May 18, 2021

Statement by the Deputy Permanent Representative of Cyprus Dr. George Kasoulides to the 4th Committee on Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset I would like to express my deep appreciation to the Chairman of the Special Committee of Peace-Keeping Operations, Ambassador M. Arthur Mbanefo of Nigeria, and the other Members of the Bureau for the very thorough study of the question of peacekeeping and the report submitted of the Special Committee.  I would also like to welcome the new Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Mr. Jean-Marie Guéhenno, to express our gratitude for a comprehensive and frank presentation and exchange of views and to wish him well in his new post. 

As a EU associated state, Cyprus has aligned itself with the statement made by the distinguished representative of France on behalf of the European Union.  I would, therefore, restrict myself to certain additional aspects of peacekeeping as appeared from Cyprus unique perspective as a host country to a long-standing UN Peacekeeping Operation, UNFICYP.

United Nations Peacekeeping from its inception in 1948 to the present day is the barometer for the organization’s effectiveness in the promotion and maintenance of international peace and security.  Despite the original reluctance to acknowledge it as a permanent feature of the core of the United Nations, nobody doubts today that it is the key element in the armory of the organization in its quest to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.”   This is especially obvious today as more operations combine more than one aspect, that is prevention, peace-making and post-conflict peace-building that require intense coordination.

It is only fitting, therefore, to find the Brahimi report in the center of our attention, the centerpiece of our millennium resolution and all member states eager to act on its recommendations.  We also hope that legal recourse to the International Court of Justice and other international legal bodies will increase in parallel with other methods of dispute resolution.  It is our firm belief that legal resource is the best complement to the work of the Security Council and the General Assembly.

My country Cyprus is a very relevant case demonstrating the pros and cons of peacekeeping and the necessity to combine peace-making and peace-building to avoid stalemate and stagnation.

In 1964 following the first Turkish attempt to interfere in Cyprus and a recourse to the Security Council by the Republic of Cyprus, UNFICYP was established.  At the time it was thought that a three months mandate, reinforced with the appointment of a UN mediator will solve the problem.  The mediator produced a balanced report that was accepted from my government but rejected by the Turkish side.

Following the 1974 invasion by Turkey and the forcible division of the island with the creation of a buffer zone, UNFICYP adjusted its mandate and became the custodian of the ceasefire agreement, a role that is fulfilling up to this day.  It should be added that their mandate also includes humanitarian issues and the alleviation of human suffering that is a result of the continuing military occupation.

As the Brahimi report points out: “when the U.N. does send its force to withhold the peace, they must be prepared to confront the lingering forces of war and violence, with the ability and determination to defeat them”.  Unfortunately in the case of Cyprus, as demonstrated in the events of 1974, the Force did not have the necessary mandate and backing to prevent such a disaster.  This is why we firmly support the conclusions of the Brahimi report and we wholeheartedly hope for its speedy implementation.

Despite numerous UN resolutions, including binding resolutions of the Security Council and the on-going efforts of the Secretary General through his Good Offices, the problem is still unresolved.  The latest effort that is still in progress raised again our expectations but one need only to read through the Turkish insistence for creating two separate states on the island to realize the Turkish objectives.

I would return again to the Brahimi report and one of its aphorisms: “The UN military units must be capable of defending themselves, other mission components and the mission’s mandate.  Rules of engagement should be sufficiently robust and not force United Nations contingents to cede the initiative to their attackers.”

The truth of this statement is illustrated with another example from Cyprus.  Only a few months ago and among the rounds of the latest good offices effort, the Turkish occupation army advanced its positions along the ceasefire line in the area of Strovilia, resulting in what the Secretary-General described as a “clear violation of the status quo”.  The inability up to this day of the Force on the ground to return the situation to the status quo ante erodes even further the credibility and image of the United Nations.

Peacemaking that continues for so many years is a real disappointment for the people of Cyprus and the international community and the inability of the organization to influence the solution of the problem is a real failure for peacemaking.  For as long as this effort is not based on the Security Council resolutions and intransigence and non-compliance with international law is condoned and tolerated the problem will remain unresolved.


Lastly Mr. Chairman allow me to make some comments on financing.

Effective peacekeeping operations must rest on a sure and stable financial footing.  We would therefore, reiterate the need for prompt payment of contributions and without conditions attached.  May I recall that in relation to the financing of UNFICYP, the Government of Cyprus voluntarily contributes 1/3 of the total cost of the Force.  This is an extremely heavy burden for the economy of a small country like Cyprus, a burden that is becoming even heavier this year with the exchange rate of the dollar against the Cypriot pound.  Also the Government of Cyprus, voluntarily contributes an additional 1/3 more than its assessed contributions to all UN Peacekeeping Operations, a further manifestation of our commitment to UN peacekeeping.  We also made a commitment to give up voluntarily the discount entitled under the present system, as our contribution to peacekeeping.  This issue is under review at the Fifth Committee.

We are also greatly concerned at the growing number of attacks and acts of violence against United Nations and associated personnel.  The entry into force of the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel will strengthen the capacity of the Forces to react to those acts but we need more on the level of information and public awareness to protect those who protect peace.

In my country a sober and poignant memorial to those that lost their lives wearing the blue helmet simply declares that it was done “in the Service of Peace”.  We need no more memorials like this one.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.