United Nations Observer Group in Lebanon (UNOGIL)

12 June 1958 - 9 December 1958
Military personnel

The main population groups in Lebanon had always been the Maronite Christians and the Sunni Muslims. In political and economic terms, the Maronites were the most influential.

Heavy fighting

A National Pact between a Maronite president and a Sunni prime minister assured Lebanon’s political integrity and stability. Nonetheless, the Sunnis felt belittled, but it was the pan-Arab nationalistic rhetoric which really fanned the flames. With the murder of a journalist in May 1958, the fat was in the fire. After several weeks of heavy fighting, government control was limited to the western part of the country around the capital Beirut.

Observer group

The south, east and north were controlled by rival factions. The Lebanese government claimed that Egypt and Syria were supporting the uprising by providing personnel and equipment and, on 22 May 1958, lodged a complaint with the Security Council, who decided to deploy an observer group: the United Nations Observer Group in Lebanon (UNOGIL). UNOGIL’s task was to determine whether there were any illegal arms supplies or infiltration attempts from Syria. It was not permitted to actively intervene or use force to prevent the supply of arms.


The observer mission was set up in the same way as UNEF I. Each country that had agreed to supply observers had to have approval from the host nation, while the permanent members of the Security Council and what were known as special interest countries were, as had by then become common practice, excluded.