Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Evelyn Leopold, "UN permits wide use of force in Lebanon," Reuters, August 22, 2006.

In her piece on rules of engagement for the multinational force, Evelyn Leopold states clearly that 1701 "did not call on the U.N. force, known as UNIFIL, to carry out large-scale disarmament of Hizbollah guerrillas in a southern Lebanon buffer zone." She has probably read it; Cooper is likely relying on news reports which express US and Israeli wishes on the subject. -jlt


The current UNIFIL, the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon, established in 1978, also had the right to self-defense but was mainly an observer mission.

Specifically, the new rules of engagement, marked "U.N. Restricted," permit the right of self-defense and "preemptive self-defense" against an anticipated attack. But in many cases, a senior officer has to approve force if U.N. troops are not under attack.

The soldiers can also use force against anyone preventing UNIFIL from carrying out its duties and to ensure the security and freedom of movement of U.N. personnel and humanitarian workers and to protect civilians under imminent threat, the rules say.

The use of force, "including deadly force," is also authorized to defend the Lebanese armed forces that a U.N. unit may be assigned to accompany, providing the threatening group or person is armed.

Force must be commensurate with the level of the threat. But the level of response may have to be higher in order to minimize U.N. or civilian casualties, the rules say.


The mandate, approved by the Security Council on August 11, calls on UNIFIL to assist the Lebanese armed forces in establishing a buffer zone free of unauthorized weapons.

According to Mark Malloch Brown, the deputy U.N. secretary-general, the mandate made clear UNIFIL was not to carry out large-scale disarmament.

But he said peacekeepers could respond if small groups did not disarm voluntarily when confronted with U.N. troops. "If they try to forcefully resist disarmament, then we will indeed employ force ourselves to disarm them," Malloch Brown told reporters after chairing a troop contributors meeting last week.

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