United Nations Special Committee on the Balkans (UNSCOB)

21 October 1947 - 31 July 1951
Military personnel

Since its independence in 1829, Greece had been an economically weak and politically divided state, in which various factions vied for power. The year 1945 was characterised by an increasing number of clashes between the national army on one side and the communist guerrillas on the other, and in the course of 1946, the violence erupted into a civil war.

Enlarge image A Willy jeep passes the guard at the headquarters of UNSCOB in Thessaloniki.
Image: UN Library
A Willy jeep passes the guard at the headquarters of UNSCOB in Thessaloniki.

Complaint at the UN Security Council

On 3 December 1946, the Greek government complained to the UN Security Council about the interference by its northern communist neighbours in the national affairs of Greece. The Council conducted an investigation but proved unable to reach a decision as to the course that should be adopted with regard to the Greek issue and handed the matter over to the UN General Assembly.

UN establishes Special Committee on the Balkans

With resolution 109 (II) on 21 October 1947, the General Assembly established the United Nations Special Committee on the Balkans (UNSCOB). 9 of the 11 members of the Security Council, including the Netherlands, each provided 2 delegates for UNSCOB. The Soviet Union and Poland declined to participate. The 4 nations involved were required by the resolution to seek a peaceful resolution to their differences.

Observers along the Greek border

The General Assembly instructed UNSCOB to monitor progress and to provide support if requested. To this end, the commission appointed observer groups, but these were hampered in their work from the outset because Greeceā€™s neighbours denied them access. The commission posted the observers in 7 patrol bases along the northern border of Greece, which were used as operating bases for patrols lasting several days.