Cablegate: Lebanon Tribunal: Broad Support in Council But

DE RUCNDT #0285/01 0882321
O 282321Z MAR 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary. UN Legal Counsel Nicolas Michel delivered
a largely technical briefing to the Security Council on March
28 about the SYG's efforts to set up the Special Tribunal for
Lebanon (STL) per UNSCR 1757. Recalling all the steps that
have been taken since the SYG's last report in September,
including conclusion of a headquarters agreement and
selection of judges, Michel also said the SYG has now
received USD 34.4 million in cash and USD 25.9 million in
pledges. This figure is close to the USD 50 million in cash
that the SYG will need to cover the set up and first year of
the Tribunal's operations. Michel also said most of the key
elements are in place to ensure a coordinated transition
between the International Independent Investigation Committee
(UNIIIC) and the STL. In response to this presentation, most
delegations welcomed the SYG's efforts and reinforced the
importance of setting up the STL soon, but several delegates
warned that the work of the STL must be seen to be impartial
and guided only by legal considerations. Russian PR Churkin
complained that the SYG had established the Management
Committee without consulting with the UNSC (which was not
required). He also emphasized that the UNIIIC investigation
must conclude before the STL begins functioning and that the
two entities should not/not exist in parallel. Michel
replied that the SYG would decide when the STL begins
functioning. After the consultations, the Council adopted a
press statement welcoming the SYG's report and the progress
achieved in setting up the STL. End Summary.

Michel Briefs on Setup of Tribunal

2. (U) Before a largely technical briefing on the set up of
the STL, Michel emphasized that the Secretariat has
approached the issue with a view to maintaining the
"broad-based, consensual support" for the Tribunal reflected
in several unanimously adopted UNSC resolutions and letters
that authorized the SYG's work. Since the SYG's last report
on UNSCR 1757 in September 2007, the Secretariat had signed
the Headquarters Agreement (HQA) with the Dutch, selected
judges and appointed the Prosecutor and Registrar, and had
established a Management Committee. Michel said OLA is in
active discussions to ensure a coordinated transition from
the IIIC to the STL and that most of the key elements are in
place. For example, the UNIIIC Commisioner had been asked to
establish a witness protection program.

3. (U) In terms of funding for the Tribunal, Michel reported
that the SYG had raised USD 34.4 million in cash and an
additional USD 25.9 million in pledges for the set up and
first year of the STL's operation. If all pledges are
converted into cash, this will leave the SYG with more than
USD 60 million, above the estimated USD 50 million needed for
the first year and set up. In order to meet the budgetary
requirements for the STL to begin functioning, Michel noted,
the SYG must also receive "sufficiently clear indications"
that he will receive adequate contributions for the second
and third years.

Broad Support for Tribunal

4. (SBU) Most delegations welcomed the SYG's efforts and
reinforced the importance of setting up the STL soon. Many
also stressed the need for a well-coordinated transition from
the UNIIIC to the STL. Amb Khalilzad emphasized that the set
up of the Tribunal would help end impunity for political
assassinations in Lebanon and beyond. The sooner the STL
becomes operational, he argued, the sooner it will have a
deterrent impact on the actions of those responsible for
these crimes. Indonesia said it was "mindful of the
important progress" with regard to the STL and hoped the
Tribunal would be set up soon. Libya agreed the Tribunal
would be important in ending impunity in Lebanon and helping
the GOL extend its sovereignty across its country. Following
Amb Khalilzad's exhortation to Council members to support the
STL financially, Italy announced that it is considering a
"substantial" contribution. The UK said it was considering
an additional contribution beyond the USD one million it had
already announced.

But Concerns About Politicization

5. (SBU) Despite the broad support expressed for the
Tribunal, several delegations warned that the work of the STL
must be seen to be impartial and guided only by legal
considerations. Indonesia, noting that the HQA had been
negotiated bilaterally instead of trilaterally because of the
continuing political crisis in Lebanon, underscored that it

USUN NEW Y 00000285 002 OF 003

is impossible to separate the STL from Lebanese politics and
that this linkage must be understood. (Note: The fact that
Indonesia realized that the HQA was concluded bilaterally
between the Netherlands and the UN shows how closely they are
following this issue. End Note.) Vietnam added that any
measure adopted by the UNSC on the Tribunal must also be
"fair and balanced." China said the STL must operate in
"strict accordance" with relevant UNSCRs and bilateral
agreements between the UN and Lebanon, with full consultation
with the GOL.

Russia Complains About Management Committee

6. (SBU) After "noting" the SYG's progress in setting up the
Tribunal, Russian PR Churkin underscored that the Management
Committee would play a significant role in guiding the
efforts of the STL, and expressed "surprise" that the SYG
established the Committee without consulting the SYG. (Note:
The SYG is under no such obligation in UNSCR 1757. End
Note.) Since all countries on the Committee come from "one
geographic area," Churkin argued the Committee would be
"unlikely to ensure an impartial Tribunal." (Note: As
Lebanon is a member of the Committee, Churkin was again
incorrect. End Note.) He said that although financial
contributions should be one criterion for membership, given
the delicate political situation, contributions should not be
the only criteria. Due to its displeasure with the way the
Management Committee was established, Churkin said Russia
could not agree to "commend" the SYG for his efforts to set
up the STL in the draft press statement.

7. (SBU) Churkin also emphasized that UNIIIC should have
"sufficient time to complete its investigation" before the
Tribunal begins functioning. The UN must "avoid the parallel
existence of the two bodies," he declared. Libya and
Indonesia also underscored the need to ensure a "coordinated
transition" between UNIIIC and the STL. Separately, Libya
tried to amend the draft press statement to delete the phrase
that the SYG should establish the STL in coordination with
the GOL "when appropriate." (Note: Libya seemed to believe
that Lebanon must agree in all matters related to the
Tribunal. End Note.) After the U.S., France, and Russia
recalled that the language in the draft press statement about
coordination with the GOL comes directly from UNSCR 1757,
Libya relented.

Michel Defends Himself and STL

8. (SBU) In response to Churkin's criticism, Michel took the
floor again to explain that all members of the Management
Committee had contributed at least USD one million to the
Tribunal. The Committee envisioned adding new members if
they satisfy the criteria for membership, including making
significant contributions to the STL. The Committee also
planned to convene a Group of Interested states to provide
regular information about the STL. He agreed that the
Tribunal must remain strictly impartial and operate based on
purely legal considerations, and to this end, noted that the
UN had hired communications staff to deliver that message to
the Arabic media in Beirut and beyond. In this respect, he
expressed satisfaction that several states that were
originally skeptical of the Tribunal had decided to make
financial contributions, which Michel interpreted as a sign
of confidence in the Secretariat's approach to the set up.
On the transition between UNIIIC and the STL, Michel
emphasized that, in accordance with resolution 1757, the SYG
would decide when the STL would begin functioning, after
consultation with the GOL and in light of financial
contributions to the Tribunal and the state of the UNIIIC

Council Adopts Press Statement

9. (SBU) After the consultations, Russian PR Churkin read out
the following statement to the press on behalf of the Council:

The members of the Security Council were briefed today by
Under Secretary-General Nicolas Michel on the
Secretary-General's report on the implementation of

resolution 1757 (2007) regarding the establishment of the
Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

They welcomed the report and took note of the
Secretary-General's efforts regarding the establishment of

the Special Tribunal, based on the highest international
standards of criminal justice.

USUN NEW Y 00000285 003 OF 003

The members of the Security Council noted the substantial
progress that has been made, in particular the signing of the
Headquarters Agreement between the United Nations and the
Kingdom of the Netherlands, the appointment of the Prosecutor
as well as of the Registrar of the Special Tribunal, and the
establishment of the Management Committee.

They welcomed the contributions and pledges received and
expressed support for the Secretary-General's efforts to
continue to seek the necessary funds from Member States.

The members of the Security Council encouraged the
Secretary-General to continue to undertake, in coordination,

when appropriate, with the Government of Lebanon, the steps
and measures necessary to establish the Special Tribunal in a
timely manner.

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