Cablegate: Lebanon Tribunal - Un Prepares to Set It Up


DE RUCNDT #0458 1582139
O 072139Z JUN 07




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary. As June 10, the date of entry into force of the
Lebanon Tribunal Agreement, approaches, the UN Secretariat is
gearing up to put arrangements in place for its full
implementation. In a June 6 meeting, UN Office of Legal
Affairs (OLA) officials described preparations for the
Tribunal. They focused on the importance of identifying a
seat for the court as soon as possible and noted their
ongoing consultations with the Government of Lebanon, the
other party (with the UN) to the Agreement. End Summary.

2. USUN Legal Adviser and Political officer met June 6 with
UN Assistant Secretary General for Legal Affairs, Larry
Johnson and Legal Officer Mark Quarterman to discuss
implementation of SC Res. 1757, which will bring the
agreement establishing a Special Tribunal for Lebanon into
force on June 10. In anticipation, OLA has set up a task
force and identified the "next steps". Johnson mentioned
that Robin Vincent, former Registrar of the Sierra Leone
Special Court, has prepared a paper outlining the elements
that will need to be addressed. Among the most important are
the seat, budget and selection of judges.

3. (SBU) Tribunal Seat - Johnson said that first and
foremost is the question of the seat of the Tribunal. UN
Legal Counsel, Nicolas Michel, has been discussing possible
sites with the Lebanese Prime Minister's office. The
location will affect costs, staffing, security etc.
Related factors will be security, availability of court room
facilities and witness protection. Johnson mentioned that
due to Lebanon's proximity to Europe, OLA is considering
whether a European capital would agree to host the Tribunal.
He mentioned The Netherlands, Italy Switzerland, Austria, and
Cyprus as possibilities. Noting that some, but not all,
Lebanese officials have raised objections to Cyprus as a
potential location, Johnson said OLA awaits a formal
indication from the GOL of which locations it does not think
are appropriate to host the tribunal. He stressed that no
contact would be made with foreign governments until after
June 10, and that once the UN had identified a site and
talked to the host government, it would send an assessment
mission to determine how much it would cost to base the
tribunal in that city.

4. (SBU) Budget - Asked about budget estimates, Johnson
repeated that the costs would be driven by the location but
that once a seat has been determined, it will not take long
to produce a budget along the lines of the Sierra Leone Court
model. Next week, OLA plans to approach the UN Comptroller
to discuss setting up a Trust Fund to receive voluntary
contributions. It will also be necessary to identify members
of the Management Committee, which will follow budget and
administrative matters. The U.S. is a member of the Sierra
Leone Special Court Management Committee and we expressed an
interest in serving on this one as well. Underscoring that
the U.S. among other possible donors, would need estimates of
start-up and ongoing costs for the tribunal as soon as
possible in order to try to help identify contributions, USUN
noted that for internal purposes we had looked to the budget
of the Sierra Leone Court as a guide. Johnson said OLA could
not endorse any budget estimates until it had decided on a
seat for the tribunal, but he and Quarterman agreed that the
cost of the Sierra Leone Court adjusted for the likelihood
that the court will be based in Europe (vice Africa) is the
best guide we currently have.

5. (SBU) Judges - OLA is consulting with the Lebanese on the
process and timing of the appointment of judges. Ambassador
Wolff stressed, in a separate conversation with Legal Counsel
Michel, the importance of calibrating the timing of UN and
Lebanese appointment of judges. Agreeing, Michel said that
he would be speaking to Justice Minister Rizk on this issue.
On the basis of these contacts, the UN anticipates that the
appointment of Lebanese judges can be achieved in a timely
fashion. OLA recognizes that security constraints may affect
the transparency of the selection process.

6. (SBU) Johnson noted that the report on efforts to
establish the Tribunal, requested by Resolution 1757, is due
at the end of August 30th and indicated OLA will make an all
out effort in the coming weeks to address the key issues.
Comment. USUN will continue to work closely with the UN
Legal Office on arrangements for the Tribunal. It is clear
that OLA considers this an important achievement and is
committed to its complete implementation. End Comment.

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