Special Representative for the Secretary-General (Ruanda-Urundi)

International Operation Name: Special Representative for the Secretary-General (Ruanda-Urundi)

International Operation Dates:  1962/06/27 – 1962/11/07

Mandating Organization: United Nations

Region Name:  Africa

Location:  Rwanda - Burundi

Canadian Operation Name: Special Representative for the Secretary-General (Ruanda-Urundi)

Canadian Operation Dates: 1962/06/27 – 1962/07/31

Mission Mandate:

The Special Representative was requested to:

  • oversee the withdrawal of Belgian forces and
  • assist the governments of Ruanda and Urundi in developing and organizing their administrations.

(United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1746 (XVI) 27 June 1962)

Mission Notes: 

The former German colonies of Ruanda-Urundi had been under League of Nations-sponsored Belgian trusteeship since the end of the First World War.  This trusteeship was confirmed by the United Nations International Trusteeship System in 1946.  As African colonies began to gain independence in the 1950s, there was increasing pressure on European nations to grant their trust territories full independence.   In November 1959, disturbances began between members of the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups in Ruanda. At the same time, Belgium announced its policy on the eventual dissolution of its trusteeship.

A three-person and later a five-person United Nations Commission for Ruanda-Urundi had presented their reports on the conditions in the trust territories to the General Assembly.  On 27 June the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to appoint a Special Representative to oversee the withdrawal of Belgium military forces from the two new nations and to provide assistance in the development and organization of the administrations of the two new nations.

Mr. Taghi Nasr, an Iranian in the employ of the United Nations, was tasked to be the Special Representative.  He had previous experience in Ruanda-Urundi, having served as the technical assistance expert to the five-person Commission.  Assisting him were six United Nations Military Observers (UNMOs), two each from India and Morocco and one each from Canada and Sweden.  All six were borrowed from the United Nations Organization in Congo.

Canadian participation in the mission of the special representative continued with the Canadian major who had assisted the five-person United Nations Commission for Ruanda-Urundi.  He and his Indian colleague remained behind after the commission left.  With the arrival of Mr. Nasr, Major M. Kolesar became an UNMO and supervised the withdrawal of Belgian troops.  Because his tour with the UN was coming to an end, Major Kolesar left Ruanda and Urundi on 31 July.

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