Members of the UN Security Council finally agreed on a draft for extending UNFICYP for another six months, with the US showing it could more easily get the attention of its peers next time if there is little progress in peace talks.
The draft for the UNFICYP’s mandate was put under silence Wednesday afternoon, after long and protracted consultations on the basis of a series of criteria set by the US concerning peace keeping missions around the world.
The US did not break the silence on Wednesday and it appears that the draft is heading for a vote Thursday with basically unanimity from all UNSC members.
The new text contains references to supporting confidence-building measures and calling for an increase in the number of women in UNFICYP.
In earlier consultations, the US proposed adding specific references to the draft to reflect timing benchmarks for an exit strategy tied to the political process
It further takes note of many different initiatives that foster dialogue between the communities such as the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the auspices of Sweden.
According to Kathimerini, the Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the United Nations, Cornelios Corneliou, was set to meet with the Swedish president of the UNSC to give the government’s consent to the peace forces remaining on the island.
The draft also contains new language, introduced by Poland, recognising the important work of the Bi-communal Technical Committee on Education and calling on both sides on the divided island to facilitate inter-communal youth contacts and cultural exchanges.
During earlier consultations, sources said the US proposed adding specific references to the draft to reflect timing benchmarks for an exit strategy tied to the political process.
The Jane Lute factor
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a previous report that UNFICYP played an important role in resolving military and civilian incidents in the buffer zone and that the mission’s liaison and engagement activities remain important.
But other members questioned the timing of additional criteria by the US, citing UN special envoy Jane Holl Lute who is still conversing with all parties involved with the Cyprus issue before reporting back to Guterres.
Observers said a similar conservation on benchmarks took place in July 2017 but members did not discuss the issue until later that year.
They also said if little progress is made in peace talks, the US could now more easily get the attention of its peers next time around.