UN mission preparing to pass on reform roles to Guatemalan actors, Annan says

UN mission preparing to pass on reform roles to Guatemalan actors, Annan says

With no guarantee that Guatemalan institutions would be strong enough to assume added responsibilities by the time of the planned departure of the United Nations Verification Mission (MINUGUA), Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended extending the operation's mandate for another year, until the end of 2003.

In his latest report to the UN General Assembly, the Secretary-General says that MINUGUA is fully engaged in a transition programme that will intensify in 2003, preparing for the day when it will pass on the role of monitoring reforms and human rights to national actors.

"It is the responsibility of the Government of Guatemala to press ahead with the implementation of the peace agreements, even in the light of tight resources, limited time and political obstacles," Mr. Annan says, calling on Guatemalans to dedicate themselves to building a just and rights-respecting society.

The Secretary-General notes that the international community is ready to provide the necessary support to Guatemala "provided that there is political will on the part of Guatemala's authorities."

He calls on the country's leaders to demonstrate that political will by taking a number of actions to show their commitment to the peace agreements, including progress against impunity, thorough investigations into attacks against human rights workers, enactment of a programme of war reparations, support for the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman and tangible advances against racial discrimination as well as justice for the country's large indigenous population.

The voids in the coverage of a number of key areas, such as human rights, demilitarization, and indigenous rights, could become more evident if the present political trend - characterized by a growing polarization, deterioration in human rights compliance and failure to allocate adequate resources to key sectors - continued, the Secretary-General writes.