UN Officials Highlight Importance of Elections on Time for Lebanon Stability and Resilience, Underline UN Support for Lebanon
UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag and Deputy Special Coordinator, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Philippe Lazzarini held a joint press encounter to brief the media on the latest UN priorities in Lebanon and to engage in a dialogue with the press on issues vital for Lebanon’s security, stability, stabilization and human rights. In their encounter, Ms. Kaag and Mr. Lazzarini highlighted the importance of holding parliamentary elections in Lebanon within their constitutional timeframe, keeping Lebanon on the international map and transforming the Syrian refugee crisis into opportunities for the Lebanese people, the National News Agency and most Beirut media reported this morning. UN Special Coordinator Kaag said 2017 is a firm new beginning for Lebanon and a year of opportunities despite the remaining challenges. Welcoming the election of a President in late October and the quick formation of a government soon after, Ms. Kaag said this demonstrates that when there is political will, compromises can be achieved. “Kaag Says 2017 is year of opportunities for Lebanon,” headlined the international Arabic daily Al-Hayat.
The Special Coordinator highlighted three main priorities of the United Nations: 1- the importance of holding Parliamentary elections within their constitutional timeframe this year. She also singled out the need to improve women’s political representation in Lebanon, including possibly through the introduction of a women’s quota in the elections. 2- the UN has adopted an integrated three-pillar approach to its work in Lebanon, focusing on maintaining peace and security, promoting stabilization and human rights and supporting inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development through what is called the “whole of Lebanon approach.” 3- Conflict prevention is one of the main priorities of the new UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who has called for a “surge in diplomacy for peace” and has underlined that prevention also requires a comprehensive approach. The UN will continue to work with Lebanon on the implementation of relevant UN resolutions, particularly resolution 1701, and to encourage international support for the Lebanese army and to support the Lebanese Government, under the aegis of Prime Minister Saad Hariri to develop a strategy for preventing violent extremism, Kaag added. In conclusion, the Special Coordinator said the UN will leave no stone unturned to keep Lebanon on the international map, to safeguard its security, stability and territorial integrity and to demonstrate through Lebanon the prospects for the region.
In turn, Deputy Special Coordinator, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Lazzarini, stressed the importance of transforming the crisis into opportunities for Lebanon. Praising Lebanon’s exceptional generosity towards the Syrian refugees, Lazzarini said the burden remains big. He said Lebanon was the second recipient of international assistance in 2016 after Syria but we still haven’t been able to turn the tide while noting the high poverty figures, the impact of the crisis on the economy and the drop in investments. According to Lazzarini, addressing the crisis from a purely humanitarian approach was difficult and insufficient. He underlined the need to tackle long-term development efforts such as investment in infrastructure and services, which could become a way to turn the crisis into opportunities for the Lebanese people.