This January, the Under-Secretary-General for UN Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, visited the three peacekeeping missions in the Middle East that are helping prevent further escalation of conflict in the region. The visit is one that he conducts regularly, but, on this occasion, it took place during an extraordinarily challenging time.
Mr. Lacroix’ visited the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) on the Golan, whose presence is critical to supervising the implementation of the 1974 Disengagement of Forces Agreement between Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic. Mr. Lacroix met with the UNDOF leadership and peacekeepers, as well as senior Syrian Government officials.
Mr. Lacroix also visited the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), where he met with Lebanese political and military leaders to discuss the important role of UNIFIL in supporting de-escalation across the Blue Line in southern Lebanon. He stressed the need for all actors to cease fire, recommit to UN Security Council Resolution 1701, and work toward a durable political and diplomatic solution, warning that the risk of a larger and more devastating conflict increases with the continuation of exchanges of fire each day.
The USG’s final stop was the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) in Jerusalem. UNTSO was established to supervise the implementation of the 1949 Israeli-Arab Armistice Agreements. Its work today includes liaising with governmental authorities, primarily military and security, to assist the parties to the Agreements in the supervision and observance of the terms of the remaining Armistice Agreements and deploying military observers to serve in Observer Groups Golan and Lebanon to assist in the implementation of the mandates of UNDOF and UNIFIL. In meetings with Israeli government and military officials, he discussed the work of UNIFIL, UNDOF and UNTSO.
Together, UNIFIL and UNDOF peacekeepers, with the support of UNTSO military observers, are working to de-escalate tensions in the region and are continuing to operate under very challenging conditions. The USG thanked the peacekeepers, past and present, for their service and commitment to the UN’s peace efforts.