The 1989 Taif Agreement, which put an end to the 1975–1990 Lebanese civil war, outlined the country’s sectarian power-sharing system, provided for the disbanding of all Lebanese militias, and enshrined the “special relationship” between Lebanon and Syria. More than a decade after the end of the Lebanese conflict, Hezbollah, a popular Shiite militia group formed in 1982, continued to operate, citing an ongoing need to protect the country, while Syria maintained both a significant military presence and disproportionate political influence in Lebanon. On 2 September 2004, following Syrian pressure to extend the mandate of President Lahoud, the UN Security Council resolution 1559 called for free and fair presidential elections in Lebanon, as well as the disbanding of militias, and the withdrawal of foreign (Syrian) forces from the country.
On 14 February 2005, an explosion triggered by an unknown suicide bomber in Beirut killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 21 others, injuring 226 more. Widely credited with leading Lebanon out of its 15-year civil war, Hariri had stepped down in October 2004 over Syrian interference in Lebanon and pressure to keep the Syrian-backed President Lahoud in office. His death sparked a chain of demonstrations known as the Cedar Revolution, which led to the eventual withdrawal of Syrian troops from the country in April 2005, after almost three decades of military presence. With many suspecting Syrian and Hezbollah involvement in the killing, the subsequent investigation of Hariri’s assassination led to further political turmoil in the politically divided country.
On 15 February 2005, a day after the assassination of Hariri, the Security Council issued a Presidential statement calling on the Government of Lebanon to bring to justice those responsible and requesting the Secretary-General to report on the circumstances, causes, and consequences of the terrorist act (S/PRST/2005/4). France, the former colonial power whose President Jacques Chirac was particularly close to Hariri, was especially active in pursuing the issue. The UN Secretary-General sent a fact-finding mission to Beirut in late February. Their final report, delivered in late March 2005, recommended the establishment of an independent international investigation into the attack. The UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC), tasked with gathering evidence and assisting the Lebanese authorities in their investigation of the February 14 terrorist attack, was established on 7 April 2005 by UNSCR 1595. The first report of the Commission, delivered on 19 October 2005, stressed that the assassination was carried out by a group with considerable resources, organization, and capabilities and pointed to the involvement of Lebanese and top-ranking Syrian security officials in the attack (S/2005/662).
The analysis of the Lebanon case is divided into the following episodes (also navigable via the numbers in the top bar):