UNFICYP Restructure

Under those arrangements, the troop-contributing governments made available to the United Nations troops whose regular pay and allowances and normal material expenses they had agreed to pay themselves. The United Nations was responsible for the operational costs for administrative and logistic support (e.g., rations, fuel, hire of vehicles, maintenance of premises, salaries and travel of non-military personnel) and for extra and extraordinary costs incurred by the troop-contributing governments for which they sought reimbursement on the basis of separate agreements concluded by the United Nations with each of those governments. These costs could be paid only from the voluntary contributions received for this purpose. Voluntary contributions, however, had consistently fallen short of the required funds, leaving the special account for UNFICYP with a total deficit of approximately $200 million for the period from the inception of the force to June 1993. As a result, reimbursement claims from the troop-contributing countries were paid only up to December 1981.

The Secretary-General repeatedly voiced his profound concern about the worsening financial situation confronting UNFICYP. He suggested that the force should be put on a sound and secure financial basis and that the best way to finance UNFICYP would be for its costs to be met from assessed contributions.

When, in October 1977 after more than 13 years of service, the Finnish battalion withdrew from UNFICYP, the Secretary-General, in consultation with the government of Finland and with the parties concerned, decided not to replace the battalion. A compelling consideration in this regard was the critical financial condition of UNFICYP. In connection with the withdrawal of the battalion, a partial redeployment of the force was carried out to fill the gap left in the area of the Nicosia International Airport.

In February 1987, Sweden informed the Secretary-General that it had decided to withdraw its contingent by the end of the year, unless substantial improvements could be achieved both in the force's financial situation, particularly through the introduction of financing by assessed contributions, and in the prospects for a political solution. The subsequent withdrawal of the infantry battalion resulted in a major adjustment in the deployment of the force. At the same time, Austria and Canada augmented their contingents, resulting in a net reduction of 206 to UNFICYP.

In 1992, due to the deteriorating financial situation of the force and frustration over the lack of progress towards a lasting political solution to the Cyprus problem, a number of troop-contributing governments decided to reconsider their participation in UNFICYP. In his May 1992 report on UNFICYP activities, the Secretary-General spoke of the need to consult with the troop-contributing countries on their intentions on participation in the force, including the timing of any reductions or withdrawals of their contingents, and on the possible future options for UNFICYP. On 21 September, the Secretary-General informed the council that the troop-contributing governments had given firm indications of their intention to reduce the operational commitment of their contingents, and he outlined a plan for a possible restructuring of UNFICYP.

In December 1992, the size of the force was significantly reduced by the withdrawal of the Danish battalion (323 personnel) and reductions in the course of 1992 in the British, Austrian and Canadian contingents of 198, 63 and 61 personnel, respectively. This had reduced UNFICYP's strength by approximately 28 per cent.

In his 30 March 1993 report, the Secretary-General stated that these reductions necessitated a major restructuring and reorganization of UNFICYP. The required operational and organizational adjustments had been put in place on 16 December 1992. He went on to say that further withdrawals announced by Canada and the United Kingdom would reduce the force's strength from 1,513 to approximately 850 personnel and, unless the situation was redressed, UNFICYP would cease to be viable in June 1993. The Secretary-General presented his proposals for a further restructuring of the force, stressing that they would be practical only if the Security Council changed the financing of UNFICYP from voluntary to assessed contributions.

In its resolution 831 (1993) of 27 May 1993, the Security Council decided that those costs of the force that were not covered by voluntary contributions should be treated as expenses of the organization, effective from the next extension of the force's mandate on or before 15 June 1993. The council also decided that UNFICYP should be restructured to a strength of three infantry battalions of approximately 350 personnel each, the minimum number required to maintain effective control of the buffer zone. A limited number of military observers were added to UNFICYP for reconnaissance, liaison and humanitarian tasks in 1993, but were discontinued in 1994.

As a result of reductions, the force now covers the ceasefire lines more thinly than before. At the same time, the mandate of UNFICYP has remained unchanged, as essentially have the functions deriving from that mandate. The restructured UNFICYP continues to interpose itself between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot forces and to supervise the ceasefire lines that define the buffer zone, by observing and reporting any violations of the ceasefire and the military status quo.

For operational purposes, the force is divided into three sectors and six line companies. In June 1993, the Canadian battalion was withdrawn, as scheduled. As a result, between June and September 1993, the force's strength temporarily dipped below 1,000 and the Force Commander implemented an emergency contingency plan reorganizing UNFICYP in two sectors, covered by the Austrian and United Kingdom battalions. However, this did not last long; the decision of the Security Council to change the system of financing of the force was followed by an offer by the government of Argentina of a line battalion of some 350 personnel. The force deployment was thus restored, as of 8 October 1993, to three line sectors/ battalions as recommended by the Secretary-General and endorsed by Security Council resolution 831 (1993).

To offset the reductions in strength, the Force Commander adjusted the organization of UNFICYP by moving a greater portion of the battalions' strength into the buffer zone and reorganizing the system of observation posts, relying more heavily on mobile patrolling. He also handed over some humanitarian activities of the force to the two sides.

In November 1993, the Secretary-General reported to the council in connection with its comprehensive reassessment of UNFICYP. The question of using large numbers of military observers in UNFICYP had been addressed in a review of the force carried out in 1990, and the matter was looked at again. The report concluded that a number of arguments continued to weigh heavily against the deployment of United Nations military observers.

As at 31 March 1996, the total strength (military personnel and civilian police) of UNFICYP was 1,200. The 1,165 military personnel were from Argentina (390), Austria (314), Canada (2), Finland (2), Hungary (39), Ireland (30) and the United Kingdom (388). There were 35 civilian police provided by Australia (20) and Ireland (15). In addition, UNFICYP had 360 civilian staff, 42 of whom were internationally recruited and 318 locally recruited.

Following the adoption of Security Council Resolution 2398 endorsing the recommendations of the Secretary-General’s Strategic Review of UNFICYP (S/2017/1008), UNFICYP reduced its authorized strength from 888 to 860 personnel and its actual strength to 802, while strengthening its liaison functions. The police component redeployed six individual police officers from headquarters to patrolling functions, which has allowed increased joint military and police patrols and some, albeit limited, night-time patrolling. Furthermore, the Mission’s three international civil affairs officers who have been transferred from the headquarters to the existing Sector Civilian Activity Integrated Offices, along with five Cypriot national staff, have strengthened integration among the three components, as well as liaison and engagement capacity vis-à-vis respective interlocutors at the sector level. The Strategic Review aims at introducing changes that will allow UNFICYP to become more efficient and effective while delivering its mandate.

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 covered the period from 1964 until 1996. For more recent information, please consult the News and Documents sections of this website.