IMRA Interview: UNIFIL Spokesman Alexander Ivanko: Our role is not to disarm
Dr. Aaron Lerner - 4 October, 2006
IMRA interviewed UNIFIL Spokesman Alexander Ivanko, in English, on 4
IMRA: I had some questions about the UNIFIL press statement (see full text
". in situations where the LAF are not in a position to do so, UNIFIL will
do everything necessary to fulfill its mandate"
Now this whole story about "taking action" - does this relate only during
the movement of unauthorized weapons?
Ivanko: I am not going to second judge the commanders on the ground. They
are the ones that have to make a decision with the concrete situation that
they are dealing with.
IMRA: But let's put it a different way. This talks about having
"information" about the "movement of unauthorized weapons".
IMRA: The weapons have moved. Now you knew that there was a movement of
"unauthorized weapons". Can you act after the movement has been completed?
Ivanko: As our statement makes it very clear. It is our first priority to
inform the Lebanese Army about it. About whatever we think is the movement
of unauthorized materials.
IMRA: Well, it says ", in situations where the LAF are not in a position to
Ivanko: Well then as I said then we have all the necessary means to take
IMRA: Now the "LAD are not in a position" in some circumstances because the
Lebanese Government hasn't given it instructions to disarm the Hezbollah.
Ivanko: We are not talking about disarmament. We are talking about movement
of unauthorized weapon and material.
IMRA: That's what I am confused about. There are weapons - they are
moving. Now they have completed the movement. Once they have completed the
movement they are no longer relevant?
Ivanko: No. They are as long as there is a cache of weapons that we come
across - it doesn't matter if it is moving or it is static.
IMRA: So if there is a cache of weapons that you come across and the LAF
isn't in a position to act because they don't have instruction to act
against them - then UNIFIL would pick up the weapons?
Ivanko: UNIFIL has the rules that allow it to act but in every case it is a
decision of the commander in the concrete situation.
IMRA: By the way, the area of UNIFIL operations includes the refugee camps?
Ivanko: The area includes the south of the Litani River up to the Blue
IMRA: There isn't an exception then for the refugee camps?
Ivanko: I am not aware of an exception of the rules of operation to the
south of the Litani.
IMRA: I am just trying to make sure I understand. Resolution 1701 does
include UNIFIL having a role in disarming.
Ivanko: When you go to 1701 it pretty clearly says that this is a priority
for the Lebanese. The Secretary-General has said on several occasions that
this is something that is expected of the Lebanese Army and in his view this
should be done through a political process.
IMRA: So, if you are aware that there is a cache of weapons someplace then
at what stage would UNIFIL act on that?
Ivanko: Well I am not going to answer that question because it is a
hypothetical question. And we are not going to be pinned down at to what in
an exact situation what action we would take because then everyone would
know exactly what our steps are. I am not going to get pinned down on
this. Is there any military commander who is going to tell you exactly what
he is going to do?
IMRA: Well a military commander could say that if he is aware of a cache of
Ivanko: We may take action - we may use "all necessary means". That's a
long list - it includes negotiations.
IMRA: I will just end with this. The concept of the "LAF are not in a
position to do so" - is this only in terms of technical capability or can it
extend to that they don't have orders to do something.
Ivanko: It depends, again, on the commander on the ground. His assessment
of the situation.
IMRA: So if the LAF is not in a position to do so because of instructions
above them it is conceivable that UNIFIL would act?
Ivanko: Again - you are giving me a hypothetical situation. In every
concrete situation the commander on the ground assesses what is the reason
etc. etc. If he wishes to consult he then consults with the force
commander and then the decision is made on the ground how UNIFIL will act.
IMRA: Under the terms of the ceasefire the Israelis are prohibited from
carrying out over flights of drones and other observation equipment?
Ivanko: Any over flights we monitor and report to the headquarters in New
IMRA: Is there some problem for UNIFIL to use information that was provided
by Israel that was derived from this activity that you would consider a
Ivanko: Anything involving the use of intelligence information is not
something we will discuss. Period.
IMRA: I understand. Thank you sir.
Ivanko: No problem. Take care/
UNITED NATIONS INTERIM FORCE IN LEBANON (UNIFIL) Naqoura, 3 October 2006
UNIFIL Press Statement www.un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/unifil/PS3oct.pdf
UNIFIL is steadily enhancing its operational capabilities in order to
fulfill its responsibilities under Security Council resolution 1701 (2006).
More than 3,000 additional troops, for a current total of around 5,200, plus
an Interim Maritime Task Force, have been deployed so far. UNIFIL personnel
are patrolling the area of operations, monitoring the cessation of the
hostilities, and assisting the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), which have
already deployed five brigades in the south. Yesterday, UNIFIL confirmed the
withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to south of the Blue Line,
except in the area around Ghajar, and ensured a seamless and smooth takeover
by the LAF.
Should the situation present any risk of resumption of hostile activities,
UNIFIL rules of engagement allow UN forces to respond as required. UNIFIL
commanders have sufficient authority to act forcefully when confronted with
hostile activity of any kind. UNIFIL has set up temporary checkpoints at key
locations within its area of operations. Permanent checkpoints are being
established by the LAF to stop and search passing vehicles. In case specific
information is available regarding movement of unauthorized weapons or
equipment, the LAF will take required action. However, in situations where
the LAF are not in a position to do so, UNIFIL will do everything necessary
to fulfill its mandate in accordance with Security Council resolution 1701.
In implementing their mandate, all UNIFIL personnel may exercise the
inherent right of self-defense. In addition, the use of force beyond
self-defense may be applied to ensure that UNIFIL's area of operations is
not utilized for hostile activities; to resist attempts by forceful means to
prevent UNIFIL from discharging its duties under the mandate of the Security
Council; to protect UN personnel, facilities, installations and equipment;
to ensure the security and freedom of movement of UN personnel and
humanitarian workers; and to protect civilians under imminent threat of
physical violence in its areas of deployment, within its capabilities.
For further information, Please contact Alexander Ivanko, UNIFIL Spokesman,
at (+961) 70 910064.