounded in an assassination attempt on October 1. 

Subsequently, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan warned that Syria was not complying with the resolution. Lebanese and Syrian spokesmen declared their defiance of the resolution, but Syria shifted a small number of troops (estimated at 300 to 3000) out of Lebanon and moved troops away from Beirut to the Beka region near the Syrian-Lebanese border. Following the assassination of popular Lebanese politician Rafiq Hariri in February of 2005, widely attributed to Syria, pressure grew on Syria to withdraw from Lebanon, and Syria withdrew its troops, but not its intelligence agents.

A key provision of Resolution 1559 was disarmament of militias:

3. Calls for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias;

4. Supports the extension of the control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory;

Provisions for disarming of militias were not implemented. The Hezbollah, puppets of Iran and Syria, remained under arms and prevented independent action by the Lebanese government. Hezbollah representatives were taken into the Lebanese government of Fouad Seniora. In  2006, Hezbolla renewed attacks on Israel, resulting in a major confrontation. Resolutions of the UN Security Council have the validity of international law.

Ami Isseroff

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United Nations                                                                                                                                                         S/RES/1559 (2004)

Security Council                                                                                                                                                    Distr.: General
                                                                                                                                                                                    2 September, 2004

Resolution 1559 (2004)

The Security Council,

Recalling all its previous resolutions on Lebanon, in particular resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978) of 19 March 1978, resolution 520 (1982) of 17 September 1982, and resolution 1553 (2004) of 29 July 2004 as well as the statements of its President on the situation in Lebanon, in particular the statement of 18 June 2000 (S/PRST/2000/21),

Reiterating its strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally territorially recognized borders,

Noting the determination of Lebanon to ensure the withdrawal of all non-Lebanese forces from Lebanon,

Gravely concerned at the continued presence of armed militias in Lebanon, which prevent the Lebanese government from exercising its full sovereignty over all Lebanese territory,

Reaffirming the importance of the extension of the control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory,

Mindful of the upcoming Lebanese presidential elections and underlining the importance of free and fair elections according to Lebanese constitutional rules devised without foreign interference or influence,

1. Reaffirms 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 throughout Lebanon;

2. Calls upon all remaining foreign forces to withdraw from Lebanon;

3. Calls for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias;

4. Supports the extension of the control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory;

5. Declares its support for a free and fair electoral process in Lebanonís upcoming presidential election conducted according to Lebanese constitutional rules devised without foreign interference or influence;

6. Calls upon all parties concerned to cooperate fully and urgently with the Security Council for the full implementation of this and all relevant resolutions concerning the restoration of the territorial integrity, full sovereignty, and political independence of Lebanon;

7. Requests that the Secretary-General report to the Security Council within thirty days on the implementation by the parties of this resolution and decides to remain actively seized of this matter.

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