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Statement by Lithuania on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic States: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden

Created: 2018.06.12 / Updated: 2018.06.13 00:01
    Statement by Lithuania on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic States: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden

    Agenda Item 35: Protracted conflicts in the GUAM area and their implications for international peace, security and development

    Draft Resolution A/72/L.55 on the “Status of internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia, and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia”

    Statement by Lithuania on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic States: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden

     

    Mr. President,

    I have the honour to speak on behalf of Baltic and Nordic States: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden and my own country Lithuania. Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Ireland, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia align themselves with this statement.

    The number of displaced persons and refugees around the world has reached unprecedented level, and is still growing as a result of armed conflicts, violence, persecution and human rights violations.

    We should not forget that at the heart of this negative phenomenon lie the fates of every affected person.

    Regrettably, Georgia is among the countries deeply affected by the problem of forced displacement. Ten years after the first adoption of the resolution on internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees from Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region /South Ossetia in Georgia, no progress is visible. Hundreds of thousands of them continue to be deprived of their right to a safe, dignified and voluntary return to their places of origin and their property rights.

    Prevention of forced displacement and pursuance of durable solutions for refugees and internally displaced persons were identified as one of the priorities of the UN Secretary-General in his report on the protection of civilians in armed conflicts (S/2018/462).

    In this context, we fully support Secretary-General’s call for renewed efforts not only to prevent displacement but also to address its root causes and to support affected communities.  

    The resolution we are adopting today clearly echoes Secretary-General’s goals and commits us all to continue working for the protection and assistance to those who have been forcibly displaced from the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia regions of Georgia, and to ensure that they are able to exercise their fundamental right to safe and dignified return.

    Mr. President,

    The human rights situation in these occupied regions of Georgia remains a cause of our continued concern. Russia continues to violate the commitments made in the August 12 and September 8, 2008, agreements by maintaining military presence in both the Abkhaz and Tskhinvali/South Ossetian regions of Georgia. Kidnappings, arbitrary detentions as a consequence of the ongoing ‘borderisation’, new restrictions on freedom of movement, lack of access to health care and to education in their native language have a direct negative impact for the daily life of hundreds of thousands of people affected by this protracted conflict.  

    Adoption of the resolution on the Cooperation with Georgia in the 37th session of the Human Rights Council clearly demonstrated that the international community remains seized of the matter, as it emphasized the need to address human rights and humanitarian issues faced by the persons displaced forcefully from Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia in Georgia.

    In this context, we remain concerned that in the past several years no international human rights monitoring mechanism has been granted unrestricted access to the regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia, and call for an immediate access for the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and other international and regional human rights mechanisms. 

    We reiterate our support to the process of Geneva international discussions and join the UN Secretary-General’s call to all relevant stakeholders to step up efforts to make a tangible progress on key security and humanitarian issues, to enable the improvement of the security and human rights situation and to meet the pressing humanitarian concerns of the affected population, including internally displaced persons.

    We take this opportunity to reaffirm our strong support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders.

    To conclude, Mr. President, given the lack of progress on the ground, we call for the UN’s continuous engagement. This resolution is a clear signal of our commitment to the people forcefully driven out of their homes. As in previous years, we shall vote in favour of the resolution and call on all of you to support it as well.

    I thank you.

    New York, 12 June 2018​

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