|Picture Credit: Special Tribunal for Lebanon
On February 14, 2005, a car bomb explosion killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and several other people in his convoy. The attack triggered mass protests in Beirut and sparked anti-Syrian sentiment in Lebanon. Hariri had increasingly been at odds with Syria's government, opposing the far-reaching Damascus influence in Lebanon. A UN investigation led by the former chief investigator, Detlev Mehlis, implicated top Syrian and Lebanese officials in the attack.
Syria denied any involvement in the Hariri killing and expressed concern that the probe would become politicized. In fact, the United States wanted to put pressure on Syria because of perceived Syrian complicity in movement of arms and fighters across the eastern border into US-occupied Iraq. Syria was also seen by the US as responsible for the flow of arms to Hezbollah, a political party and military force confronting Israel in Southern Lebanon. In April 2005, Syria withdrew its troops from Lebanon after nearly 30 years of presence in the country.
On June 10 2007, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon came into force after a negotiated agreement between the Lebanese government and the United Nations. The Tribunal has a mixed composition of Lebanese and international judges and has its seat near The Hague in the Netherlands. It differs, however, from other hybrid model tribunals as it was set up to try a domestic criminal case and would probably not have came into being had it not been for regional politics.
On January 17 2011, the prosecutor submitted the first indictments to the pre-trial judge for confirmation. The indictments were expanded in March 2011 and again in May 2011. The identity of those indicted has been kept confidential, although it is widely expected that Hezbollah will be implicated.
The Tribunal's investigations into Hariri's assassination are still underway and indictments against those involved in Hariri's assassination are pending. This page follows the investigations, indictments and proceedings of the Tribunal.
UN Documents | Articles
2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005
The International Independent Investigation Commission that is researching the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri issued a new report on December 3, 2008. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will start its work on March 1, 2009.
The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1757 establishing a Special Tribunal for Lebanon to try those accused of assassinating former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The resolution follows an Agreement on the establishment of a Special Tribunal signed by the UN and the Lebanese government on January 23 and February 6, 2007. The provisions of the resolution will come into force on June 10, 2007 when the UN will decide on the location of the Tribunal in consultation with Beirut. Further, the Secretary General is to work with the Lebanese government to set up the Tribunal and report to the Council in 90 days.
The UN Security Council unanimously extended by one year the mandate of the fact-finding commission looking into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The resolution comes after chief investigator Serge Brammertz reported that while his team had made "significant progress," completing the probe by June 15, 2007 – when the current mandate expires – seemed "unlikely."
Resolution 1664 calls on Secretary General Kofi Annan to negotiate with Beirut on a tribunal to prosecute suspects in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The resolution requests Annan report back to the Council once the details of the tribunal - including the jurisdiction, location, and financing - are finalized.
This report by Secretary General Kofi Annan provides a set of recommendations for an international tribunal to try suspects in the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. According to Annan, the tribunal should be located outside Lebanon, include both Lebanese and international judges and prosecutors, and have jurisdiction over all those responsible for the attack.
The Security Council has extended the mandate of the International Independent Investigation Commission's inquiry on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Security Council members condemn Syria for failing to provide full and unconditional cooperation to the UN investigation. The findings of the Commission's second report "confirms its previous conclusions" suggesting Syrian involvement in the killing.
The second report of the Security Council's International Independent Investigation Commission reinforces preliminary findings of both Lebanese and Syrian involvement in the death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The report accuses Damascus of manipulating key suspects and burning intelligence documents concerning Lebanon. "Given the slow pace with which the Syrian authorities are discharging their commitments to the Council," chief prosecutor Detlev Mehlis recommended that the Security Council extend the commission's mandate for a minimum of six months.
The UN Security Council passed a resolution calling on Syria to cooperate with the efforts to investigate the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. To obtain the consent of veto-wielding China and Russia, the US, Britain, and France agreed to replace the threat of sanctions against Damascus by a warning of "further action" if Syria fails to collaborate. For previous version of the draft resolution, click here
The report of the Security Council's International Independent Investigation Commission points to the direct involvement of both Lebanese and Syrian officials in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Investigators believe that Hariri's growing opposition to Syria's occupation of Lebanon angered Syrian authorities. The Security Council has extended the mandate of the Commission to continue the investigation.
The Security Council has established an "international independent investigation Commission" based in Lebanon to investigate the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. To ensure an effective probe into Hariri's murder, the Council calls on Lebanese authorities to grant the Commission full access to information relevant to the inquiry. If Beirut fails to cooperate with the UN investigation into the "terrorist act," it could face UN sanctions which seek to root out terrorism.
2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005
The UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) investigating the murder of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005 has lifted confidentiality and released the awaited full indictment. The four suspects are all members of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite Muslim political movement. Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, dismisses the indictment, saying it shows no evidence of Hezbollah involvement. The tribunal prosecutor, Daniel Bellemare, states that proofs are circumstational but “could be even more reliable than direct evidence.” The release of this detailed version with allegations against Hezbollah members could intensify the polarizing effect STL has had on domestic politics. (Time)
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) has issued four arrest warrants for the 2005 murder of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Though the identity of those indicted is confidential, it is widely believed that two of the four indicted are members of Hezbollah. Lebanon’s new Hezbollah-dominated government has condemned the STL on several occasions and asserts that it will challenge any arrests made by the special tribunal. This New York Times article points out that Lebanon will most likely enter into a period of extreme political instability if Hezbollah members are arrested.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) has made an important procedural ruling on the definition of terrorism. The definition adopted by the tribunal draws on Lebanese and international law concepts of terrorism. The decision is important as there is currently no universal international law definition of terrorism. Some observers have suggested terrorism may now be open to international prosecution. However, it is important to note the limited subject-matter jurisdiction of the STL; it is the only international tribunal to prosecute exclusively domestic law crimes. This may mean its rulings will not necessarily translate to international law precedent. (The Daily Star and Reuters)
The prosecutor for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) has filed indictments, in the midst of a political crisis. The Lebanon government collapsed last week after Hizbollah pulled out of the coalition, apparently expecting that the indictments will implicate some of its group. At this stage, the indictments remain confidential while they are reviewed by a pre-trial judge. There were some gatherings on Beirut streets following the announcement, and security was stepped up. (The National, Abu Dhabi)
Lebanon's tenuous coalition government has collapsed, after Hizbullah pulled out. This comes amid speculation that senior members of the group will be indicted by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The country is left in a state of political instability, heightening the already highly politicized context in which the STL is operating. The publication of indictments, which is imminent, could be a flashpoint for violence; and it appears almost certain Hizbullah will refuse to cooperate with the tribunal. (Time)
This paper considers the impact, to date, of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). It summarizes the main outcomes of a meeting of experts, held by Chatham House in November 2010. The release of this paper is timely, as the delivery of an indictment by the STL prosecutor is imminent. While this paper makes few definitive statements, it provides a comprehensive overview of key questions and ideas in relation to the STL, in particular, options for defining success. (Chatham House)
The President of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Antonio Cassese, has announced that the prosecutor of the tribunal, Daniel Bellemare, will file charges by fall 2010 against suspects of the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Cassese denies, however, that the work of the court has been politicized, but acknowledges that the tribunal will struggle to find enough donations for its budget next year. (Daily Star)
Five years have passed since the murder of the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafik Hariri. The United Nations backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon has made little progress in prosecuting the persons allegedly responsible for the assassination. Michael Young asserts that the problem lies mainly within the UN investigations into the Hariri murder and questions the leadership of the Special Tribunal. (New York Times)
Six months after the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) opened its doors, observers are already questioning its ability to effectively prosecute criminals acts relating to the assassination of Rafik Hariri in 2005. Although the STL is built on the model of previous so-called "hybrid tribunals", it is the first to address crimes of terrorism and to apply domestic law exclusively. The Tribunal is also suffering from the circumstances of its foundation - although it started out as a request from Lebanon, the STL was eventually created under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Neither a treaty-based body nor a fully functioning ad hoc tribunal, the STL is falling short of both models. (International Justice Tribune
The Security Council has ordered a special tribunal for Lebanon, to ensure an independent inquiry into the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others in a 2005 car bombing in Beirut. Many Lebanese people and officials believe Syria was involved in the assassination and therefore international involvement and oversight in the case is needed. Prosecutor of the UN court, Daniel Bellemare, will ask Lebanon to hand over four generals held in connection with the case. (International Herald Tribune)
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon will be launched in March 2009. Registrar Robin Vincent, who also worked on the Special Tribunal for Sierra Leone, said that the Tribunal has not made any charges yet. In resolution 1757, (2007) the Security Council called for the establishment of the Special Tribunal, to try those accused of assassinating former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri. (Naharnet)
Following a request from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, the Netherlands agrees to host the special tribunal to prosecute suspects involved in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. According to Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen, the agreement relies on two conditions: firstly, the funding for the trial will come from UN member states, and secondly, those convicted will serve their sentences outside of the Netherlands. (Associated Press)
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon invites the Netherlands to establish a special UN court to prosecute suspected assassins of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The request comes after Serge Brammertz, chief of the UN investigation into Hariri's death, submitted his eighth report to the Security Council with information on possible suspects. Now, Damascus and the UN will jointly appoint a deputy prosecutor from Lebanon. Head of the Center for Democracy and the Rule of Law Mohammad Mughraby believes that the UN court "should complement rather than replace domestic jurisdiction." (Daily Star – Lebanon)
A UN investigation identifies those responsible for the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. According to prosecutor Serge Brammertz, the inquiry follows leads related to the van and explosives used for the bombing. However, Brammertz's report to the UN Security Council did not discuss a previous UN investigation's findings of Syria's complicity in Hariri's assassination. (Associated Press)
As the UN Security Council set up a Special Tribunal in Lebanon, Asharq Al-Awsat interviews Nicola Michel, Legal Adviser to the UN Secretary General, about the logistics of the court. Michel discusses the location of the Tribunal, the composition of the judiciary body and the laws that will be applied. Despite local opposition to the court, Michel asserts the importance of involving Lebanese judges in the process.
The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1757 establishing a Special Tribunal to try those suspected of assassinating former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The resolution was passed in a 10-0 vote with China, Russia, Qatar, South Africa and Indonesia abstaining. Opponents believed that it was unnecessary to invoke Chapter 7 of the UN Charter and force a decision on the Lebanese people. Moscow asserts that the passing of the resolution infringes Lebanon's sovereignty. Prior to the decision, Lebanese opposition leader Michel Aoun pointed out that the Tribunal is not as important as accusing someone of the crime. The UN has not charged anyone yet. (Daily Star – Lebanon)
On May 14, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora wrote to the UN Security Council requesting the setup of an international tribunal under to investigate the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Former Lebanese Prime Minister Salim Hoss warns that the tribunal will result in civil unrest. Hoss wants Lebanon to maintain its sovereignty and investigate Hariri's death without any international intervention. Damascus maintains that it will not cooperate with a UN tribunal and believes that foreign intervention in the region reflects US and other international powers' interest in the control of resources in Syria and Lebanon. (Daily Star – Lebanon)
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warns Lebanon that Washington will push for an international tribunal on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The US will pursue the plan through the UN Security Council if Lebanon fails to act. Lebanese opposition leaders object to the creation of the tribunal drafted by the government. Critics charge that Washington is eager to set up the court as a way to put pressure on Syria. An earlier UN investigation implicated Syrian officials in Hariri's death. (Daily Star – Lebanon)
Outgoing French President Jacques Chirac, who had strong personal ties with Rafik Hariri, has campaigned vigorously at the UN for a tribunal to try the former Lebanese premier's alleged killers, while also directing "his anger [over the assassination] at Syria." Meanwhile, the political rift between Syria's allies and the anti-Syrian majority in the Lebanese Parliament has delayed any progress towards the formation of the special court. This Middle East Online article concludes that "the controversy is as much about the ambitions of the external powers as it is about the internal struggle for power."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon appealed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to "use his influence" in Lebanon to end the political impasse over plans for a tribunal on the Rafik Hariri killing. In the aftermath of Hariri's death, many accused Syria of complicity in the murder – a charge which Damascus has vehemently denied. Ban's request to Assad could dispel the suspicions of those who believe the judicial process could become biased against Syria. But others fear that Syrian involvement in the tribunal could prevent an investigation of Damascus's alleged role in Hariri's assassination. (Reuters)
This Christian Science Monitor article reports that the proposed tribunal for suspects in former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's murder "has morphed from a tool of international justice [â€¦] into the nexus of a regional struggle over Lebanon's future." Lebanese opposition leaders have refused to endorse creation of the tribunal, charging that Western powers will try to use the court against their "enemies" in the Middle East. Many speculate that if the UN fails to bridge this deep-rooted political divide, the Security Council could invoke Chapter VII of the UN Charter to enforce the creation of the special tribunal.
The UN Under Secretary General for Legal Affairs, Nicholas Michel, seeks to help the Lebanese government resolve the political deadlock that has stalled efforts towards creating a special tribunal on Rafik Hariri's assassination. Michel will travel to Beirut to try to "clarify" the court for Lebanese politicians who are fearful of a politicized judicial process. Analysts suggest that this might indicate a last attempt by the UN to persuade Lebanon to approve the draft for the tribunal "before the Security Council takes over the issue." (Voice of America)
A political deadlock has prevented the Lebanese Parliament from ratifying a UN draft for setting up a special tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Opposition leader and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, wary of a "politicized" judicial process, has refused to convene the body for a vote on the issue. As a result, the parliamentary majority – the anti-Syrian bloc – has requested that the UN seek "alternative measures" to establish the hybrid court. The UN could proceed under Chapter VII of its Charter to waive parliamentary approval of the tribunal. (Associated Press)
A special tribunal to try the suspected assassins of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri would represent the first time an international court focused on a crime committed against a specific individual. In the absence of a probe into the humanitarian catastrophe that resulted from the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, this article argues that UN efforts to set up the court suggest that "some deaths are more politically important than others." The authors' criticisms of this "manipulation of international justice" mirror similar concerns by some Lebanese politicians, who fear the US and other foreign powers could use the tribunal to further their Middle East agendas. (Le Monde diplomatique)
The UN commission probing the 2005 killing of Rafik Hariri has reportedly "significantly narrowed down" possible motives, linking them to the former Lebanese Prime Minister's political activities. Hariri's outspoken criticism, prior to his death, of Syrian interference in Lebanese affairs led many to suspect that Damascus played a role in the assassination. Serge Brammertz, head of the UN investigation, describes the establishment of a tribunal as "the next logical step" to determining responsibility for the crime. (Reuters)
The UN has signed an agreement with Lebanon to create a hybrid tribunal to try suspects involved in the February 2005 car bombing that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The accord requires the Lebanese Parliament's endorsement – a feat which will prove difficult due to deep divisions among the country's political groups. However, this article from the Daily Star – Lebanon points out that if the UN sets up the court under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the government can forge ahead without parliamentary approval.
The Lebanon hybrid tribunal for the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Harari marks the first time that international justice has addressed a political crime targeted at a specific person. Commentators have suggested Cyprus as a location for the trial due to proximity to Lebanon, which would allow Lebanese "to feel closer to the process" and keep costs down. The author writes that Beirut has pledged to secure funding ofUS$25 million per year but will face obstacles in procuring the necessary amount. (BBC)
Following action by the Security Council, Secretary General Kofi Annan will begin negotiations towards a special hybrid tribunal for Lebanon. The tribunal will try the assassins of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Sources state the court will consist of international and Lebanese judges, operating under both systems of law, with the "international judges having ultimate say." The issue of financing of the trial was not addressed in the resolution. (Daily Star - Lebanon)
Lebanon will establish an international "hybrid" tribunal to try those responsible for the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. A hybrid tribunal combines local and international judges and law; the concept arose after the failure of several national and international tribunals. Hybrids are a "compromise" that the article argues lack the bias of national tribunals and the slow pace of their international counterparts. (Daily Star - Lebanon)
Though Syria did not allow UN investigator Serge Brammertz to question President Bashar al-Assad on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, some analysts speculate that Syria might adopt a new approach to its handling of the probe. Indeed, a reshuffling of high-level officials and shifts in Syria's own judicial proceedings suggest Damascus may move away from its previous approach - refuting the UN's findings and questioning the legitimacy of key witnesses – and take a more low-profile tack concerning the investigation. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)
The UN investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri will have major political implications for the Middle East. The US is especially interested in evidence proving that Syria was behind the attack to provide Washington the justification it needs to sanction the Assad regime. However, Der Speigel questions whether the evidence against Syria would hold up before an international court.
UN prosecutor Detlev Mehlis released a second report of the investigation into former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's assassination. The report provides new evidence suggesting Syrian involvement in the killing and outlines Damascus' efforts to impede the probe. The report's findings set the stage for a renewed US push for sanctions against Syria. However, Washington's key diplomatic partner in this arena, France, considers the findings not yet conclusive enough to justify an explicit threat of sanctions. (Washington Post)
Is it fair to have the UN- rather than a criminal court- investigate the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri? The author of this Asharq Al-Awsat article argues that Security Council resolution 1636 gives the head of the UN Commission sweeping powers to determine Syria's fate, but "without the due process afforded to suspects and defendants alike by the judicial system of well-thinking democracies."
What makes the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri more important than previous high-profile political murders? Why does his death justify a UN investigation? The author of this Center for Research on Globalization article claims that the US is using the Hariri murder as an excuse to bring a regime change in Syria, just as the Bush administration used nuclear weapons as a pretext to invade Iraq.
The Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution that supports travel bans and a freeze in the assets of Lebanese and Syrian officials and any other individuals who are declared suspects in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. But in order to get support from veto-wielding Russia and China, the Council dropped a direct threat of economic sanctions against Syria, instead warning for "further action" in the event of noncompliance. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
The US, France and Britain introduced a Security Council resolution threatening sanctions against Syria. If the Syrian government does not cooperate in the investigations regarding its alleged involvement in the assassination of the Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, US President George Bush said he would not rule out using military force against Syria. While China, Russia, and Algeria reject these plans, Syria calls the threats a rush judgment by Washington "to push its political agenda through the Security Council." (Los Angeles Times)
According to the Washington Post, the Security Council should sanction the Syrian regime until the government accepts responsibility for the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and turns over those implicated in the crime. By doing so, the Security Council would also send a strong message to other states that sponsor terrorism.
The US and France are planning to introduce two UN resolutions aimed at holding Syria accountable for its implication in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and for trafficking people and illicit arms into Lebanon. The Bush administration is also considering punishing Syria for aiding extremists in Iraq. However, France and other nations want to focus on Syria's intervention in Lebanon, in order to prevent backlash from Arab countries. (Washington Post)
The regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad could be shaken to its core if a UN probe points to Syrian involvement in the murder of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri. UN Prosecutor Detlev Mehlis asked Assad to fully cooperate with the probe and surrender any Syrians named by the UN investigators as accomplices in the killing. Assad's failure to comply could prompt the US and France to take measures such as obtaining a Security Council resolution slapping punitive measures on Syria, including economic and trade sanctions. (Associated Press)
At a high-level UN meeting, the US, the UN and several European and Arab governments issued a new warning to Syria to stop all meddling in Lebanon and fully cooperate with the UN investigation team into the assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri. This meeting marked the first time that key Arab governments, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, publicly rallied behind the US-backed initiative to support the Lebanese government. This gathering intended to put Lebanon high on the international agenda while increasing Syria's isolation. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
As the Security Council discusses a resolution mandating an international investigation into the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Beirut denies it is trying to have the term "terrorist act" removed from the document. Lebanon's political opposition claims its government is meddling in the wording of the Resolution to avoid UN sanctions aimed at eradicating terrorism. In their final phrasing, France, the US and the UK reject a number of amendments suggested by the Lebanese government. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
A UN inquiry into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has found that Syrian President Bashar Assad personally manufactured a climate of mistrust and tension that ultimately led to the killing of Hariri. The report on the inquiry accuses Assad of threatening Hariri, and claims the Syrian president said he "would rather break Lebanon over the heads of Hariri and the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt than see his word in Lebanon broken." Assad has denied the allegations and Syria's foreign ministry has demanded that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan remove the alleged threat from the document, arguing it is "untrue and lacks any material evidence." (Daily Star-Lebanon)
Following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and the ensuing wave of anti-Syrian sentiment, Lebanese Prime Minister Omar Karami announced his resignation in an address to the parliament. In response to the opposition's harsh criticism of the government, Karami announced he did not want the government to be "a hurdle in front of those who want the good for this country." (Daily Star-Lebanon)
A three-member UN team has begun an investigation into the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri vowing "absolute impartiality and professionalism." Beirut has meanwhile launched its own investigation and blames Syria for the assassination of Hariri, mounting pressure on Damascus to withdraw Syrian troops from Lebanon. But a pullback towards the border will not satisfy Security Council members, who called for a total withdrawal in Resolution 1559. (Haaretz)
Following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the US and France have urged the Security Council to take measures "to punish those responsible for this terrorist attack." White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan points to Syria as the culprit, noting the attack was aimed at thwarting Lebanon's efforts to free itself of foreign occupation. Hariri advocated a Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, a demand that is echoed in Security Council resolution 1559. (International Herald Tribune)