While Un-brokered negotiations between the Government of El Salvador and the Frente Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional (FMLN) picked up steam in Mexico and Venezuela, the Security Council on 20 May decided unanimously to set up a 170-member observer force whose ultimate task will be to verify compliance by the parties with a cease-fire agreement.
The Council's move came after the parties agreed on 27 April in Mexico City on a package of important constitutional reforms regarding the armed forces, the judiciary and the electoral system.
Because a cease-fire was not achieved, the Council instructed the newly-created UN Observer Mission in El Salvador (ONUSAL) to limit itself initially to verifying compliance with the San Jose Agreement, a human rights accord signed by the parties in the Costa Rican capital in July 1990.
Security Council resolution 693 (1991), which created ONUSAL "to monitor all agreements concluded between the two parties", carefully limits the Group's "initial mandate in its first phase as an integrated peace-keeping operation" to that specific task. Any subsequent task or phase will be subject to Council approval.
The Mission will have an initial mandate period of 12 months at an estimated cost of approximately $32 million. A $13.8 million budget for the first six months of operations was authorized by the General Assembly on 21 June.
The Mexico Agreement was reached after intense face-to-face negotiations (4-27 April) conducted by Alvaro de Soto, the SecretaryGeneral's Personal Representative for Central America. Marrack Goulding, Under-Secretary-General for Special Political Affairs, also participated in the first phase of the talks, which focused on cease-fire questions.
The Agreement was hailed by Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar as "a victory for the Salvadorean people". In a statement on 29 April, he thanked the Presidents of Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela and Spain for the very important role" they had played in ensuring the success of the talks.
The two parties met again between 25 May and 2 June in Caraballeda, Venezuela, and from 16 to 22 June in Queretaro, Mexico. Mr. de Soto and Mr. Goulding attended.
The Queretaro round recessed "on a positive note", a UN official told the press. Although no formal agreements had been expected or were concluded, "progress was made both on key aspects of the armed forces and on technical cease-fire questions", he added. …