Member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) until December 31, 2011; its president until May 31, 2010, president of the International Peace and Security body:Lebanon. Although very appealing at heart, such status is not going to bring drastic political changes tothe country; nevertheless it comes at a time of political turmoil where Lebanon can prove to the US and the world alike, that no matter what happens on its national soil, it is keen on promoting world values of peace and stability, if and when given the possibility.
Based on Chapter V of the Charter of the UN, the UNSC is formed by five permanent members – US, Russia, China, UK and France – and 10 non-permanent members on a two-year rotational basis – Lebanon, Gabon, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Turkey, Uganda, Austria, Boznia and Herzegovina, and Brazil. It has the primary responsibility of upholding international peace and security. It also has the duty to call upon parties for the Pacific Settlement of Disputes (Chapter VI) which may endanger international peace and security. Chapter VII, Article 39 states that “the UNSC shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression, and shall make recommendations or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 [not involving the use of arms] and 42 [take action by air, land, or sea forces].” Chapter VIII states that the UNSC has the duty to promote pacific settlements through regional arrangements; last but least Chapter XII presents the international trusteeship system, currently inactive.
This said, what does it mean for Lebanon to be the president of such a body? In a practical explanation, the role of the president of the UNSC is more of a technical/administrative one revolving around setting the agenda, presiding over meetings, and calling for urgent meetings in times of crisis. The UNSC has its own rules and procedures and thus Lebanon would act as a constant facilitator to all sessions. Being the representative of the UNSC and upon consensus of its members, the president can issue presidential statements and notes, not binding in nature but which highlight the efforts of the UNSC to reach a resolution.
In a time where Iran and Syria join their strength against a US foreign policy trying to bridge the inconsistencies with Israel, where the Palestinians are holding talks with the Chinese, where the UAE face one of its most devastating economic crisis, where Saudi Arabia faces recurrent danger on its borders with Yemen, where Qatar presents itself as the pivotal key player in Lebanon’s political stability, where the Lebanese internal distribution of power swings between a Western European facet and an Arab, anti-Western one, and where the UN is promoting a nuclear-weapon-free world … Lebanon, as a
constitution, government, and people, has the chance to tackle the mosaic effect of war in the world, particularly the Arab world, by highlighting the rule of
law, defending international peace, and seeking common security.
Lebanon’s presidency to the UNSC goes beyond the mere practical understanding, for it has to play the role of an international mediator, with the duty to initiate procedures to maintain international peace and security; thus, it has the obligation to look beyond and above its tense rel
ationship with Syria, its state of war with Israel, its internal division on national politics, and its arena of struggle for the Palestinian cause. In such a position, Lebanon is not limited to one side of the story, but is obliged to cover everybody’s interest, even when it might look controversial. It is the president of the body with the highest authority in the UN … although some might believe that the UN cannot do much for the world, it is a legal reference and a balancer, embodying
both the strength and weaknesses of world order. For Lebanon, it is a chance to prove strength of character and strategic thinking; the hope is that if it can guide the UNSC through the various interests of its member states and reach resolutions, it can do the same by zooming in on its national politics as to balance and decipher it for its own interests.
Maria-Rita Kassis is a political scientist.