Blame Lebanon’s politicians for the absence of UN General Assembly membership

Nadim Koteich
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It is a sad and ridiculous notion that Lebanon has lost its right to vote in the General Assembly of the United Nations and failed to pay its annual dues.

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Yet, while some Lebanese may feel a sense of loss or nostalgia for the country’s past role in the UN, it is disheartening to see politicians treating the suspension of voting rights with a bizarre and pretentious sense of urgency.

Why?

On the same day that the loss of voting rights was reported, the Lebanese parliament failed, in its 11th session, to elect a new president. The house speaker is holding the parliament hostage, insisting on a two-thirds quorum to proceed to subsequent rounds of voting, despite no article in the Lebanese constitution that refers to this “quorum condition.” It amounts to stripping Lebanese MPs of their right to elect a president.

It is absurd for the political elite to focus on Lebanon’s right to vote in the UN General Assembly. At the same time, the house speaker deliberately deprives MPs of their right to elect a president.

Lebanon has become accustomed to living under successive constitutional voids, and the current vacancy of the presidency and caretaker government in place only adds to this. If the political blockage persists, there may be additional voids in the governance of the Banque du Liban and the army leadership.

A semi-failed state governed by a terrorist-militia risks losing its membership in the UN, let alone its right to vote in the General Assembly.

Notably, Lebanon has consistently failed to comply with United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, particularly resolution 1701. Apart from the Lebanese government’s inability to disarm Hezbollah and other armed groups, Lebanon continues to violate the arms embargo imposed by the UNSC and has failed to take any meaningful steps to exert control over its borders and prevent the flow of weapons.

It was such weapons that, a few weeks ago, killed an Irish UN peacekeeper serving with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) while on routine patrol in an area controlled by Hezbollah.

It is nonsensical to suggest that Lebanon, which regularly belittles and disregards an international organization, should strive to become a fully active member of that organization.

There is a lot that the Lebanese politicians can learn from the humility and leadership of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who resigned from her position this month, stating that she no longer “have enough in the tank to do (the job) justice”. She emphasized that with such a privileged role as a PM comes the responsibility to know when a person is “the right person to lead and also when you are not.”

Lebanon’s membership in the United Nations and its right to vote in the General Assembly was a responsibility, not a matter of reputation and national ego. A country’s importance in the international arena should be measured by its ability to bear the burden of this right, not by the mere ability to exercise it. Lebanon is regrettably failing to do both under its current political elite.

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Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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