- By David BoscoDavid Bosco is a Foreign Policy contributing editor and assistant professor at American University's School of International Service. He is at work on a book about the International Criminal Court's first decade.
After the abduction of four peacekeepers by Syrian rebels, the foreign minister of the Philippines has recommended to the president that his country cease participation in the UN’s Golan Heights mission. Via BBC:
The Philippines’ foreign minister says he wants to pull its peacekeepers from the UN force in the Golan Heights after four were seized by Syrian rebels.
Albert del Rosario said the soldiers were being held as human shields and that peacekeepers’ exposure was "beyond tolerable limits".
The UN peacekeepers patrol the line separating Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
A total of 342 are Filipinos – about a third of the UN contingent.
This is not the first time a large contributor to the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) has raised the possibility of withdrawal. Last month, Austria, announced that it might remove its own large contingent if the security situation deterioriated further (Austria used that threat in part to pressure the European Union to maintain its arms embargo on Syria). In March, Syrian rebels detained and then released 21 UNDOF peacekeepers.
The Security Council authorized UNDOF in 1974 to maintain a ceasefire between Israeli and Syrian forces in the area. India is the other significant source of troops for the mission, which comprises about 1000 soldiers and several dozen civilians. According to the UN, the mission has suffered 43 fatalities in its nearly four decades of existence.