Journal Article

Peacekeeping in Lebanon and Civilian Protection

Ray Murphy

in Journal of Conflict and Security Law

Volume 17, issue 3, pages 373-402
Published in print December 2012 | ISSN: 1467-7954
Published online June 2012 | e-ISSN: 1467-7962 | DOI:
Peacekeeping in Lebanon and Civilian Protection

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A major challenge to contemporary peace operations is the need to protect civilians. UNIFIL has been criticized for being ineffective and risk averse. The original mandate made no reference to civilian protection, but the protection of Lebanese civilians became an issue of concern when their treatment by Israeli forces in the aftermath of the 1982 Israeli invasion was brought to the attention of the Security Council. Since the invasion had transformed the situation on the ground, safeguarding the civilian population provided an interim solution to the disregard of United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL's) authority by Israel. While the performance of humanitarian tasks as an interim measure was a worthwhile attempt to ease the plight of the local population, the loss of face and inability to prevent Israeli incursions damaged both the credibility and morale of UNIFIL. In the summer of 2006, the conflict between Hizbollah and Israel ‘radically changed’ the context in which UNIFIL operated. Resolution 1701 authorized a reconfigured UNIFIL to take all necessary action to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence. The creation of a Strategic Military Cell facilitated European engagement and rapid deployment. Nonetheless, it had definite drawbacks. While UNIFIL has successfully maintained a fragile peace, important aspects of the mandate remain unfulfilled. The primary responsibility for the protection of civilians remains the Lebanese Government. The 2006 conflict demonstrated that it is not possible to provide effective protection in the context of armed hostilities between Israel and Hizbollah. Today, UNIFIL seems dependent on the Government and maintaining good relations with armed elements for its security. Such a situation is inconsistent with it performing an effective protection role.

Journal Article.  14705 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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