Renewal of Cyprus Mission Mandate
The Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution extending the mandate of the UN’s peacekeeping mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) tomorrow morning (Wednesday, 14 December). The anticipated adoption of the resolution follows a briefing in consultations by Lisa Buttenheim, head of the UN mission in Cyprus, on 9 December. (Buttenheim briefed Council members on the Secretary-General’s latest six-monthly report of 30 November. The report referred to encouraging progress made at the Greentree talks in late October, but said that much remained to be done to reach full convergence on core issues, such as governance and power-sharing.)
While there seems to be broad agreement among Council members that progress has been made between the two sides in recent months, there appear to be divergent views on the extent to which the Council should convey a sense of urgency in reaching a negotiated settlement.
It appears that some Council members favour encouraging the two sides to make progress rapidly on narrowing their differences. This would then allow them to move to the “end game” referred to by the Secretary-General in November upon the conclusion of the Greentree talks. They consider that the “Greentree II” talks scheduled for January, again convened by the Secretary-General, are of significant import in terms of reaching a resolution, and are hoping that the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem are resolved by then.
Other Council members seem to emphasise the discussions are at a sensitive stage and that the Council should not risk damaging the process by seeking to pressure the two sides to move too quickly. They assert that key differences remain between the two sides and that explicitly referring to deadlines or time limits for a settlement would be unhelpful.
In a change from previous resolutions renewing UNFICYP’s mandate, it appears the Council will extend the mission’s mandate this time by seven months, instead of six. This seems to be part of a broader attempt by the Council to spread out mandate renewals more evenly throughout the year (with subsequent UNFICYP renewals then expected to revert to six months).