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UN General Assembly passes IDP resolution

By Ana Robakidze
Monday, June 17
The sixth non-binding resolution on the right of return of all displaced persons and refugees to the breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia was passed by the UN General Assembly on June 13th.

The resolution received 63 votes in favor and 16 against, 84 countries decide to abstain. Russia strongly opposed the resolution.

The document focuses on improving the existing security and human rights conditions in the occupied regions and underscores the urgent need for humanitarian activities to take place in the conflict regions. The resolution advises the participants of the Geneva Negotiations to focus on security and human rights protections, as this will facilitate the return of IDPs to their homes. The document also requests that the UN Secretary-general present an annual report on the status of these IDPs to the General Assembly.

The resolution strictly condemns forced movements of individuals and forced demographic changes. "International human rights standards, as they have evolved in recent decades, provide guidance on managed population movements, including evacuations, and thereby strictly limit forced movements, including those that result in demographic change. Under principle 6 of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, every human being has the right to be protected against arbitrary displacement from his or her home or place of habitual residence," the resolution says.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia states that the resolution "reasserts the fundamental rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs)."

"It is noteworthy that compared to 2012, the number of those among the General Assembly who supported the resolution grew by two states. Regretfully, the Russian Federation once again attempted to politicize the issue of the return of refugees and of respect for other fundamental rights," the MFA says in the statement.

Panjikidze commented before the assembly session that the resolution has a purely humanitarian sense. It emphasizes the importance of the safe return of internally displaced persons to their homes. “In recent years it has been the subject of intensive work, and we hope that, considering the humanitarian goals of the resolution, the international community will again support the resolution at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly on June 13,” Panjikidze said.

President Mikheil Saakashvili congratulated the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with another UN resolution on the status of IDPs.

"I want to congratulate the adoption of the resolution by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the minister and the deputy minister, who worked on this. I also want to thank our mission to the UN and the former ambassador to the UN Alexander Lomaia,” Saakashvili said, stressing that this year's resolution was supported by more countries than in the past which is “a good trend.”

The de-facto Ministries of Foreign Affairs in Abkhazia and South Ossetia released their statements regarding the resolution. The Foreign Ministry of South Ossetia calls the resolution unacceptable and does not match the reality that South Ossetia and Abkhazia are mentioned in the resolution as part of Georgia.

Both the Georgian authorities and opposition agree on the importance of the UN resolution. Georgia has been pushing the resolution regarding the IDPs' status at General Assembly sessions every year since 2008. Even though the resolution is non-binding, Georgian representatives say it is still of high importance, as it helps to maintain the issues of IDPs on the international agenda.