FAQs

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What is the role of UNIFIL?

UNIFIL was established by the Security Council in 1978 under Security Council Resolutions 425 and 426 to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, restore international peace and security and assist the Lebanese Government in restoring its effective authority in the area. 

Following the July-August 2006 war, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1701 enhancing UNIFIL and deciding that in addition to the original mandate, it would, among other things, monitor the cessation of hostilities; accompany and support the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) as they deploy throughout the south of Lebanon; and extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons. 

More details under Mandate.

 

Has the Resolution 2373 (2017) changed in any way the mandate of UNIFIL?

In a unanimous decision through Resolution 2373, the UN Security Council in August 2017 reaffirmed UNIFIL’s Mandate under Resolution 1701. In resolution 2373, the Security Council called for an “accelerated” and “durable” deployment of the Lebanese Armed Forces in southern Lebanon and the territorial waters of Lebanon, and increased support of and coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces. It also asked for enhanced reporting to the Council on UNIFIL’s activities, and the implementation of the Strategic Review recommendations. The UNIFIL mandate is renewed annually by the Security Council at the request of the Government of Lebanon.

 

Where is UNIFIL located?

UNIFIL is deployed in southern Lebanon. Its area of operations is defined by the Litani River in the north and the Blue Line in the south. UNIFIL’s Headquarters is located in the town of Naqoura and has 55 positions throughout the 1,060 square kilometre area of operation. 

Additionally, UNIFIL has a maritime deployment (Maritime Task Force) that stretches along the entire length of the Lebanese coastline.

 

How many peacekeepers does UNIFIL have?

The UN Security Council by its resolution 1701 (2006) authorized an increase in the force strength of UNIFIL to a maximum of 15,000 troops. UNIFIL’s troop deployment has since remained within this maximum limit and currently stands at about 10,500 troops drawn from 41 countries. This includes more than 9,400 ground troops and over 850 naval personnel of the Maritime Task Force

In addition, UNIFIL has about 900 civilian staff, both international and national, serving with the Mission.

 

How does UNIFIL deal with violations of resolution 1701?

UNIFIL deals with all parties even-handedly and does not ignore any violations. The focus is on ensuring full respect for, and preventing violations, of the relevant provisions of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006). UNIFIL is mandated to report all violations of the resolution to the UN Security Council. The Mission takes preventive measures by monitoring the Blue Line, including airspace violations, and through coordination, liaison and patrolling to prevent violations.  

For example, whenever there is an incident across the Blue Line, UNIFIL immediately deploys additional troops to that location if needed to avoid a direct conflict between the two sides and to ensure that the situation is contained. At the same time, it liaises with the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israel Defense Forces, in order to reverse and bring an end to the situation without any escalation. 

 

What is the Blue Line?

The Blue Line is the 120-kilometre line of withdrawal that was identified in the year 2000 by the United Nations, in cooperation with Lebanese and Israeli officials, for the purpose of confirming the withdrawal of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from Lebanese territory in conformity with Security Council resolution 425 (1978). The Blue Line does not constitute a border between Lebanon and Israel and is without any prejudice to future border agreements between the two states. Any unauthorized crossing of the Blue Line by land or by air from any side constitutes a violation of Security Council resolution 1701. 

 

Is UNIFIL responsible for implementation of all aspects of UN Security Council resolution 1701 (2006)?

Resolution 1701 defines UNIFIL’s mandate, which has various aspects to it.  The Mandate includes maintaining security and stability throughout south Lebanon through comprehensive liaison and coordination arrangements, as well as the tripartite mechanism which has the full and active participation of both parties: Israel and Lebanon. All political aspects of resolution 1701 fall under the purview of the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon (UNSCOL).

UNIFIL and its strategic partner, the Lebanese Army, routinely coordinate the conduct of foot and vehicle patrols – by day and by night. Working in conjunction and close coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces as well as the strong commitment of the parties to the cessation of hostilities have resulted in unprecedented calm in southern Lebanon.

UNIFIL’s deployment, together with the Lebanese Armed Forces, has helped to establish a new strategic environment in southern Lebanon. This creates a window of opportunity for a long-term solution through the political process as also envisioned in the resolution 1701.  A peacekeeping operation can support diplomatic efforts to reach a political solution, it cannot be the substitute for a political solution.

 

When did UNIFIL troops first arrive?

UNIFIL was established by UN Security Council resolutions 425 and 426 on 19 March 1978. The first UNIFIL troops arrived in Lebanon on 23 March 1978.

 

How does UNIFIL ensure security in its area of operations?

Maintaining a stable and secure environment in the area is first and foremost the responsibility of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). UNIFIL assists and supports LAF, including in their efforts to ensure that the area between the Litani River and the Blue Line is free of illegal weapons and is not used for any hostile activity. Acting in support of a request from the Government of Lebanon, the Security Council has authorized UNIFIL to take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind; to resist attempts by forceful means to prevent it from discharging its duties; and support the Government of Lebanon to secure its borders and other entry points to prevent the entry in Lebanon without its consent of arms or related materiel.

The Mission maintains an intensive level of some 13,500 operational activities per month, by day and night, in the area of operations.

More details in Operations.

 

Can UNIFIL use force?

As a peacekeeping mission operating under Chapter 6 of the UN Charter, UNIFIL has the mandate to ensure stability in the area, to protect the civilian population and to support the parties in discharging their respective responsibilities towards achieving a permanent ceasefire.  In carrying their mandate, UNIFIL personnel may exercise their inherent right of self-defence. In addition, to the use of force beyond self-defence, and without prejudice of the primary responsibility of the Government of Lebanon, UNIFIL may under certain circumstances and conditions resort to the proportionate and gradual use of force to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities; to resist attempts by forceful means to prevent UNIFIL from discharging its duties under the mandate authorized by the Security Council; to protect UN personnel, facilities, installations and equipment; to ensure the security and freedom of movement of UN personnel and humanitarian workers; and to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence.

 

How is UNIFIL reacting to terrorist threats?

UNIFIL takes all threats seriously because the security and safety of UN personnel is paramount. UNIFIL has comprehensive security and protection measures in place, while maintaining focus on its operations and the implementation of resolution 1701 (2006)

In accordance with UN Security Council resolutions, Lebanese authorities have the primary responsibility for law and order in UNIFIL’s area of operations including security of the UN installations and personnel. On its part, UNIFIL constantly reviews its threat assessment and takes appropriate security measures as required, in coordination with the relevant authorities of the host country.

 

How does UNIFIL cooperate with the Lebanese Armed Forces?

Following the 2006 war, the Government of Lebanon decided to deploy troops of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in South Lebanon, including in UNIFIL’s area of operations. At the same time, pursuant to Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) an enhanced UNIFIL force was deployed in the area. As the Israel Defense Forces withdrew from Lebanon, UNIFIL supported the deployment of the LAF across all southern Lebanon for the first time in three decades. 

Close cooperation between UNIFIL and LAF, our strategic partner, has since been key to the implementation of the Security Council resolution 1701 (2006), which aims at ensuring a safe and secure environment in south Lebanon and the “establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons, other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL”. 

More details in Operations.

 

Have there been any fatalities?

UNIFIL has had 312 fatalities since 1978 (as of 2 March 2018).

 

What is the Observer Group Lebanon?

The Observer Group Lebanon (OGL) is an unarmed UN military observer mission, which is present in Lebanon since 1949 as part of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO). More than 50 military observers of OGL assist UNIFIL in carrying out its mandate. The observers conduct patrols in villages and along the Blue Line, as a confidence building measure for the area, and interacts closely with the local population.

 

Does UNIFIL provide humanitarian assistance to the local population?

In the immediate aftermath of the 2006 war, a major task mandated to UNIFIL by UN Security Council resolution 1701 was to extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons. 

Although not a humanitarian or development agency, UNIFIL is mandated to extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons, and to ensure the security and freedom of movement of humanitarian workers. UNIFIL contingents routinely provide free medical, dental, veterinary and other assistance to the local population. In addition, UNIFIL contingents have been conducting various training programmes for people living in its area of operations, including computer skills, languages, cooking, handicrafts, yoga and taekwondo. 

UNIFIL’s engineering and other operational resources and equipment are deployed in the mission area to support the implementation of the mandate, which may in certain circumstances indirectly benefit the local population. UNIFIL also has a limited budget for small community projects. 

More details in Civil Interaction. Visit the photo gallery for a glimpse of the different humanitarian activities.

 

How does UNIFIL relate to the local population in south Lebanon?

UNIFIL considers the informed support of the people of south Lebanon as imperative for successful implementation of its mandate. Alongside the humanitarian assistance, interactions with the communities are regularly conducted at every level. 

UNIFIL personnel are particularly sensitized to the need for respecting the local culture and customs. All UNIFIL contingents meet with the civilian authorities of the villages upon their arrival. 

Conscious of the impact of UNIFIL’s military deployment among the civilian population, the mission enforces a strict code of conduct for its soldiers and all of its staff. Any incidents (including road accidents) are investigated by the UN’s relevant investigative authorities. 

Working around the clock to monitor and patrol the area of operations, UNIFIL, with its armoured vehicles and heavy machinery, can impact on the normal life of the local population. All efforts are made to be as respectful and non-intrusive as possible while ensuring that in conjunction with its strategic partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces, UNIFIL delivers on its Mandate, which has been agreed by the Lebanese government.

More details in Civil Interaction.

 

What is a Quick Impact Project?

UNIFIL is not a humanitarian agency but it does have a limited budget to address community needs.  Quick Impact Projects with funding from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations are intended to address some of the most pressing needs of the local population and support local authorities while strengthening the links between UNIFIL and local communities. Quick Impact Projects are small-scale, rapidly implementable projects which complement, rather than substitute, the longer-term development initiatives of other agencies and actors. These projects are often undertaken at the request of municipalities and implemented in coordination with other UN agencies and NGOs.

 

Does UNIFIL perform demining operations?

Under the direct supervision of the UNIFIL J3 Combat Engineers Section, UNIFIL’s demining assets are primarily intended to carry out operational tasks in support of UNSCR 1701. UNIFIL demining teams perform operational tasks in order to demarcate the Blue Line, or ‘Line of Withdrawal’ so as to maintain peace and stability along the Blue Line and in UNIFIL’s Area of Operations. Following the war in 2006, UNIFIL teams also conducted humanitarian demining in order to protect the civilian population from the dangers of landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERWs), and to facilitate safe access to dwellings and agricultural land as best as possible. However, these activities were suspended in 2010 due to a shift in operational priorities to the facilitation of Blue Line marking, and to ensure the safety of patrols carried out by UNIFIL peacekeepers. United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) Lebanon, in close coordination with UNIFIL, plays a key role in this effort by ensuring that UNIFIL deminers work safely and efficiently through the provision of training and by closely monitoring the progress and quality of demining activities.

In addition to demining activities, UNIFIL works to reduce the threat and impact of landmines and other ERWs through the provision of landmine/ERWs safety and awareness training to UN and NGO personnel. Additionally, UNMAS Lebanon in close coordination with UNIFIL supports the Lebanon Mine Action Center by providing mine risk education to local populations throughout the UNIFIL area of operations.

More details in UN Mine Action and UNIFIL.

 

What is the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force?

The Maritime Task Force (MTF) was deployed on the request of the Lebanese Government in October 2006 to assist the Lebanese Navy in securing Lebanon’s  maritime boundaries and other entry points to prevent the entry in Lebanon without its consent of arms and related material. This is the first ever maritime deployment in a United Nations peacekeeping mission. 

So far, 15 countries have contributed naval units to the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force: Bangladesh, Brazil, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.

 

How does the Maritime Task Force operate?

UNIFIL’s naval units operate across the entire stretch of the Lebanese coastline in close cooperation with the Lebanese Navy. The Maritime Task Force reports suspect vessels to Lebanese authorities who then inspect them. On request of the Lebanese Government, the MTF may divert or inspect suspect vessels or prevent naval units from entering Lebanese territorial waters. 

In addition, MTF is also working to build sustainable operational capacity within the Lebanese Navy through joint exercises, training, equipment and technical assistance.

 

Does UNIFIL play a role in the demarcation of UNIFIL’s maritime border?

There is no established maritime boundary between Lebanon and Israel. When the Israelis withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, they unilaterally installed a line of buoys on the sea across from Ras Naqoura. Neither Lebanon nor the UN has recognized this line, and UNIFIL has no mandate to monitor it.

On 20 April 2017, UN Secretary-General received a letter from Lebanon reiterating the latter’s request to assist with the delineation of the Exclusive Economic Zone between Lebanon and Israel. Although contacts continue with all parties concerned as part of the UN good offices, UNIFIL as such has no mandate in this regard.

 
 
Last updated: 04 January 2018