Prof. Ibrahim A. Gambari
Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa
Ronald Reagan Building
One Woodrow Wilson Plaza
1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Tuesday, 8 April 2003
I am delighted to participate in this discussion on the challenges facing Angola today with such distinguished panellists. My role is facilitated because Angola is not new to any of my fellow panellists who have, in fact, dedicated a considerable amount of their time and energies in search for the solutions to the long lasting Angolan conflict. Their participation in this discussion demonstrates their continuing commitment and I am sure their contributions will enrich our deliberations.
Today’s discussion comes one year after the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 4 April 2002, between the Government of Angola and UNITA. It is an appropriate time to take stock of the achievements made and the challenges that lie ahead. And by addressing these challenges, the Angolans will lay solid foundations for the consolidation of peace, deepening democracy and promoting respect for human rights and the rule of law, while also advancing economic reconstruction. In this regard, a central component of this discussion has to focus on the role of the international community, particularly the UN, which had devoted enormous human, financial and material resources to help end the conflict and continues to be engaged in Angola as reliable partners in the efforts to further consolidate peace.
the Consolidation of Peace:
After the resumption of war in 1998, the United Nations continued to be involved in Angola in several ways: in the humanitarian front assisting many of the Angolans trapped in a deadly conflict; in the area of human rights working with civil society organisations in building capacity in the provincial governments, in the police and the military; in the area of development by promoting good governance programmes, de-mining and community rehabilitation programmes; and in continuing the search for a political solution of the conflict within the framework of the Lusaka Protocol. The UN had dual strategy which consisted of applying sanctions against UNITA on the one hand, and providing humanitarian and development assistance to the Government of Angola while insisting on the need to find political solution, on the other. This had the effect of weakening the conventional military capacity of UNITA and improving the relationship between the Government of Angola and the United Nations. Hence, the Government authorized the UN to resume contacts with Mr. Jonas Savimbi in December 2001. However, Savimbi died on 22 February 2002 and the death of Savimbi provided the Angolans with a unique opportunity to end the fighting and accelerate the peace process.
The Government of Angola and UNITA signed on 4 April 2002, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), to address all the military issues of the conflict. The MoU set up the conditions for the disarmament and demobilisation of UNITA, creation of one national army and police force. The UN and the Troika were asked to participate as observers in the Joint Military Commission and send up to 11 observers each to provide technical assistance and observe the process. More than 80,000 UNITA combatants and 300,000 family members were quartered in 41 reception areas by June 2002. In August 2002, the Government declared that the disarmament and disbanding of UNITA Military Forces including 253 foreigners was completed and 5007 were integrated into the national army.
With the military aspects of the peace process formally concluded, the Government of Angola and UNITA moved towards implementing political tasks under the Lusaka Protocol. The Security Council in its Resolution 1433(2002) of 15 August, mandated the establishment of a new United Nations Mission in Angola (UNMA) and the Secretary-General appointed me as his Special Representative to oversee the implementation of the remaining tasks under the Lusaka Protocol, to promote an integrated approach in the UN support to Angola and to undertake such other tasks which are necessary for the consolidation of peace in Angola.
1. Chairing the Joint Commission to monitor the final implementation of the Lusaka Protocol;
2. The protection and promotion of Human Rights and in the building of institutions to consolidate peace and enhance the rule of law;
3. The provision of technical advice and support for mine action;
4. The facilitation and coordination of delivery of humanitarian assistance to vulnerable groups including internally displaced persons and families in quartering areas, with special concern for children and women;
5. Support for social and professional reintegration of the demobilized through appropriate United Nations agencies;
6. Promotion of economic recovery through relevant United Nations agencies;
7. Mobilization of resources of the international community, to include through an international donors conference, as appropriate; and
8. Provision of technical assistance to the Government of Angola in the preparation of elections.
It should also be recalled that the Government of Angola and UNITA signed, on 26 August 2002, the Memorandum of Commitment in which they agreed on the remaining tasks under Lusaka including the national reconciliation, the social integration of UNITA combatants, allocation of facilities for UNITA and residence for the party’s leadership and residence, submission of UNITA’s nominees for positions in the Government for national reconciliation and the public service; establishment of UNITA as apolitical party; review of the symbols of the Republic of Angola and the electoral process. They also agreed that the remaining tasks should be concluded within a 45-day time-frame upon the reactivation of the Joint Commission’s work.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would now like to discuss the United Nations contribution in this process of peace consolidation. However, let me say from the outset that we are happy to notice that in each day that passes it appears that peace is irreversible in Angola. From the moment that cease-fire was declared in March 2002 till today, no single shot has been fired and no skirmishes have been reported in violations of the cease-fire. The process of disarmament of UNITA was completed and members of UNITA forces were integrated into the national army and police. Moreover, the spirit of dialogue between the main political parties continues until today. The UN has always been present assisting the parties to overcome their differences and help them pave the way for national reconciliation. The following are some of the specific contributions that the UN has made to the process:
It chaired the Joint Commission, where most of the remaining issues under the Lusaka Protocol were reviewed, discussed and solutions found to the satisfaction of the Parties.
The UN provided a forum for dialogue on national reconciliation issues, including the issuing of statement by the Government recognising that UNITA, as a civilian political party, is free to operate in the entire national territory.
It continues to assist in the areas of Human Rights, especially in building capacity in the provinces and in the central Government structures, such as the Ministry of Justice.
Continued assistance in the social integration of UNITA combatants.
Humanitarian assistance and coordination of the resettlement programme of internally displaced persons (IDPs). The UN also assisted in fund-raising through the 2003 Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal (CAP) and in devising strategies for Child Protection.
On the development area, it re-launched the Country Common Assessment Process and the planning process through the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) and the strategies to tackle the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Working with the Government in planning for the international donors conference to mobilise resources for national reconstruction.
The mandate of UNMA terminated on 15 February 2003. In line with the provisions in resolution 1433, at the end of UNMA’s mandate, the United Nations Resident Coordinator has now assumed the overall coordination of UN activities. The end of UNMA’s mandate, however, does not signify that there are no more challenges to peace consolidation in Angola or the end of United Nations role in that regard. Resolution 1433 had foreseen that at the end of UNMA’s mandate, the residual tasks will be performed under the authority of the UN Resident Coordinator. Therefore, in addition to his role as Coordinator of the UN system in Angola, the Resident Coordinator will also oversee such remaining tasks with the support of a unit to be added to his Office to strengthen its capacity to assist the Government of Angola in the following areas:
1. The reintegration and resettlement of ex-combatants and their family members. The government has put in place a system of support, which aims to induce their voluntary return to places of origin or places of their choice as final destinations for rehabilitation. This is a process that is not only time consuming, but also very demanding in terms of logistics and resource flows. Due to the sheer number of those requiring assistance (this number rose from 65,000 in August 2002 to 105,000 in February 2003), the Government is being assisted through a World Bank programme with the full participation of the United Nations and its agencies. Given the conditions prevailing for ex-combatants and their families, there is a clear need to accelerate assistance to these groups, and to ensure that they are self-sustaining after their re-settlement.
Closely connected to the above, is the prevailing humanitarian crisis, which is a direct result of the protracted conflict and its deleterious consequences on infrastructure. The effectiveness of the humanitarian agencies and non-governmental organizations working to deliver lifesaving food and medicines to the poorest and most marginalized continue to be hampered in their efforts because large tracts of territory are heavily mined, and the state of the nation’s bridges and roads is dismal. As a result, those in dire need of humanitarian assistance are deprived of it. De-mining would be of great benefit in increasing the arable land available for agriculture in the country, which continues to be the mainstay of subsistence for the people of Angola. Therefore, the question of de-mining is an outstanding issue of the Lusaka Protocol and needs urgent attenti
on. Fortunately, the Government of Angola has intensified efforts through the State De-mining Commission and the United Nations stands ready to assist.
The international community continues to support the Government of Angola in consolidating national reconciliation. Angola’s ability to undertake financial and economic reform will depend on its relationship with the Bretton Woods institutions, and the extent to which they can build mutual trust and confidence. It is in this context that the United Nations will continue to assist the Government in working for the convening of an international donors conference, perhaps, later in the year. Angola’s reconstruction and development needs require all the support they can garner from the international system. And in this regard, some donors like Japan have expressed an interest in supporting this initiative that is scheduled to take place in Brussels.
One of the fundamental issues identified by the Security Council through Resolution 1433 is the promotion and protection of human rights and the rule of law. UNMA was assigned a specific mandate in this respect and it is widely acknowledged that efforts at promoting and protecting human rights in Angola must continue beyond the UN peacekeeping presence in that country. The UN Secretariat is discussing the ways and means to support the activities of Human Rights Officers in Luanda and in the provinces.
Lastly and perhaps most significantly, I would like to touch on the deepening of democracy in Angola and the issue of future national elections. There is widespread expectation that the next general elections should be held soon, given that the last elections were over a decade ago. Indeed, the current government’s mandate has expired a long time ago. This concern is also shared by the majority of civil society organisations and opposition political parties. They are involved in an informal national dialogue on this issue and continue to prod the Government for firm commitments and announcements in this respect. However, all the stakeholders also recognize that appropriate conditions have to be fostered before the next national elections, preparations for which would entail such activities as civic education, electoral law reform, voter registration etc. For these and other efforts in this connection, the United Nations stands ready to provide technical assistance.
III. Lessons Learned from the Angolan Peace Process:
The experience of UNMA has proven the importance of the linkage between the process of peacemaking and development. Cooperation and coordination between UN agencies, the Angolan government, and the international community will be essential for a successful transition from relief activities to pursuing longer-term development objectives. A key factor will be the goodwill by all the parties and strengthened coordination within the UN family and between the UN and the Government of Angola. The Angolan government has expressed a desire for continued UN assistance, to be accomplished through a new partnership, in order to accomplish the daunting tasks outlined. A strong partnership between the Government, the United Nations and the international community is essential in laying the foundations for a stable and peaceful Angola.
However in developing the next stage of the international partnership in consolidating peace in Angola, it is useful and necessary to draw important lessons learned so far, by the UN during their efforts at peacemaking in Angola, which may have continuing relevance, not only for the country but elsewhere in Africa:
Conflicts rarely can be pinned down to one cause and as time goes by, the
original cause of the conflict might get superceded by additional complications; the effect is a snowballing of conflict causality. In the case of Angola, this was definitely true.
2. The commitment of the international community to conflict resolution has to be consistent and persistent. The UN invested over 14 years in Angola and only now when the situation so allowed, were we able to close a sustainable peace for Angola. Under the Secretary-General’s leadership, the UN has been a steadfast partner to Angola, even in the face of loss and adversity (including the death of Maitre Beye and several UN officials).
3. The parties have to be committed to finding a political solution and to backing their political will with concrete action and implementation. Conflicts will continue to go unresolved unless peace agreements are followed up with concrete actions.
The main burden of relief and reconstruction efforts must be carried out by the Angolan Government. This is the best way to obtain greater assistance in these areas from the UN system, international financial institutions, European Union, foreign governments, corporations and international NGOs. Moreover, greater transparency and accountability in government spending should be encouraged, along with openness in the political process leading to a deepening and widening of democracy. Civil society actors and national NGOs have important contributions to make not only in the areas of peace and justice but in national reconciliation and reconstruction.
This is an important moment in Angola’s transition from war to sustainable peace. Without social integration of demobilised soldiers and the resettlement of the displaced persons and refugees and civilian disarmament, insecurity will result. Considerable differences in security already exist between Luanda, the capital city and the rest of the country. Several provinces are in desperate need for social and civil infrastructure and services. Increased communication between the capital and the provinces will be needed to ensure policy and programme coherence between the centre and the provinces, if Angola’s reconstruction effort is to succeed.
Finally, I would like to emphasize the inter-dependent nature of some of the challenges facing Angola on its road to national reconciliation and rebuilding of the state. De-mining and ensuring safety and freedom of movement of peoples and goods constitute essential elements to the delivery of humanitarian assistance and also to the normalization of the country’s own agricultural potential. Deepening democracy and moving towards greater fiscal and economic transparency would enhance reconciliation and ensure that the country’s considerable income from natural and mineral resources exploitation benefit the vast majority of the people of Angola. Furthermore, human rights and the rule of law need to be strengthened all over the country, particularly in the provinces. In the pursuit of these post-conflict objectives, the Government of Angola must take the lead but the international community has a responsibility to support such national efforts so that Angola can remain peaceful and enjoy sustainable development.