Special Tribunal for Lebanon Collection

The Collection’s goal is to present the reasons that led to the establishment of The Special Court, and to offer an overview of the cases brought before The Court. It also provides for background materials such as basic documents on the tribunal and documents on the conflict. For many decades the Republic of Lebanon has been an area of conflict. These political and religious conflicts were characterized by large-scale atrocities committed by local and foreign actors, which could easily be defined as war crimes or crimes against humanity. Thousands were killed, wounded, missing and forcibly displaced. These crimes were committed in a context of almost total impunity during the period of war in Lebanon from 1975 until 2005. With the signing of the peace agreement of Taif the conflict already ended in 1990, but the Israeli forces pursued to attack civilian targets till 2000, when they pulled back from the area of South Lebanon. However, the Syrian forces stayed in Lebanon and it took until 2005 for them to draw back under international pressure. Although the Syrian forces had withdrawn from Lebanon, the influence of Syria on the Lebanese government remained and the control of the Syrian security forces even grew gradually.On 14 February 2005 the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri died in a terrorist attack in Beirut. Also 22 other persons were killed and more than 100 persons were wounded. Rafiq Hariri was a very powerful politician in Lebanon and served as a Prime Minister from 1992-1998 and in the period of 2000-2004. As a result, and with the approval of the Lebanese government, the UN Security Council created a commission of investigation. Under Council Resolution 1595 of 7 April 2005 has been established, the precursor to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC), to help the Lebanese authorities in their investigation in relation to the assassinations of 14 February 2005. On 13 December 2005, after the second report the Government of Lebanon requested in a letter the assistance of the United Nations after the shared investigation to determine a ‘tribunal of an international character to try all those who are found responsible for the terrorist crime…’. In response to the letter, the Security Council requested the Secretary-General to provide the needed assistance by consulting the Lebanese Government on the nature and scope of such a tribunal. The Tribunal has officially been opened on 1 March 2009. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is the latest of a number of international and hybrid tribunals.  The negotiation about Resolution 1664 directed the Secretary-General to an agreement with the Government of Lebanon to create ‘a tribunal of an international character based on the highest international standards of criminal justice’. The agreement on the establishment of the tribunal has been signed in 2007 by the United Nations and the Lebanese Government. The UN wanted to set upa treaty-based international institution that would be established by an agreement, just like the Special Court For Sierra Leone. The legal basis for the creation of the Special Tribunal is similar to the Cambodian Extraordinary Chambers and the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The Lebanon Tribunal is different unlike the other hybrid models. According to the bilateral treaty creating the Security Council has been decided that the court must be acting under Chapter VII. Thus, the Agreement on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and its Statute are annexed to Resolution 1757 of 30 May 2007, which declared that they entered into force on 10 June 2007. The Resolution annexed a Statute and Agreement, both of which had been developed through negotiations between the government of Lebanon and the UN, but had not been ratified by the Lebanese Parliament due to domestic political deadlock. Resolution 1757 was strongly contested in the Security Council. It passed with 10 votes in favor, including Belgium, Congo, France, Ghana, Italy, Peru, Slovakia, The United States, and the United Kingdom, and five abstentions, by Qatar, South Africa, China, Russia, and Indonesia.Common objections included interference in domestic affairs and the fear that a Chapter VII resolution would further destabilize Lebanon. Underlying the UN membership no member state of the UN may refuse to admit the existence and functioning of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and should cooperate with it , by honesty of the general duty of cooperation with UN organs. On the other hand, when a trial against one of the persons falling under the international Tribunal for Lebanon’, Tribunal’s jurisdiction is held in a ‘third’ country, the ban on ne bis in idem does not apply, the international Tribunal may try that person again, when the national trial did not prove to be fair and effective.The Statute obligates a reduction on the personal and impermanent jurisdiction of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon has a narrow mandate. In conformity with Article 1 of the Statute, the court is authorized to prosecute suspects allegedly responsible for the terrorist attack in Beirut. In addition, the tribunal has jurisdiction over other attacks between 1 October 2004 and 12 December 2005, or a later date to be decided by the Lebanon with the consent of the Security Council, if the tribunal decides they are connected ‘in accordance with the principles of criminal justice’ and are of a nature and gravity similar to the attack of 14 February 2005. The elements used to decide a connection with the Hariri assassination are defined under Article 1 as ‘criminal intent (motive), the purpose behind the attacks, the nature of the victims targeted, the pattern of the attacks (modus operandi) and the perpetrators’. The Statute of the Lebanon Tribunal does not limit the Tribunal’s jurisdiction based on the nationality of the accused. The narrow mandate of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is somewhat peculiar for a tribunal, since the (other) international criminal tribunals or internationalized courts are created to prosecute people responsible for committing gross human rights violations and mass atrocities. Perhaps it is not that strange a tribunal is set up in this situation, because of the symbolic importance of the Hariri assassination, as it resulted in commotion and status of Lebanese politicians.

Overview of the Collection:

The main-volumes 

Volume Number
1 Basic Documents and Background Materials
2 The Independent Investigation Commission
5.1. ANNUAL REPORTS 2009-2018