Expected Council Action
In July, the Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for an additional six months before the mandate expires on 31 July. Lisa Buttenheim, the Special Representative and head of UNFICYP, will likely brief Council members in consultations on the upcoming report of the Secretary-General on Cyprus. (Resolution 2089 requested the report by 10 July.)
Key Recent Developments
The Council last met on Cyprus on 30 May, when Special Adviser Alexander Downer briefed Council members by videoconference on the prospects for the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides to return to negotiations. It appears the briefing emphasised the lack of progress in negotiations and the need for negotiations towards a peaceful solution to continue and not be neglected in the face of the economic crisis on the island. The briefing was held in advance of a social dinner hosted by Downer that brought together Buttenheim, President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroğlu. The dinner was the first encounter between Anastasiades and Eroğlu since Anastasiades was elected president on 17 February.
Though the dinner itself went smoothly, there was some controversy in the period leading up to it. On 17 May, the Republic of Cyprus sent a letter to the Secretary-General that apparently requested assurances that the dinner would be a social event and would not touch on any substantive issues. On 23 May, Ambassador Nicholas Emiliou (Republic of Cyprus) met with the Chef de Cabinet of the Secretary-General, Susana Malcorra, to confirm that the event would be purely social. Indeed, those attending the dinner did not touch on substantive issues in their conversations.
Further complicating the return to negotiations in May was the leak of a 77-page document prepared by the UN Good Offices Mission for the use of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot negotiators detailing the convergences reached by the two sides in the course of negotiations that occurred between 2008 and 2012. Some on the Greek Cypriot side have expressed worry that the document would bind Greek Cypriot negotiators to the positions it contained.
The question of reunification has been overshadowed in recent months by economic concerns. During the elections in February, the economy reigned as the primary campaign issue for candidates and voters, and on 30 April the parliament of the Republic of Cyprus approved a $13 billion bailout from the EU and IMF. More recently, in June, Anastasiades sent a letter to the EU and IMF asking for the bailout to be overhauled, as its effects have been more deleterious than expected. On 19 June, the government issued a statement denying that the letter was intended to renegotiate the terms of the bailout.
There have been signs that a return to negotiations may be near. On 5 May, following a meeting with Anastasiades, Buttenheim announced that she was “quite persuaded” that the president was committed to a solution. On 10 June, press reports quoted Eroğlu as saying that renewed negotiations could begin in October. On 19 June, a spokesperson for the government of the Republic of Cyprus announced that the selection of a chief negotiator for the Greek Cypriots would take place in mid-July.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 20 March, during the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council (HRC), then Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang presented the High Commissioner’s report on Cyprus covering the period from 1 December 2011 to 30 November 2012 (A/HRC/22/18). The main concerns included the right to life and the question of missing persons, non-discrimination, freedom of movement, property rights, freedom of religion and the right to education. Kang said that addressing the underlying human rights issues should be an increasingly important part of peacekeeping efforts. The report also welcomed the first-ever visit to Cyprus by a special procedure mandate-holder, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, in March-April 2012. Bielefeldt briefed the HRC on 5 March on the findings of his mission.
The key issue for the Council remains the question of how to support and re-energise negotiations between Greek and Turkish Cypriots towards reunification, which have not taken place since April 2012.
In the context of the renewal of UNFICYP, some questions remain for the Council:
- to what degree and to what ends can the resolution renewing UNFICYP be used to exert political pressure on the parties; and
- if and how a potential review of UNFICYP should figure into the resolution.
The most likely option for the Council is to simply adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of UNFICYP for a further six months.
Less likely options include adding language to the resolution noting the lack of progress since 2012 and encouraging the parties to return to negotiations as soon as possible.
An additional option would be to add language addressing the underlying human rights issues detailed in the latest High Commissioner’s report on human rights in Cyprus.
The dynamics on the Council with regard to Cyprus have not changed since the last mandate renewal. France and Russia tend to support the Greek Cypriot position while Azerbaijan (which abstained from resolution 2089 during the January renewal), in particular, hews closely to the Turkish Cypriot position. Other Council members, such as the UK, are most interested in cutting costs by beginning to drawdown UNFICYP. Such a move, some argue, could put pressure on the sides to return to negotiations and achieve a solution more speedily. This notion has some opposition on the Council, as was especially evident during the adoption of resolution 2058 in July 2012, since the Greek Cypriots and like-minded Council members find the proposal of a review (and the implication of a potential drawdown of UNFICYP) particularly objectionable. Similar divisions exist among Council members on the question of whether or not to include any elements in the renewal resolution making reference to the political situation on the island. Some Council members have expressed scepticism about whether such references would be productive at present.
Additionally, dynamics on the Council have emerged in the past year regarding the degree of openness in the process by which the UNFICYP resolutions are drafted. In July 2012, Pakistan abstained from resolution 2058, saying that “not enough time was given to all Council members to engage in open and transparent negotiations”. The January renewal, by comparison, was far less contentious. Many Council members feel that the UK (the penholder on Cyprus) has made the drafting process significantly more inclusive, though some still doubt the degree to which suggestions from beyond the P5 are seriously considered by the drafters.
UN DOCUMENTS ON CYPRUS
|Security Council Resolutions|
|24 January 2013 S/RES/2089||This resolution renewed UNFICYP for six months, adopted with 14 votes in favour and one abstention by Azerbaijan.|
|19 July 2012 S/RES/2058||This resolution extended the mandate of UNFICYP until 31 January 2013.|
|7 January 2013 S/2013/7||This was an UNFICYP report.|
|12 March 2012 S/2012/149||This was the assessment report of the Secretary-General on the status of the negotiations in Cyprus.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|24 January 2013 S/PV.6908||The meeting record on the UNFICYP renewal, adopted with 14 votes in favour and one abstention by Azerbaijan.|
|19 July 2012 S/PV.6809||This was the meeting during which resolution 2058 was adopted.|
|Human Rights Council Documents|
|1 February 2013 A/HRC/22/18||This was the report of the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the question of human rights in Cyprus presented during the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council.|
|24 December 2012 A/HRC/22/51/Add.1||This was the report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, on his mission to Cyprus.|
OTHER RELEVANT FACTS
Special Representative and Head of UNFICYP
Lisa M. Buttenheim (USA)
UNFICYP Force Commander
Major General Chao Liu (China)
UNFICYP Size, Composition and Cost
Strength (as of 30 April 2013): 855 military personnel, 66 police, 38 international civilian personnel and 108 local civilian staff.
Troop and Police Contributors: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, Paraguay, Serbia, Slovakia, Singapore, Ukraine and the UK.
Budget Appropriation (1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013): $56.97 million (one-third of which is funded by the government of Cyprus, with $6.5 million from Greece).