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United Nations: Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF)

On 6 October 1973, war erupted in the Middle East between Egyptian and Israeli forces in the Suez Canal area and the Sinai, and between Israeli and Syrian forces on the Golan Heights. On 24 October, as fighting between Egypt and Israel reached a critical stage, the Security Council decided to set up a second United Nations Emergency Force UNEF II. The Force was immediately moved into place between the Israeli and Egyptian armies in the Suez Canal area, and its arrival effectively stabilized the situation.

In the Israel-Syria sector tension remained high, and from March 1974 the situation became increasingly unstable. Against this background, the United States undertook a diplomatic initiative, which resulted in the conclusion of an Agreement on Disengagement between Israeli and Syrian forces. The Agreement provided for an area of separation and for two equal zones of limited forces and armaments on both sides of the area, and called for the establishment of a United Nations observer force to supervise its implementation. The Agreement was signed on 31 May 1974 and, on the same day, the Security Council adopted resolution 350 (1974) by which it set up UNDOF. The mission has continued to perform its functions effectively, with the cooperation of the parties. The situation in the Israel-Syria sector has remained quiet and there have been no serious incidents.

The mandate of UNDOF has since been renewed every six months. Recent extensions were contained in Security Council resolutions 1139 adopted on 21 November 1997; Council resolution 1169 of 27 May 1998; and resolutions 1211 of 25 November 1998; and 1243 of 27 May 1999.

As of May 31, 1999, UNDOF consisted of 1,029 troops; assisted by some 80 military observers of UNTSO's Observer Group Golan, and supported by international and locally recruited civilian staff. Austria, Canada, Japan, Poland, Slovak Republic contributed troops to the force, which suffered 39 fatalities through the end of 1998.

Sources: United Nations