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MAJOR PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS

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Other DPKO-led missions

 

Other, long-term peacekeeping missions continued to provide valuable measures of stability in areas where sustainable peace has not yet been fully achieved.

 

A landmark bus service across the Indian-Pakistani ceasefire line in Jammu and Kashmir was inaugurated on 7 April, marking what UN Secretary-General called “a powerful gesture of peace and an opportunity to reunite families divided for nearly 60 years.” The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) has been observing a ceasefire in disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir since 1949. The state was split between India and Pakistan after they won independence from the United Kingdom in 1947. UNMOGIP also provided assistance to the victims of the powerful earthquake that struck northern Pakistan in October. After 57 years of UN presence, conflict has not resumed, and small steps towards reconciliation have increased.

 

In Cyprus, the situation remained generally calm and stable along ceasefire lines but progress toward a political solution was negligible at best. In 2005, the opening of additional crossing points and small increases in trade between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities enhanced opportunities for people-topeople contacts. The UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) continued to enjoy generally good cooperation from both sides, although there were no official contacts between them. In June, former UN Under-Secretary- General Kieran Prendergast, traveled to Cyprus, Turkey and Greece for consultations on how best the UN could help bring about a settlement. He recommended that the UN continue to offer its good offices to both sides and that the Secretary-General appoint a Special Adviser who would engage the parties in exploring common ground needed to resume talks.

 

In the Middle East, the 31-year old UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) continued to observe the ceasefire between Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights, a buffer zone set up after the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. In calling for the renewal of UNDOF’s mandate in December, the UN Secretary-General noted that the situation in the Middle East remained tense and was likely to remain so. A comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem was needed to resolve the situation. In carrying out its mandate,UNDOF was also assisted by military observers from the UN Troop Supervision Organization (UNTSO) based in Jerusalem.

 

The UN played several roles in Lebanon in 2005. The 40-year old UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) continued to monitor a ceasefire to prevent further escalation of sporadic outbreaks of violence that occurred in 2005 between Hezbollah militia in Lebanon and Israel troops along the Blue Line the two countries. Violence along the Blue Line resulted in civilian casualties on both sides. In July, the Security Council extended UNIFIL’s mandate, acknowledging that the occasional exchange of fire in the Shab’a farms area in Lebanon showed that the situation remained volatile and fragile and could deteriorate at any time. There was political tension and uncertainty in Lebanon following the assassination of former Prime Minster Rafik Hariri in February. The Secretary- General appointed a Special Envoy, Detlev Mehlis, to investigate the assassination. Mehlis’ investigation implicated senior officials in the Syrian and Lebanese security services. On 15 December, the Security Council extended the inquiry into the assassination by a further six months, saying Syria had not cooperated fully with the investigators. In April, Syrian forces withdrew from Lebanon at the request of the Security Council, which was followed by free and fair elections in May and June.

 

In Western Sahara, the UN Mission for the Referendum of Western Sahara (MINURSO) continued to play an important stabilizing and ceasefire monitoring role in the region.This was in spite of continued instability as a result of the political impasse between the Moroccan Government and the Frente POLISARIO independence movement, as well as continued violations of their military agreement and alleged human rights abuses. In addition to monitoring a ceasefire, the 14- year old mission is also seeking to organize a referendum in the former Spanish colony which Morocco has claimed as its own, and where the POLISARIO has been fighting for independence. A senior UN envoy, Peter van Walsum, who visited the area in October to break the political deadlock, concluded that the positions of most key players in the Western Sahara dispute were “quasi-irreconcilable”, although they all held strong views on the need for a durable solution.While there was progress on removing unexploded mines, and the release of 404 prisoners of war after 20 years of incarceration by the POLISARIO, both sides continued to violate the ceasefire by increasing their military presence in the restricted areas, staging incursions in the buffer zone and restricting movements of the UN military observers.Meanwhile, MINURSO restructured its military posts by decreasing some stations while simultaneously increasing the number of military observers.

 


Prepared by the Peace and Security Section, United Nations Department of Public Information.

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