Posted by Joshua on Friday, May 18th, 2007
(AP) — France, Britain and the United States proposed late Thursday that the United Nations unilaterally establish an international tribunal to prosecute suspects in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
The draft U.N. Security Council resolution calls for the creation of a tribunal outside Lebanon with a majority of international judges and an international prosecutor under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which deals with threats to international peace and can be militarily enforced.
The issue of an international tribunal has since fueled a deep political conflict between Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora's Western-backed government and the Syrian-backed, Hezbollah-led opposition. The conflict has taken on an increasingly sectarian tone and erupted into street battles, killing 11 people in recent months.
The resolution obtained by The Associated Press would put in force an agreement on establishing the tribunal that has been signed by the United Nations and the Lebanese government. It was circulated following Saniora's formal request for Security Council action, which cited the refusal of opposition-aligned Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri to convene a session to ratify the U.N.-approved statutes to create the tribunal.
France, Britain and the United States discussed the draft resolution at a closed-door meeting with the two other veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council, Russia and China.
"The resolution aims at helping the Lebanese to find a way out of the current dead end," France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said.
Since the resolution would put in force an already existing agreement between the U.N. and Saniora's government – rather than imposing a new U.N. tribunal – diplomats said the co-sponsors were hopeful it would not face strong opposition from Moscow, Beijing or other council members.
A U.N. investigation into the assassination is still under way, led by Belgian prosecutor Serge Brammertz. His predecessor, Germany's Detlev Mehlis, said the killing's complexity suggested the Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services played a role in Hariri's assassination. Four Lebanese generals, top pro-Syrian security chiefs, have been under arrest since last year, accused of involvement in Hariri's murder.
Earlier this week, Lebanon's pro-Syrian president, Emile Lahoud, urged the Security Council to stay out of the country's political infighting and not impose the tribunal.
But the draft refers to Saniora's request that the special tribunal be put into effect "as a matter of urgency" and says of the Hariri killing "that this terrorist act and its implications constitute a threat to international peace and security."