United Nations Angola Verification Mission II

International Information

International Operation Name: United Nations Angola Verification Mission II

International Mission Name: United Nations Angola Verification Mission II (UNAVEM II)

Mandating Organization: United Nations

Region Name: Africa

Location: Angola

Mission Date: 30 May 1991 - 8 February 1995

Mission Mandate: United Nations Security Council Resolutions 696, 30 May 1991; and modified by Resolutions 747, 24 March 1992; 804, 20 January 1993; 811, 12 March 1993, 834, 1 June 1993, 952, 27 October 1994 and 966, 8 December 1994.

Mission/Operation Notes: Portugal began its colonization of Angola in 1575, when it established a permanent base at Luanda. Throughout the centuries, Portugal used the territory that became Angola as a source of natural resources, including slaves. In 1961, inspired by uprisings in other African colonies, Angolans rose in a revolt that was crushed by the Portuguese army. Many revolutionaries fled to neighbouring countries where they started their own revolutionary movements, advocating Angolan independence.

While there were many groups created, with more splinter groups forming over time, there were three main independence groups. The first independence movement to be formed was the Marxist-influenced Movimento Popular de Libertacao de Angola, (MPLA - Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola). It had its headquarters in Zambia and had its greatest influence among educated Angolans. The second group was the Frente Nacional para a Libertacao de Angola (FNLA - National Liberation Front of Angola), formed in 1962 by Holden Roberto. Based in Congo, it had contacts in both western and communist countries, but had its greatest support from the Organization of African Unity. The third group was the Uniao Nacional para a Independencia Total de Angola (UNITA - National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) formed in 1966 by Jonas Savimbi.

These three groups waged a guerrilla war against the Portuguese authorities, forcing that country to keep over 50,000 troops in Angola in the early 1970s. In part because of the cost of the liberation struggles in the Portuguese colonies, a group of Portuguese army officers overthrew the dictatorship, installing a military regime that quickly converted Portugal into a democracy. The military government agreed to Angolan independence, turning the country over to a coalition of the three major liberation movements. This coalition rapidly disintegrated and a civil war resulted. The MPLA remained as the government of Angola, while the other two groups again waged a guerrilla war.

The Marxist MPLA received the backing of the Soviet Union, through Cuba, while UNITA received support from South Africa. By the late 1980s, UNITA was in control of large areas of the country, having fought the 40,000 Cubans and the MPLA forces to a standstill. The FNLA had suffered a serious defeat in 1975 from which it never recovered. In December 1988, after negotiations between Angola, Cuba, South Africa and the United States, an agreement was reached whereby the Cuban forces would withdraw from Angola.

UNAVEM II was established by Security Council Resolution 696 (1991) of 30 May 1991 with a mandate to verify the arrangements agreed to by the Angolan parties for the monitoring of the cease-fire, and for the monitoring of the Angolan police during the cease-fire period. The mandate was modified on 24 March 1992, when the Security Council, through Resolution 747, decided to enlarge the mandate of UNAVEM II to include observation and verification of the presidential and legislative elections in Angola. When the cease-fire was violated in October 1992 UNAVEM II's mandate was adjusted, in accordance with Security Council Resolutions 804 of 20 January 1993, 811 of 12 March 1993 and 834 of 1 June 1993. These Resolutions sought to help the two sides reach agreements on completing the peace process and, at the same time, to broker and help implement cease-fires at the national or local level. A new peace agreement was reached on 20 November 1994 through the Lusaka Protocol. The Security Council, through Resolution 952 of 27 October 1994 and Resolution 966 of 8 December 1994, authorized UNAVEM II to verify the initial stages of the peace agreement. In February 1995, the Security Council set up a new mission -- UNAVEM III -- to monitor and verify the implementation of the Lusaka Protocol.

The United Nations Security Council created the UN Angola Verification Mission I (UNAVEM I) to monitor the Cuban withdrawal, which was completed by May 1991. While this was ongoing, the international community put pressure on the MPLA and UNITA to reach a settlement. Negotiations started in April 1990 with Portugal acting as a mediator and the Soviet Union and United States as observers. An agreement, the Bicesse Accords, was signed in Lisbon, Portugal, on 31 May 1991.

A cease-fire came into effect on 15 May 1991, with a letter from the president of Angola to the UN Secretary-General arriving two days later. The letter, requesting UN participation in verifying the implementation of the Bicesse Accords, was not unexpected, and the Secretary-General had a plan in place for UN participation. On 30 May, the Security Council, through Resolution 696, created UNAVEM II, with an expectation that it would be required until 30 November 1992. Up to 350 unarmed military monitors plus civilian police and military medical personnel were authorized, with the first arriving in Angola on 2 June.

The UNAVEM II military observers were to assist monitoring groups formed of equal numbers of MPLA and UNITA representatives. The observers deployed to 46 assembly areas where the MPLA and UNITA forces were to gather and have their numbers and weapons counted before being demobilized. Observers were also stationed at several critical areas - airports, border posts and harbours. They would investigate and attempt to resolve violations of the cease-fire, as well as use their good offices to resolve problems between the MPLA and UNITA members of the monitoring groups.

Almost from the start, it was the UNMOs who took the lead in conducting the monitoring groups’ duties. They also found themselves providing food to MPLA and UNITA forces as neither organization had the capabilities to support the troops once they were in the assembly areas.

Due to mistrust and misunderstandings, and compounded by logistical difficulties, the MPLA and UNITA forces did not assemble as rapidly as scheduled. By October 1991, this part of the plan was seriously behind schedule. Both sides were also cheating on the agreement, turning in old or irreparable weapons, and hiding newer ones around the country.

Despite this, there were no major violations of the cease-fire and a request was made of the UN in December 1991 to provide technical assistance for the planned elections and to provide observers to ensure the election was free and fair. After negotiations and creation of a plan by the Secretary-General, the Security Council authorized the election observers in Resolution 747 of 24 March 1992.

The vote was scheduled for 29 and 30 September 1992. UNAVEM II military personnel assisted in the deployment and operations of the election observers, while also accelerating the demobilization process in the period before the election. On 1 October, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative declared the elections free and fair. President José Eduardo dos Santos of the MPLA was declared the winner, with UNITA’s Jonas Savimbi almost immediately rejecting the results as obtained by fraud. Tensions increased throughout October, resulting in heavy fighting in the capital Luanda on 31 October and the deaths of two UNMOs killed by UNITA forces.

Initially, local cease-fires were arranged and some stability was maintained, but by 21 January 1993, the Secretary-General reported that Angola had returned to a state of civil war. UNAVEM II teams in the field were threatened by this violence, and eventually all were evacuated. The Security Council, through Resolution 804, changed UNAVEM II’s mandate so that its personnel were concentrated in Luanda and working towards a cease-fire. By this time, only a skeleton crew remained as the UNAVEM II contingent.

In November 1994, with UNITA on the verge of defeat, Savimbi signed another agreement. The UN sent troops for UNAVEM III. Despite all international efforts, Savimbi broke all cease-fires and agreements he signed. Angola remained in a state of civil war until 2002, at which time he was killed by government forces. UNITA subsequently signed a cease-fire that appears to be holding.

Canadian Forces (CF) Information (PASTEL)


Date: 31 May 1991 - 31 May 1993

Canadian Task Force Name Mission Statement: Canada’s participation in UNAVEM II was initiated by a request from the Secretary-General. On 14 June 1991, the tasking order was issued for Operation PASTEL, as the Canadian Forces participation was called. The CF would send fifteen military observers who would deploy on 21 June. Each observer was posted for one year to the Canadian Contingent UNAVEM (CCUNAVEM). While the UN requested the UNMOs be sent as soon as possible, the situation on the ground only allowed 11 personnel to deploy by the end of June. The remaining four did not deploy until early September.

The initial groups of Canadian UNMOs found themselves waiting to be deployed. Some made themselves indispensable at UNAVEM headquarters, helping to straighten out the initial obstacles. A Portuguese-speaking major became Military Assistant to the Chief Military Observer, expanding the job to that beyond simply a personal assistant.

Once the initial hurdles were overcome, two Canadians were tasked to serve in UNAVEM headquarters in Luanda. The CCUNAVEM Commander led the UN operations in south-central Angola with half of the remaining officers in this area. The remainder were scattered throughout the country. Canadian officers filled the position of Operations Officer in three of the six regional headquarters, a key position that recognized the capabilities of the Canadians.

Rotation of the first set of Canadian observers began in June 1992 and lasted through August. Fourteen officers arrived in the second contingent, with one major being extended for continued employment at UNAVEM headquarters. As with the first contingent, the Canadians were scattered throughout the country and again filled key positions in regional headquarters.

With the commencement of fighting on 31 October 1992, the Canadians were able to remain safe. They were, however, cut off from most of the outside world. While most other UN contingents began removing their forces, Canada, Egypt and Senegal remained at full strength to assist the UN in restoring order. The initial operations during the fighting were to get the airport at Luanda opened for evacuation and relief flights, while in other areas, attempts were made at arranging local cease-fires.

With the restoration of order in most of Angola by the end of November 1992, the Canadian UNMOs were redeployed, filling even more regional headquarters positions. With the renewal of fighting, UNAVEM personnel reverted to finding shelter, unable to influence either side. During the fighting in mid-January 1993, five Canadians were under fire for at least 24 hours. UNAVEM posts were again evacuated, with some Canadians leaving the country, but on normally scheduled periods of leave and not because of the fighting. Over several weeks, all remaining Canadians were evacuated to Luanda.

As a result of the fighting and the evident desire of both sides not to reach a negotiated case-fire, Canada decided that its personnel would not remain in theatre beyond 31 January. Evacuation, however, would take a matter of weeks. The last Canadian officer was withdrawn on 31 May 1993. Overall twenty-nine, Canadian officers served in UNAVEM II, with one being there from the start of the mission until evacuation in February 1993.

The end of Canadian participation in UNAVEM did not mean the end of the deployment for some of the Canadian officers. Nine Canadians who remained in theatre on 4 February, but unemployed with the reduction of UNAVEM personnel, indicated that they would volunteer to serve in the new UN mission being created in Mozambique (ONUMOZ). This was gratefully accepted by the Secretary-General, and all nine were deployed to ONUMOZ by 12 February 1993.

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