Republic of Moldova speaking on behalf
of Georgia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan – GUAM Holding the chairmanship of 2014 of the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development (GUAM) at the UN General Assembly Plenary meeting on the Agenda Item 34 “Protracted conflicts in the GUAM area and their implications for international peace, security and development’
on the draft resolution A/68/L.47 on “Status of internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia”
This is the seventh consecutive year that action is to be taken on the draft resolution before us since its first introduction to the General Assembly and it is regrettable that many security, human rights and humanitarian challenges in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia still remain unresolved.
The GUAM Member States are convinced that the humanitarian concerns of the affected population, including internally displaced persons, continues to be a priority, and that this issue has to be addressed as soon as possible. We are disappointed that no substantial progress has been made in the areas of security, human rights or the humanitarian field concerning the internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. Moreover, since the last adoption of the resolution, the situation has deteriorated further, creating additional impediments to the rights of internally displaced persons.
The matter of our particular concern remains the continued fencing activity along the administrative boundary lines, as well as continuing detentions and occurrence of constant illegal and artificial impediments to the freedom of movement, such as denying the population the access to their homes and farmlands, possibility of timely medical evacuation, as well as proper access to schools. In this context, the GUAM views positively Georgia’s strategy for engagement through cooperation, which aims to build trust and confidence among divided communities.
We, the GUAM Member States reiterate our well-established position that the way to resolve longstanding issues is through a negotiated, mutually agreed approach, on the basis of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders.
We believe that the Geneva discussions are an important forum for strengthening stability in Georgia and for making progress on the security, humanitarian and other remaining challenges, as the Secretary-General himself puts it in his most recent report (A/68/868) of May 2014. Draft resolution A/68/L.47 calls for the intensification of the current talks in order to create the conditions for safe and dignified return of internally displaced persons and refugees to their places of origin. We appreciate the role of the annual reporting by the Secretary-General, pursuant to General Assembly resolutions, as it is a useful tool for maintaining international
community’s much needed involvement in and attention to the issue of the internally displaced persons. Only addressing it in an urgent manner, including by the General Assembly, will contribute to its solution.
The GUAM Member States stress their call for an unimpeded access by humanitarian actors to the displaced population and those living in Abkhazia, Georgia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia. We regret the absence of any internationally mandated monitoring mechanism in those areas. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay during her visit to Georgia made efforts to visit Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and once again her access was denied, thus preventing any monitoring of the respect for basic human rights there, expressing her concern about the isolation and fencing of South Ossetia in particular, that further impedes the right to freedom of movement for IDPs, and the enjoyment of rights to property, water, health, education and access to religious and cultural sites. In recent weeks, two more villages have been cut off from South Ossetia by the expanding barrier.
The draft resolution before us forms the fundamental basis for return of human rights to all those evicted from the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions and aims to encourage the participants in the Geneva talks to renew their efforts to create the necessary conditions, conducive to people’s voluntary, safe and dignified return. Freedom of movement, property and access to basic services are basic rights that do not impede or interfere with political processes, and are rather a support for a resolution process based on the respect of rights of all parties involved.
Taking into account these principles, and having in mind that the main goal of the draft resolution A/68/L.47 is respecting the right of safe and dignified return for the IDP’s and refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia and the Tskhinvaii region/South Ossetia, Georgia, the GUAM Member States consider it as a humanitarian in nature and will vote in favor of it. Our decision arises from our strong and long-standing commitment to fundamental humanitarian principles, including the right to return, property rights and humanitarian access.
5 June 2014, NY