Yearbook of the United Nations, 2003. Part 1, Political and security questions. Chapter 2, Africa
In 2003, Africa continued to be beset by conflicts and political dissension and the United Nations remained involved in the search for solutions. Two regions in particular were the focus of UN attention—the Great Lakes area and West Africa— and although some progress was achieved in peacemaking efforts, the conflicts raised tension and threatened to spread beyond national borders. During the year, the Security Council sent missions to both regions. The Council also examined the causes of conflict in Africa and ways to promote peace and security in order to prevent further hostilities, as did the General Assembly. The Secretary-General also sent a multidisciplinary mission to countries in the Great Lakes region in a renewed effort to move the peace process forward and to investigate the possibility of a comprehensive and integrated approach to peace, security and development. The mission found that the crisis of governance and widespread poverty were the two main underlying causes of conflict in that region. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), fighting between numerous armed militias, whose alliances were constantly shifting, intensified at the beginning of the year, despite signs in late 2002 of progress towards establishing a two-year transitional Government leading up to national elections. The presence of foreign troops in eastern DRC, the site of most of the fighting, further complicated the already tense situation and threatened the stability of the whole region. However, the United Nations, which had increased the size of its mission in the DRC to nearly 11,000 troops, and others continued mediation efforts. In April, participants in the Inter-Congolese Dialogue signed a Final Act endorsing measures to restore peace and national sovereignty, and agreeing to implement the framework for the transitional Government. As the parties agreed, President Joseph Kabila remained in office when a new Government was formed and some foreign troops were withdrawn. A pacification process was begun in eastern DRC, and the parties agreed to a plan for cantonment and demilitarization of their troops. The political institutions of the transitional Government began to function in late 2003, although progress remained slow. Burundi's Transitional Government witnessed a peaceful transition of power at the level of head of State in 2003. The African Union (AU) deployed a mission to Burundi to oversee the ceasefire agreements and the United Nations Office in Burundi continued to play a role in the peace process, which included agreement by most political parties on defence and security power-sharing. In Rwanda, which still suffered from the effects of the 1994 genocide, the Government expressed determination to bring peace to the country through reconciliation and by bringing to justice the extremists who carried the greatest responsibility for the genocide. Presidential and parliamentary elections were held, and were, for the most part, orderly. A number of former combatants returned from the DRC during the year. A coup d’etat in the Central African Republic overturned the plans for a national dialogue under President-elect Félix Patassé. Led by General François Bozizé, the new authorities, as part of a transition period, organized a national dialogue that included all political opinions, and stated their intention to hold national elections in late 2004. Conflicts continued in West Africa, and the concurrent fighting in Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone threatened the stability of the whole region, as did the movement of armed militias and individuals between countries to seek refuge, loot and/or serve as mercenaries. The United Nations, the AU, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union (EU) were involved in mediating efforts in those countries and in Guinea-Bissau. Political factions of Côte d'Ivoire reached an agreement in January, signed at Linas-Marcoussis, France, on a power-sharing mechanism to govern the country, but little progress was made in implementing its terms. The three main rebel movements (the Forces Nouvelles) seized control of the northern half of the country and the Government retained control of the south. In May, the Security Council created the United Nations Mission in Côte d'Ivoire (MINUCI), with an initial strength of 255 troops, to complement and eventually replace the ECOWAS and French forces already serving as peacekeepers. In May, the opposition parties withdrew from the Government of National Reconciliation and fighting resumed; however, the peace process took hold again in December when the two sides agreed to resume disarmament and demobilization of troops, and the opposition rejoined the Government. In Liberia, rebel movements gained control of nearly two thirds of the country, and elections, originally scheduled for October, were postponed until 2004 due to the resumption of civil war. Although a ceasefire was signed in June by the Government and two rebel groups, it was soon violated and Liberia was plunged into a new cycle of violence. ECOWAS sent a vanguard peacekeeping force to the country in August, which was followed by a multinational force and, on 7 October, by the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), which was established by the Security Council with a mandated maximum strength of 15,000 troops. Following the departure of President Charles Taylor from the country, a peace agreement was signed by the Government, two rebel groups, political parties and civil society leaders, providing for a national transitional Government. By the end of the year, some mechanisms for its implementation were set up, but the armed groups had not yet complied with its terms. Sierra Leone remained relatively calm in 2003 as the Government continued, after 10 years of civil war, to disarm ex-combatants and reintegrate them into society. Having set benchmarks for the withdrawal of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) peacekeeping troops, the Security Council approved the Mission's reduction from nearly 16,000 troops to 11,500 by the end of the year. Fighting continued to occur along the Sierra Leone/Liberia border, and fighting in Liberia caused thousands of refugees to flee to Sierra Leone, threatening the security on the Sierra Leonean side of the border. The Government made efforts to reduce tensions internally, in particular by establishing a special court to try war crimes and by regaining control of diamond mining. Guinea-Bissau's serious political and economic situation deteriorated in 2003. Opposition leaders accused the Government of arbitrary decision-making, restrictions on the media and harassment of political opponents. A non-violent coup d’etat, led by the military, overturned the Government in September. An agreement was reached on a transitional Government, which pledged to hold legislative and presidential elections within 6 and 18 months, respectively. The United Nations continued to mediate in the Eritrea-Ethiopia border dispute and in monitoring the implementation of the 2000 Algiers Agreements on a ceasefire and solving the border issue. Following the completion in 2002 of the border's delimitation, efforts focused in 2003 on demarcation of the border. Both sides were presented with maps of the delimited border and asked for comments. Ethiopia, which had previously accepted the delimitation decision, questioned the boundary, leaving the path for future progress unclear at the end of the year. The situation on the ground remained calm, despite some restrictions on the movement of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE). Progress was made in the release of the remaining prisoners of war. The parties to the national reconciliation process in Somalia, begun in 2002 at the Eldoret (Kenya) Conference, continued to participate in discussions on setting up federal governance structures and establishing a ceasefire; the United Nations remained involved in the discussions. Nevertheless, fighting continued in parts of Somalia, especially in Mogadishu and Baidoa, blocking airports and seaports and thus slowing delivery of humanitarian aid. The United Nations pursued efforts to hold a referendum in Western Sahara, which would give the people the right to decide the fate of the Territory, by electing either independence or integration with Morocco. The decision to hold a referendum was made in 1990 by the Government of Morocco and the Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguía el-Hamra y de Río de Oro (POLISARIO). In 2003, the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy attempted to break the deadlock over the form of any future Government by proposing a new peace plan. POLISARIO eventually accepted the plan, but Morocco had not given a definitive response by the end of the year. The Identification Commission completed its work on the electronic archiving of the nearly 145,000 individual files of persons who applied to be included on the list of voters. During the year, POLISARIO released 643 Moroccan prisoners of war and continued to hold another 600 in detention. Angola demonstrated in 2003 that it was firmly on the path of political, social and economic recovery, following the 2002 signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Government and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). Discussions were held by the two sides in 2003 on the structure of the new Government, and agreement was reached on a basic framework. The Government announced that the next general elections would be held in 2004. The Secretary-General reported that the United Nations Mission in Angola (UNMA) had completed its political mandate, and recommended that the UN Resident Coordinator take over responsibility for UN system activities in Angola. In the Sudan, the situation improved following the 2002 signing of the Machakos Protocol by the Government and the rebel group, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), which provided for autonomy in SPLM/A territory in the south for six years and for holding negotiations on a comprehensive ceasefire. As security improved in 2003, delivery of humanitarian assistance increased; however, armed conflict and ethnic violence continued and natural calamities caused large-scale displacement of people. In September, the Government and SPLM/A signed an agreement on security arrangements, providing for the Sudan to have two armies under separate command and control during the six-year interim period. The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya announced steps it had taken to comply with 1992 and 1993 Security Council resolutions, which had imposed sanctions against it. Actions taken concerned handing over the Libyan nationals charged with the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight to the appropriate authorities, payment of compensation to the families of the victims, and acceptance of responsibility for the action of Libyan officials. In September, the Council lifted its sanctions. Libya announced in December that it was halting its programmes for developing weapons of mass destruction.
Yearbook of the United Nations, 2003. v. 57; Vol. 57
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