How’s that UN Hariri Tribunal Doing? Not Well
The UN special tribunal to investigate the murder of Lebanese leader Rafik Hariri seemed like a good idea at the time it was established, back in 2005. Some folks claimed it vindicated the role of the UN in resolving this kinds of delicate political disputes. But the opposite has turned out to be the case.
Half a decade later, however, the Hariri case has made little progress toward justice. Lately, Syria has reasserted its power in Beirut after years of trying to destabilize a government dominated by its political foes. In December, Saad Hariri, Lebanon’s prime minister and Rafik’s son, met with Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, acceding to the reconciliation between his own political sponsor, Saudi Arabia, and Damascus — making Lebanon less likely to point the finger at Syria for the killing.
But the more significant problem actually lies within the United Nations investigation itself. While it has been upgraded to a special tribunal, sitting near The Hague, it has suffered from questionable leadership, lost key members and last year had to release suspects for lack of formal indictments.
I don’t know if some other international or national mechanism could have done better, but they could scarcely have done worse.