Conference on the Reconstruction of the Liberated Territories
 and the Adjacent Areas, and on the Overall Development of Lebanon



Prime Ministerís Closing Statement



Distinguished Ambassadors

and Representatives of Donor Parties, Organizations and Funds



I am pleased, in the name of the Lebanese Government, to thank you personally and to thank your Governments for having actively participated in this conference. I also would like to thank you for the sincere support you have showed, in your name and in the name of your countries, for restoring normal conditions in Lebanon, so that our country would be able to play again its traditional, long-standing role in the world community.


The Lebanese people has endured a lot. Yesterday, during your visit to the South, you had the opportunity to witness the extent of material and moral damage inflicted upon our people in the South. The Israeli occupation, which lasted more than twenty years, has left the villages and cities of Southern Lebanon and the Western Bekaa in complete isolation and distress. Now that the area has been liberated, we are endeavoring to restore its social cohesion and normal conditions of life. For this purpose, we have invited you to participate with us in the rebuilding effort.


This conference represents a major first step towards the rehabilitation and development of Southern Lebanon and the West Bekaa. You have already showed your support through your willingness to engage in the consultation and coordination process, in light of the comprehensive National Development Plan and of the urgent needs of South Lebanon. We much appreciate your commitment to review the Plan and the urgent needs during the coming months, in consultation with your governments and in coordination with all parties.


Our concern for implementing these projects that aim at improving living conditions in South Lebanon stems from our main purpose, which is to ensure the security and welfare of all Lebanese citizens. It is, therefore, necessary to lay the ground of a sustained development in the South, so as to avoid any socio-economic deterioration that could jeopardize the security and the stability of the region.


It is clear, from the statements we heard to-day, that a number of views about basic issues, as expressed by most participants, are in agreement with the views of the Lebanese Government. So, in this context, I will formulate, the results reached by the Conference:


  1. Expressing its support to Lebanon, a country struggling with so many difficulties, the international community is aware of the fact that the socio-economic rehabilitation of the liberated and neighboring territories represents a challenge for Lebanon as well as for the whole international community. Indeed, the success of such an undertaking is hinging upon a close cooperation and coordination between Lebanon and the international community, given that Southern Lebanon has obviously a preeminent geo-strategic position.


  1. Rehabilitation and development are primarily the responsibility of the Lebanese Government, but this task cannot be successfully fulfilled without the participation of the Arab countries and the international community as a whole.


  1. Most importantly, the field trip to South Lebanon has allowed the delegations to have a close and vivid look on the prevailing conditions in the region. As a result, a clear and realistic description of needs will be transmitted to the officials of the participating countries, organizations and funds.


  1. The task of socio-economic rehabilitation and development should be undertaken in collaboration with the private sector and the NGOs, and this partnership is a critical factor.


  1. It is clear that a distinction should be made between meeting the urgent basic needs, on one hand, and the implementation of mid- and long term projects within the framework of the National Five-Year Development Program, on the other hand. The consensus was that Lebanon is in dire need of urgent aid for its emergency assistance program, which cannot wait for another donorsí conference to be convened. Thus, such urgent aid should be obtained through bilateral contacts and initiatives.


  1. Regarding the institutional framework for a clear implementation of the Development Planís projects and the coordination of aid, the consensus was on the need to establish a flexible mechanism of transparency, accountability and efficiency. Such a mechanism would put together the representatives of the Arab and international donors and those of the Lebanese State, backed by economic, social and information technology analytic tools to precisely determine the needs and priorities of the country. In this respect, the participants promised to pursue their discussions, in order to set up a coordination mechanism that would allow meeting these needs and securing a efficient project implementation.


  1. The participants decided to establish a three-member working committee, consisting of representatives of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, the World Bank and the UNDP. In tandem with the Lebanese Higher Committee to be appointed by the Lebanese Government, the tripartite committee will work on devising a comprehensive scheme for the Donorsí Conference, including the setting of a location and a date for the next meeting, and the establishment of a coordination mechanism that would allow the Conference to reach its goals, by obtaining specific and new material commitments in support of the overall development of Lebanon, and especially of South Lebanon.


In conclusion, I would like to express my deep gratitude for your support and your commitment to the goals of comprehensive development of South Lebanon and its population. We, on our side, will continue our efforts to follow on these commitments.