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Draft UN Mideast peacekeeping rules authorize using force to protect civilians

[JURIST] The UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, UNIFIL [official website], will be authorized to use force to protect civilians under immediate threat and act in preemptive self defense according to a draft copy of its proposed rules of engagement obtained by wire services. UNIFIL was given an expanded mandate under UN Security Council Resolution 1701 [text], unanimously passed [JURIST report] earlier this month to end the current Middle East conflict [JURIST news archive]. If the rules are approved, UNIFIL will also be authorized to use deadly force to protect Lebanese government troops when peacekeepers are assigned to accompany those troops, but will not be authorized to carry out a large scale disarmament of Hezbollah [CFR backgrounder] forces.

The draft rules of engagement have been circulated to countries which may contribute troops to the peacekeeping force - Resolution 1701 authorizes an expanded force of up to 15,000 troops. Vijay Nambiar, an advisor to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said Tuesday that he expects the rules to be finalized "imminently." Reuters has more.

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