The Security Council today extended for another four months the 14-year-old United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) entrusted with overseeing the ceasefire accord between the Government and Abkhaz separatists in the country’s north-western region.
The unanimous decision complies with a request earlier this week from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who warned that “dramatic changes” due to the Russian-Georgian conflict in South Ossetia had cast a veil of uncertainty over UNOMIG’s future function.
He told the 15-member Council in his latest report that it was not yet known which features, if any, of the 1994 Moscow ceasefire agreement between the warring parties that forms the basis of the Mission’s observation mandate would be retained in light of the new situation.
UNOMIG’s area of responsibility in Abkhazia consists of a security zone, where no military presence was permitted, a restricted weapons zone, where no heavy weapons can be introduced, and the Kodori Valley. It has no jurisdiction in nearby South Ossetia, the scene of recent fighting which pitted Georgia against separatists and their Russian allies.
Mr. Ban noted that it seemed unlikely that the Russian-led Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peacekeeping force in the Abkhazia region would have any role in the separation of forces between the two sides, and it was still unclear what arrangement, if any, would fulfil this function.
“Under these circumstances, it is too early at this stage to define the role that UNOMIG may play in the future,” he told the Council. “But as long as international involvement in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict is seen as helping to prevent future conflict, UNOMIG may be called upon to make a contribution. In this respect, I have received formal indications from the Georgian and Abkhaz sides that they support the continuation of the Mission.”
As Mr. Ban proposed, the Council extended the Mission’s mandate on a technical basis until 15 February 2009.