The Security Council this afternoon renewed the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) for another six months, until 30 November. The Force was established in May 1974 to supervise the cease-fire and disengagement agreement between Israeli and Syrian forces.
By its unanimous adoption of resolution 1109 (1997), the Council called upon the parties to implement immediately its resolution 338 (1973), which called upon them to arrive at a comprehensive and durable peace. It also asked the Secretary-General to report by the end of the new mandate period on measures taken to implement that text.
Through a statement read out by its President, Park Soo Gil (Republic of Korea), the Council also drew attention to the Secretary-General's statement, in his report on UNDOF, that the situation in the Middle East was likely to remain potentially dangerous unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the problem could be reached. He said that statement reflected the view of the Council.
The meeting, which was called to order at 12:07 p.m., was adjourned at 12:11 p.m.
The full text of the presidential statement, to be issued as document S/PRST/1997/30, reads as follows:
"As is known, the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (S/1997/372) states, in paragraph 13: 'Despite the present quiet in the Israel-Syria sector, the situation in the Middle East continues to be potentially dangerous and is likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the problem can be reached.' That statement of the Secretary-General reflects the view of the Security Council."
The full text of resolution 1109 (1997) reads as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Having considered the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force of 16 May 1997 (S/1997/372),
"(a) To call upon the parties concerned to implement immediately its resolution 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973;
"(b) To renew the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force for another period of six months, that is, until 30 November 1997;
"(c) to request the Secretary-General to submit, at the end of this period, a report on the development in the situation and the measures taken to implement Security Council resolution 338 (1973)."
Report on UNDOF
The Council had before it a report of the Secretary-General (document S/1997/372), in which he recommends the extension of UNDOF's mandate for a further six months, until 30 November. In the prevailing circumstances in the area, he considers the continued presence of the Force, which was established in May 1974, to be essential. Both the Governments of Syria and Israel have agreed to the Secretary-General's recommendation.
The report, which covers the period from 19 November 1996 to 16 May 1997, states that the situation in the Israeli-Syrian sector has remained quiet and there has been no serious incident. Despite that, the situation in the Middle East continues to be potentially dangerous and likely to remain so, unless a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem can be reached. The Secretary-General expresses the hope that determined efforts will be made by all concerned to arrive at a just and durable settlement, as called for in Council resolution 338 (1973).
During the period under review, the cease-fire in the Israeli-Syrian sector was maintained without serious incident and UNDOF's area of operation remained calm, the report states. The Force supervised the area of separation between Syrian and Israeli forces by means of fixed positions and patrols, to ensure that no military forces were there. It also carried out fortnightly inspections of armament and force levels in the areas of limitation. Liaison officers from the two sides accompanied the inspection teams. As in the past, the inspection teams were denied access to some of the positions of the parties and their freedom of movement were also restricted.
Security Council - 3 - Press Release SC/6375 3782nd Meeting (PM) 28 May 1997
As of May, UNDOF comprised 1,053 troops. That figure includes 465 from Austria, 188 from Canada, 45 from Japan, 355 from Poland, and four military observers from the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO). In addition, UNDOF was assisted by the 73 UNTSO military observers of the Observer Group Golan. Major-General Johannes C. Kosters (Netherlands) continued as Force Commander.
The Secretary-General draws attention to a serious shortfall in the funding of the Force. At present, unpaid assessments amount to some $48.2 million, far larger than UNDOF's annual budget. He appeals to all Member States to pay their assessments promptly and in full, and to clear all remaining arrears.
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