Support for Lebanon

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His Excellency

António Guterres

Secretary-General of the United Nations

The United Nations Security Council

7 August 2020

Your Excellency,

On 4 August 2020, one or more explosions occurred at the Port of Beirut, resulting to date in more than 135 fatalities, five thousand other casualties, three hundred thousand of Beirut’s residents displaced and a large swath of the city substantially damaged. The bigger explosion is reportedly one of the largest ever recorded. Monetary damages run into billions of US dollars. This comes at a time when Lebanon is suffering financial, fiscal, social and economic crises, unprecedented in scope.

In the face of this disaster, the people of Lebanon require:

1.                       a professional, independent, transparent and timely investigation which will look into the causes of the explosions and assign responsibility for this tragedy;

2.                       a fair and transparent distribution of urgent aid to the victims; and

3.                       a truly professional and independent government, with extraordinary powers, enjoying the support of the Lebanese people and able to deal with the ongoing crises.

The signatories of this letter, who represent a cross-section of civil society and activist groups in Lebanon and abroad, do not believe that the current Lebanese Government has the willingness and ability to conduct a proper investigation for the following reasons:

a)                  a professional investigation into an event of this scale and magnitude requires a high level of expertise and technological know-how, which Lebanon currently lacks. The Lebanese political, administrative and judicial systems have proven unable in the past to satisfactorily conduct and resolve the substantial majority of investigations relating to the assassination of political leaders and journalists;

b)                  on 5 August 2020, the Council of Ministers appointed an administrative commission to investigate the explosions and render its conclusions within five days, thereby showing an utter lack of intent to conduct a credible investigation;

c)                  the Government of Lebanon has direct conflicts of interest in that it exercises authority over the Port of Beirut and the Customs Administration. It also counts among its ministers representatives or nominees of an organisation which may be implicated in the events to be investigated and is deemed to exert significant influence over Government actions. As a result, an impartial investigation by the Government of Lebanon is impossible.

In light of the foregoing, the undersigned hereby respectfully request that, at its scheduled meeting of 10 August 2020 convened to discuss the Beirut explosions, the Security Council adopt the following resolutions:

i)                                  establishing, and providing the funding for, an international commission to investigate the causes of the explosions and report its findings to the Security Council at the earliest possible date;

ii)                                establishing a UN-sponsored commission and trust fund to effect a detailed survey of the damages, collect international aid from donor countries, international organisations and the Lebanese diaspora and disburse such aid to the victims in a fair and transparent manner, as well as oversee and regulate development and reconstruction efforts; and

iii)                              supporting the demand of the people of Lebanon for the appointment of a truly independent government to manage the aftermath of the explosions and the financial situation in Lebanon.

The people of Lebanon have suffered greatly. They are looking to the United Nations to alleviate some of their suffering and restore hope.

Thank you,