New Year Message from the UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander
In wishing you all a very Happy New Year, let me take this opportunity to thank everyone as well as UNIFIL troop contributing countries and the UN Security Council for ensuring that UNIFIL was able to carry out its mandate as well as preserve the continued stability that we have witnessed in southern Lebanon since 2006.
In 2020, we saw occasional yet serious tensions across the Blue Line, along with heated rhetoric in both Lebanon and Israel.
The presence of more than 11,000 civilian and military peacekeepers is a deterrent to a resumption of conflict and a factor of stability for the country. The more than 450 daily activities our peacekeepers carry out have deterred escalations, something we should all be proud of.
As a UN peace operation, we did our utmost to implement the Mission’s mandate, but the absence of hostilities over the last 14 years must not lead to complacency. In 2021, we need to see more determination coming from all of us, UNIFIL and the parties, as a necessary tool to move towards the full implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1701.
The adoption of Security Council resolution 2539 in August 2020, renewing UNIFIL’s mandate for one year, demonstrated the Council’s unanimous support for the work of UNIFIL and strengthens our resolve to pursue our mission with renewed vigour.
Despite the challenges of the past year, we have also had some glimmers of hope. New developments in the south of Lebanon show promise. We need to look ahead and take further steps to mark the Blue Line and settle disputed areas as an important deconfliction measure. The commitment of the parties is of paramount importance. Our success depends on the parties’ continued collaboration and support, and on finding mutually agreeable security arrangements to reduce the potential for tension and misunderstandings.
We will continue to support, and exert all our efforts to increase the capacity of, our strategic partners, the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), in southern Lebanon, both on the ground and at sea. The continued support of the international community for the LAF as the sole and legitimate provider of security is a crucial factor in the maintenance of peace and security in south of Lebanon.
In 2021, let’s continue to build on the progress we’ve made, together.
Happy New Year 2021!