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23 May 1996
REPORT OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON THE UNITED NATIONS
DISENGAGEMENT OBSERVER FORCE
(For the period of 18 November 1995 to 17 May 1996)
1. The present report gives an account of the activities of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) since my previous report of 17 November 1995 (S/1995/952).
2. The mandate of UNDOF mandate was established by the Security Council in its resolution 350 (1974) and has been extended by subsequent resolutions, most recently by resolution 1024 (1995) of 28 November 1995. The functions and guidelines of UNDOF, as well as its tasks, were outlined in the Secretary-General's report of 27 November 1974 (S/11563, paras. 8-10).
II. ACTIVITIES OF THE FORCE
3. During the period under review, the cease-fire in the Israel-Syria sector was maintained without serious incidents and the area of operation of UNDOF remained calm.
4. UNDOF supervised the area of separation to ensure that no military forces were deployed in it. This was effected by means of permanently manned positions and observation posts and patrols operating at irregular intervals on predetermined routes by day and by night. In addition, temporary outposts were established and additional patrols were conducted from time to time as necessary. UNDOF also continued its 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 UNDOF's freedom of movement.
5. The Force Commander and his staff maintained close contact with the military liaison staffs of Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic. Both parties cooperated with the Force in the execution of its tasks.
6. UNDOF 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 on request.
III. ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS
7. In February 1996, the Canadian transport platoon was replaced by a unit made available by the Government of Japan (see S/1995/1022 and S/1995/1023). As of May 1996, UNDOF comprised 1,054 troops from Austria, Canada, Japan and Poland (463, 189, 45, and 357 troops respectively), as well as 4 United Nations military observers detailed from the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO). In addition, UNDOF was assisted by the 80 UNTSO military observers of the Observer Group Golan (OGG). A map showing UNDOF's area of operations and deployment is attached.
8. Major-General Johannes C. Kosters of the Netherlands continued as Force Commander.
IV. FINANCIAL ASPECTS
9. By its resolution 50/20 of 1 December 1995, the General Assembly,
, authorized the Secretary-General to enter into commitments for UNDOF at a rate not to exceed $2,679,000 gross per month for a period of up to seven months, from 1 December 1995 to 30 June 1996. The proposed budget for the maintenance of the Force for the period from 1 July 1996 to 30 June 1997 (A/50/386/Add.1) is currently under consideration by the General Assembly. The estimated cost of maintaining UNDOF at its current strength for that period is $31,494,000 gross.
10. Unpaid assessments to the UNDOF special account as at 31 May 1996 amounted to $60.7 million. Total unpaid assessed contributions for all peace-keeping operations amounted to $2.2 billion.
V. IMPLEMENTATION OF SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 338 (1973)
11. In deciding in its resolution 1024 (1995) of 28 November 1995 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) 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.
12. 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 (A/50/547), submitted in pursuance of General Assembly resolutions 49/87 A and 49/87 B of 16 December 1994.
13. UNDOF, which was established in May 1974 to supervise the cease-fire 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 Israel-Syria sector has remained quiet and there has been no serious incident.
14. Despite the present quiet in the Israel-Syria 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).
15. 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 30 November 1996. The Government of the Syrian Arab Republic has given its assent to the proposed extension. The Government of Israel has also expressed its agreement.
16. In making this recommendation, I must draw attention to the serious shortfall in the funding of the Force. At present, unpaid assessments amount to some $60.7 million. This sum, comparable to twice the UNDOF annual budget, represents money owed to Member States that contribute the troops who make up the Force. I appeal to all Member States to pay their assessments promptly and in full and to clear all remaining arrears.
17. The enduring scarcity of the resources available to the Organization has compelled me to seek ways to reduce expenditures in UNDOF and other peace-keeping operations. Since 1992, UNDOF has implemented two streamlining exercises, which have reduced its size and budget by more than 20 per cent, leaving it a very lean and cost-effective operation. That this has been possible is owed in large part to the very good cooperation both Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic have extended to the Force. I shall continue to keep UNDOF under close scrutiny with a view to using every opportunity for further economies.
18. In conclusion, I wish to pay tribute to Major-General Johannes C. Kosters and to the men and women under his command. 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.