United Nations

A/50/881


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

16 February 1996

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


Agenda item 45


                 THE SITUATION IN CENTRAL AMERICA:  PROCEDURES FOR
                 THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A FIRM AND LASTING PEACE AND
                 PROGRESS IN FASHIONING A REGION OF PEACE, FREEDOM,
DEMOCRACY AND DEVELOPMENT

               United Nations Mission for the Verification of Human
               Rights and of Compliance with the Commitments of the
               Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights in Guatemala

Report of the Secretary-General


1.  The present report is submitted pursuant to General Assembly  resolution
49/236 B of  14 September 1995, in which  the Assembly decided to  authorize
the  renewal  of   the  mandate  of  the  United  Nations  Mission  for  the
Verification of Human Rights and  of Compliance with the  Commitments of the
Comprehensive  Agreement  on  Human Rights  in  Guatemala  (MINUGUA)  for  a
further period of six  months until 18 March  1996, and requested  me, inter
alia,  to keep  the Assembly  fully informed  of the  implementation of  the
resolution.

2.  My  latest report to the  General Assembly on  the situation  in Central
America covered developments related  to the role of  the United Nations  in
the Guatemala peace process until October 1995 (A/50/499 of 3 October  1995,
paras.  34-41).  In  particular, I referred to  the negotiations between the
Government of Guatemala and the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional  Guatemalteca
(URNG)  on   the  item   entitled  "Socio-economic   aspects  and   agrarian
situation", under  discussion since  April 1995.   Progress  has been  slow,
even  though  the  parties  agreed  in   August  1995  to  intensify   their
negotiations and,  to  that effect,  met  every  other week  throughout  the
remainder  of the  year.    Talks continued  after  the first  round of  the
general elections, held on  12 November. On 15 December, the parties decided
to  interrupt  negotiations.   In  order  to  facilitate  resumption of  the
negotiations  once  a new  Government  had  been  elected,  they approved  a
working  document  recording progress  made  since  April  1995  as well  as
outstanding differences.




96-04307 (E)   270296/...
*9604307*

3.   The winner  of the  presidential elections, Alvaro  Arzu, reiterated on
the  day of  his inauguration  the pledge  he had  given as  a  candidate to
continue negotiations  with the  URNG.   As part  of his  commitment to  the
peace process, he
has  also expressed the  commitment of  his Government  to implementation of
agreements already reached  with the URNG and his unequivocal support to the
continued presence of MINUGUA.  Discreet  contacts between the leadership of
the URNG and candidate Arzu and his advisers, which began  on the eve of the
second round  of the  elections, proceeded  after the  elections until  mid-
February.  The United  Nations was apprised  of the contents of these  talks
when   the  UnderSecretary-General   for  Political  Affairs,   Mr.  Marrack
Goulding,  accompanied  by  the  Moderator  of  the  peace  talks,  Mr. Jean
Arnault, met  separately with  the two  parties between  23 and  25 January.
Both parties  reaffirmed their commitment to  the Framework  Agreement of 10
January 1994  (A/49/61-S/1994/53, annex)  and expressed  the wish to  resume
negotiations  at  an  early  date  and  to  reach  promptly  a  final  peace
agreement.  Following  consultations with both  parties, the  United Nations
convened a new round of negotiations on 22 and 23 February at Mexico City.

4.    During  the  reporting  period,   MINUGUA  continued  to  fulfil   the
verification  mandate  entrusted to  it  in  the Comprehensive  Agreement on
Human  Rights (A/48/928-S/1994/448, annex I) and to  assist in strengthening
national institutions and  entities responsible for the protection of  human
rights.   By my  note of  12 October 1995  (A/50/482), I transmitted  to the
General  Assembly the third report of the Director  of MINUGUA, covering the
period  from 21  May to 21  August 1995.   Like previous reports,  the third
report   was  well  received   both  in   Guatemala  and   abroad.    Before
consideration  by the  General  Assembly of  the renewal  of the  mandate of
MINUGUA, the Director of the  Mission will be submitting  his fourth report,
covering the  period  from 21  August to  31  December  1995, as  well as  a
detailed analysis of the  parties' compliance with  their commitments  under
the Comprehensive  Agreement on Human Rights  and with  human rights aspects
of  the Agreement on  Identity and  Rights of  Indigenous Peoples (A/49/882-
S/1995/256, annex)  since the  installation of  the Mission  on 21  November
1994.

5.   From that  date until  31 December 1995, the  Mission has received over
7,700 complaints, of  which 1,567 were considered admissible.  Approximately
69  per cent of these cases  have been fully verified, which led the Mission
to  confirm the  existence  of  human rights  violations in  43 per  cent of
admissible cases.   Based  on the  results of  verification activities,  the
Mission concludes that serious and repeated  violations of human rights have
continued to occur and that these have been neither clarified nor  punished.
The  majority  of them  were  due  to  actions by  State  agents  or  groups
connected to the  State, or  were the  outcome of the  State failing in  its
duty to ensure its  citizens' security.   It does not, however, appear  that
such  violations are  consequences of  a  government  policy to  abuse human
rights.   Through  its  verification activities,  MINUGUA  also  ascertained
that,  in the context of the armed conflict, serious human rights violations
and  failure  to   prevent  civilian  suffering  had  occurred,  owing,   in
particular, to URNG actions.

6.  The  Mission confirms that  impunity has  been the main obstacle  to the
enjoyment of human rights and that its persistence is due to  the absence of
a  State  policy  to  combat it.    Continuing  impunity has  prevented  the
individualization and punishment  of those responsible and has increased the
public's lack of confidence in the  administration of justice.  This failure
is fundamentally  a government responsibility.   The Mission  has also found
that underlying the problem of impunity is a nexus of  factors that tends to
suppress  the willingness to  investigate and  to punish  serious crimes and
human rights  abuses, in particular when  military and  police personnel are
implicated.  Among these factors  are illegal groups, in  which State agents
sometimes  participate, or which  may be  enjoying State  agents' support or
protection  and which commit  murders, kidnappings and other serious crimes.
Overall, the Mission observes that both the Government of Guatemala and  the
URNG are, by action or by omission, responsible  for failure to comply  with

their commitments under the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights.

7.   MINUGUA  has  also noted  that positive  steps have  been taken  by the
Government  and  the  URNG  towards  compliance  with  several   commitments
included  in the agreement.   Concerning  the Government,  steps taken under
the presidency  of  Ramiro de  Leon  Carpio  include the  near-cessation  of
forcible recruitment for military service;  restraint in the use of force by
the  authorities;  refraining from  encouraging  the  establishment  of  new
Voluntary   Civil   Defence  Committees;   dissolution   of   the   Military
Commissioners;  observation  of  legal  requirements  in  the  detention  of
several  URNG  members   and  referring  them  to  tribunals;  an  increased
willingness to investigate crimes  on the part of the Interior Ministry; and
the guarantees provided by the Government  to MINUGUA in the  implementation
of its  mandate.  Concerning  the URNG, these  steps include  fulfilling the
pledge to  refrain  from sabotaging  power  lines;  a recent  trend  towards
restraint in  military  actions in  order  to  avoid unnecessary  risks  and
damage to civilians;  the unilateral cessation  of offensive  actions during
the two rounds of  the elections; and cooperation  with the Mission.   While
noting these steps,  the Mission also observes  that their impact  on public
opinion has been  severely limited because of an  increase in crime and  the
inability  of government  institutions  to cope  with  it, as  well  as  the
continuation of the armed conflict.

8.  In conclusion,  I must reiterate  that it is incumbent upon  the parties
to comply fully with their commitments  under the Comprehensive Agreement on
Human Rights and with human rights aspects of the Agreement on Identity  and
Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which they  have requested the United  Nations
to  verify.    In  that  context,  it is  critical  that  the  Government of
Guatemala  and the  leadership of  the URNG  take action  to carry  out  the
recommendations of the Mission, which have too  often remained unheeded.  At
stake  is the  confidence of  the  Guatemalan  people and  the international
community at  large in the peace  process and in  the undertakings given  by
the parties.  It  is also essential that  the peace negotiations  be brought
to an early and  successful conclusion as  the continuation of the  conflict
provides pretexts  for human  rights abuses  and a  culture of  violence and
intolerance, which  thwart efforts, including those  of MINUGUA, to  protect
human rights and strengthen the rule of law.

9.   While  the record  of compliance  with the commitments  regarding human
rights  is not satisfactory  and should  be improved,  trends observed since
the resumption of the peace process between  the Government of Guatemala and
the  URNG under  United Nations  auspices in  1993 and  the  installation of
MINUGUA are  encouraging. Despite  their slow  pace, the  peace negotiations
have  resulted  in   several  important  agreements  and  strengthened   the
conviction   that  peace   is  imperative.   Widespread  support   for   the
negotiations was made evident by the  isolation of sectors that attempted to
challenge  the  constitutionality   of  the  peace  process  in  late  1995.
Democratic institutions  have gained strength  and widened  their appeal, as
exemplified by  the call by the  URNG to vote in  the general elections  and
the integration of  new political forces into  Congress.  The dissolution of
the Military  Commissioners  endorsed by  Congress and  the publicly  stated
willingness of the  URNG to  join the  political and  electoral contest  are
among several  signs  of  a  gradual  demilitarization  of  political  life.
Measures taken  by the Government  of President Arzu  in the  first weeks of
its  mandate are other  bold steps  in that direction.   The active country-
wide presence  of MINUGUA  has played  an important  part in this  promising
evolution.  In particular, it has helped to  place peace and the  protection
of human rights firmly at the top of the political agenda.

10.   I should  like to  pay tribute  to the  Director of  the Mission,  Mr.
Leonardo Franco, and his  staff for this achievement.   I am convinced that,
through  the   verification  and  institution-building   activities  of  the
Mission,  the  international   community  will  continue  to  play  a   very
significant  role  in promoting  the  protection  of  human  rights and  the
settlement of the last armed conflict in Central America.  In that  context,
I should like to express my appreciation for  the support received from  the

States that make up the Group  of Friends of the Guatemala peace process, as
well as from  those Member States  that have  contributed generously to  the
Trust Fund for the Guatemala peace process.

11.   On the basis of  these considerations, together  with the support  for
the  continuation  of  the  activities  of  MINUGUA  expressed  both  by the
Government  of Guatemala  and  the  URNG, as  well  as by  broad sectors  of
Guatemalan society,  I recommend  that the  General  Assembly authorize  the
renewal of the  mandate of MINUGUA for a further  period of 9 months and  13
days,  that is, until  31 December  1996.  This extended  period will assist
the  budgetary  process by  making  the  new  mandate  coterminous with  the
calendar year.

12.   In its  resolution 50/216 of  23 December 1995,  the General  Assembly
decided to  authorize the  Secretary-General to  enter into commitments  not
exceeding  a monthly level  of $2,329,700 should the  mandate of the Mission
be extended  beyond  31 March  1996.   I  should  however like  to call  the
attention of  Member States  to the  fact that  given the  decisions on  the
programme budget for the biennium 1996-1997 adopted  by the Assembly in  its
resolution 50/215  and given the cashflow  crisis that  continues to afflict
the Organization,  it would  be necessary  for the  Assembly to  appropriate
additional funds  to cover  the costs  of MINUGUA for  this further  mandate
period  and for  there  to be  assurances that  those  funds would  be  made
available in the necessary time-frame.


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