Georgia-South Ossetia-Russia: Proposals for Immediate Steps to be taken to End Hostilities and Address Humanitarian Impacts
Author: Kai Brand-Jacobsen
Originally Published at Peace and Conflict Monitor on 08/22/2008
The crisis in Georgia-South Ossetia has left civilian casualties and the potential for further regional expansion of the conflict. Continuation of the fighting will have negative immediate and long-term consequences for all parties and civilian populations in the region.
Immediate steps should be taken by all concerned actors, including the Russian Federation, Georgia, the EU, the United States, the OSCE and Council of Europe and members of the UN Security Council, as well as the authorities in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, to bring about the cessation of hostilities, to uphold international and humanitarian law, and to prevent further escalation of the fighting.
Realizing a cease-fire and guaranteeing humanitarian assistance reaches those in need should be an immediate priority. Support should be given for all local, national and international efforts to resolve the conflict by peaceful, negotiated means. Steps should be taken, both now and in the coming months, to bring about a lasting resolution of the conflict in Georgia-South Ossetia based upon a mutually acceptable outcome meeting the legitimate needs and concerns of all parties involved.
The Department of Peace Operations proposes the following immediate steps to be taken to bring about the de-escalation of the conflict and to enable humanitarian assistance to reach those in need:
1. An immediate cease-fire and cessation in the fighting 2. All armed forces involved in the hostilities to cease-fire and cease offensive actions, enabling a controlled withdrawal reverting to troop and equipment numbers mandated for each side in the Security Zone 3. Support for the French and Finnish Foreign Ministers and EU mission to support an immediate cessation of the violence and their four point proposals for: a. An immediate Cease-Fire b. Guaranteeing of Humanitarian Access to Reach Affected Populations and Those in Need c. Controlled Withdrawal of Troops d. Return to a Political Process 4. Neighboring Countries and Friends and Allies of Georgia and Russia should encourage both countries to take reasonable and appropriate steps to bring about a cessation in the fighting and to halt all further military operations 5. The United Nations Security Council should continue talks on a resolution to support the search for a peaceful, negotiated solution to the Georgia-South Ossetia conflict, including an immediate cease-fire, stopping of all offensive military actions, guaranteeing humanitarian assistance and access for humanitarian organizations, and a controlled troop withdrawal 6. Support should be expressed to all the civil society groups on the ground that are responding to the situation in terms of urgent humanitarian assistance and support for peace efforts
Government leaders and spokespersons, both for those directly involved in the conflict and their allies internationally, should refrain from aggressive and violent language threatening to escalate the conflict further and should take determined and appropriate steps to support a cease-fire and long-term negotiated settlement and resolution of the conflict.
Investment and support to a meaningful and effective peace process, including immediate measures in the coming months to mitigate the negative outcomes and results of the fighting on all sides and to strengthen commitment to an authentic resolution to the conflict should be made a priority for all governments and national and international actors in the region.
To mitigate fall-out from the conflict and possible continued fighting and to contribute to a necessary and meaningful process to address the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict the Department of Peace Operations proposes:
1. Continued engagement by the EU with Russia, Georgia and other regional and international actors to bring about a cessation in fighting, learning the lessons from previous mediation efforts and ensuring clarity of objectives, engagement with all actors, and the necessary support and political will to follow the mission through
2. Commitment from EU, CIS, OSCE and Council of Europe members to support meaningful, multi-partial engagement with all parties to the conflict to bring about a lasting and sustainable resolution of the conflict
3. Controlled withdrawal by Russia of all additional forces deployed subsequent to the escalation of the conflict and refraining from all offensive military operations and any actions outside its roles and responsibilities under its mandate as a peacekeeper within the Security Zone
4. Controlled withdrawal by Georgia of additional forces deployed subsequent to the escalation of the conflict and refraining from all offensive military operations
5. Deployment of a Conflict and Situation Assessment Mission to meet with actors on all sides and key international actors to assess the current situation and to prepare practical proposals and steps which can be taken to contribute to the development of a meaningful process to bring about a lasting resolution of the conflict and to address the fall-out and impact of the recent violence and destruction of property and civilian infrastructure
6. Engagement by the UN, Governments and and Non-Governmental Organizations in Europe and internationally to provide humanitarian support to all affected populations, including facilitation of refugee return to areas affected by military action on all sides and provision of humanitarian aid and commitments to rebuild affected housing and civilian infrastructure, and to support and encourage citizens and leaders in the countries involved to bring about an immediate cessation of hostilities and determined commitment to a negotiated process to resolve the conflict
Additionally, the Department of Peace Operations proposes: 1. A thorough review of measures and steps taken by state and non-state actors to date to address the conflict from the early 90s to today to assess lessons learned, address short-comings, and improve future efforts 2. A comprehensive conflict assessment to bring forward the needs and perspectives of all actors, including leadership and populations, and their views on the history of the conflict, previous attempts at resolution, and the parameters of an acceptable settlement 3. Increased coordination, cooperation and engagement by state and non-state actors involved in efforts to contribute to a peaceful resolution of the conflict 4. Initiation of meetings between middle and high-level representatives of the conflict parties through quiet diplomacy and back channels to enable reasoned analysis and discussion of concrete steps that can be taken to mitigate negative fall-out from the fighting, address and recognize concerns and legitimate grievances and goals, and bring about a meaningful political process to address the conflict
TO ALL SIDES IN THE JOINT CONTROL COMMISSION – Georgia, South Ossetia, North Ossetia, Russian Federation:
1. To cease hostilities and all offensive military operations and bring about a controlled withdrawal and reduction of troop levels to their situation prior to the escalation of hostilities 2. To enable humanitarian assistance to affected populations and those in need, including freedom of movement for humanitarian traffic and ensuring full access to water, food and medical services 3. To refrain from violent, aggressive and escalating language and political statements 4. To take meaningful and practical steps to contribute to a political process to bring about an authentic resolution of the conflict addressing legitimate needs and goals of all actors 5. To take practical steps in accordance with international law for the protection and guarantee of the human rights and human security of the civilian population
TO THE EUROPEAN UNION AND OSCE
1. To support the engagement of the French and Finnish Foreign Ministers to engage all actors in bringing about a cessation of hostilities, humanitarian access, controlled withdrawal of troops and a return to a political process 2. To use all channels and levers of engagement with the parties to support a cease-fire and encourage practical steps to contribute to the de-escalation of the conflict 3. To ensure a consistent peacebuilding approach, respecting the needs and interests of all actors and engaging to support the peaceful resolution of the conflict 4. To increase support for practical programs and steps by states and non-state actors to prevent further escalation of the fighting and violence, to support a cease-fire, to contribute to the protection of human rights and human security, and to strengthen efforts to bring about a meaningful and mutually acceptable solution to the conflict through peaceful means
TO THE UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL AND MEMBER STATES OF THE UN
1. To call upon all parties to the conflict to bring about an immediate cessation of hostilities, allow humanitarian access, controlled withdrawal of troops and return to a political process 2. To support the engagement of the EU in bringing about an immediate end to hostilities and a return to a political process 3. For the Peacebuilding Commission, Peace Support Office and Mediation Support Unit of the Department of Political Affairs to provide support over the medium and long-term to contribute to a meaningful and authentic mediation and political resolution process together with civil society engagement and people-to-people and multi-track peacebuilding
TO THE UNITED STATES 1. To call upon all parties to the conflict to bring about an immediate cessation of hostilities, allow humanitarian access, controlled withdrawal of troops and return to a political process 2. To support the engagement of the EU in bringing about an immediate end to hostilities and a return to a political process 3. To use its influence and relations with all parties involved to prevent from taking further steps which may escalate the conflict
TO NGOS AND CIVIL SOCIETY ACTORS IN THE CONFLICT ZONE & INTERNATIONALLY
1. To call upon all parties to the conflict to bring about an immediate cessation of hostilities, allow humanitarian access, controlled withdrawal of troops and return to a political process 2. To meet with Government and Foreign Ministry authorities in their country to ensure a humanitarian, multi-partial and peacebuilding oriented approach and response to the conflict including in public statements and press releases, policy advocacy and proposals, and concrete actions 3. To agree to a common minimum platform of proposals which can be taken up by NGOs in their countries and internationally to contribute to bringing about a cease-fire and enable an authentic political process to address the conflict with the inclusion of civil society and the needs and interests of all affected populations 4. To provide support and visibility to practical actions and steps taken by NGOs and civil society organizations on all sides affected by the conflict to contribute to peacebuilding, provision of humanitarian assistance, and calls for a cease fire 5. To coordinate efforts nationally and internationally to increase political and public focus on the need for an immediate cease fire and for governments to promote policies to bring about an immediate cessation of hostilities, including non-escalation of the conflict and refraining from polarizing and escalating language 6. For International NGOs & Civil Society – to send messages of support to partner organizations and affected populations on all sides of the conflict 7. For International NGOs & Civil Society – to contact partner organizations and institutions on the ground in Georgia – South Ossetia – Russia to ask for their recommendations and proposals for appropriate actions which should be taken 8. To meet one on one with contacts amongst Governments and NGOs in the countries affected to inquire as to what can be done and to encourage appropriate and responsible steps to de-escalate the conflict 9. To engage with media in their own countries to encourage balanced and appropriate coverage of the conflict and to refrain from partial or conflict-escalating reporting and coverage, and to encourage media to focus effectively on what is being done to address and resolve the conflict
TO THE MEDIA 1. To ensure balanced, quality coverage and reporting of all sides and perspectives on the conflict 2. To also include the voices of civil society, professional peacebuilding organisations – including Conciliation Resources (UK), International Alert (UK), the International Crisis Group (Belgium), the International Center on Conflict and Negotiation (Georgia) – and those engaged in working to address the conflict on all sides 3. To help make visible all parties perspectives on the causes and roots of the conflict as well as parameters and conditions for a resolution 4. To ensure proper coverage of efforts to provide and guarantee humanitarian assistance to affected populations and to ensure that space for humanitarian assistance and traffic is guaranteed by all parties
Bio: Kai Frithjof Brand-Jacobsen is a practicing peaceworker, and founder and Director of the Peace Action, Training and Research Institute of Romania (PATRIR). More of his work can be found at www.patrir.ro