United Nations Security Council Resolution 426

United Nations Security Council Resolution 426, adopted on 19 March 1978 at the 2075th meeting of the Security Council, is concerned with both the creation of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the duration of its mandate. It comes immediately after and complements Resolution 425, adopted during an earlier meeting on the same day.

UN Security Council
Resolution 426
Location of the Blue Line
Date19 March 1978
Meeting no.2,075
CodeS/RES/426 (Document)
SubjectPalestinian insurgency in South Lebanon
Voting summary
  • 12 voted for
  • None voted against
  • 2 abstained
Security Council composition
Permanent members
Non-permanent members
← 425 Lists of resolutions 427 →

The resolution was adopted by 12 votes to none; Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union abstained and the People's Republic of China did not participate in voting.

Historical and political context


UNSC Resolutions 425 and 426 were adopted during the first years of the Lebanese Civil War, which began in 1975.

Several militias – comprising Christian right groups along with previous members of the Lebanese army – placed themselves under the protection of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) before coming together in 1978 to form the Free Lebanon Army (FLA), which later became the South Lebanon Army (SLA). Their common objective was to fight against the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the leftist Lebanese who supported Palestinian refugees in South Lebanon.[1]

On 14 March 1978, the Israel Defence Forces invaded South Lebanon, with the stated goal of fighting Palestinian “terrorism” and the leftists who supported them. The invasion was called “Operation Litani” and the IDF received the help of the Christian militias already active in South Lebanon.[2]

On 19 March 1978, the United Nations Security Council responded with the adoption of Resolutions 425 and 426. The former called upon Israel to withdraw immediately its forces from Lebanon, while the latter created formally the UN peacekeeping force in charge of ensuring the implementation of the decision. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was created.

The Resolution text


Resolution 426 (1978)

of 19 March 1978

The Security Council

1. Approves the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of Security Council resolution 425 (1978), contained in document S/12611 of 19 March 1978;

2. Decides that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon shall be established in accordance with the above-mentioned report for an initial period of six months, and that it shall continue in operation thereafter, if required, provided the Security Council so decides.[3]


A United Nations resolution is a formal text adopted by a United Nations (UN) body. Although any UN body can in theory issue resolutions, in practice most resolutions are issued by either the Security Council or the General Assembly.

There is an old debate surrounding the binding vs. recommendatory nature of UN resolutions. However, the consensus is that all decisions of the Security Council that fall under Chapter VII of the Charter of the UN are binding. This is obviously the case of UNSC Resolution 426 which deals with threats to the peace and provides for its own enforcement mechanism.

Implementation and outcome


The meeting leading to the adoption of Resolution 426 was the consequence of two letters addressed to the President of the Security Council: one from the Permanent Representative of Lebanon to the UN and the other from the Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN. The latter was condemning acts of terrorism from the Lebanese part and claiming that Israel was but a victim of the events taking place in South Lebanon. The Security Council acknowledged both letters but it took a very different stance in its decision. In March 1978, after the UNSC resolution was adopted, the Israeli delegate unsurprisingly disapproved, viewing it as “inadequate and hardly sufficient in that it does not condemn terrorism”.[4] The use of the word “terrorism” is certainly debatable, if only because it was rejected by the Security Council for it is a word that tends to include everything and nothing at the same time in conflict contexts.

On 3 May 1978, Resolution 427 modifies Resolution 426 by changing the number of troops initially requested for the UNIFIL from 4,000 to 6,000. It also reiterates the demand that Israel should leave South Lebanon without any further delay.

On 13 June 1978, a few months after the adoption of Resolution 426, the Israel Defence Forces withdrew from South Lebanon but UNSC Resolutions 425 and 426 were still a long way from being implemented. Instead of giving up their positions to the UNIFIL, they transferred them to Major Saad Haddad, head of the Christian right militia in Lebanon and a man who had been working closely with Israel for years and was then regarded by Israel as a member of their forces.[2] Considering Israel's public declarations at the time, the manoeuvre was hardly a subtle one but it marked the beginning of Israel's strategy to occupy South Lebanon. It had applied the UNSC Resolutions as it had been required to but Israel was not willing to let go of its control over South Lebanon just yet.

During the 1990s, the UN was facing an insufficient capacity of peacekeeping operations to implement Security Council resolutions,[5] a fact that partly explains the indefinitely protracted situation in South Lebanon. Implementation issues related to Resolution 426 illustrate the complexity of peacebuilding missions and the time they can take. Indeed, it was not before May 2000 that Israeli troops effectively left Lebanon's territory.

Despite the dispositions concerning the transitional and provisional nature of UNIFIL in Resolution 426, the Force still exists and operates in Lebanon to this day, with enhanced roles and annually renewed mandates.

See also



  1. ^ Hamizrachi, Beate (1988). The Emergence of the South Lebanon Security Belt: Major Saad Haddad and the Ties with Israel, 1975–1978. New York: Praeger Publishers.
  2. ^ a b Lambert, Josée (2004). They Called Them Terrorists During the South Lebanon Occupation. Montréal: Les Éditions Sémaphore.
  3. ^ United Nations Security Council (1978). "Official Records of the Security Council". undocs.org. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  4. ^ Seguin, Jacques (1989). Le Liban-Sud, espace périphérique, espace convoité. Paris: L'Harmattan. p. 128.
  5. ^ Woodward, Susan L. (2017). The Ideology of failed states: why intervention fails. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.