Strenghtening the UN Interim Forces in Southern Lebanon. Decision making processes at the top

UN Security Council Resolution 1 701 has been criticized for failing to give sufficiently clear direction to peacekeepers in Lebanon. But the resolution was shaped by the need to find a diplomatic solution to the 2006 war. Initially, France and other Western powers assumed that a non-UN commanded international force would deploy to replace the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). This option was publicized by European leaders and Kofi Annan at the G8 summit in July 2006, and gradually gained the acceptance of the United States and Israel. A first draft Security Council resolution, drafted by France and the US, proposed such a force – but this was rejected by the Lebanese government. Thereafter, all parties came to accept a strengthened UNIFIL as the only politically viable post-war peacekeeping option. While some gestures were made to satisfy French and European military concerns about the force’s command structure – notably the creation of a special cell in New York to advise the UN on the mission –, the expanded UNIFIL remains a classic blue helmet operation. Unlike most UN missions, however, it does not support a viable political process – a fundamental flaw that the Security Council has not yet addressed. The history of UNIFIL’s expansion and reinforcement in 2006 thus demonstrates the political and operational constraints that the Council faces in defining robust peace operations.