United Nations Good Offices Mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan

International Operation Name: United Nations Good Offices Mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan (UNGOMAP)

International Operation Dates:  1988/05/15 – 1990/03/15

Mandating Organization: United Nations

Region Name:  Asia

Location:  Afghanistan and Pakistan

Canadian Operation Name: United Nations Good Offices Mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan (UNGOMAP)

Canadian Operation Dates: 1988/05/01 – 1990/03/15

Mission Mandate:

The United Nations Good Offices Mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan was established on 15 May 1988 in accordance with a letter dated 25 April 1988 from the President of the Security Council addressed to the Secretary-General, with the purpose of assisting the Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to lend his good offices to the parties in ensuring the implementation of the Agreements on the settlement of the Situation Relating to Afghanistan (the Geneva Accords) and in this context to investigate and report possible violations of any of the provisions of the agreement.

Mission Notes:

On 27 December 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Like so many other armies before it, the Soviets become bogged down in a guerrilla war that they realized they could not win. The Afghan resistance – the mujahideen – received extensive support from the United States, as Afghanistan became another Cold War area of confrontation, in this case with Soviet forces actually involved in large numbers. From Afghanistan, military forces sometimes ventured into Pakistani territory, while large numbers for refugees headed into Pakistan. In the other direction, American support was funnelled through Pakistan, with the result that the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan accused each other of interference.

As early as June 1982, indirect talks between Afghanistan and Pakistan began in Geneva, Switzerland. The government of Afghanistan acted as intermediary for the Soviet Union, the Soviet troops being there ostensibly to support a fellow socialist government. The growing casualty list and desire to extract itself from this costly adventure eventually prompted the Soviets to reach an agreement.

The “Agreement on the Settlement of the Situation Relating to Afghanistan” was signed on 14 April 1988, by Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Soviet Union, and the United States, and consisted of four instruments. Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed to not interfere in each other’s nations, and on the return of refugees, while the Soviet Union and the United States agreed to provide the guarantee for the agreement. All parties agreed to seek a settlement of the situation in Afghanistan, effectively allowing the Soviet Union to withdraw. This latter part of the agreement requested the United Nations Secretary-General to provide a representative to assist in the conduct of the agreement. The United Nations Good Offices Mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan (UNGOMAP) provided support to the Special Representative. Formal approval for this mission was not forthcoming until 31 October 1988, at which time the Security Council approved the Secretary-General’s action through Resolution 622.

The role of UNGOMAP was to monitor the provisions of the non-interference instrument, monitor the withdrawal of Soviet troops and monitor the return of refugees. To do this, the Special Representative was provided with 50 military observers from ten countries the nationalities of which had to be approved by the four parties to the agreement. Two headquarters of five officers each were created in Kabul and Islamabad. The remaining 40 officers were to be used on inspection teams.

The first personnel arrived on 25 April, temporarily seconded from the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organization, the United Nations Disengagement Observer force and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. The permanent members arrived soon thereafter with the headquarters and complement of 50 observers in place well before the agreement came into effect on 15 May 1988.

The monitoring of the Soviet withdrawal went very well. UNGOMAP established three observation posts in Afghanistan: Hayratan, Torghundi and the Soviet air base at Shindand. Mobile inspection teams deployed to five locations. Due to the fact that UNGOMAP was reliant upon the Soviet and Afghan forces for transportation, the observers were not always able to observe actual withdrawals and had to depend upon Soviet reports. However, as the Soviets were anxious to leave and the Afghans to cooperate, there were no significant problems with the withdrawal. This part of the agreement ended 15 February 1989, on schedule.

To the headquarters in Islamabad fell the duty of monitoring the non-interference instrument. This was less successful than the withdrawal. From 1 May 1988 to 15 April 1989, 495 Notes Verbale cited 4145 incidents. Of these, 650 incidents were investigated; the remainder could not be investigated for a variety of reasons, including inaccessibility of the incident site. With the withdrawal of Soviet forces, Afghan reports of incidents increased, causing UNGOMAP to set up three monitoring posts on roads leading into Afghanistan.

For the return of the refugees, UNGOMAP worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The observers were ready to monitor the conditions inside Afghanistan; however the Soviet withdrawal did not mean the end of violence – the mujahideen who had not been party to the agreement continued to fight the Soviet-backed government. Of the estimated 5 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan, only a small percentage returned.

UNMOGAP was originally scheduled to last until January 1990. Due to the late start of the refugee instrument, the Secretary-General requested an additional two months extension, which was approved by the Security Council. As no consensus could be reached with four parties to the agreement for an extension beyond 15 March 1990, UNMOGAP ceased to exist on that day. The Secretary-General, concerned of the work still to be done, created the Office of the Secretary-General in Afghanistan and Pakistan (OSGAP) as a follow-on mission. He retained one member from each of the ten nations, including Canada, to assist in OSGAP activities.

Canadian Operation:

Canadian participation consisted of five observers who arrived in Pakistan from Canada on 2 May 1988, on a one-year posting. One week after their arrival, two officers deployed to Kabul, with one working in the headquarters and the other serving as an inspection team leader. Two Canadians served at UNMOGAP posts monitoring the Soviet withdrawal. These four Canadians rotated positions in November 1988. The fifth Canadian UNMO worked in the UNMOGAP headquarters in Pakistan.

In May 1989, three Canadians arrived to replace the original five. The reduction was the result of a UN decision to reduce the size of UNMOGAP, as part of the original mandate, the Soviet withdrawal, had been completed. The duties of the replacement officers included investigating possible violations of the non-interference instrument, as well as some assistance in the return of refugees. This rotation departed with the termination of UNMOGAP’s mission.

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