The UNTSO story.

Author:Strugar, Milos
Position:UN Truce Supervision Organization

So began the first peacekeeping operation in the history of the United Nations, officially named the United Nations Trace Supervision Organization or UNTSO. The first group of UN military observers arrived between 11 and 14 June 1948, and were deployed in Palestine and some areas of the neighbouring Arab countries. However, 29 May 1948 is considered as the stan of the operation, since on that day the Security Council, in its resolution 50, derided to deploy military observers, with the mandate to assist the UN Mediator in the supervision of the truce between Israel and Arab forces.

After a four-week truce expired, and a large-scale fighting erupted again between Israeli and Arab forces, the Council, in its resolution 54 of 15 July 1948, ordered a ceasefire of indefinite duration. The second group of military observers were deployed to each Arab Army and each Israeli armed group, as well as in Jerusalem, the coast, ports and airports of the trace area. They also accompanied convoys between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

With the conclusion of four General Armistice Agreements between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, in 1949, UNTSO's function was extended to assist the parties in supervising the application and observance of those Agreements. UNTSO also became an autonomous operation, officially a subsidiary organ of the Security Council, with the Chief of Staff assuming command.

Fifty years later, UNTSO's 152 military observers, supported by United Nations international and local civilian staff, are still deployed throughout the region and their mandate has not been changed since. They continue to observe and maintain the unconditional ceasefire ordered by the Council, pending the final peace settlement, and to assist the parties, as may be necessary, in the supervision and observance of the terms of the Armistice Agreements. With headquarters in Jerusalem, and offices in Beirut and Damascus, it operates in the areas of Southern Lebanon, the Golan Heights and Sinai.

Methods of Operation

Military observers assigned to the Israel-Syria sector are attached to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) and carry out their tasks under the operational control of the UNDOF commander, but remain under the command of UNTSO's Chief of Staff. Operating out of Tiberias (Israel), Damascus and Camp Faquar (Syria), they continue to man 11 observation posts located near the area of separation on the Golan Heights and in the vicinity of the...

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