On the eve of its second anniversary, UN experts and leading NGOs asked the UN Human Rights Council to conduct an international investigation into the deadly Beirut port explosion.
After a stockpile of improperly stored ammonium nitrate fertilizer caught fire at the port on August 4, 2020, a massive explosion killed over 200 people and leveled large portions of the Lebanese capital.
Since 2012, relatives of bomb victims have demanded justice and responsibility, but the local investigation has been suspended owing to political pressure since December.
The six UN experts stated, “This catastrophe represented one of the greatest non-nuclear explosions in recent memory, yet the world has done little to determine why it occurred.”
“On the second anniversary of the explosion, we are dismayed that the people of Lebanon are still awaiting justice, and we demand an immediate international investigation.”
Widespread responsibility is placed on the incompetence and mismanagement of Lebanese authorities for the explosion, which shook a nation already reeling from an unparalleled economic crisis.
Tarek Bitar, who was pursuing some of Lebanon’s highest-ranking officials, has been stopped from progressing after politicians he questioned filed multiple lawsuits against him.
The families of the victims have asked the international community to establish an independent investigation under the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.
The experts, who do not speak for the United Nations but submitted their findings to it, hope that such an investigation will yield the answers that Lebanese authorities have failed to deliver.
The explosion and its aftermath have highlighted systemic issues of incompetent governance and pervasive corruption, according to the experts.
The next session of the Human Rights Council begins on September 13.
Eleven local and international NGOs, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have urged the Council to “adopt a resolution… to establish an impartial fact-finding mission on the Beirut port explosion.”