Representatives Voice Mixed Feelings about Use of ‘Smart’ Technology in Operations
The cooperation and input of host countries was vital to the success of United Nations peacekeeping operations, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) heard today, while continuing its general debate on the comprehensive review of United Nations peacekeeping.
Venezuela’s representative expressed concern that decisions on the deployment of peacekeeping operations often did not take the vision or concerns of either troop- and police‑contributing or host countries into account, emphasizing that they should be able to participate actively in such decisions of the Security Council. Referring to the efforts of peacekeeping operations in protecting civilians, he called for the strengthening of deterrent capacity, while underlining that their civilian‑protection activities could not substitute the central role of the host State.
Turning to the increasing use of smart technology, he noted that while it often made a positive contribution to a mission’s effectiveness, they could also present a threat to the sovereignty of host States. Clear norms must therefore be established to regulate and protect the confidentiality of government communications and prevent invasive tactics that could violate international law, he stressed.
Cuba’s representative also called attention to the use of new technology, observing that legitimate concerns had been raised about the use of drones in United Nations operations. She called for an examination of the legal and technical aspects of their use, emphasizing that the use of drones could complement the work of peacekeeping troops on the ground, but not substitute their efforts.
She went on to emphasize that the creation of new and complex peacekeeping operations was no substitute for addressing the root causes of a conflict, adding that such operations could not represent an end in themselves, but must instead be a temporary part of a security framework as well as a long-term strategy. Otherwise, it would become impossible to break the vicious cycle of conflict with the attendant high human and material costs, she warned.
Namibia’s representative said peacekeeping operations should try to meet the needs of host countries by providing tailored help in building security capacity and supporting their pursuit of self‑reliant development. Namibia hoped the United Nations and the African Union would implement their joint framework on enhanced partnership in peace and security, intended to enhance cooperation in preventing conflict and managing crises, as well as on post‑conflict reconstruction, he said, declaring: “Africa must be supported in pursuance of African solutions to African problems”.
Nigeria’s representative, however, called upon host authorities to do much more to ensure the safety of peacekeeping mission personnel and facilities. “Peacekeepers must be protected before they can offer protection to the population”, he pointed out, saying regular consultations between missions and host‑country authorities would help to build confidence and trust. The latter must understand that mission premises and facilities must remain inviolable at all times.
Sudan’s representative noted that despite the successes of resolutions on the role of host countries, such guidelines were not always crystallized because United Nations entities sometimes failed to include host countries in decision‑making.
Costa Rica’s representative said the cooperation of the host country, regional cooperation and commitment, as well as broad, transparent operations had been the key to that country’s successful participation in three peacekeeping missions. Indeed, operations must be tailor‑made to support political strategies in each individual conflict situation, he said.
The Russian Federation’s representative underlined the importance of strict compliance with core peacekeeping principles and cautioned against excessively robust mandates, as in the case of the operation in Mali, where soldiers had been lost. The Russian Federation also objected to the engagement of peacekeeping operations in offensive or counter‑terrorism measures, she said, stressing that mandates must be clear, realistic and in accordance with United Nations goals.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Syria, Mexico, Argentina, Egypt, Bangladesh, Jordan, Switzerland, Sri Lanka, China, United Kingdom, Cambodia, Cyprus, Lebanon, Eritrea, Ukraine and South Africa.
Representatives of Israel and Syria spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 27 October, to continue its general debate on the comprehensive review of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects.
NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said lasting peace was achieved through political resolution, not military solutions. He called for a periodic review mechanism that would ensure that peacekeeping operations could continue to play the role expected of them. Namibia considered sustainable peace and development to be mutually reinforcing and interdependent and, as such, looked forward to intensifying cooperation with United Nations offices in Southern Africa and internationally to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he said. Peacekeeping operations should also undertake efforts to meet the needs of host countries, providing tailored help in building security capacity and support in their pursuit of self‑reliant development. “Africa must be supported in pursuance of African solutions to African problems”, he emphasized, expressing hope that the United Nations and the African Union would fully implement their joint framework on enhanced partnership in peace and security so as to enhance cooperation in preventing conflict, managing crises and post‑conflict reconstruction, among other areas.
MOUNZER MOUNZER (Syria), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, emphasized that peacekeeping operations must respect the Charter principles on the importance of State sovereignty, territorial integrity and non‑interference in domestic affairs. Noting that Syria had always supported updating and modernizing peacekeeping operations at all levels, he stressed, however, that they could not substitute a lasting solution to conflict, which required addressing the root causes in a meaningful and objective manner. He also stressed that the protection of civilians must not be used as a pretext for interfering in the domestic affairs of other States. Noting that the initial phases of the implementation of a two‑stage redeployment of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) had begun, he said peacekeeping operations in that region represented a burden to the United Nations budget and resources, calling upon the Organization to exert pressure on Israel to end its aggression there. He went on to recall his delegation’s warnings to the United Nations that Israel’s support for terrorist groups linked to Al‑Qaida threatened peacekeepers and their mandate, he said those warnings had been ignored, which had encouraged groups like Al‑Nusra and others affiliated with Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh).
JUAN CARLOS MENDOZA-GARCÍA (Costa Rica), associating himself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said his country had seen the successful conclusion of three United Nations peacekeeping missions. The key had been regional cooperation and commitment, the cooperation of the host country, and broad, transparent operations. Expressing concern about aggressive rhetoric from around the world and the lack of an international response, he emphasized that the Organization must prioritize the prevention of conflict through economic development, sustainability, and a culture of peace. Peacekeeping operations must be people‑centred and have clear mandates, tailor‑made to support political strategies in each individual situation, yet flexible enough to be responsive to changing situations on the ground. Stressing that Costa Rica supported a zero‑tolerance policy towards sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers, he said the United Nations could not fail at the present crucial moment, when damage to the credibility of its fundamental pillar could prevent the fulfilment of mandates and harm local populations’ perception of peacekeepers as being impartial. The participation of women in peacekeeping operations was also crucial in the transition from war to peace, social cohesion, political legitimacy, and economic recovery, he said.
JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico) said the Organization must adapt to changes in armed conflict with a focus on the maintenance of international peace and security, noting that most United Nations resolutions focused on managing conflict rather than preventing it. The Organization must start looking more broadly at conflicts and adapt to the individual needs of each, he said, emphasizing also the need to consider structural causes of conflict and to pursue mediation, taking human rights and humanitarian elements into account. The Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations must continue to promote mandates flexible enough to adapt to changing situations, he said, adding that relations among all relevant parties must be strengthened. He said that in the two years since Mexico’s return as a contributor of peacekeeping personnel, it had developed experienced staff and would continue to do so in order to meet United Nations objectives. The General Assembly had an opportunity to implement integral reforms that would improve the effectiveness of operations, thereby promoting prevention, maintenance, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding.
GABRIELA MARTINIC (Argentina), associating herself with the CELAC, recalled that her country had made a peacekeeping pledge during the London Ministerial Conference which it would honour over the years. Argentina had also recently finalized its participation in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Describing peacekeeping operations as political tools to be designed and implemented as part of a larger strategy, she said that perspective was in line with the Secretary‑General’s new emphasis on prevention and sustaining peace, avoidance of fragmentation and focus on diplomacy, peacebuilding, and development. Argentina supported all efforts regarding the women, peace and security agenda, including innovative ways to increase their participation in peacekeeping. She went on to underline that, as reflected in the Special Committee’s report, peacekeeping operations were not intended to impose political solutions by force, and did not constitute the appropriate mechanism to combat terrorism.
MOHAMMAD HELMY AHMAD ABOULWAFA (Egypt), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, emphasized that the protection of civilians must not be used as a pretext for military intervention and that a common understanding of the relevant legal issues must be reached. It was also important to strengthen regional organizations further, including by providing support to the African Union enabling it to deploy capable missions with flexible financial resources. There was also a clear need for effective triangular cooperation among the Security Council, troop- and police‑contributing countries and the Secretariat, he said, adding that policy development must be undertaken in close consultation with host States. As a major troop contributor, Egypt had demonstrated its commitment in that role by providing equipment and carrying out its assigned mandates on time, he said, emphasizing that such commitment should be taken into account when identifying future troop- and police‑contributing countries.
Mr. AHMED (Bangladesh) said present‑day peacekeeping mandates were more challenging and complex, citing in that context the robust mandates assigned to MINUSTAH, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). Noting that the United Nations still had difficulties in force generation, identifying suitable missions, and securing technical support in spite of the utmost efforts of all its partners, he said peacekeepers faced the challenges of real‑time intelligence gathering. There was also a need to differentiate between robust peacekeeping and deploying peacekeepers as combatants, he stressed, noting that Bangladesh supported a policy of “friendship to all and malice to none”. Turning to the safety and security of peacekeepers, he said that was the principal responsibility of the Department of Safety and Security.
MICHAEL O. OKWUDILI (Nigeria), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, emphasized the need for continuous and deeper engagement among the Security Council, Secretariat, troop- and police‑contributing countries, and regional organizations, as well as greater attention to asymmetric threats. “Peacekeepers must be protected before they can offer protection to the population”, he pointed out, calling on host authorities to do much more to ensure the safety of mission personnel and facilities. Regular consultations between missions and host‑country authorities would help to build confidence and trust, he said, adding that the latter must understand that mission premises and facilities must remain inviolable at all times. Expressing outrage over unending reports of sexual exploitation and abuse, he said it was time for Member States to take the lead on that matter. He went on to emphasize the need to improve cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union, noting that the provision of predictable and sustainable funding for Security Council‑approved African‑led peace operations were long overdue, and that the United Nations‑African Union joint review of financing and support mechanisms must be finalized.
SONIA ISHAQ AHMAD SUGHAYAR (Jordan), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said there was a need to improve the Organization’s capacity to respond to early warnings of conflict. Although peacekeeping missions had become more effective, there remained a need to better understand situations in the field and how peacekeeping goals might differ from one situation to another. Furthermore, peacekeeping missions should have clear exit strategies, she said, adding that there was also a need to restructure the training process for peacekeepers, especially in the areas of human rights and interactions with host countries. She highlighted the importance of women in peacekeeping operations, as well as the need for improved triangular cooperation and transparency. To improve responses to conflict, the Department must improve communications between regional and subregional actors, she said, adding that such partnerships would contribute positively to the implementation of peace initiatives. In closing, she said Jordan took great pride in its contribution to United Nations peacekeeping operations and would continue to support the Organization’s aims.
OLIVIER MARC ZEHNDER (Switzerland) said that development, peace, security, and human rights were interlinked and mutually reinforcing, with conflict prevention playing a crucial role in that regard. Thus, Switzerland had launched the Appeal of 13 June 2016 — aimed at placing human rights at the heart of conflict prevention — and would seek synergies with ongoing efforts to improve United Nations instruments for preventing conflict and sustaining peace. Endorsing the positions of the Security Council and the Secretary‑General regarding sexual exploitation and abuse, he said the fight against sexual and other forms of gender‑based violence was one of his country’s foreign policy priorities, and Switzerland supported the partnership between the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) and the Justice Rapid Response based in Geneva. On cooperation with regional organizations, he emphasized that efforts in the field must be based on local ownership, and the United Nations must work hand‑in‑hand with such regional organizations as the African Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Switzerland also supported predictable and sustainable United Nations co‑financing of African peace operations, he added.
ANAYANSI RODRIGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and CELAC, noted that peacekeeping had become more multidimensional with increasingly broad mandates, contradicting its most fundamental principles. Emphasizing that the creation of new and complex operations could not substitute for addressing the root causes of a conflict, she reiterated that operations could not represent an end in themselves, but must instead be temporary in nature as part of a security framework and long‑term strategy. Otherwise, it would become impossible to break the vicious cycle of conflict with the attendant high human and material costs. The primary responsibility for protecting civilians lay with States, she said, emphasizing that it was unacceptable to use their civilian‑protection mandate to achieve political objectives and interfere with the internal affairs of States. Peacekeeping operations should only use new technology on a case‑by‑case basis and within Charter principles, in particular, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and full consent of the host country. She observed that legitimate concerns had been raised about the use of drones in United Nations peacekeeping operations, and called for an examination of the legal and technical aspects of their use. The use of drones could complement the work of troops on the ground, but it could not be a substitute, she emphasized.
SONALI SAMARASINGHE (Sri Lanka) said that in order to meet evolving peacekeeping challenges it was necessary to address the following issues: the ongoing mismatch between mandates and resources; the need for the rapid deployment of uniformed contingents, together with the required equipment and training; host-country ownership of the process whenever possible; the root causes of instability and conflict; efforts to build local information networks to better protect civilians and non‑combatants; and the inclusion of women at all levels of peacekeeping and peacebuilding since they were received differently by local populations and could deliver results that men could not. Emphasizing the importance of sharing best practices from the ground in that regard, she said her country was acutely aware of the linkage between enhancing the strength of United Nations peacekeeping and Sri Lanka’s own post‑conflict peacebuilding efforts, which involved strengthening civilian administration in post‑conflict areas. Those factors made Sri Lanka well aware of the importance of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in the pursuit of long‑term recovery, she said.
DOUGLAS NICOMEDES ARCIA VIVAS (Venezuela), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and CELAC, said that peacekeeping operations were an important instrument that must be used to underpin support for political solutions, in accordance with the United Nations Charter. In‑depth analysis was required to assess whether a particular situation was right for a peacekeeping operation, he said, pointing out that sometimes, there was no peace to preserve. Emphasizing that peacekeeping troops must not be used to combat terrorism or organized crime, he cautioned that robust peacekeeping operations risked becoming embroiled in a conflict, contrary to their intended role as facilitators of peace. Some operations went on for too long without fulfilling their mandates, simply standing by with watered‑down aims unaccompanied by appropriate political action. He went on to warn that, whereas smart technology contributed positively to the effectiveness of missions, they could also present a threat to the sovereignty of host States. Therefore, clear norms must be established to regulate and protect the confidentiality of government communications and prevent invasive tactics employed in violation of international law, he said. The use of drones in peacekeeping operations, for example, must be subject to the approval of host authorities, he added, stressing that host countries must be respected and mandates observed. Venezuela was concerned that decision‑making on the deployment of peacekeeping operations often did not take the vision or concerns of either contributing or host countries into account, he said, emphasizing that they should be able to participate actively in such decisions of the Security Council. While commending the efforts of peacekeeping operations in protecting civilians, he called for the strengthening of deterrent capacity, while underlining that their civilian‑protection activities could not be an alternative to the central role of the host State.
DINA GILMUTDINOVA (Russian Federation) said that peacekeeping operations were of practical significance to millions of people and must remain effective amid myriad challenges. To that end, the Russian Federation trusted the proposed reforms would be considered and approved. Emphasizing the importance of strict compliance with core peacekeeping principles, she cautioned against excessively robust mandates, as in the case of the operation in Mali where soldiers had been lost. The Russian Federation also objected to the engagement of peacekeeping operations in offensive or counter‑terrorism measures, she said, stressing that mandates must be clear, realistic and in accordance with United Nations goals. She also stressed the importance of clear exit strategies and effective transitions after the conclusion of peacekeeping missions, and of peacekeeping operations working with host States as well as troop‑contributing counties to achieve those goals while avoiding “overload”.
WU HAITAO (China) said peacekeeping missions should operate on the basis of the authority and guidance provided by their mandates. As such, they should also focus on the prevailing needs and abilities of troop‑contributing countries, adjusting their operational priorities and focus in light of dynamic needs. The Organization should take the views of troop- and police‑contributing countries seriously because they made important sacrifices, he said, calling in that regard for the strengthening of triangular cooperation between those countries and the Secretariat and Security Council, and for increasing their voice in decision‑making. China had always firmly supported and actively participated in peacekeeping operations, he said, pointing out that it was the largest contributor of personnel among the permanent members of the Security Council and the largest contributor to the peacekeeping budget.
STEPHEN HICKEY (United Kingdom) recalled that 70 countries had gathered in London in 2016 to discuss improving peacekeeping, and he looked ahead to the next ministerial conference, to be held in Vancouver, Canada, later in 2017. During the London conference, States had resolved to double the number of women serving in peacekeeping missions by 2020, but they remained far from hitting that target, he said. The United Kingdom would therefore co‑launch a network of “Military Gender Champions” at Vancouver to boost the representation of women in the armed forces, he said. To plug critical capability gaps and increase the rapid deployment of troops and police when needed, the United Kingdom’s delegation would discuss “smart” models for pledging at Vancouver. To improve planning in peacekeeping, different parts of the United Nations should work more closely together, he emphasized, describing the Secretary‑General’s proposals a step in the right direction. To achieve such reforms, it would be necessary to understand and measure the performance of peacekeeping missions, pointing out that Security Council resolution 2378 (2017) instructed the Secretariat to collect and analyse performance data.
RY TUY (Cambodia), associating himself with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said “expenditure and clear mandates count for everything”, from deploying military and civilian personnel and monitoring human rights violations, to creating environments conducive to the delivery of humanitarian assistance. He said budgetary increases should be on the rise to ensure that current and future peacekeeping operations were successfully planned and managed. He went on to state that Cambodia advocated fully the policy of filling vacancies in peacekeeping with women recruits who would better understand and answer the needs of female victims of conflict.
OMER DAHAB FADL MOHAMED (Sudan), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that in order to ensure success, peacekeeping operations must adhere to the United Nations Charter, including consent of parties, neutrality, and non‑use of force. It was also important to respect States’ sovereignty, he added, reaffirming Sudan’s support of efforts to increase effectiveness of operations and institute reforms. Despite the successes of resolutions on the role of host countries, those guidelines were not always crystallized, as various United Nations bodies sometimes failed to include host countries in decision‑making. It was important to adopt a timetable for peacekeeping operations and for the operations to follow that timeline. That would require missions to have periodic reviews of their operations. As well, those operations must also take into account the root causes of conflict to avoid relapse, with attention paid to the correlation between sanctions and the lack of development and its role in fuelling conflict. Sudan had been successfully hosting the African Union‑United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), which had discharged its duties in a suitable manner and had contributed to stability. The Security Council had proposed an exit strategy when it decided to halve the number of troops in 2017. Sudan had designed its own weapons collection plan, which had already commenced.
MICHAEL MAVROS (Cyprus), associating himself with the European Union, warned that peacekeeping missions “should not fall hostage to the motives of expediency or money‑saving”. The current peacekeeping budget was less than 0.5 per cent of global military spending. As the host of a peacekeeping operation since 1964, his Government was grateful to the Organization and to all of United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) personnel‑contributing countries. That operation was currently undergoing a review mandated by the Security Council. Unfortunately, the situation on the ground had not changed since 1974. As long as almost 37 per cent of the island’s territory was under foreign occupation, the host Government would deem the continued presence of UNFICYP indispensable. Furthermore, UNFICYP was also the least costly United Nations peacekeeping operation, constituting only 0.5 per cent of the total peacekeeping budget, and with Cyprus and Greece voluntarily covering almost 50 per cent of the operation’s resources. Reducing the cost of peacekeeping should not constitute an end in itself, he emphasized, adding that the possibility of savings should be only one of the parameters considered in the reform process. Moreover, the United Nations must not be distracted by exogenous factors that might attempt to influence its work. The most powerful party in a conflict should not be allowed to impose its position at the expense of the weaker one, he said.
HASSAN ABBAS (Lebanon), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, urged for a renewed focus on diplomatic and peacebuilding efforts in parallel with peacekeeping operations. Welcoming the Secretary‑General’s zero‑tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping operations, he also said that the protection of civilians required set guidelines to be implemented in a more comprehensive and universal manner. Similar steps should be undertaken to ensure the better representation of women in peacekeeping leadership posts. His country had hosted two longstanding peacekeeping missions, namely the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) since 1948 and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) since 1978. The international community should compel Israel to abide by its obligations under Security Council resolution 1701 (2006), cease its daily violations against Lebanon’s sovereignty and move toward a permanent ceasefire. He also expressed his commitment to preserve the safety and security of all United Nations personnel in Lebanon, whose security and safety had been continuously undermined by Israel since 1978.
ELSA HAILE (Eritrea), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, noted that conflict prevention, with a specific focus on mediation capabilities, had been highlighted as a key recommendation in the High‑level Independent Panel on Peace Operations. Stressing that exit strategies should always be agreed upon in the early stages of mission planning, she also called for more efforts to be exerted in averting conflicts rather than managing them. Voicing support for the zero‑tolerance policy, she called for caution, in particular in Africa, “in deploying troops from neighbouring countries where national interest exceeds regional peace and security”.
VOLODYMYR MIALKOVSKYI (Ukraine), associating himself with the European Union, said ensuring strategic force generation as an integral part of the comprehensive United Nations peacekeeping reform was fundamental. A triangular dialogue among the Security Council, troops and police‑contributing countries, and the Secretariat should be enhanced by formal and informal consultations during the establishment or renewal of mandates. He reaffirmed his country’s support to the zero‑tolerance policy on all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers in compliance with Security Council resolution 2272 (2016). Peacekeeping missions should be provided with clear, coherent, achievable, sequenced, and resilient mandates in order to ensure security and safety of civilians, including stopping the illegal flow of weapons and mercenaries.
WOUTER HOFMEYR ZAAYMAN (South Africa), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said he agreed with the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations that peacekeeping was not appropriate for military counter‑terrorism operations. Noting that the Panel prioritized prevention and mediation, which should be at the centre of international peace and security, he added that “political solutions cannot remain secondary to military solutions”. He voiced support for the Panel’s recommendation for more realistic and tailored mandates, within which tasks should be sequenced and adjusted as necessary. In addition, the views of troop‑contributing countries must be heard, and mandates must be matched with adequate resources in order to achieve desired outcomes. Regional organizations, such as the African Union, played a vital role in peacekeeping efforts and were often first responders to a crisis, thus enabling the United Nations to deploy when conditions were more favourable. He called for sustained, predictable, and flexible support for the African Union, stressing that Union operations authorized by the Council must be sufficiently funded and resourced.
Right of Reply
The representative of Israel, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, responded to Syria, saying that truth could not be expected from a State that had repeatedly violated its international obligations and was committing war crimes against its own people. He expressed hope that UNDOF would not be redeployed in the context of further lies.
The representative of Syria said he had referred to facts proven by the United Nations. The presence of UNDOF in the Golan was due to Israel’s occupation, not Syria’s internal circumstances. Everyone was aware of the cooperation between Israel and armed groups in the separation areas. Those attacks had been perpetrated in the Golan so that Israel could use that as a pretext to attack the Syrian army. The Israeli representative could not obfuscate the country’s bleak track record, and must refrain from opening the discussion on the lengthy list of violations his regime represented.
The representative of Israel said he found it ironic that Syria’s delegate would talk about his country’s concern for its civilians when everyone had seen the horrific acts the Syrian Government had committed over the past five years.
The representative of Syria said that if the representative of the worst occupation in history, the Israeli occupation, truly cared for the Syrian people, why did he not ensure that his Government withdraw to the 4 June 1967 line so that thousands of affected residents could return to their homes. He also asked why the Israeli regime had destroyed more than 270 towns, cities and farms in the Golan since the inception of the occupation. If the Israeli delegate truly cared for those people, he would call upon his regime to refrain from supporting armed groups in that area and day‑to‑day atrocities against its inhabitants.