On March 14, 2011, the U.S.-Lebanon Dialogue Program at the Aspen Institute convened a panel discussion to address the challenges ahead of Lebanon on the sixth anniversary of the Cedar Revolution. “The Special Tribunal and Hezbollah’s Growing Influence: Challenges Ahead” featured Mr. David Tolbert, President of the International Center for Transitional Justice and former Registrar of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), Ms. Mona Yacoubian, Director of the Lebanon Working Group at the US Institute of Peace, and Mr. David Schenker, Director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Aspen Middle East Programs Executive Director Toni G. Verstandig moderated the discussion.
The speakers discussed the challenges facing the STL, including funding, cooperation between the STL and the new government (when formed), and the potential of a trial in absentia for the accused named by the STL indictments. The conversation examined the concept of justice in Lebanon and the importance of ending a culture of impunity for political assassination, along with the advantages and disadvantages of the STL serving as the vehicle for truth and justice in light of the polarized political environment. The STL was described in the context of previous international tribunals, thereby enhancing the understanding of its unique challenges and the potential outcomes. Broader issues facing Lebanon, from deepening sectarianism to the potential for withdrawal of US assistance in the future, were also addressed. Finally, the discussion touched upon the status of the March 14 coalition six years after the Cedar Revolution, particularly its approach to its new role as the political opposition in Lebanon.
This discussion was held under Chatham House Rule.
This conversation will discuss issues surrounding the expected announcement of Special Tribunal indictments, including their implications for Lebanon. The panel will also address the US-Lebanese relationship in the context of a new Lebanese government more aligned with Hezbollah and proposed legislation to reconsider US assistance to Lebanon.