Expected Council Action
In October, the Council will hold its quarterly consultations on the UN Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan (UNDOF).
Key Recent Developments
Council members held consultations on UNDOF on 21 June, which featured a briefing by Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific Khaled Khiari. Khiari reportedly mentioned the 10 June Israeli airstrikes at Damascus International Airport, noting that attacks on civilian infrastructure violate international law. Media reports have suggested that Israel initiated the attack because of concerns that Iran was using civilian flights to the airport to ship arms to Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based militant group.
The Council unanimously adopted resolution 2639 on 27 June, renewing the UNDOF mandate for six months, until 31 December, as had been recommended by the Secretary-General in his 1 June report on the mission.
On 15 July, Secretary-General António Guterres appointed Major General Nirmal Kumar Thapa of Nepal as UNDOF’s new Force Commander and head of mission.
On 19 September, Israeli forces fired on and wounded a Syrian man who was allegedly throwing explosive objects over a fence on Israel’s border with Syria in the southern Golan.
The Secretary-General issued his latest UNDOF report on 22 September. The report expressed concern about continued violations of the Disengagement of Forces Agreement signed by Israel and Syria in 1974. This includes firing by Israel into the separation area and across the ceasefire line, as well as the presence of Syrian troops in the separation area. In light of ongoing violations of the agreement – as well as the difficult security environment in the southern section of the Bravo side’s limitation area (that is, the Syrian side)—the Secretary-General expressed particular concern about the safety and security of UNDOF peacekeepers.
Key Issues and Options
A key issue for Council members is the ongoing violations of the Disengagement of Forces Agreement of 1974. The Council could consider pursuing a statement urging parties to adhere to their commitments under the agreement while expressing concern about the risk of escalation resulting from these violations. Such a statement could call on the parties to reengage in negotiations on the Golan, which have not taken place since 2008.
The unanimous adoption of resolution 2639 on 27 June demonstrated that the Council remains unified in its view that UNDOF plays an important role in regional stability. There was little apparent disagreement in the negotiations, and no member states felt the need to give an explanation of vote following the adoption. Despite deep divisions overall on the Council regarding the Syria file, as well as opposing positions held by co-penholders Russia and the US about who holds sovereignty over the Golan, the two countries have considered UNDOF as a separate issue on which they agree. The antagonism between Russia and the US over the conflict in Ukraine also does not appear to have affected the negotiations on the mandate in June.
Council members India and Ireland have a particular interest in UNDOF, as both contribute a significant number of peacekeepers to the mission. As at 20 August, the mission comprised 1,117 troops, including 198 from India and 130 from Ireland.
UN DOCUMENTS ON UNDOF
|Security Council Resolutions|
|27 June 2022S/RES/2639||This renewed the mandate of UNDOF for six months.|
|31 May 1974S/RES/350||This resolution established UNDOF.|
|22 September 2022S/2022/711||This was the Secretary-General’s quarterly UNDOF report.|
|1 June 2022S/2022/447||This was the Secretary-General’s quarterly UNDOF report.|