Intervention of the United Nations
Special Representative for the Middle East.
Thank you very much, Prime Minister Hoss.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen. I am very pleased to be here today as the representative of the United Nations Secretary General to this important and timely conference.
Today is a significant day for the future of Lebanon, and particularly for the south of the country. Lebanon has suffered greatly over the past quarter century from both war and occupation, but in the last few months we have seen the beginning of great hope for the future.
I am proud to note that the United Nations has stood by Lebanon through the difficult times of the past. UN peacekeeping troops have been stationed in South Lebanon since 1978 and have endured in their role through 22 years of conflict and instability. The UN peacekeeping forces will continue their work to assist the Government of Lebanon in restoring its authority in the south of the country.
Recently, as you well know, I have also had the honour of working towards the implementation of Security Council Resolutions 425 and 426 to ensure peace and security for all Lebanese citizens as well as the withdrawal of Israeli troops from all Lebanese territory.
I probably share with all donors the opinion that the deployment of UNIFIL along with Lebanese armed forces will be crucial to the work that we, in partnership, begin today.
As we have resolved political problems in the past, we must now turn to examine how we, the international community, can work with Lebanon to institute a development effort that will provide the basis for long-term growth and stability in the South.
The Government of Lebanon is dedicated to improving living conditions in the South, especially in the areas of health and education services and infrastructure. We, donors and international institutions alike, will have to coordinate closely with the Government to ensure the mutual accountability and transparency necessary in the execution of this important task.
Certainly, all of us are working to provide the necessary emergency response to quickly alleviate the suffering in the South. But we must go further to provide the foundations for long-term sustainable development.
The challenge we are faced with must be viewed as a single framework involving donors, multilateral institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and the Government of Lebanon. A credible donor mechanism and an equally credible recipient mechanism will be necessary to coordinate our efforts at the local and international level, and ensure that our assistance is well targeted and best serves the needs of the people of Southern Lebanon. The efficiency of both donor and recipient instruments, including the best possible absorptive capacity, is essential to securing funding in the current global climate of resource scarcity.
As we listen to the discussion and presentations today, I would ask you to reflect on the formulation of such mechanisms.
The coming period is one of strategic choice for all of us at the table. Let us take advantage of this new start for this remarkable and resilient nation, and work in concert to establish a development assistance framework that will underpin prosperity and stability long into Lebanon's future.
I can assure you th9t the United Nations system here in Lebanon and the Secretary-General stand in full support of what we are beginning here today.
I would like to thank the UNDP and the World Bank for spearheading this effort we are involved in. And I would like to pay a special tribute to President Lahoud, Prime Minister Hoss, and Speaker of the House Nabih Berri who moved quickly to address the needs of the suffering of the people of Southern Lebanon by initiating this joint effort between the Government of Lebanon and the international community.