Georgia

Status of internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia, and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia - Report of the Secretary-General (A/70/879)

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I. Introduction

1. The present report is submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 69/286, in which the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to submit a comprehensive report at its seventieth session on the implementation of the resolution. The report covers the period from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016 and draws on information received from a number of United Nations entities.

2. In accordance with the provisions of the resolution, the report focuses on: (a) the right of return of all refugees and internally displaced persons and their descendants, regardless of ethnicity; (b) the prohibition of forced demographic changes; (c) humanitarian access; (d) the importance of preserving the property rights of refugees and internally displaced persons; and (e) the development of a timetable to ensure the prompt voluntary return of all refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes.

II. Background

3. Following an escalation of conflict in 1992-1993, which caused significant displacement of civilians, armed hostilities between the Georgian and Abkhaz sides ended with the signing in Moscow on 14 May 1994 of the Agreement on a Ceasefire and Separation of Forces (see S/1994/583 and Corr.1). The agreement was preceded by the signing in Moscow on 4 April 1994 of the quadripartite agreement on the voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons (see S/1994/397), in which the parties agreed to cooperate and interact in planning and conducting activities to safeguard and guarantee the safe, secure and dignified return of people who had fled from areas in the conflict zone to the areas of their previous permanent residence. Armed hostilities between the Georgian and South Ossetian sides ended with the 24 June 1992 Sochi Agreement, which established a ceasefire between the Georgian and South Ossetian forces and the creation of the Joint Control Commission and Joint Peacekeeping Forces.

4. Following the hostilities which started in the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia on 7 and 8 August 2008, the six-point ceasefire agreement of 12 August 2008 and the implementing measures of 8 September 2008 (see S/2008/631, paras. 7-15), international discussions were launched in Geneva on 15 October 2008, co-chaired by representatives of the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations (see S/2009/69 and Corr.1, paras. 5-7). In accordance with the above-mentioned agreement, the international discussions were to address the issues of security and stability and the return of internally displaced persons and refugees. By the end of the reporting period, 35 rounds of the Geneva international discussions had been held, with participants meeting in two parallel working groups.

5. In June 2011, the General Assembly, in its resolution 65/288, approved the budget for the United Nations Representative to the Geneva International Discussions. The establishment of a special political mission has facilitated the continued engagement of the United Nations in the Geneva process. The United Nations Representative and his team are responsible for preparing, in consultation with the Co-Chairs, the sessions of the Geneva international discussions. In December 2015, the General Assembly, in its resolution 70/249 A, appropriated the including for the United Nations Representative to the Geneva International Discussions. Moreover, in my report on estimates in respect of special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives authorized by the General Assembly and/or the Security Council, I included among the proposed resource requirements for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2016 the United Nations Representative to the Geneva International Discussions, which has an open-ended mandate (see A/70/348 and Add.1).

6. The United Nations Representative to the Geneva International Discussions and his team are also responsible for preparing, convening and facilitating the periodic meetings of the Joint Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism under United Nations auspices in Gali (see S/2009/254, paras. 5 and 6). The most recent (35th) meeting of the Mechanism took place on 23 March 2012, and the meetings, unfortunately, have not been resumed since. After multiple efforts, including my consistent calls to resume the work of the Mechanism, participants reached a tentative agreement to resume the meetings of the Mechanism at the thirty-fifth round of the Geneva international discussions, held on 23 March 2016. I welcome this decision. As long as the Mechanism remains suspended, the risk of escalation and incidents on the ground exists. While recognizing the efforts by the United Nations Representative and his team to engage with all relevant stakeholders for incident prevention and response during the four-year period of suspension, I am hopeful that meetings of the Mechanism will restart without delay and will contribute to maintaining a stable and calm situation on the ground.