The UN Security Council is set to adopt a resolution on the renewal of the mandate of UNFICYP, the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus, on January 30, on the basis of unofficial consultations.
The six-monthly report of the UN Secretary-General on UNFICYP is expected to be submitted to Security Council members at the latest by January 10. The document, together with a report on the strategic review of UNFICYP which was handed over to Council members in December, will be the subject matter of consultations regarding changes set to be introduced, relating mainly to the number of the force’s members.
The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has proposed that the military force number drops to 802 but that the reduction in numbers is not included in the budget since further changes may need to be made in case of a political settlement in Cyprus.
On the basis of the timetable set by the Kazakhstan presidency, the forces contributing to UNFICYP by way of human resources will be briefed on Tuesday, January 16 and the UN Security Council members on January 17, by UNSG`s Special Representative in Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar.
A draft of the resolution is expected to be presented by the British mission to the UN close to that time.
UNFICYP was established by Security Council resolution 186 (1964), with a mandate “to prevent a recurrence of fighting and, as necessary, to contribute to the maintenance and restoration of law and order and a return to normal conditions”. While the mandate of the Mission remains the same to date, its responsibilities evolved following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, to include supervising the ceasefire lines, maintaining a buffer zone, and facilitating inter-communal contacts.
In his report Guterres concurs with the recommendation of the review team that “the preventive and deterrent role of UNFICYP should be maintained for the time being.”
“While the actual impact of such a role is very difficult to ascertain, the risk associated with any drastic reduction of the Force is not justified under present circumstances,” Guterres said.
He also took note that “the review team has identified an opportunity for a limited reduction in the military strength of the Mission, mainly with respect to the military support elements. In line with the findings of the review team as detailed in this report, I therefore recommend that the actual military strength of UNFICYP be reduced to 802 troops.”
“This need not be reflected in a reduction of the authorised strength; in fact, if the authorised strength were to remain at 860, it would allow some flexibility to increase deployment should the need arise, for example in support of eventually resumed settlement talks,” he added.