UN General Assembly approves Georgia’s IDP resolution

A 90 year-old displaced woman from Gali, Georgia Abkhazia, lives in an IDP shelter. Daron D'Souza, 2011.
Agenda.ge, 06 Jun 2014 - 15:39, Tbilisi,Georgia

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly has passed Georgia’sresolution that underlined "the urgent need for unimpeded access for humanitarian activities” in Georgia’s breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The Assembly met in New York, USA, yesterday and voted in favour of Georgia’s annual resolution, which condemned the forceful expulsion of people from their homes and emphasized the rights of all internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees to return to their place of origin and have their property rights respected and protected.

The resolution, titled ‘Status of Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia and the Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, Georgia’, passed after 69 countries voted in favour, 13 voted against and 79 abstained.

Georgia’s Foreign Ministry Maia Panjikidze said she was very happy with the outcome of the vote and said this year’s results were better than previous years.

Last year, a similar resolution passed after 63 countries voted in favour (officially recorded as 62, but the Azerbaijani representative said his country’s vote in favour had not appeared on the screen), to 16 against, with 84 abstentions.  

Minister Panjikidze said a positive trend showing increased support of Georgia’s resolution proved the international community were becoming more aware of the issues in Georgia’s breakaway regions and the fundamental rights of persons forcefully displaced from Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

"Georgia’s foreign diplomacy did a good job at international level [and] I would like to thank all those countries which supported the resolution,” Panjikidze added.

Russia has consistently voted against the resolution, and claimed the document was "politically motivated” which "does not contribute” to solving the problems in the breakaway regions.

Moscow condemned the resolution and urged the UN General Assembly to involve Abkhazian and South Ossetian representatives in UN discussions if they wanted to raise the issue of IDPs within the Assembly.

However Georgia was against including breakaway region representatives in the talks and said de-facto government officials had no right to participate in such discussions.

"Regretfully, the Russian Federation once again attempted to politicize the issue of the return of refugees and of respect of other fundamental rights,” said Georgia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry today.

The countries which voted against the resolution were: Armenia, Belarus, Cuba, Laos, Myanmar, Nauru, Nicaragua, North Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Sudan and Vietnam.

Representatives from Venezuela, which along with Russia, Nicaragua and Nauru, recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, were not present in the chamber during the vote.

Serbia, which in previous years voted against the resolution, abstained this time.

Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Honduras and Costa Rica were usually among the countries which abstained from the vote but yesterday, they voted in favour of the resolution.

The resolution condemned the demographic changes made by force in the occupied regions, emphasizing the right of all internally displaced persons and refugees, regardless of ethnicity, to a safe and dignified return to their places of origin, and focusing upon the need to fully respect and protect their property rights.

The document called on participants of the Geneva Discussions to make efforts to improve the level of security in the breakaway regions and improve the state of human rights. This would, in turn, facilitate the return of IDPs to their homes.

The resolution also underlined the urgent need for unhampered humanitarian activities to take place in the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions. This provision was particularly important as occupying forces continued to block humanitarian missions and international groups from entering the occupied territories.

On a final note, the resolution requested the UN Secretary General must present an annual report on the status of Georgian IDPs to members of the General Assembly each year.