The Special Tribunal for Lebanon opened on 1 March 2009 in Leidschendam, the Netherlands. Here are some of the important events that led up to its foundation.
14 February 2005
On 14 February 2005 a large explosion near the St George Hotel in downtown Beirut killed 23 people, including the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri, and injured many others. The blast was so powerful that it left a crater at least 10-metres wide and two metres deep on the street.
There was swift national and international condemnation of the explosion. "The secretary-general condemns in the strongest terms those who instigated, planned and executed this callous political assassination", said the UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, on 14th February 2005.
15 February 2005
On 15 February 2005 the United Nations Security Council issued this statement about the killing of Rafiq Hariri and others: "The council calls on the Lebanese government to bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of this heinous terrorist act, and noting the Lebanese government's commitments in this regard. The council urges all states, in accordance with its Resolutions 1566 (2004) and 1373 (2001), to cooperate fully in the fight against terrorism."
25 February 2005
The UN secretary-general sent a fact-finding mission to Beirut to enquire into the causes, circumstances and consequences of the attack. The group led by Peter Fitzgerald arrived in Beirut on 25 February 2005 and delivered its report on 24 March 2005. The report recommended the establishment of an independent international investigation into the attack.
The UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) was established by UN Security Council Resolution 1595 in April 2005. The purpose of the commission was to gather evidence and to assist the Lebanese authorities in their investigation of the attack of 14 February 2005. The UNIIIC's mandate was later expanded to include the investigation of other assassinations that took place before and after the Hariri attack.
13 December 2005
On 13 December 2005, following a series of other killings and bombings in Lebanon, the Lebanese government requested that the UN create a tribunal of "international character".
15 December 2005
The UN Security Council acknowledged the request on 15 December 2005 in Resolution 1644.
26 March 2006
The UN Security Council gave the secretary-general a mandate to negotiate an agreement with the Lebanese government on 26 March 2006.
Image credit: UN Photo/Ryan Brown
23 January 2007
The UN and the Lebanese government signed an agreement for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon on 23 January 2007. The agreement was handed to the Lebanese parliament to ratify.
The speaker of parliament refused to convene parliament to hold a vote on its ratification. The Lebanese sent a petition signed by a majority of MPs to the UN secretary general requesting that the security council form the tribunal.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon was established in 2007 by Resolution 1757.
1 March 2009
The tribunal opened on 1 March 2009 in Leidchendam, near The Hague, the Netherlands. It is an independent, judicial organisation not a UN court.
The UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) and the STL are separate organisations. The UNIIIC's mandate ended on 28 February 2009. Jurisdiction was transferred to the STL and the information gathered was handed over to the STL's Office of the Prosecutor.
One of the first acts of the STL was to order the release of four Lebanese generals who had been detained by the Lebanese authorities in connection with the Hariri investigation. This decision was made after the STL's pre-trial judge ruled that on the basis of the information available to the tribunal there was no cause to hold them.
Image credit: Special Tribunal for Lebanon