Letter from the Lebanese CSO Gathering for Life to the General Secretary of the United Nations

A group of Lebanese CSOs will deliver to Kofi Annan, UN General Secretary, a letter during his visit to Lebanon and the region.

Letter from the Lebanese CSO Gathering for Life
to the General Secretary of the United Nations

Mr. Kofi Annan
UN General Secretary

We, the undersigned, organizations members of the CSO Gathering for Life[1], addressed you on July the 20th with a statement delivered to the United Nations House in Beirut, asking the United Nations to put pressure on Israel, as a UN member state, to stop its aggression on Lebanon. It was the ninth day of military operations against Lebanon. In that statement we condemned the Israeli policy of common punishment targeting Lebanese civilians.

In august the 10th, we sent to the UN Human Rights Council that convened in Geneva a statement entitled: “
Your silence acts as consent to the crimes committed against the Lebanese people”.

In this statement, we referred to the main conclusions of the Human Rights Watch report issued on august the 6th:

(i) Israeli forces have systematically failed to distinguish between combatants and civilians in their military campaign against Hezbollah in Lebanon and
(ii) The pattern of attacks in more than 20 cases investigated by Human Rights Watch researchers in Lebanon indicates that the failures cannot be dismissed as mere accidents and cannot be blamed on wrongful Hezbollah practices.

The report goes on to conclude that some of these attacks constitute war crimes.

Moreover, Amnesty international in its last report entitled: “
Israel/Lebanon: Deliberate destruction or "collateral damage"? Israeli attacks on civilian infrastructure” issued after the cease of hostilities Called for the following:

“Amnesty International has asked the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council to request the UN Secretary General to establish a panel of independent experts to conduct this inquiry. They should include experts with proven expertise in investigating compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law, in military matters, as well as in forensics and ballistics. The experts should receive all necessary assistance and resources. The outcome of the inquiry should be made public and include recommendations aimed at ending and preventing further violations.”

On august the 14th, the date of the cease of hostilities, the results of the Israeli war on Lebanon are the following:

-         1200 persons are dead, more than 30 % are children, 85% are civilians

-         4800 injured persons the majority are children, women and elderly

-         More than one million persons were internally displaced, more than 280000 of them became homeless

-         Losses in Infrastructure are estimated to be more than 1.5 billion dollars,

-         Losses in buildings and houses are estimated to be 2.5 billion dollars

-         Economic losses are estimated to be more than 6 billion dollars

Today, August the 28th Israel is still violating the blue line drawn by the UN in 2000. Many Israeli military actions on the Lebanese territories took place where many Lebanese were kidnapped and transported inside Israel.

15 days after the cease of hostilities, Lebanon is still under siege; the airport and all the ports are not opened yet. In addition, more then 55 victims among the civilians were reported due to the cluster bombs.

Mr. Secretary General, We, the members of the CSO Gathering for life ask the UN for the following:

-         To end Israeli siege on Lebanon. The siege is a clear violation of “State’s territorial integrity” and of “basic and fundamental principle in international relations”

-         To reach an immediate agreement to exchange all war prisoners and detainees between Lebanon and Israel.

-         To send an independent and impartial commission of inquiry to investigate Israeli war crimes committed during the aggression against Lebanon in July and Aug 2006. This commission should be given the full support and time needed for proper and in-depth investigation. The investigation should include the use of the internationally forbidden arms such as cluster, phosphorus and other chemical bombs by Israeli army in addition to the disproportionate use of these arms against civilians.

-         To take appropriate measures against the perpetrators of such crimes, such measures should include compensation to the victims of war.

-         To reach a fair solution to Sheba’ farms to end the outstanding issues that are behind tension and wars between Lebanon and Israel

-         Force Israel to withdraw to the internationally recognized borders between Lebanon and Israel and to revive the armistice agreement of 1948

-         To give the office of the UN Human Rights Commissioner in Lebanon a protection mandate to be able to play a more constructive and positive role in the promotion and protection of human rights.

-         To mobilize all UN agencies To provide the needed and appropriate aid and assistance to Lebanon to face the direct and indirect effects of war; economic, legal, health, education, humanitarian, agricultural, industrial, etc…

Mr. General Secretary, we are aware of the complexity of the situation, but the Lebanese citizens are looking with hope for a more effective role that the International Organization can have in the coming period to implement a fair, sustainable and comprehensive peace based on the rights of all the peoples of the region to live in peace, a solution based on the implementation of the related UN resolutions, the respect of the International Laws and of the fundamental Human Rights.

Beirut August 28th, 2006
CSO Gathering for Life


[1] A network of 25 Lebanese NGOs established in July the 14th, 48 hours after the beginning of the Israeli aggressions.