The FINANCIAL — The UN General Assembly within its 74th session has adopted the Resolution on „Status of Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia and the Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, Georgia” that was initiated by Georgia and 53 sponsoring states. The General Assembly has been adopting the Resolution consecutively since 2008. The human rights situation in the occupied regions of Georgia remains a cause of serious concern. Amid the global struggle against coronavirus pandemic and despite the UN Secretary General’s call for global ceasefire, the Russian occupation forces continue their illegal activities in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia.
Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia has posted on his official Twitter account that the United Nations’ recently adopted resolution on Georgian IDPs and refugees from the Russia-occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) regions is a ‘clear success of the Flag of Georgia diplomacy’. The General Assembly has adopted the resolution continuously since 2008, ‘reaffirming the fundamental rights of forcefully displaced persons, first and foremost their right of voluntary, safe and dignified return to their homes’. The resolution condemns forced demographic changes in the occupied regions, emphasizes the right of all internally displaced persons and refugees, regardless of their ethnicity, to a safe and dignified return to their places of origin, and focuses upon the need to fully respect and protect their property rights. It further reiterates the importance of ‘unimpeded humanitarian access’ in both Russia-occupied Georgian regions, as agenda.ge reported.
The resolution calls upon the participants of the Geneva International Discussions ‘to reinvigorate their efforts to ensure security and human rights protection in the occupied regions, which in turn will facilitate the return of IDPs and refugees to their homes’. Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani has thanked all of the states that voted for the resolution. He said the presentation of this resolution on behalf of Georgia ‘should be viewed as a big success-story’ considering ‘unprecedented restrictions’ imposed throughout the world amid the coronavirus pandemic. The resolution was passed with 84 votes in favor, 13 against and 78 abstention, according to agenda.ge
“Georgia has never had this kind of support. Despite the pandemic restrictions, Georgia was able to do its best and once again gained support for a paramount resolution. The resolution reiterated the right of return of all displaced persons and refugees to Georgia’s Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, While the UN suspended work amid pandemic, Georgian diplomats did the impossible and used all the mechanisms to the fullest,” Zalkaniani added.
Similar non-binding resolutions have been passed by the UN General Assembly for thirteen years in a row – the first one was in respect of Abkhazia and all the following ones in respect of both Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia. In 2019, 79 countries voted in favor, 15 against, with 57 abstentions. In 2018, 81 countries voted in favor, 16 against, with 62 abstentions. In 2017, 80 countries voted in favor to 14 against, with 61 abstentions. Along with the Russian Federation, the following countries voted against the resolution this year: Belarus; Burundi; Cuba; North Korea; Laos; Myanmar; Nicaragua; Sudan; Syria; Vietnam and Zimbabwe. Nauru and Venezuela that voted against in 2019 did not show up this year. Bolivia, El Salvador and Madagascar, which abstained in 2019, switched to support. Comoros switched from against in 2019 to support this year. Eswatini, which supported in 2019 did not show up. Panama, that supported the resolution the last year, switched to abstention, as reported by civil.ge
The Nordic and Baltic States have joined the statement on the adoption of UNGA resolution “Status of internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia, and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia and take this opportunity to reaffirm their strong support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders, reads the statement published on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania. The Nordic and Baltic States stressed that they concur with Secretary General’s findings that no tangible progress has been achieved regarding the voluntary, safe, dignified and unhindered return of internally displaced persons and refugees on the basis of international law and internationally recognized principles. The Nordic and Baltic States pointed out that the adoption of the resolution on the Cooperation with Georgia in the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council clearly demonstrated that the international community remains seized on the matter, as it emphasizes the need to address human rights and humanitarian issues faced by the persons forcefully displaced from Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia in Georgia. Moreover, Nordic and Baltic States emphasized the importance of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms in Ergneti and Gali and the role they can have in solving the most acute issues on the ground, Georgian Public Broadcasting wrote.
Adoption of the Resolution during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the work of the United Nations, highlights even stronger the importance of the issue and the urgency of the humanitarian message. The Resolution condemns the forced demographic changes in the occupied regions, emphasizes the right of all internally displaced persons and refugees, regardless of their ethnicity, to a safe and dignified return to their places of origin, and focuses upon the need to fully respect and protect their property rights. The Resolution reiterates the importance of unimpeded humanitarian access in the regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region. Apart from the humanitarian context, the Resolution has a practical significance as it tasks the UN Secretary-General to prepare an annual report on the situation of internally displaced persons residing in Georgia as well as on the implementation of this resolution. The above-mentioned has even greater importance in the light of the deploring human right situation in the occupied territories in the absence of international human rights monitoring mechanisms, which constitutes one of the impediments to the safe and dignified return of forcefully displaced persons.
The Resolution calls upon the participants of the Geneva International Discussions to reinvigorate their efforts to ensure security and human rights protection in the occupied regions, which in turn will facilitate the return of IDPs and refugees to their homes. Adoption of the Resolution by the General Assembly highlights that the situation in Georgia still remains on the agenda of the world’s most important forum. The diplomatic service of Georgia will continue its effort on the international arena to protect the fundamental rights of IDPs and refugees who were displaced as a result of ethnic cleansing, as this issue, that implies the full de-occupation of Georgia’s Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions and ensuring the safe and dignified return of the internally displaced persons, is and will continue to be the main priority of Georgian Government until its final resolution.