UN Security Council to Approve Establishment of Hariri Tribunal

NEW YORK - The United Nations Security Council is expected today to pass a resolution authorizing the establishment of an international tribunal to try those responsible for the murders of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and other political figures.

The resolution is expected to pass with at least 10 members of the council voting in favor, according to sources.

Russia is expected to abstain from the vote, even though it voiced strong objections to the resolution. China, another permanent member of the council, is also likely to abstain.

South Africa, Indonesia and Qatar, three of the 10 non-permanent members of the council, are expected to vote against the establishment of the tribunal.

A draft resolution that went through some revisions would set up the tribunal under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which makes its implementation binding for UN members.

Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin warned that the resolution would cause legal problems, and sources in New York acknowledged that it is an unusual decision on the part of the United Nations, and bears significant implications for the international organization.

"This is a very sensitive issue. The character and conduct of the tribunal will combine international law and Lebanese law, because the crime was carried out in Lebanon," a western diplomat at the UN said.

The resolution, which is a combined effort of permanent council members U.S., France and Britain, says that the site of the tribunal would be decided in consultations with Lebanon and the country that hosts it.

Should it pass, the resolution would come into effect on June 10.

Hariri and 22 others were murdered when a car bomb exploded in Beirut in February 2005. Since that attack, 16 Lebanese politicians and journalists have been killed for speaking against Syria, which was implicated in the murder of Hariri.