Magazine article UN Chronicle

Peace Process Gathering New Momentum

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Peace Process Gathering New Momentum

Article excerpt

Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali hailed the Agreement on Social and Economic Aspects and Agrarian Situation in Guatemala between the Government and the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (URNG), signed on 6 May, and declared that the Guatemalan peace process was "gathering new momentum".

The cessation of hostilities announced by both parties in March had continued and the suspension, as of 6 May, of the practice of "war tax" by the URNG would broaden support for the peace process within Guatemala, he stated. Advances in negotiations would, in turn, "facilitate the difficult struggle against impunity" to which the Government of President Alvaro Arzu was committed.

Better prospects for an early peace, Mr. Boutros-Ghali said, would also greatly enhance the impact and effectiveness of the UN Human Rights Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA), established on 19 September 1994 by General Assembly resolution 48/267.

In congratulating the parties on their achievements, the Secretary-General encouraged them to "build upon these developments as they begin consideration of the next item on the negotiations agenda, namely `Strengthening civilian power and the role of the army in a democratic society'".

Based on a "shared perception that conflict resolution is inseparable from significant change in social and economic policy", the parties had agreed on measures to: permit wider participation in decision-making at all levels; increase and redirect government spending towards social development; promote a more efficient and equitable agrarian structure; modernize public administration; and produce a sustained increase in public revenue.

"At the heart of the strategies outlined in the Agreement is the concept, consistent with the thinking of the United Nations, that enhanced social participation in policy-making is key both to improved social justice and to sustainable economic growth", the Secretary-General stated.

The Agreement-would enter into force with the signing of an Agreement on a Firm and Lasting Peace, which was to culminate the process of negotiations held under UN auspices since January 1994. At the parties' request and subject to UN authorization, MINUGUA would expand its activities to cover verification of all agreements reached, Mr. Boutros-Ghali said.

Praiseworthy steps

In welcoming the 20 March announcement by the URNG that it was "suspending temporarily offensive military operations" and the response of President Arzu, who was "issuing instructions to the Army to cease counter-insurgency operations", Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali on 21 March said those were "praiseworthy new steps" towards a "strengthening of the rule of law and a gradual demilitarization of political life" in Guatemala. …

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