Question of Palestine home
14 November 1998
REPORT OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON THE UNITED NATIONS
DISENGAGEMENT OBSERVER FORCE
(for the period from 15 May to 14 November 1998)
1. The present report gives an account of the activities of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) during the past six months in pursuance of the mandate contained in
Security Council resolution 350 (1974)
and extended by subsequent resolutions, most recently by
resolution 1169 (1998)
of 27 May 1998.
II. SITUATION IN THE AREA AND ACTIVITIES OF THE FORCE
2. During the period under review, the ceasefire in the Israel-Syria sector was maintained without serious incident and the area of operation of UNDOF remained calm. The Force supervised the area of separation by means of fixed positions and patrols to ensure that no military forces were in it. The Force also carried out fortnightly inspections of armament and force levels in the areas of limitation. Liaison officers from the party concerned accompanied the inspection teams. As in the past, both sides denied inspection teams access to some of their positions and imposed some restrictions on the Force's freedom of movement. The Force assisted the International Committee of the Red Cross with facilities for mail and the passage of persons through the area of separation. Within the means available, medical treatment was provided to the local population upon request.
3. At the end of May, a Slovakian platoon was deployed as an integral part of the Austrian battalion, replacing an Austrian platoon. As at October 1998, UNDOF comprised 1,046 troops from Austria, Canada, Japan, Poland and Slovakia (429, 185, 45, 352 and 35 troops, respectively). The Force was assisted in the performance of its tasks by 80 military observers of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO). Major-General David Stapleton returned to his national service on 1 September 1998, handing over to Colonel Peter Bouda, Chief of Staff. Major-General Cameron Ross assumed command on 1 October. A map showing the Force's deployment is attached.
III. FINANCIAL ASPECTS
4. By its resolution 52/236 of 26 June 1998, the General Assembly appropriated an amount of $35.4 million gross, equivalent to a monthly rate of $2.9 million gross, for the maintenance of the Force for the period from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999. Therefore, should the Council decide to extend the mandate of UNDOF, as recommended in paragraph 9 below, the cost of maintaining the Force during the extension period would be limited to the monthly rate approved by the General Assembly.
5. As at 5 November 1998, unpaid assessments to the special account for UNDOF for the period from the inception of the Force to 30 November 1998 amounted to $52.9 million. Total outstanding assessed contributions for all peacekeeping operations at the same date amounted to $1,615.5 million.
IV. IMPLEMENTATION OF SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 338 (1973)
6. In deciding in its resolution 1169 (1998) to renew the mandate of UNDOF for a further period of six months, the Security Council also called upon the parties concerned to implement immediately its
resolution 338 (1973)
of 22 October 1973 and requested the Secretary-General to submit, at the end of the period, a report on the developments in the situation and the measures taken to implement that resolution. The search for a peaceful settlement in the Middle East and, in particular, the efforts undertaken at various levels to implement Security Council resolution 338 (1973) were dealt with in my report on the situation in the Middle East (
), submitted in pursuance of
General Assembly resolution 52/54
of 9 December 1997.
7. The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, which was established in May 1974 to supervise the ceasefire called for by the Security Council and the agreement on disengagement between Israeli and Syrian forces of 31 May 1974, has continued to perform its functions effectively, with the cooperation of the parties. The situation in the Israeli-Syrian sector has remained quiet and there has been no serious incident.
8. Despite the present quiet in the Israeli-Syrian sector, the situation in the Middle East continues to be potentially dangerous and is likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem can be reached. I hope that determined efforts will be made by all concerned to tackle the problem in all its aspects, with a view to arriving at a just and durable peace settlement, as called for by the Security Council in its resolution 338 (1973).
9. In the prevailing circumstances, I consider the continued presence of UNDOF in the area to be essential. I therefore recommend that the Security Council extend the mandate of the Force for a further period of six months, until 31 May 1999. The Government of the Syrian Arab Republic has given its assent to the proposed extension. The Government of Israel has also expressed its agreement.
10. In making this recommendation, I must draw attention to the serious shortfall in the funding of the Force. At present, unpaid assessments amount to $52.9 million. This sum, far larger than the current annual budget of UNDOF, represents money owed to Member States that contribute the troops which make up the Force. I appeal to all Member States to pay their assessments promptly and in full and to clear all remaining arrears.
11. In conclusion, I wish to pay tribute to Major-General David Stapleton, to Major-General Cameron Ross, his successor, and to the men and women serving with UNDOF. They have performed with efficiency and devotion to duty the important tasks assigned to them by the Security Council. I take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the Governments contributing troops to UNDOF and to those that provide the UNTSO military observers assigned to the Force.