The UN General Assembly passed on June 29 Georgia-sponsored resolution reiterating the right of return of all displaced persons and refugees to breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia by a vote of 57 in favor to 13 against, with 74 abstentions.
Georgia says that pushing the resolution annually on the Assembly aims at keeping the issue high on the international agenda and on the other hand at widening support towards such resolution.
In 2008 the resolution was passed with small margin of 14 votes in favor to 11 against and 105 abstentions. The following year 48 countries voted in favor; 19 – against, with 78 abstained. In 2010 margin widened slightly with 50 countries voting in favor and 17 – against, with 86 abstentions.
Armenia; Cuba; Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; Laos; Myanmar; Nicaragua; Russia; Serbia; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Syria; Venezuela and Vietnam voted against of the resolution on June 29, 2011.
Delegation from the smallest island nation of Nauru, which like Russia, Venezuela and Nicaragua recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia, was absent and did not take part in voting.
On top of those 50 countries (including Georgia itself), which voted in favor of the last year’s resolution, seven additional countries joined their support to this year’s resolution, including Antigua and Barbuda; Congo; Costa Rica; Guinea-Bissau; Maldives; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Vanuatu.
Vanuatu’s support comes after it recognized Abkhazia in May, but retracted its recognition shortly after change of government in this small island state in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean in June.
Other countries, which supported this year’s resolution were EU-member states and other Western European nations (Switzerland, which acts as a mediator between Georgia and Russia has abstained), as well as Australia; Azerbaijan; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; Japan; Malawi; Marshall Islands, Micronesia; Moldova; Montenegro; New Zealand; Tuvalu and the United States.
Turkey has abstained; Ukraine, which was among the supporters of similar resolutions in 2008 and 2009, and Iran, which voted against the resolutions in 2008 and 2009, did not vote this time.
Belarus, whose delegation was present at the session, said adoption of such a resolution in “condition of confrontation” would not help improving situation on the ground; its delegation said that it would not take part in the voting.
Georgia’s UN ambassador, Alexander Lomaia, welcomed the vote result saying that “with every year circle of support is widening.”
Like in previous years, the Russian delegation again slammed the resolution saying that it was politically motivated having nothing to do with humanitarian purposes. The Russian delegation said that the Geneva talks was a proper venue for discussion issue of displaced persons and refugees and if Georgia wanted to raise this issue at the UN General Assembly, representatives of Abkhazia and South Ossetia should also be given a chance to participate in such a decision at the UN.
Like the previous resolutions, the new one again calls for development of a timetable to ensure the return of all internally displaced persons and refugees and requests the UN Secretary General to submit a report on implementation of this resolution at the next, sixty-sixth General Assembly session.
In a recent report submitted last month, the UN Secretary General says that no timetable for the return of refugees and internally displaced persons has been developed “given the prevailing environment and continued discussions among the parties.”
“As long as conditions for organized returns in safety and dignity are not fulfilled and mechanisms for property restitution are not established, the design of a comprehensive timetable or road map for returns must remain an open matter,” the Secretary General said in the report.