Report of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD), 26 October 2000
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INDEPENDENT INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION ON DECOMMISSIONING (IICD)
26 October 2000
1. On 11 February 2000 the Commission provided a written report to the two Governments in which we commented on our contacts with the IRA and loyalist representatives, and especially on the proposal made that day by the IRA to initiate a comprehensive process to put arms beyond use. On 25 June 2000 we forwarded the International Inspectors' first report on the inspection of IRA arms dumps to the Governments. A second inspection has now taken place. We also wish to bring the Governments up to date on the work of the Commission during the period since February.
2. Today the Inspectors reported to the Commission that they have carried out a second inspection. They confirmed they had re-inspected the arms dumps previously seen, which held a substantial amount of military materiel, including explosives and related equipment. They also confirmed that the dumps had not been tampered with and remained secure. The Inspectors reported that, again, they had consulted with independent specialists on the technical aspects of their task.
3. A copy of that report is available here.
PERIOD FROM MARCH TO AUGUST 2000
4. On 15 February, after the suspension of the institutions, the IRA announced that: "In the light of these changed circumstances the leadership of the IRA have decided to end our engagement with the IICD. We are also withdrawing all propositions put to the IICD by our representative since November."
5. During the period from March to June, the Commission maintained contact with the UVF and UFF, as well as meeting with representatives of the political parties, the security forces and the Governments.
6. On 5 May 2000 the two Governments issued a statement in which they said they: "… now believe that the remaining steps necessary to secure full implementation of the Agreement can be achieved by June 2001, and commit themselves to that goal." They added that: "Subject to a positive response to this statement, the British Government will bring forward the necessary order to enable the Assembly and Executive to be restored by 22 May 2000."
7. In their 5 May statement the Governments also called on the Commission: "… to consider urgently, in consultation with representatives of the paramilitary organisations, whether there are any further proposals for decommissioning schemes which offer the Commission greater scope to proceed in more effective and satisfactory ways with the discharge of its mandate and to report. The Governments will give early consideration to any such proposals. The Commission will make further reports as necessary. Those reports will be published promptly by the two governments."
8. On 6 May 2000 the IRA released a statement in which they said in part: "We will resume contact with the IICD and enter into further discussion with the Commission on the basis of the IRA leadership's commitment to resolving the issue of arms". They also noted they would open a number of their arms dumps to International Inspectors as a confidence building measure, and that the Inspectors would report on their inspections to the Commission.
9. On 25 June the Commission informed the two Governments that the Inspectors had reported they had completed an initial inspection of a substantial number of IRA arms.
10. On the same day the IRA's representative called the Commission, formally re-opening contact, and on 26 June the IRA made public an announcement to that effect and confirming that the initial inspection of arms had taken place.
11. In late June, it was suggested to the Commission that the circumstances surrounding the marching season made it unlikely that progress would be made on decommissioning during the months of July and August. However, the Commission kept the offices in Belfast and Dublin open during these two months, with a reduced number of personnel available to respond immediately to any decommissioning initiative.
PERIOD OF SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2000
12. In early September the Commission renewed its efforts to meet with representatives of the three paramilitary groups. Its aim was in part to determine what the IRA meant by its intention to "initiate a process that will completely and verifiably put arms beyond use", and to assess whether such a process corresponds to the remit given the Commission by the Governments to facilitate the destruction of paramilitary arms. Separately, the Commission's aim was to ascertain the loyalist paramilitary groups' continuing intentions on decommissioning.
13. Over a period of six weeks, the Commission was unable to arrange meetings with the paramilitary representatives. Meetings with political parties elicited reasons as to why they believed meetings had not occurred. On the republican side these were attributed in part to concerns over the implementation of the Patten Report on policing, to the slow pace of demilitarisation, and to concerns over republicans wanted for questioning by the authorities. On the loyalist side they were attributed in part to the failure of the IRA to respond to the Commission in practical terms on decommissioning, as well as to internal problems associated with the ongoing loyalist feud. In some cases these opinions were made public by the political parties concerned.
14. During the six week period from the beginning of September to the middle of October, the Commission reported frequently to the governments at the officials' level. In the same period the Commission met with representatives of six different political parties, some of them several times, as well as with the Ulster Unionist Party Review Group. During these meetings the Commission responded frankly to questions concerning progress on decommissioning. Also during the period the Commission held meetings with the security forces north and south.
15. Some days ago the Commission informed political parties that it had scheduled a meeting with ministers from both Governments to take place during the week of 23 October, to give a report on progress. The Commission stressed the urgency of meeting with the paramilitary representatives before that date to enable it to make the most complete and informed report possible.
16. On 17 October the Commission met with representatives of the UFF. During the discussion they re-iterated their adherence to the terms of the Agreement, including to decommissioning. They re-affirmed their decision not to begin decommissioning their arms until the IRA started to decommission theirs, although they stood by their earlier commitment to the Commission on methods of decommissioning and supporting arrangements. They also pointed out that at present, the ongoing feud between the UFF and the UVF made decommissioning both difficult and unlikely in the short term. They agreed to maintain contact with the Commission and to inform us of any change in their position.
17. The Commission has not been able to engage with the IRA representative since the re-opening of contact in June. In their statement yesterday, the IRA said: "We have also decided to resume discussions with the IICD when we are satisfied that the peace process will be advanced by those discussions". The Commission will continue its efforts to meet with the IRA representative to determine whether "putting arms beyond use" meets the Commission's mandate for arms destruction and when that process will begin.
18. The Commission has not been able to meet with the UVF representative since June, although there have been several telephone conversations with him during September and October. The Commission will continue its attempts to meet with the representative to ascertain whether the UVF's previously-stated position on decommissioning has advanced.
19. The Commission cannot report progress on actual decommissioning during the period following the IRA's renewal of contact in June, and the UVF and UFF's earlier acceptance of methods of decommissioning and supporting issues. That noted, we welcome the Inspectors' report today and look forward to further such reports.
20. We also welcome the fact that the IRA, UVF and UFF maintain their contact with the Commission, and the IRA's reaffirmation of its commitment to resolving the issue of arms.
21. In the meantime, we will continue to concentrate our efforts on furthering our sole mandate, the decommissioning of paramilitary arms.
Belfast, 26 October 2000
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