Aspiring Permanent Members, Led by Brazil, Propose Amendment, Triggering Divisions on How to Restructure 15-Member Organ
The General Assembly adopted a resolution today that recognizes the right of return of all internally displaced persons and refugees and their descendants, regardless of ethnicity, to their homes throughout Georgia, including in Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia.
By a vote of 80 in favour to 14 against, with 70 abstentions, it adopted the text “Status of internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia, and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia” under its agenda item on protracted conflicts in the GUAM area, which comprises Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and the Republic of Moldova.
Georgia’s representative introduced the text, saying that almost 400,000 forcibly displaced persons from Georgia are still hoping for their safe, dignified and sustainable return to their places of origin. “We should all recognize the utterly humanitarian nature of the principle of return,” he said.
Ukraine’s representative, speaking also on behalf of Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, said the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the human rights and humanitarian situation in the two areas. Speaking in his national capacity, he urged the Russian Federation to respect its obligations as an occupying Power and to stop its temporary occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali.
The Russian Federation’s representative, who requested a vote, said in an explanation of position that the text represents a “fresh attempt” to undermine the normalization process in the region by applying pressure on the sovereign States of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It will also harm ongoing humanitarian efforts and the Geneva International Discussions, he warned.
Earlier in the day, the Assembly took up an oral draft decision from its President to carry intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform — including the question of equitable representation and an increase in the number of Council members — into its seventy-sixth session.
Similar texts have been routinely adopted by consensus in years past, but a draft oral amendment put forward by Brazil, Germany, India and Japan — which support each others’ bid for permanent Council seats — triggered divisions among Member States who hold different views on how to reform the 15-member organ to better reflect twenty-first century realities.
Brazil’s representative said the draft oral amendment would have the Assembly reaffirm the commitment made by Heads of State and Government to “instill new life" in the discussion on Council reform, as they did in the “Declaration on the commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations” adopted on 21 September 2020. (See Press Release GA/12267.)
Other speakers — notably from the Uniting for Consensus Group, which supports an enlarged Council with no additional permanent members, and the Committee of Ten, tasked with advocating the Common African Position on Council reform — favoured adopting the draft oral decision without changes, saying that the proposed amendment was a substantive one that would undermine progress towards a consensual agreement on revamping the 15-member organ.
After three hours of debate, during which a total of 35 delegations took the floor in explanations of position, Assembly President Volkan Bozkir (Turkey) said that the Assembly would resume its consideration of the issue on 22 June, allowing time for further consultations in the interim.
Also speaking today were representatives of Lithuania (on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries), as well as the European Union.
The Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Friday, 18 June, to consider the appointment of the Secretary-General.
Security Council Reform
The Assembly first took up a draft oral decision, submitted by its President, titled “Security Council reform”. By its terms, the Assembly would decide to reaffirm its central role concerning the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council. It would also decide to continue intergovernmental negotiations on Council reform during an informal plenary at its seventy-sixth session.
It also had before it a draft amendment, submitted by Brazil, that would have the Assembly also reaffirm the commitment of Heads of State and Government to “instill new life" in the discussion on Council reform.
VOLKAN BOZKIR (Turkey), President of the General Assembly, emphasized the importance of Security Council reform, with the Assembly playing a central role concerning the question of equitable representation and increased membership. Efforts to reform the Council must reflect the realities of the twenty-first century. Describing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on intergovernmental negotiations, he said that “only through dialogue can we move the reform process forward”. He explained that the draft decision would see the intergovernmental negotiations continue in the Assembly’s seventy-sixth session, stressing that the main issue is the continuation of that process.
The representative of Brazil, speaking also on behalf of Germany, India and Japan, said the draft decision was only circulated on 11 June, three months before the end of the Assembly’s current session, “so why the rush?” Requests for more consultations should have been heard. Draft decisions on the role of the intergovernmental negotiations are usually tabled after the President of the Assembly identifies its general acceptance, but that is not the case now. The draft decision amounts to a simple technical update of the 2020 rollover of the intergovernmental negotiations and does not reflect the important progress made during this year’s five rounds of talks. The draft oral amendment would better reflect the work carried out in 2021 and make the intergovernmental negotiations more focused, open and transparent.
The representative of Eritrea, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the Council must better reflect reality and address the historical injustice Africa has suffered in this regard. Africa must play its rightful role on the global stage, as reflected in the Ezulwini Consensus, which champions the demand for its full participation at the United Nations, including the Council. Calling on the Intergovernmental Negotiations Group co-Chair to include the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration in the elements paper, he said the African Group remains committed to consultations and will continue to constructively engage in making decisive progress towards reform.
The representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, speaking on behalf of the “L.69” Group, said it cannot join consensus on the draft, which has not evolved substantially in recent years. It has become clear that an amendment to the rollover is a necessary step for a change in process to take place. Voicing support for the proposed amendments, she said they address gaps and outline a plan towards progress. The “L.69” Group also supports for the proposal to have an amendment that includes the Common African Position as espoused in the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration. Deeply disappointed that requests from the Heads of State of 54 countries were simply ignored, she said that, going forward, these suggestions must be considered.
The representative of Belgium, also behalf of Luxembourg and the Netherlands, spoke in favour of the draft oral amendment, saying that a reformed and enlarged Council should reflect the diversity of the world as it is today, while also being able to act quickly and effectively whenever peace is at stake. In their Declaration on the Commemoration of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the United Nations, Heads of State and Government pledged to “instil new life” in the Council reform process. Member States now have a duty to implement that political commitment, she asserted.
The representative of Kuwait, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, endorsed the draft oral decision, stressing the need to find a consensus solution for genuine Council reform. Intergovernmental negotiations are the best possible way to find points of convergence among Member States while also ensuring transparency and flexibility, he said.
The representative of Sierra Leone, speaking on behalf of the African Union Committee of Ten, expressed disappointment at the lack of including the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration of Heads of State, which calls for Africa’s full participation at the United Nations to rectify the historical injustice of its exclusion. Reiterating a call for the full referencing of the Ezulwini Consensus, he said any outcome document of the Intergovernmental Negotiations Group includes this position on Security Council reform. Anticipating that Committee of Ten and African Group members will be unable to accept any document that excludes the mention of these critical documents, he said it is difficult to support the current language in the draft decision.
The representative of Italy, speaking on behalf of the Uniting for Consensus Group, said the common goal of the entire United Nations membership is to foster convergence, with a view to strengthening multilateralism. Expressing full support for the draft decision, he said there is a minimum common denominator upon which all can agree. This is not the time to introduce new issues, he said, adding that the Group does not support the proposed amendments, which were introduced at the last minute and undermine discussions on this matter and the work of the President of the General Assembly. As such, he urged the proponents of the amendments to join consensus on the draft decision. On the points made by the African Group and the Committee of Ten about not joining consensus, he said such remarks relate more to the co-Chairs’ documents and he questioned whether today’s debate is the right platform for discussing these concerns.
The representative of Germany said that he was shocked when he received the draft oral decision last week before there had been consultations with at least the Group of Four countries (Brazil, Germany, India, Japan). That contradicted the practice of past Assembly Presidents. The draft oral decision also lacks any mention of the mandate that 193 Heads of State and Government had given to the Assembly to instil new life in the reform process. He requested more time for the Assembly to rectify the matter.
The representative of Japan, associating himself with Brazil and expressing support for the draft oral amendment, said the intergovernmental negotiations were guided by the spirit of the Declaration of Heads of State and Government. More than 80 Member States participated in the negotiations, with a large majority expressing a strong desire to move forward. It is unfortunate that the draft oral decision fails to reflect progress or to echo the recommendations of the negotiation’s co-Chairs.
The representative of India said his delegation fully supports for proposed amendments tabled by Brazil. Rich discussions on the revised elements paper unfolded within the recent Intergovernmental Negotiations Group, he said, but the concerns of the African Group were not included. It simply cannot be that a drafted elements paper can be untouched at this point. This paper has the potential to be a basis for constructive discussions, he said, expressing his expectation that the Assembly President will carry forward what the co-Chairs could not. Carrying work into the seventy-sixth session must see progress, he said, adding that the United Nations should not be seen as indulging in lofty debates and delaying action. To those who fear that the proposed amendments diminish the 2015 Framework Document, this is not true. The amendment is not motivated by any substantive decisions, but, rather, to ensure better discussions and safeguard progress made during the current session. This cannot be achieved with a mere rollover draft decision, he said, urging all Member States to support the proposed amendments. The Intergovernmental Negotiations Group can no longer be used as a “smoke screen” for those who do not wish to undertake Security Council reform.
The representative of China said his delegation fully supports the rollover draft decision. Recent efforts have only increased consensus, and the draft decision is in full compliance with the practice formed in recent years and achievements made. The Assembly President has listened to the views of Member States, he added, expressing support for a consensus adoption of the draft decision. China is firmly against the Group of Four amendments for several reasons. The core task of the General Assembly is to adopt a rollover decision, instead of discussing controversial issues at this time. These concerns should be raised in future discussions. Forcefully introducing confrontational provisions shows no respect for the Assembly President and Member States, he said. The 2015 Framework Document is an important basis for Intergovernmental Negotiations Group discussions. There is a lack of understanding about the use of the co‑Chairs’ paper, which was presented in their own names reflecting their views and understanding, and it cannot become the sole document for future negotiations. China supports the continuation of discussions related to Council reform within the Intergovernmental Negotiations Group. Reform must be fair to all countries, including a package of solutions to address the concerns of developing countries and African States, he added, expressing support for the adoption of the draft decision without amendments.
The representative of Syria, rejecting the draft oral amendment, said the Council reform process needs time to achieve a unified text that can be adopted by consensus. Presenting a draft amendment that lacks consensus will not help the reform process, he asserted.
The representative of Libya, associating himself with the Committee of Ten, the African Group and the Arab Group, said that a majority of Member States support the Common African Position on Council reform. Under no circumstances will Libya allow the Sirte Declaration — a component of the Common African Position — to be sidestepped.
The representative of the Russian Federation, expressing support for the draft decision, said remarks made by his counterpart from Germany are unacceptable. From year to year, oral decisions are balanced and concise, as clearly reflected in the current draft decision, which should be adopted without amendments. The Group of Four moved the discussion to a confrontational stage, threatening the entire negotiation process. Today is the time to protect the Intergovernmental Negotiations Group and the draft decision, as consensus is the key to success in the reform process and achievements must be maintained. The Group of Four amendment is not one that enjoys consensus or universal support, he said, adding that the Russian Federation is guided by the fact that amendments introduced to an oral decision do not comply with the rules. As such, he called on the authors of the amendment to withdraw it and on all Member States to join consensus on the draft decision.
The representative of Belarus said his delegation fully supports the draft decision and stands against criticism targeting the Assembly President. The draft decision is procedural, enabling the work of the Intergovernmental Negotiations Group to roll over into the Assembly’s seventy-sixth session. Amending it undermines the negotiations. Attempts to impose the co-Chairs’ paper as a basis of discussions likewise undermines consideration of other papers. As such, the last-minute amendments introduced today should not be adopted.
The representative of Egypt, associating himself with the African Group, the Committee of Ten and the Arab Group, appealed for an easing of tensions in the Assembly chamber on this issue. This time of recovery from the pandemic is a time to be constructive. Despite a difference in views, everyone shares a common desire for a more effective Council, but what is happening now is threatening the intergovernmental negotiations. The draft decision proposed by the Assembly President best captures the African position for the upcoming session, he said, adding that the draft amendment would undermine that position.
The representative of Ecuador said the intergovernmental negotiations process must be protected and promoted, conducted in good faith and avoid widening differences between Member States. Ecuador would have preferred today’s meeting to have been postponed, which would have allowed more consultations to take place. Ecuador can support the draft oral decision, he said, adding that his delegation also would have favoured amendments had they been subject to consultations.
The representative of Namibia, aligning himself with the African Group and Committee of Ten said the negotiations process is cumbersome. Encouraging more flexibility, he expressed concerns that the co-chairs’ paper does not include the Common African Position or the Ezulwini Consensus. As such, Namibia cannot support the position that the co-Chairs’ paper will form the basis of discussions when it excludes these important documents.
The representative of Zimbabwe, associating herself with the African Group and Committee of Ten, welcomed the draft oral decision. However, she expressed hope that the decision includes concerns raised to rectify historical injustices against Africa. The co-Chairs’ elements paper is a summary of Member States’ positions on Council reform and cannot be a basis for future negotiations. Any decision on reform should garner widespread acceptance, or at least a two-thirds majority, she said.
The representative of Mexico expressed support for the Assembly President’s draft oral decision as the “minimum common denominator”. It is regrettable that a draft amendment has been put forward, raising further divisions on an issue on which there is no common agreement, he said.
The representative of Costa Rica, applauding the Assembly President’s efforts on Council reform, said that the draft oral decision to continue the intergovernmental negotiations represents the lowest common denominator. It is neither appropriate nor wise to begin new negotiations which go beyond the intergovernmental process, she cautioned.
The representative of Colombia highlighted recent developments pertaining to the draft oral decision and the differing views of Member States on how to proceed with the work of the Intergovernmental Negotiations Group. He expressed hope that 2022 will enable participants to resume negotiations on Security Council reform in order to bolster the United Nations’ role, and preserve international peace and security.
The representative of Equatorial Guinea, aligning himself with the African Group and the Committee of Ten, said Africa has repeated its position on the process at every meeting on Security Council reform. Reiterating the call for additional seats for African States, he welcomed the proposals tabled. The Assembly must speak with a single voice when discussing the Intergovernmental Negotiations Group, however excluding the African Common Position undermines the legitimate rights of Africa to correct historic injustices, and neglects the 2005 Sirte Declaration presented by the continent’s Heads of State.
The representative of Uganda, associating himself with the Committee of Ten and the African Group, said his delegation supports the draft oral decision without the proposed amendment. He noted that the elements paper drafted by the co-Chairs of the Intergovernmental Negotiations Group aims to reflect the current state of the talks, as well as points of convergence and divergence. It is not meant to be the basis of future negotiations. The 2015 Framework Document should continue to be a separate reference document, he said, calling on the co-Chairs to accurately reference both the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration in their elements paper.
The representative of Burundi, associating himself with the Committee of Ten and the African Group, said the draft decision is in line with past practice. It reflects discussions and the results of the intergovernmental negotiations in a balanced manner. As in years past, it should be adopted by consensus, he stressed, rejecting the draft amendment. He cautioned that it would not be good to wait for a major global event — one that upsets the existing world order — to finally reform the Council.
The representative of the Republic of Korea, aligning himself with the Uniting for Consensus Group, expressed strong support for the draft decision, which will allow for a smooth transition to continue negotiations on Council reform. Expressing regret that consensus on this draft is being challenged, he said the proposed amendments could damage the fundamental nature of discussions. The co‑Chairs’ elements paper clearly indicates that it reflects their views, he said, adding that the Intergovernmental Negotiations Group must be a member-driven entity.
The representative of Turkey, associating herself with the Uniting for Consensus Group, said all groups and Member states have had ample opportunities to indicate their concerns. Member States agree that the Council must be more transparent and effective, and approaches to reform must be inclusive. However, it is essential to consider the common good over national interests, and the proposed amendments attempt to impose a view on the entire membership. Divergences must not be deepened, as consensual approaches are needed for reform, she said, inviting all Member States to support the draft decision.
The representative of Pakistan said some delegations are promoting a partisan objective which they know is unacceptable to many Member States. The sponsors of the draft oral amendment should withdraw it, he said, adding that, if the Assembly is forced to take a vote, it will set back the goal of Council reform by many years. Instead of breathing “new life” into the process, it will be its death knell, he stressed.
The representative of Argentina, associating himself with the United for Consensus Group, said the draft oral decision clearly reflects the results of the intergovernmental negotiations during the Assembly’s current session. The draft amendment, on the other hand, fails to reflect the current state of discussions. Argentina whole-heartedly supports the draft oral decision and hopes that it is adopted by consensus, he said.
The representative of Iran, expressing support for the draft, emphasized that the co-Chairs’ paper reflects only their views and is not a product of a Member State-driven process. As such, the paper fails to include some major proposals. While appreciating the co-chairs for their well-intentioned efforts, Iran cannot agree to adhering any status to such a paper.
The representative of Morocco, aligning himself with the African Group, Arab Group and the Committee of Ten, said there is a need to rectify the historical injustice done to Africa. As such, discussions of this issue and the Sirte Declaration must be reflected in summaries of negotiations. Progress is clear, and moving forward, should be guided by a spirit of compromise. However, the draft must be fully supported by all United Nations Member States.
The representative of Malta, associating herself with the United for Consensus Group, said the goal of the draft oral decision is to continue the consensus-based approach of the intergovernmental negotiations. She called on the initiators of the draft amendment to reconsider their text. Only by focusing on core principles will it be possible to make progress on Council reform, which cannot be done in haste, she said.
The representative of Spain, associating herself with the United for Consensus Group, asked all delegations to support the President’s draft oral decision. The intergovernmental negotiations have been making progress, with consensus in some areas, but there is still much work to do. She disagreed with another delegate’s assertion that not favouring the draft amendment means not favouring Council reform.
The representative of Rwanda, aligning himself with the African Group, said his delegation is concerned about the omission of important issues raised during discussions. The Assembly must find consensus on the matter, he said, voicing a wish that more time is granted for consultations.
The representative of Senegal, associating himself with the African Group and Committee of Ten, said the willingness to include the African Common Position is not enough. He raised concerns about the exclusion of the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration, as well as the lack of consensus on this draft decision. The goal is to advance Security Council reform, he said, emphasizing that efforts must continue to advance towards long-awaited changes involving an entire continent.
Protracted Conflicts in the GUAM Area
The Assembly then took up the draft resolution “Status of internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia, and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia” (document A/75/L.99). By its terms, the Assembly would recognize the right of return of all internally displaced persons and refugees and their descendants, regardless of ethnicity, to their homes throughout Georgia, including in Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. It would stress the need to respect the property rights of all internally displaced persons and refugees affected by the conflicts in Georgia, reaffirm the unacceptability of forced demographic changes and underline the urgent need for unimpeded access for humanitarian activities. It would also call upon all participants in the Geneva discussions which began on 15 October 2008 to intensify their efforts to establish a durable peace, to take immediate steps to ensure respect for human rights and to create favourable conditions for the safe and voluntary return of all internally displaced persons and refugees.
[The GUAM area refers to Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and the Republic of Moldova.]
The Assembly also had before it the report of the Secretary-General titled “Status of internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia, and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia” (document A/75/891).
The representative of Georgia, introducing “L.99”, emphasized that the current situation is hampering the development and livelihoods of the affected people. Drawing attention to the situation in Georgia, he recalled the history of the conflict and recent developments, including the Russian Federation’s use of its veto power in the Security Council to block the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG). The Russian Federation has yet to fulfil its commitments to the August ceasefire agreement and withdraw its military from the area. Instead, its occupying authorities have been carrying out the policy of creeping annexation through installing razor-wire fences, “border” signs and other artificial barriers.
Citing findings in the most recent report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), he said ethnic Georgians face various forms of discrimination and a climate of impunity has prevailed and only worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The practice of illegal detentions and kidnappings of Georgian citizens intensifies every year, with the latest example being a recent decision of the authorities exercising effective control in the Tskhinvali region to illegally detain and imprison the Georgian citizen, Zaza Gakheladze. The European Court of Human Rights ruling on 21 January in the case of Georgia v. Russia (II), legally established the responsibility of the Russian Federation — the authority exercising effective control over the region — for the violation of the right of internally displaced persons and refugees to return to their homes, and concluded that it has an obligation to enable inhabitants of Georgian origin to return to their respective homes.
Turning to the draft resolution, he said “L.99” relates only to the humanitarian and human rights aspects of the issue. Almost 400,000 forcibly displaced persons still anticipate and hope for their safe, dignified and sustainable return to their places of origin, and they expect the international community to act in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law. While “L.99” refers to the situation in a single country, Georgia, the issue at stake is an integral part of a global challenge — forced displacement. “We should all recognize the utterly humanitarian nature of the principle of return,” he said, appealing to Member States to apply the same principle to internally displaced persons from Georgia. They too are the part of a global endeavour to “leave no one behind”, he said, urging Member States to vote in favour of “L.99”.
The representative of Syria, in an explanation of position, said that the draft resolution is a politicized text based on narrow points of view which lack objectivity. It also ignores the true concerns of the inhabitants of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. He urged Member States not to become involved in the politicization of this issue.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that his delegation will vote against “L.99”. It is another attempt to undermine the normalization process in the region by applying pressure on the sovereign States of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It will also harm ongoing humanitarian efforts and the Geneva process, he said, encouraging the sponsors of “L.99” to stop their baseless attacks in international forums and work instead towards peaceful existence. He then requested a vote on the text.
The representative of Ecuador said his delegation supports compliance with the United Nations Charter and international law and condemns all human rights violations. He noted that the regions of concern have been recognized by some countries. Expressing support for all displaced persons and refugees, he urged all States to respect their human rights. Reiterating the need to replace accusatory language for more constructive words, he also urged all parties involved with the conflict to abstain from unilateral actions.
The Assembly then adopted “L.99” by a recorded vote of 80 in favour to 14 against, with 70 abstentions.
The representative of Ukraine, speaking also on behalf of Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, said that hundreds of thousands of ethnically cleansed internally displaced persons and refugees from Georgia’s regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia are still being deprived of their fundamental right to return to their homes in safety and dignity. Warning of the imminent threat of more forced displacements, he added that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the human rights and humanitarian situation. He also expressed regret that the Geneva International Discussions on humanitarian issues are being constantly undermined by some of the participants. Speaking in his national capacity, he urged the Russian Federation to end its illegal practices, respect its obligations as an occupying Power under international humanitarian law and to stop its temporary occupation of the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia regions of Georgia.
The representative of Lithuania, speaking on behalf of Baltic and Nordic States, reiterated strong support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Unfortunately, the Russian Federation continues to violate Georgia’s territorial integrity by occupying the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia, and to breach the 2008 ceasefire agreement with its illegal military presence and activities. The January ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, which found that the Russian Federation is responsible for grave human rights violations, is a reminder that, so far, more than a decade after the first adoption of the resolution on internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia regions in Georgia, no progress has been achieved related to their voluntary, safe, dignified and unhindered return. The resolution tabled today commits all Member States to continue working for the protection of and assistance to affected populations, and to ensure that they are able to exercise their fundamental right to safe and dignified return. However, the continuously deteriorating human rights situation in these occupied regions of Georgia, further affected by the pandemic, remains a cause of serious concern. Voicing support for recent efforts to address this matter, he called for the United Nations’ continuous engagement, given the lack of progress on the ground. As in previous years, his delegation will vote in favour of the draft resolution, he said, calling on all Member States to do the same.
The Deputy Head of Delegation of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, reaffirmed the bloc’s firm support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders. Committed to supporting peacebuilding and conflict resolution in Georgia, he expressed the European Union’s deep concern about the state of play in the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and the continuous deterioration of human rights in these regions. Underlining the importance of the right of refugees and internally displaced persons to choose a durable solution, he expressed regret that, so far, no progress has been achieved on these issues. Welcoming the progress made by the Government of Georgia on housing solutions and socioeconomic integration of internally displaced persons, he encouraged further action to address difficulties around access to drinking and irrigation water, heating and livelihoods, as well as social and medical infrastructure.