Tripartite Conference & Geneva Declaration
Note: this history section is an online version of the chapter about UNFICYP in "The Blue Helmets - A Review of United Nations Peace-keeping," a United Nations publication. It covers the period from the establishment of UNFICYP in 1964 until 1996.
As called for in Security Council resolution 353 (1974), the foreign ministers of Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom began discussions in Geneva on 25 July, and on 30 July they agreed on the text of a declaration concerning the situation in Cyprus, which was immediately transmitted to the Secretary-General. By the Geneva Declaration, the foreign ministers agreed on certain measures that involved action by UNFICYP.
- A security zone of a size to be determined by representatives of Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom, in consultation with UNFICYP, was to be established at the limit of the areas occupied by the Turkish armed forces. This zone was to be entered by no forces other than those of UNFICYP, which was to supervise the prohibition of entry. Pending the determination of the size and character of the security zone, the existing area between the two forces was not to be entered by any forces.
- All the Turkish enclaves occupied by Greek or Greek Cypriot forces were to be immediately evacuated and would continue to be protected by UNFICYP. Other Turkish enclaves outside the area controlled by the Turkish armed forces would continue to be protected by an UNFICYP security zone and could, as before, maintain their own police and security forces.
- In mixed villages, the functions of security and police were to be carried out by UNFICYP.
- Military personnel and civilians detained as a result of the recent hostilities were to be either exchanged or released under the supervision of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) within the shortest time possible.
At the meeting of the Security Council held on 31 July, the Secretary-General made a statement referring to the above functions envisaged for UNFICYP. The council, on 1 August, adopted resolution 355 (1974), taking note of the Secretary-General's statement and requesting him to take appropriate action in the light of his statement and to present a full report to the council, taking into account that the ceasefire will be the first step in the full implementation of Security Council resolution 353 (1974).
Immediately after the adoption of resolution 355 (1974), the Secretary-General instructed his special representative in Cyprus and the commander of UNFICYP to proceed, in cooperation with the parties, with the full implementation of the role of UNFICYP as provided for in that resolution. UNFICYP promptly informed the parties that it stood ready to carry out all the functions devolving upon it under the resolution and it repeatedly appealed for observance of the ceasefire.
The Secretary-General's interim report of 10 August 1974 pursuant to resolution 355 (1974) gave an account of the action taken to carry out the various provisions of the Geneva Declaration. The military representatives of Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom had been meeting since 2 August together with a representative of UNFICYP, but they had not as yet determined the size of the security zone. Accordingly, UNFICYP action regarding that zone had been limited to participation in the deliberations.
On 12 August, the Secretary-General reported that the National Guard had evacuated a number of Turkish Cypriot villages, and UNFICYP had assumed the responsibility for the protection of those areas.
The second round of fighting
Following the breakdown of the Geneva Conference on 14 August, fighting resumed in Cyprus. In the circumstances, UNFICYP resorted to ad hoc emergency operating procedures. Armoured reconnaissance units of UNFICYP maintained observation over the battle zone wherever possible. During the night of 14-15 August, and again on 15-16 August, UNFICYP achieved a partial ceasefire in Nicosia to allow all the non-combatants to be evacuated. It made major efforts throughout the country to put an end to the fighting, but was unable to do so in certain combat areas, where UNFICYP posts had to be withdrawn. In a few such areas, killing of civilians took place.
The resumption of heavy fighting on 14 August had placed UNFICYP units in an extremely difficult and dangerous position, resulting in severe casualties. The Security Council noted that development with concern in its resolution 359 (1974) of 15 August; it recalled that UNFICYP was stationed in Cyprus with the full consent of the governments of Cyprus, Turkey and Greece; it demanded that all parties concerned fully respect the international status of the United Nations force and refrain from any action which might endanger the lives and safety of its members; it further demanded that all parties cooperate with the force in carrying out its tasks, including humanitarian functions, in all areas of Cyprus and in regard to all sections of the population. After negotiations, the Turkish forces declared a ceasefire at 18.00, local time, on 16 August.
On the same day, the council adopted resolution 360 (1974), by which it recorded its formal disapproval of the unilateral military actions undertaken against the Republic of Cyprus and urged the parties to comply with its previous resolutions and to resume without delay the negotiations called for in resolution 353 (1974).
During the events of July and August 1974, UNFICYP assumed important humanitarian functions, and the Security Council, in its resolution 359 (1974), took notice of these tasks. On 22 July, a special humanitarian and economics branch had been set up at UNFICYP headquarters. Every effort was made to protect the civilian population caught up in the hostilities - including both Cypriots and foreigners. In cooperation with ICRC, a wide range of relief assistance was organized for Greek and Turkish Cypriots. However, it soon became evident that a more systematic and larger scale of operation was needed, since approximately one third of the population of the island had become homeless or was otherwise in need. Accordingly, on 20 August, the Secretary-General designated the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as Coordinator of United Nations Humanitarian Assistance for Cyprus. In resolution 361 (1974) of 30 August, the Security Council, noting that a large number of people in Cyprus were in dire need, and "mindful of the fact that it is one of the foremost purposes of the United Nations to lend humanitarian assistance in situations such as the one currently prevailing in Cyprus", requested the Secretary-General to continue to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to all parts of the island's population in need of such assistance. UNFICYP assisted the coordinator in carrying out his functions.