July 31, 2019 marked 27 years since the creation of the Joint Peacekeeping Forces in the Republic of Moldova Security Zone. However, its role remains contested as it has yet to contribute to the conflict’s settlement or solve the numerous problems that the constitutional authorities and the population on the two banks of the Nistru face.
On July 31, 1992 the Joint Peacekeeping Forces were established in the Republic of Moldova Security Zone. This mission consists of military divisions from the Russian Federation, the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and the Transnistrian region. There are currently 15 permanent positions of the peacekeeping forces and the mission consists of 1,300 soldiers.
The Russian Federation, along with the de facto Tiraspol administration, promotes the Peacekeeping Mission’s efficiency. At the same time the administration insists on establishing criminal penalties for any contradictory opinion, or a lack of respect for the peacekeeping mission.
The expert community perceives the activity of the Mission in a different way. Firstly, it does not have a clear term, and is a one- side declaration imposed by one of the parts. Secondly, it does not have powers conferred by the UN, so it does not comply with UN Peacekeeping Standards.
On January 1, 2012 Vadim Pisari was shot dead by a Russian peacemaker, at the peacekeeping control point no. 9 in Vadul lui Vodă. From then on the discussions on the necessity to reform the peacekeeping mission in Moldova into an international civilian monitoring mission intensified and became of the utmost importance.
In 2015, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found a violation of the right to life in the case of Pisari vs. Moldova and Russia.
On May 16, 2019, the ECHR communicated to the governments inChișinău and Moscow about another case of inappropriate activity within the peacekeeping mission and the abuses allowed by gunmen from the security posts. The case – Manole and Postica vs. Moldova and Russia – refers to a 2005 incident when three Russian soldiers detained three persons and illegally, without warning, opened fire from a Kalashnikov rifle. This created real danger to the lives and physical integrity of dozens of peaceful people.
”Analyzing the current format of the peacekeeping mission, we find that it remains inefficient for national and regional security peace. Formally, this mission has to answer in front of the Joint Control Commission, but as a result of the deficiencies within the functioning system, actions that go beyond the responsibility of the Joint Control Commission remain unsanctioned,” wrote Promo-Lex, a Non-Governmental Organization, in a press release. “At the same time the mission cannot be impartial and goes contrary to UN standards, as the conflicting parties (Moldova and Russia) are the ones forming it. The Russian Peacekeeping Force contingent does not comply with the yearly rotation procedures. The mission performed a military march with military technique and subordinated soldiers, but without announcing, consulting or obtaining the decision of the Joint Military Command and Joint Control Commission.”
Despite the tragic case of Vadim Pisari and other incidents in the Security Zone, the situation of the peacekeeping mission remains unchanged today. Changing the format of peacekeepers in the Republic of Moldova will bring a new impetus to the process of solving the Transnistrian issue. But more importantly, it will be a concrete step towards ensuring human rights on this territory, which is outside of anyone’s control.