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07USUNNEWYORK515 2007-06-25 17:12:00 CONFIDENTIAL USUN New York
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1. (U) Summary. In a June 22 discussion, UN Legal Counsel
Nicolas Michel described progress on implementing UN Security
Council resolution 1757, which brought the provisions of the
Tribunal Agreement between the UN and Lebanon into force on
June 10. Michel and his task force have focused on the
Tribunal seat, funding, and selection of judges. He also
shared views on timing and the selection of a Prosecutor.
End Summary.

2. (C) Ambassador Wolff met with Nicolas Michel to receive
an update on the Lebanon Tribunal. Michel said that he has
set up a task force within his office and they are actively
making preparations for the Tribunal. The location remains a
key element. Cyprus is not a workable option because of
security concerns. Michel reported that he met with the
Permanent Representative of the Netherlands and asked that
The Hague consider hosting the Tribunal. Michel said that
his main message was, "If your response is negative, don't go
public with it". The Dutch PR agreed . Michel also said
that he thought that within the Dutch government there are
different views and there is not yet a unified internal
position. He said that he plans to speak with the Austrian
and German Permanent Representatives and will remain in
contact with us about the need for future concerted action on
the seat issue.

3. (U) Budget. Michel said that the location of the seat
will have an impact on budget and in discussions with the UN
budget officers they have determined to proceed with funding
for two phases. The initial start up costs would be drawn
from internal existing cash which could be applied
immediately for that purpose. The terms of reference for the
Tribunal's Trust Fund have also been drawn up. (UN Budget
Controller's Office told USUN that the fund should be
operational within a few days and that in the interim,
designated deposits may be made into the UN general trust

4. (C) Judges. Michel reported on recent conversations with
Lebanese government officials including Ambassador Mohamed
Chattah of the Prime Minister's office. Chattah informed
Michel that contrary to Press reports, the Supreme Council of
the Magistry has not sent a list of nominees to the
Government. Instead they are consulting first with potential
nominees and will submit the list in a sealed envelope to the
GOL for forwarding to the Secretary General. Michel said
that while the appropriate timing for appointment of the
judges would be in February or March of 2008, political
factors required we act sooner. Accordingly, the UN will move
the process forward and appoint the judges even before there
are indictments. Judges could devote themselves to developing
court rules which will be required to conduct trials.

5. (U) Selection Process. Pressing ahead with the selection
of the Lebanese judges will also accelerate the schedule for
selection of international judges. OLA has prepared a draft
letter to UN Missions inviting them to submit applications
for judges by the end of July. The selection will be made by
a panel of two international judges and a representative of
the Secretary General. Prior to consideration by the panel
all applications received will be assessed and a short list
will be prepared. Candidates on the short list will be
interviewed, probably in mid to late October.

6. (C) Security. The most challenging aspect of the process
will be maintaining secrecy and the security of the 12
Lebanese candidates. The GOL has indicated it expects the UN
to provide security for Lebanese nominees as soon as the list
is transmitted. Michel noted that the UN is being pushed
into the forefront but he sees the GOL as a partner which
must take joint responsibility.

7. (C) Ambassador Wolff assured Michel of the full support
of the United States. Wolff said he understood the
motivation of the GOL to have the Tribunal up and running
before it could be unraveled due to internal Lebanese
politics. He noted that the United Nations International
Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) investigation
was due to conclude in seven months and there should be no
interval between Chief Investigator Brammertz presenting his
conclusions and action by the Tribunal. On the difficult
issue of security for the judges, Wolff suggested that a way
be found to mitigate both the security vulnerability of
identifying and the burden of providing security for the
twelve Lebanese nominees. He noted that the politics of
Lebanon may compel faster action than the UN would prefer but
there is a need to create a sense of inevitability of
prosecution and setting up the structure now serves that

8. (U) Prosecutor. Michel said the UN hopes to have a
decision on a Prosecutor early and that that individual could
begin working with Brammertz as soon as November. He said
they have not yet identified candidates but the person
selected should speak the languages of the Tribunal (Arabic,
English, French) and have good diplomatic and managerial
skills. Wolff agreed that getting the Prosecutor on board by
November would be a good move and promised to provide any
suggestions the U.S. might have on possible candidates.