The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was established in 1978 in response to a surge in violence on the border between Israel and Lebanon. At the time, this Security Council resolution called for an immediate ceasefire and established UNIFIL to confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces, restore peace and security, and assist the Lebanese government in restoring authority in the border area. But the peace was short-lived, with UNIFIL stepping in to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to the local population. The Israel-Hezbollah War in 2006 further necessitated the expansion of UNIFIL, to conduct military observations in addition to their peacekeeping duties.
How UNIFIL Supports U.S. Interests
The U.S. has long had an interest in the region, particularly after the 2006 war re-escalated the conflict that had caused UNIFIL to deploy.
Given the history of violence and instability both within Lebanon and throughout the wider region, maintaining relative peace on the Israeli-Lebanese border is essential. By monitoring border violations and working with the Lebanese government to demilitarize the border area, UNIFIL ensures that minor violence along the border does not spark wider conflict. UNIFIL also provides training to the Lebanese Armed Forces to enhance its capacity.
Since the 2006 war, the US government has contributed over $1 billion in aid for programs that work with the UN to support humanitarian aid and reconstruction efforts in southern Lebanon, the area closest to the border. This aid is distributed yearly in amounts over $100 million to support job creation, youth education, and microfinance projects throughout Lebanon. UNIFIL ensures that such aid programs can be implemented unhindered by violence, while also improving vital infrastructure.
While the U.S. is the largest single contributor to the UN’s peacekeeping budget at 26.94 percent or $1.8 billion of the total budget, other UN member states pay the vast majority of costs and contribute 99 percent of the nearly 90,000 troops. Provided below is a breakdown of the cost of each mission and the U.S. contribution to UNIFIL.