27 June 2008
Security Council
SC/9378

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

5926th Meeting (AM)


SECURITY COUNCIL RENEWS MANDATE OF UNITED NATIONS FORCE MAINTAINING

 

CEASEFIRE BETWEEN ISRAEL, SYRIA, FOR FURTHER SIX MONTHS


The Security Council this morning renewed the mandate for a period of six months until 31 December 2008 of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which has supervised the ceasefire between Israel and Syria since 1974.


Unanimously adopting resolution 1821 (2008), the Council called for the implementation of its resolution 338 of 1973, which required immediate negotiations between the parties with the aim of establishing a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.


In conjunction with the adoption of today’s resolution, a statement was also read out by Zalmay Khalilzad of the United States, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council in June, reiterating that tension would remain until such a just and lasting peace could be reached.


In his latest report on UNDOF (see background), Secretary-General Ban Ki‑moon recommended the extension of the Force, noting that, while the situation in the Golan Heights has been “generally quiet” and Israel and Syria had even conducted indirect peace talks, the overall region remains tense.  Mr. Ban also drew attention to nearly $15 million in unpaid assessments for UNDOF’s funding.


The meeting began at 10:12 a.m. and adjourned at 10:16 a.m.


Resolution


The full text of resolution 1821 (2008) reads as follows:


The Security Council,


Having considered the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force of 16 June 2008 (S/2008/390), and also reaffirming its resolution 1308 (2000) of 17 July 2000,


“1.   Calls upon the parties concerned to implement immediately its resolution 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973;


“2.   Welcomes the efforts being undertaken by the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force to implement the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and to ensure full compliance of its personnel with the United Nations code of conduct, requests the Secretary-General to continue to take all necessary action in this regard and to keep the Security Council informed, and urges troop-contributing countries to take preventive and disciplinary action to ensure that such acts are properly investigated and punished in cases involving their personnel;


“3.   Decides to renew the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force for a period of six months, that is, until 31 December 2008;


“4.   Requests the Secretary-General to submit, at the end of this period, a report on developments in the situation and the measures taken to implement resolution 338 (1973).”


Presidential Statement


The text of presidential statement S/PRST/2008/25 reads as follows:


“In connection with the resolution just adopted on the renewal of the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, I have been authorized to make the following complementary statement on behalf of the Security Council:


“‘As is known, the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (S/2008/390) states in paragraph 11 “... the situation in the Middle East is tense and is likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem can be reached”.  That statement of the Secretary-General reflects the view of the Security Council.’”


Background


For its consideration of the situation in the Middle East, the Security Council had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) for the period from 1 January 2008 to 30 June 2008 (document S/2008/390), in which he recommends that the mandate be extended until 31 December.


According to the report, the situation in the Israel-Syria sector had remained generally quiet, and the Observer Force -- established in May 1974 to supervise the disengagement accord between Syrian and Israeli forces after the 1973 war -- has supervised the area of separation to ensure that the military forces of either party were excluded from it.  The Force has also continued to assist the International Committee of the Red Cross with the passage of persons through the area of separation.


However, the report also notes that the situation in the Middle East is tense and likely to remain so unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem can be reached.  As such, the continued presence of the Observer Force is “essential”.


In the report, the Secretary-General expresses hope that determined efforts will be made by all concerned, in order to tackle the problem in all its aspects, and in that context, he welcomes the announcement confirming that Syria and Israel have started indirect peace talks, under the auspices of Turkey.


In recommending the extension, the Secretary-General draws attention to the shortfall in the Force’s funding, noting that unpaid assessments amount to nearly $15 million.  He says these outstanding contributions will impede the Secretariat’s ability to reimburse Member States that are contributing troops to the Force.


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