June 2024 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 June 2024
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UNDOF (Golan)

Expected Council Action

In June, the Security Council is expected to vote on a draft resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which expires on 30 June. Ahead of the mandate renewal, an official from the Department of Peace Operations (DPO) is expected to brief Council members in closed consultations on the Secretary-General’s latest 90-day report on UNDOF, due on 3 June, and the most recent developments.

Background and Key Recent Developments

UNDOF was established following the conclusion of the 1974 Disengagement of Forces Agreement (the 1974 agreement) between Israel and Syria, which ended the Yom Kippur War. Its mandate is to maintain the ceasefire between the parties and supervise the disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces as well as the areas of separation (a demilitarised buffer zone) and limitation (where Israeli and Syrian troops and equipment are restricted) in the Golan.

Carrying out the mandate entails monitoring violations of the 1974 agreement, reporting them, and liaising with both sides. Such violations regularly include unauthorised personnel and equipment present in the areas of separation and limitation, weapons fired, and drones and aircraft traveling across the ceasefire line.

The Secretary General’s 18 March UNDOF report, covering the period from 21 November 2023 to 20 February, observed that several violations of the 1974 agreement had continued, although the ceasefire between Israel and Syria in the Golan had generally held. Violations during this period included rocket fire across the ceasefire line, the presence of Syrian forces in the area of separation, and the “continued presence of unauthorized weapons and equipment in the areas of limitation on both the Alpha [Israeli] and Bravo [Syrian] sides, as well as the flying of aircraft and drones across the ceasefire line and over the area of separation”.

According to media reports, on 8 April, a rocket was fired from Syria towards the Golan. No casualties were reported. In response, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reportedly fired artillery at the site from which the rocket was launched.

Human Rights-Related Developments 

On 1 February, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights submitted a report (A/HRC/55/72) titled “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan” to the 55th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC). The report said that Israel’s plan “to double the settler population in the Syrian Golan by 2027 is ongoing—both in terms of an increase in the number of Israeli settlements…and also in the size of the Israeli settler population”. The report said that Israel has also been involved in commercial activity in the Golan, such as the construction of wind turbines, which may have detrimental health effects for the local inhabitants and limit the access of the Syrian population to land and water. It concluded that the establishment and continuing expansion of settlements in the occupied Syrian Golan amount to the transfer by Israel of its own civilian population into the occupied territories, which is prohibited under international humanitarian law.

On 5 April, during its 55th session, the HRC adopted a resolution titled “Human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan” (A/HRC/RES/55/31). The resolution called on Israel to comply with relevant UN General Assembly, Security Council, and HRC resolutions, in particular, Security Council resolution 497 of 17 December 1981, which decided that Israel’s decision “to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect”. The 5 April resolution also deplored the “continuing settlement policies and practices in the occupied Syrian Golan” and called on Israel to “cease changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan”. The resolution was adopted with 29 votes in favour, 14 against, and four abstentions. Among Security Council members, China voted in favour, while France, Japan, and the US voted against the resolution.

Key Issues and Options

A key issue for the Council in June is the renewal of UNDOF’s mandate. Continued ceasefire violations are another important issue, especially as these jeopardise the safety and security of UNDOF personnel and could contribute to instability in the wider region.

The most likely option for the Council this month is to renew UNDOF’s mandate for the customary six-month period. At this month’s consultations, Council members may be interested in receiving information from the DPO briefer on how the escalation of hostilities in the region since the 7 October 2023 attack on Israel led by Hamas, the Palestinian armed group and de facto authority in Gaza, and the subsequent Israeli military response in Gaza has affected UNDOF’s activities. In this regard, when renewing UNDOF’s mandate, the Council could emphasise its concern about the risk of escalation resulting from ceasefire violations and the potential danger they pose to the safety of peacekeepers.

Council Dynamics

The unanimous adoption of resolution 2718 of 21 December 2023, which reauthorised UNDOF’s mandate for six months, illustrated that the Council remains united in its view that UNDOF plays an important role in regional stability. Despite deep divisions in the Council regarding the Syria file and opposing positions by the UNDOF co-penholders—Russia and the US—about who holds sovereignty over the Golan, as well as antagonism over other files such as Ukraine, the two countries continue to consider UNDOF as a separate issue on which they agree. The difficult dynamics on other Council files were not evident during the straightforward negotiations on UNDOF’s mandate in December 2023, and no Council member felt that an explanation of vote was necessary following the adoption. Some Council members believe that the situation has turned into a protracted conflict owing to continued violations of the 1974 agreement by both sides.

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Security Council Resolutions
21 December 2023S/RES/2718 This resolution extended the mandate of UNDOF until 30 June 2024.
31 May 1974S/RES/350 This resolution established UNDOF.
Secretary-General’s Reports
18 March 2024S/2024/242 This was the Secretary-General’s report on UNDOF.

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