By its unanimous adoption of resolution 1096 (1997), the Council reaffirmed its commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders and to the necessity of defining the status of Abkhazia in strict accordance with those principles. The Council also underlined the unacceptability of any action by the Abkhaz leadership that contravened those principles, in particular the holding on 23 November 1996 and 7 December 1996 of illegitimate and self-styled parliamentary elections in Abkhazia, Georgia.
The Council also condemned the continued laying of mines, including new types of mines, in the Gali region, which had already resulted in death and injury to civilians, peace-keepers and observers of the international community. It called on the parties in the conflict -- the Georgian Government and the Abkhaz side -- to prevent mine-laying and intensified activities by armed groups. In response to that threat, the Secretary-General was urged to improve security conditions to minimize the danger to UNOMIG personnel.
By other provisions of the resolution, the Council reiterated its demand that the Abkhaz side accelerate significantly the voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons without delay or preconditions. Condemning the continued obstruction of the right of all refugees to return to their homes, the Council stressed the unacceptability of any linkage of the return of refugees and displaced persons with the question of the political status of Abkhazia, Georgia. It further demanded that the Abkhaz side guarantee the safety of returnees and regularize their status in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and in accordance with the
* Reissued to correct number of Security Council resolution.
Quadripartite Agreement, in particular, in the Gali region. The 4 April 1994 Quadripartite Agreement deals with the voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons.
Reiterating its deep concern at the continued deadlock in achieving a comprehensive settlement of the conflict in Abkhazia, the Council called upon the parties, in particular the Abkhaz side, to achieve substantive progress, without further delay, towards a comprehensive political settlement. It also called upon them to cooperate fully with the Secretary-General's efforts, with the assistance of the Russian Federation as facilitator, and to ensure the full implementation of the 14 May 1994 Moscow Agreement on a Cease-fire and Separation of Forces.
The meeting, which was called to order at 3:37 p.m., was adjourned at 3.42 p.m.
The full text of resolution 1096 is as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Reaffirming all its relevant resolutions, in particular resolution 1065 (1996) of 12 July 1996, and recalling the statement of its President of 22 October 1996,
"Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 20 January 1997 (S/1997/47),
"Acknowledging the efforts in support of the peace process of the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy, the Russian Federation as facilitator, and the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General on Georgia as mentioned in the report,
"Noting with deep concern the continued failure by the parties to resolve their differences due to the uncompromising position taken by the Abkhaz side, and underlining the necessity for the parties to intensify without delay their efforts, under the auspices of the United Nations and with the assistance of the Russian Federation as facilitator, to achieve an early and comprehensive political settlement of the conflict, including on the political status of Abkhazia within the State of Georgia, which fully respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia,
"Noting the opening of the United Nations Human Rights Office in Abkhazia, Georgia,
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"Reaffirming the necessity for the parties strictly to respect human rights, and expressing its support of the efforts of the Secretary-General to find ways to improve their observance as an integral part of the work towards a comprehensive political settlement,
"Noting with concern recent frequent violations on both sides of the Moscow Agreement of 14 May 1994 on a Cease-fire and Separation of Forces (S/1994/583, annex I) (the Moscow Agreement), as well as acts of violence organized by armed groups operating from south of the Inguri River and beyond the control of the Government of Georgia,
"Commending the contribution that the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) and the Collective Peace-keeping Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS peace-keeping force) have made to stabilize the situation in the zone of conflict, noting that the cooperation between UNOMIG and the CIS peace-keeping force has developed considerably, and stressing the importance of continued close cooperation and coordination between them in the performance of their respective mandates.
"Deeply concerned at the continued deterioration of the security conditions in the Gali region, with an increase of acts of violence by armed groups, and indiscriminate laying of mines, including new types of mines, and concerned also at the continued deterioration of the safety and security of the local populations, of the refugees and displaced persons returning to the region and of the personnel of UNOMIG and of the CIS peace-keeping force,
"Reminding the parties that the ability of the international community to assist them depends on their political will to resolve the conflict through dialogue and mutual accommodation, as well as their full cooperation with UNOMIG and the CIS peace-keeping force, including the fulfilment of their obligations regarding the safety and freedom of movement of international personnel,
"Taking note of the decision taken by the Council of Heads of State of the CIS of 17 October 1996 (S/1996/874, annex) to expand the mandate of the CIS peace-keeping force in the conflict zone in Abkhazia, Georgia, and to extend it until 31 January 1997,
"1. Welcomes the report of the Secretary-General of 20 January 1997;
"2. Reiterates its deep concern at the continued deadlock in achieving a comprehensive settlement of the conflict in Abkhazia, Georgia;
"3. Reaffirms its commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its international recognized borders, and to the necessity of defining the status of Abkhazia in strict accordance with these
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principles, and underlines the unacceptability of any action by the Abkhaz leadership in contravention of these principles, in particular the holding on 23 November 1996 and 7 December 1996 of illegitimate and self-styled parliamentary elections in Abkhazia, Georgia;
"4. Reaffirms its full support for an active role for the United Nations in the peace process, welcomes the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy aimed at achieving a comprehensive political settlement of the conflict, including on the political status of Abkhazia within the State of Georgia, respecting fully the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, as well as for the efforts that are being undertaken by the Russian Federation in its capacity as facilitator to continue to intensify the search for a peaceful settlement of the conflict, and encourages the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to that end, with the assistance of the Russian Federation as facilitator, and with the support of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE);
"5. Welcomes in this context the initiative of the Secretary-General as outlined in his report to strengthen the role of the United Nations in the peace process;
"6. Calls upon the parties, in particular the Abkhaz side, to achieve substantive progress without further delay towards a comprehensive political settlement, and further calls upon them to cooperate fully with the efforts undertaken by the Secretary-General, with the assistance of the Russian Federation as facilitator;
"7. Welcomes the renewal of direct dialogue at high level between the parties, calls upon them to intensify the search for a peaceful solution by further expanding their contacts, and requests the Secretary-General to make available all appropriate support if so requested by the parties;
"8. Reaffirms the right of all refugees and displaced persons affected by the conflict to return to their homes in secure conditions in accordance with international law and as set out in the Quadripartite Agreement of 4 April 1994 on voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons (S/1994/397, annex II), condemns the continued obstruction of that return, and stresses the unacceptability of any linkage of the return of refugees and displaced persons with the question of the political status of Abkhazia, Georgia;
"9. Recalls the conclusions of the Lisbon Summit of the OSCE (S/1997/57, annex) regarding the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia, and reaffirms the unacceptability of the demographic changes resulting from the conflict;
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"10. Reiterates its condemnation of killings, particularly those ethnically motivated, and other ethnically related acts of violence;
"11. Reiterates its demand that the Abkhaz side accelerate significantly the process of voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons without delay or precondition, in particular by accepting a timetable on the basis of that proposed by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and further demands that it guarantee the safety of spontaneous returnees already in the area and regularize their status in cooperation with UNHCR and in accordance with the Quadripartite Agreement, in particular in the Gali region;
"12. Welcomes in this context the holding of the meeting on 23 and 24 December 1996 in Gali on the resumption of the orderly repatriation of refugees and displaced persons, in particular to the Gali region, and calls upon the parties to continue these negotiations;
"13. Calls upon the parties to ensure the full implementation of the Moscow Agreement;
"14. Condemns the continued laying of mines, including new types of mines, in the Gali region, which has already caused several deaths and injuries among the civilian population and the peace-keepers and observers of the international community, and calls upon the parties to take all measures in their power to prevent mine-laying and intensified activities by armed groups and to cooperate fully with UNOMIG and the CIS peace-keeping force in order to honour their commitments to ensure the safety and the freedom of movement of all personnel of the United Nations, the CIS peace-keeping force and international humanitarian organizations;
"15. Urges the Secretary-General to take the necessary steps in response to the threat posed by the laying of mines in order to improve security conditions so as to minimize the danger of UNOMIG personnel and to create conditions for the effective performance of its mandate;
"16. Decides to extend the mandate of UNOMIG for a new period terminating on 31 July 197 subject to a review by the Council of the mandate of UNOMIG in the event of any changes that may be made in the mandate of the CIS peace-keeping force;
"17. Expresses its fully support for the implementation of a concrete programme for the protection and promotion of human rights in Abkhazia, Georgia, notes in this context the opening on 10 December 1996 of the Human Rights Office in Abkhazia, Georgia, as part of UNOMIG, under the authority of the Head of Mission of UNOMIG, and requests the Secretary-General to continue
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to pursue the necessary follow-up arrangements with the OSCE and to continue close cooperation with the Government of Georgia;
"18. Reiterates its encouragement to States to contribute to the voluntary fund in support of the implementation of the Moscow Agreement and/or for humanitarian aspects, including demining, as specified by donors;
"19. Requests the Secretary-General to consider the means of providing technical and financial assistance aimed at the reconstruction of the economy of Abkhazia, Georgia, following the successful outcome of the political negotiations;
"20. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to keep the Council regularly informed, and to report after three months from the date of the adoption of this resolution on the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia, including on the operation of UNOMIG and to provide recommendations in that report on the nature of the United Nations presence, and, in this context, expresses its intention to conduct a thorough review of the operation at the end of its current mandate;
"21. Decides to remain actively seize of the matter.
Report of Secretary-General
When the Council met this afternoon, it had before it a report (document S/1997/47), in which the Secretary-General recommends the extension of the mandate of UNOMIG for a further six-month period until 31 July. He also provides an update of the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia, as at 10 January, including UNOMIG's operations, and makes recommendations on the peacemaking process and the United Nations role after the expiry of the Mission's mandate.
Key issues of the Georgian/Abkhaz peace process, such as the future political status of Abkhazia and the return of refugees and displaced persons, remain unresolved, the Secretary-General states. However, both parties -- the Georgian Government and the Abkhaz leaders -- have begun to revitalize the peace process by meeting bilaterally at high levels and with the Secretary- General's Special Envoy, the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General on Georgia (France, Germany, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States) and the Government of the Russian Federation in its capacity as facilitator.
The role of the United Nations at present should be to support the efforts of the two sides to arrive at mutually acceptable compromises that would underpin an overall settlement, the report states. It is intended to initiate contacts in the region in the near future with the two sides to assist them in their apparent attempt to unblock the peace process. The
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modalities of cooperation between the United Nations and the Russian Federation, as facilitator in the peace process, merit early discussion and will be pursued with the Russian authorities.
The report states that UNOMIG's deployment has not changed since the Secretary-General last reported to the Council on the mission on 10 October 1996 (document S/1996/843). Currently, 125 military observers are in the mission area, but, in anticipation of the arrival of the engineering support personnel to undertake mine-detection and clearing, it is planned to reduce that number gradually to 116 during the next six months, if the Council extends the Mission's mandate.
During the reporting period, UNOMIG continued to operate in parts of the security and restricted weapons zones and in the Kodori Valley, says the Secretary-General. The mine threat is still restricting the Mission's ability to conduct mobile patrols in those zones of the Gali sector, but patrols continue along the main road, as well as in the town of Gali. The problem has worsened because of the use of new types of mines with different initiating techniques. Restrictions on vehicle patrolling will remain until UNOMIG is provided with the required logistic support, which has been delayed. "The Secretariat is still awaiting a reply from a Government, which is known to have suitable equipment, regarding the provision of mine-detection vehicles and support personnel", the report states.
Describing the situation on the ground, the report states that the Gali security and restricted weapons zones has remained unsettled, and there was a marked increase in acts of violence, especially the indiscriminate laying of mines. The casualties were exclusively civilian and mostly among the Georgian population. Mine-laying and attacks on the CIS peace-keeping force and the Abkhaz authorities also continued. Some UNOMIG military observers were threatened at gunpoint, others were the victims of theft and vandalism, but none were harmed.
In addition, the Secretary-General reports that several murders, kidnappings, attacks, explosions and acts of looting occurred during the reporting period. The Abkhaz "parliamentary elections", held on 23 November and 7 December, were preceded by a campaign of violence that continued during the elections throughout the Gali security and restricted weapons zones. Many attacks and explosions occurred at or close to Abkhaz polling stations. In the Kodori Valley, however, UNOMIG continues to report a low level of crime.
The increased sophistication demonstrated by armed groups responsible for the more recent acts of violence is cause for concern, the report states. If that situation continues, it will make it more difficult for UNOMIG to contribute to creating conditions conducive to the safe and orderly return of refugees once that process finally resumes. The Secretary-General calls on
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all concerned to take effective measures to end a situation that can only have negative effects for the return of peace to the region.
However, he states that "in spite of the difficult circumstances in which UNOMIG has to operate, the Mission's presence continues to be a stabilizing factor in the area and provides useful support to the political process".
The report also states that mines have prevented humanitarian organizations from working in all areas of the district outside of the town of Gali and presents a precarious humanitarian situation that must be addressed as soon as possible. Humanitarian organizations have continued to focus on the most pressing needs, especially food, medicine and clothing and increased self-help means of assistance.
There is continued concern, however, about the population's psychosocial needs, especially children and adolescents, who now require substantial and urgent assistance from the international community. Those organizations, particularly the UNHCR, have begun contingency planning to support the return of refugees and displaced persons which appears to have slowed during the past two months, most likely because of the increase in violence in the area.
The Secretary-General reports on the opening of the United Nations office for the protection and promotion of human rights in Abkhazia, which took place in Sukhumi on 10 December 1996 -- Human Rights Day -- pursuant to Council resolution 1077 (1996). The office was opened by the Head of Mission of UNOMIG on behalf of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The office's immediate priorities are monitoring the human rights situation in Abkhazia and translating the major human rights instruments into the Abkhaz language. Consultations are under way with the OSCE on a memorandum of understanding spelling out the modalities of cooperation between the two organizations regarding the work of the office.
Also before the Council is a letter dated 21 January from the Permanent Representative of Georgia addressed to the Council President (document S/1997/57). It transmits the provisions of the final document of the December 1996 Lisbon Summit of the OSCE pertaining to the situation in Georgia.
The text states that the Summit, reaffirming its support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders, condemned the ethnic cleansing resulting in mass destruction and forcible expulsion of the predominantly Georgian population in Abkhazia. Also, the Summit was convinced that the international community, in particular the United Nations and the OSCE, with the participation of the Russian Federation as a facilitator, should continue to contribute actively to the search for a peaceful settlement.
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Another letter, dated 24 January, from the Permanent Representative of Georgia, transmits a letter dated 20 January from the Chairman of the Supreme Council of Abkhazia, Tamaz Nadareishvili, addressed to the Secretary-General (document S/1997/75).
That letter states that the situation in Abkhazia demands a firm approach. The gross violations and crimes perpetuated by the separatists still go unpunished, because there are strong forces, particularly in the Russian Federation, which support them and encourage that dangerous trend. The Abkhaz authorities have flagrantly violated and still continue to override the rights of the Georgian population in the region.
The letter calls on the international community to condemn and discourage unjustified demands such as the appeals of the Abkhaz leadership for economic aid and for the lifting of certain restrictions. Although it acknowledges the region's need for assistance from the international community, the Abkhaz Supreme Council would welcome such efforts "only after Georgia's territorial integrity has been reinstated and the Abkhaz authorities have fulfilled their obligations with respect to the return of refugees and displaced persons".
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