SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF UNITED NATIONS
Resolution 1393 (2002) Adopted Unanimously
NEW YORK, 31 January (UN Headquarters) -- Stressing that lack of progress was unacceptable on a settlement to the conflict in Abkhazia, Georgia, the Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) until 31 July 2002.
Unanimously adopting resolution 1393 (2002), the Council called on both sides to overcome mutual mistrust, and condemned violations of the Moscow Agreement of 14 May 1994 on a Ceasefire and Separation of Forces. It called on political leaders in Tbilisi and Sukhumi to publicly separate themselves from militant rhetoric, support for military options and the action of illegal armed groups.
It urged parties, especially the Abkhaz side, to fully consider the document "Basic Principles for the Distribution of Competencies between Tbilisi and Sukhumi" and its transmittal letter, and negotiate on their contents immediately thereafter.
The Council strongly supported the protocol on the Kodori Valley signed by the parties on 17 January 2002, called for it to be speedily implemented, and urged the Abkhaz side not to take advantage of the withdrawal of Georgian troops.
Under further terms, the Council called on the parties to identify those responsible for shooting down of a UNOMIG helicopter on 8 October 2001 and bring them to justice. It expressed concern at the parties' disturbing tendency to restrict the Mission's movement, stressing that both sides must provide security and ensure freedom of movement for international personnel.
The Council expressed dismay at the lack of progress on refugees and internally displaced persons, stressing that demographic changes due to the conflict were unacceptable. It called on the Abkhaz side to improve law enforcement for the local population, as well as instruction for the ethnic Georgian population in their mother tongue.
Further to the text, the Council stated it would review UNOMIG's mandate if the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peacekeeping force were not extended by 15 February 2002, noting that the Georgian authorities had agreed on 31 January 2002 to extend that mandate until the end of June 2002.
The meeting began at 3:21 p.m. and adjourned at 3:22 p.m.
"The Security Council,
"Recalling all its relevant resolutions, in particular resolution 1364 (2001) of 31 July 2001,
"Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 18 January 2002 (S/2002/88),
"Recalling the conclusions of the Lisbon (S/1997/57, annex) and Istanbul summits of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) regarding the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia,
"Recalling the relevant principles contained in the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel adopted on 9 December 1994,
"Recalling its condemnation of the shooting down of a helicopter of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) on 8 October 2001, which resulted in the death of the nine people on board, and deploring the fact that the perpetrators of that attack have still not been identified,
"Stressing that the continued lack of progress on key issues of a comprehensive settlement of the conflict in Abkhazia, Georgia, is unacceptable,
"Welcoming the important contributions made by UNOMIG and the Collective Peacekeeping Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS peacekeeping force) in stabilizing the situation in the zone of conflict, and stressing its attachment to the close cooperation existing between them in the performance of their respective mandates,
"1. Welcomes the report of the Secretary-General of 18 January 2002;
"2. Commends and strongly supports the sustained efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Representative, with the assistance of the Russian Federation in its capacity as facilitator, as well as of the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General and of the OSCE, to promote the stabilization of the situation and the achievement of a comprehensive political settlement, which must include a settlement of the political status of Abkhazia within the State of Georgia;
"3. Welcomes and supports the finalization of the document on "Basic Principles for the Distribution of Competences between Tbilisi and Sukhumi" and of its letter of transmittal, with the contribution and the full support of all members of the Group of Friends, and supports the efforts of the Special Representative on the basis of these documents which are positive elements for launching the peace process between the sides;
"4. Recalls that the purpose of these documents is to facilitate meaningful negotiations between the parties, under the leadership of the United Nations, on the status of Abkhazia within the State of Georgia, and is not an attempt to impose or dictate any specific solution to the parties;
"5. Further recalls that the process of negotiation leading to a lasting political settlement acceptable to both sides will require concessions from both sides;
"6. Strongly urges the parties, in particular the Abkhaz side, to receive the document and its transmittal letter in the near future, to give them full and open consideration, and to engage into constructive negotiations on their substance without delay thereafter, and calls on others having influence with the parties to promote this outcome;
"7. Calls on the parties to spare no efforts to overcome their ongoing mutual mistrust;
"8. Condemns violations of the provisions of the Moscow Agreement of 14 May 1994 on a Ceasefire and Separation of Forces (S/1994/583, annex I), and demands that they cease immediately;
"9. Welcomes and strongly supports, in this regard, the protocol signed by the two sides on 17 January 2002 regarding the situation in the Kodori Valley, calls for its full and expeditious implementation, in particular by the Georgian side, but also specifically urges the Abkhaz side to honour its undertaking not to take advantage of the withdrawal of Georgian troops, recognizes the legitimate security concerns of the civilian populations in the area, calls on the political leaders in Tbilisi and Sukhumi to observe security agreements, and further calls on them publicly to dissociate themselves from militant rhetoric and demonstrations of support for military options and for the activities of illegal armed groups;
"10. Urges the parties to ensure the necessary revitalization of the peace process in all its major aspects, to resume their work in the Coordinating Council and its relevant mechanisms, to build on the results of the Yalta meeting on confidence-building measures in March 2001 (S/2001/242), and to implement the proposals agreed on that occasion in a purposeful and cooperative manner;
"11. Expresses its deep dismay at the lack of progress on the question of the refugees and internally displaced persons, reaffirms the unacceptability of the demographic changes resulting from the conflict, reaffirms also the inalienable right of all refugees and internally displaced persons affected by the conflict to return to their homes in secure and dignified conditions, in accordance with international law and as set out in the Quadripartite Agreement of 4 April 1994 (S/1994/397, annex II), recalls that the Abkhaz side bears a particular responsibility to protect the returnees and to facilitate the return of the remaining displaced population, and welcomes the measures undertaken by the United Nations Development Programme, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Office for the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs to improve the situation of refugees and internally displaced persons, to develop their skills and to increase their self-reliance, with full respect for their inalienable right to return to their homes in secure and dignified conditions;
"12. Urges the parties to implement the recommendations of the joint assessment mission to the Gali district, carried out under the aegis of the United Nations, calls in particular on the Abkhaz side to improve law enforcement involving the local population and to address the lack of instruction in their mother tongue for the ethnic Georgian population;
"13. Welcomes the rehabilitation programmes initiated with the cooperation of the parties to serve displaced persons and returnees on both sides of the ceasefire line;
"14. Calls on the parties to take all necessary steps to identify those responsible for the shooting down of a UNOMIG helicopter on 8 October 2001 and to bring them to justice, expresses also its concern at the disturbing tendency by the parties to restrict the freedom of movement of UNOMIG, thereby hindering the ability of the Mission to fulfil its mandate, including through effective patrolling, and underlines that it is the primary responsibility of both sides to provide appropriate security and to ensure the freedom of movement of UNOMIG, the CIS peacekeeping force and other international personnel;
"15. Reminds the Georgian side in particular to uphold its commitment to put an end to the activities of illegal armed groups crossing into Abkhazia, Georgia, from the Georgian-controlled side of the ceasefire line;
"16. Welcomes constant review by UNOMIG of its security arrangements in order to ensure the highest possible level of security for its staff;
"17. Decides to extend the mandate of UNOMIG for a new period terminating on 31 July 2002, and to review the mandate of UNOMIG unless the decision on the extension of the presence of the CIS peacekeeping force is taken by 15 February 2002, and, in this respect, notes that on 31 January 2002 the Georgian authorities agreed on the extension of the mandate of the CIS peacekeeping force until the end of June 2002;
"18. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to keep the Council regularly informed and to report three months from the date of the adoption of this resolution on the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia;
"19. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."
Report of Secretary-General
The Council had before it a report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia (document S/2000/88), which updates the situation since his last report of October 2001 and recommends an extension of the Mission there for a further six months, until 31 July. As developments over the last six months have shown, the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) continues to play an important role in the stabilization of the conflict zone and in the search for a political settlement.
The Secretary-General says that the last three months have seen progress in the political process. The finalization, after two years of discussions, of the paper on the "distribution of competences between Tbilisi and Sukhumi" was a significant step forward. That paper enjoys the support of all members of the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General, but there are continuing objections, particularly on the Abkhaz side. The report, however, emphasizes that the paper is simply "a means to open the door" to substantive negotiations, in which the parties themselves will work out a settlement.
The Secretary-General says the parties should "seize the moment" to advance along the road to a peaceful solution to the conflict. He urges, in particular, the Abkhaz side to review its position. Meanwhile, relative calm returned to the UNOMIG area of operation following the hostilities of late summer and early autumn. Nevertheless, tensions remained high, fuelled by militant rhetoric, the continuing presence of Georgian troops in the upper Kodori Valley and uncertainty about the mandate of the CIS peacekeeping force. Here, the Georgian side can make a significant contribution.
The agreement reached on 17 January on the withdrawal of the Georgian troops from the Kodori Valley should be welcomed and fully and quickly implemented, the report states. Hopefully, an agreement will be reached on extending the mandate of the CIS peacekeeping force. The two sides should also make good use of the mechanisms of the Coordinating Council to implement the Yalta Programme of Action on Confidence-building, as well as the recommendations of the Joint Assessment Mission to the Gali district.
Also, the report states, the safe return of refugees and displaced persons is of prime importance. The Abkhaz side bears a particular responsibility to protect returnees in the Gali district and facilitate the return of the remaining displaced persons. Ensuring the safety and security of UNOMIG personnel remains a concern. It is deplorable that neither those who shot down the UNOMIG helicopter on 8 October 2001 nor those who took UNOMIG personnel hostage on five occasions between 1997 and 2000 have yet been identified and brought to justice. Both sides have an obligation to provide security for the Mission.
In 1992, social unrest in the region, in the north-west of Georgia, escalated into separatist violence. The United Nations Mission was established in August 1993 to verify compliance with ceasefire agreements and to monitor human rights. The Council unanimously extended the mandate of UNOMIG twice in 2001, most recently until 31 January 2002 through resolution 1364 (2001).
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