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Unarmed Civilian Monitors in an Armed Conflict: Challenges and Opportunities
March 6, 2018 @ 4:00 pm EST
The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) was deployed on March 21, 2014. With over 800 unarmed civilian monitoring officers – 700 of them deployed in the east – the Mission operates 24/7, establishing and reporting facts. Following the signing of ceasefire agreements and related accords, the Mission verifies the sides’ commitments to cease fire, withdraw weapons, disengage forces and formations, and de-mine.Although a sustainable ceasefire remains elusive, and escalation an ever-present possibility, the SMM has monitored and verified partial compliance, resulting in a considerable reduction in the level of violence. In addition, the SMM is involved in facilitating dialogue on the ground in order to reduce tension and promote normalization of the situation. The sides have, however, been unable to achieve a long-term sustainable ceasefire, and ultimately peace, underlying a core weakness of an unarmed civilian monitoring mission in the absence of political will to end violence.
Alexander Hug is the Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. A trained lawyer, Hug served as an officer in the Swiss Army, including a stint as regional commander of the Swiss Headquarters Support Unit for the OSCE in northern Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has also worked for the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, and the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo