How the United Nations Plan for Namibian Independence Evolved

UN Chronicle, June 1985 | Go to article overview

How the United Nations Plan for Namibian Independence Evolved


How the United Nations plan for Namibian independence evolved

The United Nations plan for the independence of Namibia was proposed to the President of the Security Council on 10 April 1978 by representatives of five Western States--Canada, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. The proposal was designed to bring about independence for Namibia during 1978 in accordance with Council resolution 385 (1976).

On 30 January 1976, the Security Council had adopted unanimously its resolution 385 condeming the continued illegal occupation of the Territory of Namibia by South Africa, and declaring that, "in order that the people of Namibia may be enabled freely to determine their own future", free elections under the supervision and control of the United Nations must be held "for the whole of Namibia as one political entity".

The Council also declared that, in determining the date, time-table and modalities for the elections, "there shall be adequate time, to be decided upon by the Security Council, for the purposes of enabling the United Nations to establish the necessary machinery within Namibia to supervise and control such elections, as well as to enable the people of Namibia to organize politically for the purpose of such elections".

It demanded South Africa make "a solemn declaration accepting the foregoing provisions for the holding of free elections in Namibia under United Nations supervision and control ...and recognizing the territorial integrity and unity of Namibia as a nation".

On 27 July 1978, the Council adopted resolution 431 (1978), in which it took note of the western proposal (S/12827) and requested the Secretary-General to prepare a report on implementing it.

UN plan approved: On 29 September 1978, the Council adopted resolution 435 (1978), creating the machinery for implementing resolution 385. In resolution 435, the Council approved the report of the Secretary-General for the implementation of the Western proposal, which became the UN plan for Namibian independence. It decided to establish under its authority a United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) to assist the Secretary-General's Special Representative to ensure the early independence of Namibia through free elections under the supervision and control of the United Nations.

According to the plan, the key to an internationally acceptable transition to independence are free elections for the whole of Namibia as one political entity with an appropriate United Nations role. A further resolution would be required in the Council, it was stated, requesting the Secretary-General to appoint a United Nations Special Representative whose central task would be to ensure that conditions were established to permit free and fair elections and an impartial electoral process. …

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