Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
August 31, 2023
Colleagues, the United States is pleased to vote yes on the UNIFIL mandate. And we thank France, the penholder, for all their efforts to bring us to this point.
We are extremely grateful for the service and sacrifice of the men and women who staff this important mission in pursuit of a more stable and prosperous future for the Lebanese people and the greater region. The ability of UNIFIL personnel to carry out their responsibilities – independent of any restrictions – is essential. And we have had longstanding concerns regarding actions by some actors to obstruct the Mission’s freedom of movement.
Significantly, the resolution adopted today includes language strongly reaffirming UNIFIL’s full freedom of movement and its ability to conduct “announced and unannounced” patrols. It is imperative this be fully implemented, and that UNIFIL not face unacceptable obstacles to carrying out its mission.
We know UNIFIL has been unable to access a range of troubling sites across the Blue Line, including illegal firing ranges, Green Without Borders sites, rocket launch sites, and tunnel sites. It is clear the main purpose of these sites is to facilitate Hizballah’s operations in southern Lebanon along the Blue Line. This constrains the Mission from fully achieving the directives set forth in the mandate and hinders the Mission’s ability to reduce the likelihood of conflict.
The United States, as a steadfast partner of Lebanon, calls on the government to take additional steps to ensure full implementation of the mandate, consistent with the terms of the Status of Forces Agreement. That includes additional steps to mitigate any restrictions on UNIFIL’s freedom of movement. We continue to support efforts to address other restrictions, and believe it would be valuable for the Secretary-General to produce a report on this issue, with recommendations for a way forward.
We are committed to addressing the activities of Green Without Borders. The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Green Without Borders, as well as its leaders, earlier this month for its activities in support of Hizballah. As we made clear when announcing those sanctions, we will continue to support Lebanese civil society groups protecting Lebanon’s natural environment while relentlessly pursuing Hizballah and its support networks.
Colleagues, we believe the resolution adopted today, and the broad support for it, reaffirms UNIFIL’s strong mandate and its freedom of movement and so we strongly endorse it.
Thank you very much.