Iran-Iraq Ceasefire: UN Conducts Peace Talks in Geneva, New York

UN Chronicle, December 1988 | Go to article overview

Iran-Iraq Ceasefire: UN Conducts Peace Talks in Geneva, New York


After eight years of fierce and bloody fighting between Iran and Iraq which claimed hundreds

of thousands -of lives, a United Nations-sponsored cease-fire went into effect on 20 August. A first round of direct talks between the two nations began on 25 August at the Palais des Nations in Geneva; a second round, after a month-long hiatus, on 1 October in New York.

The aim: a comprehensive, just and honourable settlement of all outstanding issues.

In August, some 350 blue-helmeted and unarmed UN military observers from 26 countries-a new UN peace-keeping unit known as "UNIIMOG" the United Nations Iran-Iraq Military Observer Group-manned observation posts along the 740-mile border between the two States.

The Security Council on 9 August adopted resolution 619 (1988) unanimously, establishing UNIIMOG for an initial period of six months. The task of the unarmed troops: to supervise the cease-fire and withdrawal of troops to internationally recognized boundaries. Major-General Slavko Jovic of Yugoslavia was named its Chief Military Observer.

At an 8 August Security Council meeting, the Secretary-General announced what he called "DDay" 0300 hours GMT, 20 August-the starting time for the cease-fire. He called upon Iran and Iraq to "discontinue all military action on land, at sea and in the air". He set 25 August as the date to launch peace talks in Geneva. (The Secretary-General's announcement was preceded by talks with the Iranian and Iraqi Foreign Ministers on the implementation of resolution 598

A technical team, headed by Lieutenant-General Martin Vadset, Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), had visited the region from 25 July through 2 August to work out the modalities of a cease-fire.

On 17 August, the General Assembly met in resumed session to approve $35.7 million for the first three months of UNIIMOG operations. Of that, some $20.6 million would come &om permanent Security Council members; $14.1 million from economically developed UN Member States not permanent Council members; the remaining $17,493 from economically less developed Member States. By resolution 42/233, the Assembly also invited voluntary contributions, both in cash and in the form of services and supplies,

The Secretary-General commended the Assembly for dealing quickly with financial arrangements, thus strengthening the process for lasting peace between Iran and Iraq.

It had been estimated that the operation would cost some $74 million for the first six months, to be paid by UN Member States, on a sliding scale, under a Special Account.

On 1 September, the SecretaryGeneral named Jan K. Eliasson, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations in New York, as his Personal Representative on issues pertaining to the implementation of resolution 598. Mr. Eliasson had accompanied the late Prime Minister of Sweden, Olof Palme, on missions to Iran and Iraq on behalf of the United Nations from 1980 to 1986.

On 28 September, the SecretaryGeneral briefed the Foreign Ministers of the five permanent members of the Security Council on the ongoing peace process, after which the Ministers-from China, France, United Kingdom, USSR and United States-expressed their conviction that the parties now had before them "the opportunity to reach a comprehensive, just and honourable and durable peace", and urged "substantive and continuous talks".

Details of new force

The Secretary-General reported (SI20093) that the force would need up to 350 military observers, as well as military support staff and air and naval units. It would investigate violations and try to prevent, through negotiation, any change in the status quo after the two sides had withdrawn to the internationally recognized boundaries.

The force would also try to obtain the agreement of the parties to other arrangements to reduce tension and build confidence, until a comprehensive settlement could be reached. …

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