Secretary-General recommends renewal of UN verification mission in Guatemala

Secretary-General recommends renewal of UN verification mission in Guatemala

With 2002 a decisive year for progress in implementing the peace agreements in Guatemala, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended renewing for another 12 months the mandate of the United Nations verification mission in that country (MINUGUA).

In a report to the UN General Assembly released today recommending an extension until 31 December 2002, the Secretary-General says the timetable for 2000-04 is a new challenge for the peace process. "Decisive support for its implementation must spur the actions of government institutions, civil society and the international community," he writes. "The United Nations once again expresses its wholehearted commitment to the Guatemalan peace process."

Technical cooperation to support the institutions created under the peace process must continue and be expanded, Mr. Annan observes. "All those institutions need strengthening, especially those in the country's interior, where the effects of peace need to be more visible and generate more participation."

The Secretary-General says substantive, sustained progress on the outstanding agenda is essential for overcoming the profound inequalities that still persist among the population and that are jeopardizing the achievements and sustainability of the peace process, adding that it is also necessary to alternate the climate of heightened potential conflict that still characterizes Guatemalan society.

"At a time when the transformation of democratic institutions must be consolidated and the population needs to reap the benefits of a culture of peace, public authorities, the media and society as a whole must do their utmost to disseminate civic values and the values of peace, tolerance and dialogue as the basis for a new form of peaceful coexistence," Mr. Annan writes.

In general, a special effort must be made to build the capacities of national institutions for the protection and monitoring of human rights. Mr. Annan says that in this new phase, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights will have to consider how best to strengthen its presence in the country and continue supporting such institutions.

MINUGUA was created in 1994 and its mandate expanded in 1997 in order to continue to verify compliance with the peace agreements signed between the Government of Guatemala and the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (URNG).