Peacekeeping and the Lusaka Protocol *

By Hewitt, Dawn M. | Melbourne Journal of Politics, Annual 1999 | Go to article overview

Peacekeeping and the Lusaka Protocol *


Hewitt, Dawn M., Melbourne Journal of Politics


Few governments are more deserving of revolutionary overthrow than that of President Eduardo dos Santos. Few rebel movements are less deserving to accomplish that overthrow than that of Jonas Savimbi.

Simon Barber

In 1993, Angola was in the eighteenth year of a civil war which pitted the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) government against National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) insurgents. (1) During that year, perhaps 1,000 people a day died. (2) But the renewed Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) felt they were on their way to victory. The government had hired extensive outside assistance from security firms such as South Africa's Executive Outcomes. FAA Sukhoi and MiG aircraft, many flown by foreign pilots, strafed the Central Highlands held by UNITA's Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola (FALA).

Rather than allowing the war to run its course and fearful that it could continue for years to come, the international community pressed hard for a cease-fire. Talks started in Lusaka, Zambia in December 1993. However, every time it looked like there was progress toward a cease-fire and a peace agreement, the war in Angola would intensify as each side sought an advantage on the ground to gain extra leverage in Lusaka.

Through great perseverance, UN Special Representative Alouine Blondin Beye oversaw the hammering out of the Lusaka Protocol, which was initialed by all parties on 31 October 1994. Although war still swept Angola, the UN was charged with overseeing the implementation of the protocol's provisions. The main vehicle for this was the Joint Commission chaired by the UN. There would be representatives from UNITA and the MPLA, and an observer from each of the Troika nations (Portugal, Russia, United States) who would assist in resolving disputes. The Lusaka Protocol called for the formation of a Government of Unity and National Reconciliation (GURN) to be followed by the second round of the presidential elections, canceled due to a return to war in October 1992. (3) Government troops would be confined to barracks and UNITA troops quartered. A unified army under civilian control would be formed and excess forces demobilized. Mercenaries would be expelled from Angola and UNITA troops incorporated into the Angolan National Police (ANP). State administration would be extended to all of Angola. UNITA's Radio VORGAN, a means of militant mass propaganda, was to be transformed into a non-partisan radio station. (4)

In the next four years, the international community poured USS 1.5 billion into the Lusaka Protocol process. (5) The UN provided two missions, first the United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM) III, then from 1 July 1997 the UN Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA). With so much investment, both political and material, why was the UN unable to stop Angola's return to conflict in 1998?

   The United Nations Charter has two chapters dealing with peace operations.
   Chapter VI typically requires the consent of both parties and includes
   preventive deployments and classic peacekeeping operations in which the UN
   interposes troops between two forces who have agreed to cease hostile
   operations. Chapter VII has been used to restore or maintain peace and
   security and allows the use of coercive force. (6)

UNAVEM III was deployed under a Chapter VI mandate. It was presumed the Lusaka Protocol signed by both parties provided for a cease-fire and the insertion of UN forces. Yet, these assumptions were incorrect. UNITA leader Savimbi refused to sign the Lusaka Protocol. Instead, UNITA Secretary General Eugenio Manuvakola signed the document. (7) Neither was there a cease-fire. Fighting intensified after the 31 October initialing of the Lusaka Protocol and MPLA/UNITA clashes continued following the 20 November ceremony. (8) Another cease-fire had to be signed on 3 February. (9)

Despite the dubious cease-fire, on 8 February 1995 UNSC Resolution 960 was passed establishing UNAVEM III with a maximum deployment of 7,000 military peacekeepers, 1350 military observers, and 260 police observers. …

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