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Thursday, May 03, 2007 ‘No progress’ on Hariri tribunal: top UN lawyer

UN Undersecretary-General for Legal Affairs Nicolas Michel has been unable to break a deadlock within the Lebanese government preventing approval of an international tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri , Michel told the UN Security Council Wednesday. Michel traveled to Lebanon last month in an effort to revitalize the ratification process of an agreement to establish the tribunal. The agreement has been approved by the Lebanese cabinet, but Lebanon’s pro-Syrian parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri has refused to convene parliament, preventing the ratification of the agreement. Michel said Wednesday that he saw “no progress” [press briefing summary; recorded video], despite the fact that both the government and opposition have expressed support, in principle, for the tribunal. According to Michel, “the main issue was not the tribunal, but the Government’s composition.”

The Security Council could establish the tribunal under Chapter VII of the UN Charter [text], which would require Lebanon’s compliance, but Michel refused to confirm plans to do so Wednesday.