The proposition of invoking the U.N. Charter’s “7th Chapter” in Lebanon has created a new debate and introduced additional controversy to the Lebanese stage recently, dividing opinions once again.
So, what exactly is the 7th Chapter, and what are its implications?
Simply put, Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter is a section of the charter that deals with international action in response to threats to world peace.
It involves 13 articles (Article 39 – Article 51) that specify the general course of action the United Nations Security Council can take with respect to such threats.
Is Chapter VII Applicable for Lebanon Today?
According to Article 39, “the Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.”
The measures that can be taken under Chapter VII can vary significantly, ranging from the partial or complete interruption of economic relations and of means of communications and the severance of diplomatic relations (Article 41), to the direct use of armed force (Article 42).
In the case Article 42 is invoked, U.N. Members contribute armed forces, in addition to assistance and facilities, as required for the measures agreed upon by the Security Council, with the ultimate aim of maintaining international peace and security.
For such a major intervention – military or otherwise – to be implemented, in Lebanon, for instance, the Security Council has to first conclude that the situation in the country is a serious threat to international peace.
The idea of implementing measures in Lebanon under Chapter VII was recently proposed by MP Anwar El-Khalil as a potential solution to the problem of government formation.
“After Speaker [Nabih] Berri confirmed his initiative to form the future government, and America‘s and France‘s understanding of the necessity of formation, Lebanon faces two solutions,” El-Khalil said in a tweet on Sunday.
“… Either the seizure of the initiative of Speaker Berri, who confirmed that he would follow it till its end, or the solution might be imposed under Chapter Seven of the United Nations Charter,” he stated, without elaborating.
The statement caused a backlash and drew condemnations from politicians and former officials, prompting El-Khalil’s office to issue a clarification, stressing the MP’s “strong and decisive opposition to resorting to the application of Chapter Seven under any circumstances.”
Previous Implementation in Lebanon
It is worth noting that Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter was invoked with respect to Lebanon in relation to the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.
Under the said chapter, the Security Council established, in agreement with the Lebanese government, an international tribunal to try those responsible for the assassination.