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UN Mission In Georgia Thrown Into Uncertainty

UN Mission In Georgia Thrown Into Uncertainty By Recent Conflict – Ban

New York, Oct 6 2008 1:10PM

Dramatic changes due to the Russian-Georgian conflict in South Ossetia have cast a veil of uncertainty over the future function of the 14-year-old United Nations mission entrusted with overseeing the ceasefire accord between the Government and Abkhaz separatists in north-western Georgia, according to the latest UN report on the region.

“It is not yet known which features, if any, of the 1994 Moscow [ceasefire] Agreement that forms the basis of the Mission’s observation mandate will be retained when the current security discussions conclude,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in the report to the Security Council in which he asks for a four-month extension of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG).

“In particular, there is as yet little clarity as to the future status of what has so far constituted the area of responsibility of UNOMIG, namely the security zone, where no military presence was permitted, the restricted weapons zone, where no heavy weapons could be introduced, and the Kodori Valley,” he adds, referring to the Aῢkhazia region.

UNOMIG has no jurisdiction in the nearby South Ossetia region. Mr. Ban notes that in view of official statements and decisions by Georgia and Russia it seems unlikely that the Russian-led Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peacekeeping force in the Abkhazia region will have any role in the separation of forces between the two sides, and it is still unclear what arrangement, if any, will fulfil this function.

“Under these circumstances, it is too early at this stage to define the role that UNOMIG may play in the future,” he writes. “But as long as international involvement in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict is seen as helping to prevent future conflict, UNOMIG may be called upon to make a contribution. In this respect, I have received formal indications from the Georgian and Abkhaz sides that they support the continuation of the Mission."

Citing differences that have already surfaced between the two sides, Mr. Ban says UNOMIG’s good offices role could be as relevant as ever in seeking to resolve the many issues that are bound to emerge in the upcoming period.

“It is in this context that I recommend to the Security Council that it extend the mandate of the Mission on a technical basis for a period of four months, until 15 February 2009,” he writes.

“While the role of UNOMIG may need to be adjusted, I do believe that the United Nations should continue to place the experience of UNOMIG at the disposal of the two sides and the international community in order to respond in the best possible way to the demands of conflict prevention and conflict resolution,” he adds, pledging intensified UN consultations in the coming months over the issue.

UNOMIG, which currently has 134 military observers, 17 police, 85 international civilian personnel and about 175 local civilian staff, is entrusted with verifying compliance with the 1994 ceasefire and separation of forces agreement and observing the operations of the CIS peacekeeping force.

ENDS

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