HL Deb 06 May 1981 vol 420 cc131-2
Lord Gladwyn

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they propose to raise in the Security Council of the United Nations the apparently complete breakdown of governmental authority in the Lebanon as a threat to international peace and security necessitating the withdrawal of all extraneous armed forces from Lebanon territory.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade (Lord Trefgarne)

No, my Lords. The Government of Lebanon are urgently seeking a political settlement of the present crisis. We believe the role of the international community should be to support them in these endeavours and to uphold the authority of the legitimate Government. The Lebanese Government have not asked for the Security Council's assistance.

Lord Gladwyn

My Lords, thanking the noble Lord for that reply, is it not evident that the Security Council, under the charter at any rate, is the place in which this very grave matter affecting international security should be considered? If the rumours are true—I do not know, but if they are—to the effect that the Americans and the Russians are discussing some kind of agreement on the Lebanon behind the scenes, is not that an additional reason for someone raising this matter in the Security Council? If it is not raised by somebody in the Security Council, surely the Security Council is failing in the prime duty ascribed to it under the charter.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, it is, of course, the case that the situation in the Lebanon has been discussed in the Security Council on a number of occasions. I am not sure that any useful purpose would be served at this moment by repeating some of the declarations that have been made in that forum. Having said that, I cannot hide from your Lordships the concern with which we view the present situation in that country.

Lord Goronwy-Roberts

My Lords, may I lend my support to the suggestion made in the noble Lord's Question? Would the Minister confirm that it is not necessary for the Government of a country to have recourse to application to the Security Council under Article 2? Indeed, very important and effective initiatives have in the past been taken by the Security Council without there being an application from the Government concerned to the Security Council.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I am advised that the United Nations could only act in the situation in the Lebanon if the government of that country so wished. Certainly we stand ready to assist in any way we can, in the United Nations or elsewhere, but we believe that the need at the present time is for action by quiet diplomacy behind the scenes.

Lord Gore-Booth

My Lords, I realise that I do not have a present accurate knowledge of the legal requirements of this situation, but is this not a position in which countries like ourselves could at least find a way of making it clear, both publicly and to the Syrians, that we are worried about this situation and we look to them to restore at least a peaceful look to the situation so that we are not alarmed by one more crisis?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I can assure the noble Lord that there is a considerable amount of diplomacy going on behind the scenes at the present time in connection with the situation in Lebanon, We have indeed remained in touch with the Government of Lebanon, as well as the others concerned, including Syria and Israel.

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