The Security Council has adopted a resolution to extend the mandate of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for another year, till August 31, 2021. Resolution 2539, which won the unanimous support of the 15-member council on Friday, decides to reduce the troop ceiling from 15,000 authorized troops to 13,000, without prejudice to the possibility for the force strength to be increased in the future in case a degraded security situation requires such an increase, reports Xinhua news agency.

The Resolution commends the positive role of the UNIFIL, whose deployment together with the Lebanese armed forces has helped to establish a new strategic environment in the southern part of the country.

Seeking Enhancement of Cooperation

Lebanon Flag
Lebanon Flag Pixabay

It welcomes the expansion of coordinated activities between the UNIFIL and the Lebanese armed forces, and calls for further enhancement of this cooperation without prejudice to the Force's mandate. It reiterates the Security Council's call for Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent cease-fire and a long-term solution.

The resolution strongly reaffirms the necessity of effective and durable deployment of the Lebanese armed forces in southern Lebanon and the territorial waters of Lebanon at an accelerated pace.

Transitioning of Responsibilities

It reiterates the call for the government of Lebanon to present a plan to increase its naval capabilities as soon as possible, with the goal of ultimately decreasing the UNIFIL's maritime task force and transitioning its responsibilities to the Lebanese armed forces.

The UNIFIL was first established in 1978 to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon. After the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel, the UNIFIL's mandate was expanded to monitor the cessation of hostilities and to accompany the deployment of Lebanese armed forces throughout southern Lebanon as Israel withdraws its troops.