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The assessment was prepared under the responsibility of the Singapore delegation pursuant to the note by the President of the Security Council dated 12 June 1997 (S/1997/451).
While other members of the Security Council were consulted on its contents, the assessment should not be considered as representing the views of the Council.
I should be grateful if this letter and the attached document could be circulated as a document of the Security Council.
1. The Security Council witnessed a change in its membership in January 2001 when five elected members — Argentina, Canada, Malaysia, Namibia and the Netherlands — ended their term on the Council and were replaced by five new elected members — Colombia, Ireland, Mauritius, Norway and Singapore. One of the first tasks of the Presidency in January 2001 was to conduct consultations on the appointment of the Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of the 10 existing sanctions committees. This was settled in the first week. Other highlights of the work of the Security Council for the month included the open debate on strengthening cooperation with troop-contributing countries and the renewal of the mandates of four United Nations peacekeeping missions: UNMOP (Prevlaka, Croatia), UNOMIG (Abkhazia, Georgia), UNIFIL (Lebanon) and UNTAET (East Timor).
United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon
43. In connection with the issue of the renewal of the mandate of UNIFIL which was due to expire on 31 January 2001, the members of the Security Council met in informal consultations on 29 January to review developments in Lebanon and to consider the recommendation in the report of the Secretary-General (S/2001/66). Prior to their consideration of the issue, the members of the Council received an update on the situation in southern Lebanon after the issuance of the report of the Secretary-General from the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.
44. During the ensuing discussion, members of the Council acknowledged the success of UNIFIL in fulfilling its mandate of verifying the withdrawal of Israel and reaffirmed their support for the continuing role that UNIFIL could play in the maintenance of international peace and security and the recommendation of the Secretary-General that its mandate be extended by a further period of six months, until 31 July 2001. Members, however, stressed the need for Lebanon to exert full and effective control over southern Lebanon. Council members also called for the international community to continue to provide assistance to the Government of Lebanon in mine clearance. Another priority area highlighted by the Permanent Representative of Lebanon to the Security Council was the repatriation of Lebanese prisoners still in Israel’s custody. While Council members supported the recommendation of the Secretary-General that by 31 July 2001 the strength of the military personnel should be returned to the operational level prior to its augmentation following the withdrawal of Israel from the area in May 2000, they nevertheless cautioned that this should be done gradually, taking into account the views of the Government of Lebanon and the troop-contributing countries. (It is significant to note that Council members met the troop-contributing countries twice, before and after the issuance of the report of the Secretary-General, to discuss the matter.) The members of the Council also supported the proposal of the Secretary-General to maintain a combination of military observers and military personnel in view of the continuing volatile situation, with a view to further reconfiguration in the future.
45. At its 4267th meeting, on 30 January, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1337 (2001), by which it extended the mandate of UNIFIL by six months, until 31 July 2001. The Secretary-General was also requested to submit a detailed report on reconfiguration plans and on the tasks that could be carried out by the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) by 30 April 2001. On the basis of that report, the Council would review the situation by early May 2001 and consider any appropriate steps.