Will Lebanon make Israel abide by UN resolution on ‘oil spill?’

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Members of the Lebanese Non-Governmental Organization Bahr Lubnan (Lebanon's Sea) clean the oil spill at a beach in Jieh, south of Beirut, 26 October 2006. (AFP/Marwan Naamani)

By: Bassam Alkantar

Published Monday, December 29, 2014

For the ninth time in a row, the United Nations General Assembly has passed a resolution asking Israel to pay Lebanon $856.4 million in compensation for oil spill damages inflicted on the Lebanese coast as a result of Israel’s deliberate bombardment of fuel tanks adjacent to the Jiyeh electrical power plant on the third day of the July 2006 aggression. The attack led to the spillage of 15,000 cubic meters of fuel into the sea, affecting almost 150 kilometers of the Lebanese coast extending to the Syrian coastline.

Israel would only be obligated to pay the compensation if a resolution is issued by the UN Security Council under Article VII, or through other legal channels which Lebanon has yet to resort to.

The Israeli government has refused to pay prompt and adequate compensation to the Lebanese government despite repeated calls from the UN.

The vote, which passed 170-6 with three abstentions, was held under the "sustainable development" item included on the agenda of the 69th session of the General Assembly. However, it was a mere revised version of eight previous UNGA resolutions (16/194, 62/188, 63/211, 64/195, 65/147, 66/192, 67/201, 68/206).

In addition to Israel, the United States, Canada, Australia, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands voted against the resolution.

According to Nawaf Salam, Lebanon's ambassador and permanent representative at the UN, the amount designated in the resolution ($856.4 million) is the calculated value of damages based on the results of the Secretary General’s report (A/69/313) issued on August 14, 2014, which was based on the work of international organizations and institutions.

Salam said that the resolution is an important achievement "because it provides an exact figure for compensation, and is based on a clear and legal method of calculation that takes into account the direct and indirect value of damages caused by the oil spill and the Passive Use value, which were adjusted after calculating inflation and accumulated interest since February 2007."

Each year, the Lebanese government takes pride in the UNGA resolution and views it as a diplomatic achievement. However, efforts to convince countries to vote in favor of the resolution began in 2006, and it is rare for a member state to refrain from voting for a resolution it has previously voted in favor of.

The resolution was adopted following the Israeli aggression on Lebanon, after former president Emile Lahoud – who headed the Lebanese delegation to the 61st UNGA session in July 2006 – asked then Environment Minister Yacoub Sarraf and Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh to prepare a draft resolution to be presented to the assembly. The resolution received the support of all member states with the exception of the US, Israel, Canada, and Australia, in addition to other states and island countries which are used by the US as military bases.

Prime Minister Tammam Salam may boast about the annual UNGA resolution on the oil spill if he decides to take certain measures, such as asking current Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil to inform the states that voted against the resolution of Lebanon’s opposition to their decision as it violates international consensus.

The cabinet should ask the Foreign Ministry to consider alternative options in order to oblige Israel to pay the compensations. Such options may include requesting support from the World Heritage Committee and other bodies recognized under the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage; asking the UNGA to request a non-binding consultation from the International Court of Justice; and considering the referral of the case to the International Criminal Court.

Lebanon can also consider filing lawsuits at national courts that recognize war crimes committed outside their territories. Litigation can also be broadened to include war crimes and crimes against humanity, namely the massacres committed by Israel during the 1996 and 2006 aggressions.

Follow Bassan Kantar: http://about.me/bassam.kantar

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


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Will Lebanon make Israel abide by UN resolution on ‘oil spill?’

But does Lebanon want to make "

Will Lebanon make Israel abide by UN resolution on ‘oil spill?’"

Are they Arabs or eye+rubbish? alla hariri

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