What's In Blue

Posted Tue 29 Jul 2014

Adoption of Resolution Renewing the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus

Tomorrow morning (30 July), the Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution renewing for a period of six months the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). The adoption follows the consultations on UNFICYP held on 24 July, during which Council members were briefed via video teleconference by Lisa Buttenheim, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNFICYP, on the latest report of the Secretary-General (S/2014/461). (Buttenheim is also currently serving as the interim Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Cyprus.)

During the January negotiations of the resolution renewing UNFICYP(S/RES/2135), Council members, as well as members of the Secretariat, seemed to be frustrated by the failure of both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders to agree to the joint statement necessary for the resumption of talks. However, soon after UNFICYP’s mandate was renewed, agreement on a joint communiqué was reached on 11 February, paving the way for renewed talks. As a result, the mood around this mandate renewal has been more positive than during the deliberations in January, allowing for easy consensus on extending the mandate of UNFICYP for an additional six months. It appears that the draft text was agreed to by all Council members informally on 25 July and put under silence procedure on 28 July. The current draft draws heavily on the most recent UNFICYP resolution (resolution 2135 of 30 January) and contains mostly previously agreed language on the Cyprus issue. Reflecting latest developments, the draft resolution welcomes the resumption of negotiations and the agreement on the joint declaration of 11 February. It also expresses support for the ongoing efforts by the leaders and negotiators to reach a comprehensive settlement as soon as possible.

While UNFICYP resolutions regularly mention and commend the work of the Committee on Missing Persons, Council members agreed to use stronger language this time, highlighting the importance of intensifying the Committee’s activities. The latest Secretary-General’s report also notes that “up to 50 years after their disappearance, half of all missing persons are yet to be located and 75 per cent have yet to be identified”.

References to confidence building measures are similar to those in the last resolution, although Buttenheim and some Council members pointed out the need for further implementation of military confidence-building measures in particular. Buttenheim noted that there are still no direct communication channels between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot military officials on the island and that all talks between military officials are done through facilitation by UNFICYP. In all other areas, confidence-building measures are being implemented to some extent through direct communication between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot officials.

It seems that the UK suggested language, included in the draft put in blue, encouraging the Secretary-General to appoint a new Special Adviser in the near future. It seems that initially, following Alexander Downer’s departure at the end of January from the post, there wasn’t a strong push to fill the position. In the past some members of the Council had signalled dissatisfaction with Downer, while both sides in Cyprus were unwilling to cooperate with him. With there being some progress in the talks more recently, initially some members felt that it would be best not to disrupt the progress by bringing a new adviser in too quickly.

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