Yearbook of the United Nations, 2004. Part 1, Political and security questions. Chapter 2, Africa
In 2004, Africa remained a priority concern for the United Nations, whose efforts to restore the conflict zones, especially the Great Lakes region and West Africa, to peace and stability were marked by progress and setbacks. While countries such as Sierra Leone and Liberia, with UN encouragement and assistance, were well on their way to overcoming obstacles that had blocked progress in the search for peace, others, including Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia and Eritrea, and Western Sahara, remained mired in conflict with little immediate prospects of finding mutually agreed solutions. The region suffered a further setback with the rapid escalation of the conflict situation in the Darfur region of western Sudan, which risked further destabilizing the continent. Concerned about Africa's future stability, the Security Council sent missions to both the Great Lakes region and West Africa during the year to urge leaders and parties to the conflicts to make decisions that would lead to negotiated settlements. The Council held one of its sessions in Nairobi, Kenya, to demonstrate its deep concern for the problems facing the continent. Many of those problems were addressed by the Council, including the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa, and enhancing Africa's peacekeeping capacity. As the countries of the Great Lakes region continued to experience conflict, especially the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Burundi, the First International Conference on the Great Lakes Region was held in November under the auspices of the United Nations and the African Union (AU). The Conference called for measures to address the priority issues of peace and security, governance and democracy, economic development, and social and humanitarian issues. Also in November, the Council sent a mission to the region, which reported that both the DRC and Burundi were at critical turning points in their peace processes as they were faced with implementing the remaining aspects of their agreed transition process, before proceeding with elections that could lead to durable peace and stability. The military situation in the eastern part of the DRC deteriorated in mid-year, following months of slow progress in advancing the functioning of the Transitional Government established under the terms of a 2002 peace agreement. Subsequently, an integrated army command was instituted by the Transitional Government and the principal political institutions began to function. Despite that progress, the remaining problems, including the slow pace in adopting legislation, the need for State administration throughout the country, further integration of former opposing forces and preparation for elections, appeared intractable. Violence erupted in the east of the country, with charges by the DRC of Rwandan involvement. The United Nations Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) worked to halt the fighting and arranged for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of armed forces. In October, the Council increased the Mission's size and expanded its mandate, giving it the authority to use all necessary means to carry out its responsibilities, including the protection of civilians and officials. In Burundi, the transitional process was well under way, as positive steps were taken to implement the 2000 Arusha Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation, despite the refusal of one main armed movement to join the process. In May, the Council established the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB), which took over from the AU peacekeeping mission. Its main tasks were to monitor ceasefire agreements, promote confidence between the forces, assist in the delivery of humanitarian assistance, contribute to the electoral process and protect civilians. In the Central African Republic, the United Nations Peace-building Support Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA) supported the Government's efforts to achieve reconciliation and reconstruction, following years of unrest. The Government made progress in preparing for elections, scheduled for 2005, by adopting an electoral schedule and drafting a constitution and electoral laws. The constitution was adopted by the people in a December referendum. The region of West Africa was marked by mixed progress in addressing conflicts. The Secretary-General, through the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA), sought solutions to combat the regional cross-border problems. In that regard, he requested his Special Representative for West Africa to coordinate activities with the UN missions in the region and regional organizations, in particular the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Mano River Union (MRU). The Council called for a comprehensive and composite approach for solutions to the conflicts in West Africa and made recommendations to address the root causes of conflict and promote sustainable peace, security and good governance. In Côte d'Ivoire, disagreements between political parties over the delegation of powers in the Government of National Reconciliation and the refusal of armed factions to lay down arms blocked further implementation of the 2003 Linas-Marcoussis Agreement. Three main rebel groups continued to hold the northern half of the country. In February, the Council established the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), which created a zone of confidence between the south and the rebel-controlled north. After months of political stalemate and violent clashes between security forces and demonstrators, the parties signed the Accra III Agreement on reactivating the peace process. Little progress followed, however, and further hostilities erupted in November when Government forces attacked rebels' positions in the north. Mediation efforts, led by President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, were undertaken to assist the parties to reach an agreement. In Liberia, the National Transitional Government succeeded in restoring State authority over the entire country, with the assistance of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). The disarmament process was completed in October and armed groups were disbanded. However, the peace process remained fragile, as demonstrated by the outbreak of violence in late October. Sierra Leone also made strides in consolidating stability, having fulfilled nearly all provisions of the 2000 Agreement on the Ceasefire and Cessation of Hostilities. That progress led to the draw down of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) from 11,500 troops to 5,000 by the end of the year. The disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme for ex-combatants was closed on 31 March after four years. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission completed its trials of those accused of serious human rights abuses and crimes against humanity during the 10 years of civil war, and released its final report to the public. Progress was also recorded in the Guinea-Bissau situation, as it complied with the terms of the 2003 Political Transitional Charter by holding legislative elections leading to the formation of a new Government in May. Preparations were under way for holding presidential elections. That progress was temporarily halted in October by a military mutiny, but calm was restored when the Government paid salary arrears of the armed forces and civil services. The United Nations Peace-building Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS) continued to support the peace process. Cameroon and Nigeria, acting through the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission, took steps to resolve their border issues, following the 2002 ruling of the International Court of Justice on the land and maritime boundary. Work began on the delimitation of the border. The situation in the Sudan drew international attention when what appeared to be ethnic-based violence erupted in the Darfur region of western Sudan, complicating an already protracted civil war and creating a serious humanitarian situation. A peace process led by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and assisted by the AU was directed at helping the parties implement the 2002 Machakos Protocol dealing with the issues of the right to self-determination for the people of southern Sudan, and the status of State and religion, and the 2003 Framework Agreement on Security Arrangements signed by the Government, the main rebel group, and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/ Army (SPLM/A). On 26 May 2004, the parties agreed on a power-sharing mechanism under a Government of National Unity and on the administration of certain conflict areas. Meanwhile in the south, rebel militias, known as the Janjaweed, carried out attacks on civilians in villages and settlements in the Darfur region. By mid-2004, over a million people were in need of urgent humanitarian assistance and about 200,000 refugees had fled to Chad. The UN Secretary-General responded to the situation by proposing that an advance team be sent there to prepare for international monitoring of the 2003 security agreement. The United Nations and the Sudan signed on 5 August a Plan of Action on Darfur, by which the Sudan pledged to restore security to Darfur, enable delivery of aid and assist in the voluntary return of displaced persons. However, on 18 September, the Security Council said that the Government had not met its commitments to improve the security of the civilian population of Darfur. The Council supported the AU plans to augment its monitoring mission in Darfur, and urged the Government and the rebel groups to reach a political solution. Towards the end of the year, the parties completed the process for the full implementation of the peace framework, with the Government and SPLM/A agreeing on a series of documents to be incorporated into a comprehensive peace agreement and signed in 2005. However, the situation in Darfur remained a matter of concern. The Secretary-General, as requested by the Council, established the International Commission of Inquiry for Darfur to investigate reports of serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law. Slow but steady progress was made in the national reconciliation process in Somalia, which began in 2002 at the Eldoret (Kenya) Conference under the auspices of IGAD. In January 2004, Somali leaders signed a declaration on agreement of issues related to a transitional federal government. At the Somali National Reconciliation Conference, held in Kenya intermittently over a period of two years and attended by numerous representatives of Somali factions and clans, with the notable exception of Somaliland, the participants agreed to form the Transitional Federal Parliament. In late 2004, that body elected its Speaker and the Transitional President, thereby establishing the first national governmental institutions since the country's central Government disintegrated under the pressures of civil war 14 years earlier. IGAD, as organizer of the Conference, convened ministerial committee meetings which reached agreement on various aspects of the planned transitional federal Government, and the AU dispatched a reconnaissance mission to prepare for deploying military monitors to Somalia. The United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) remained involved in the peace process and humanitarian efforts and continued to operate from Nairobi. The monitoring group established by the Secretary-General to investigate violations of the arms embargo against Somalia reported in August that weapons continued to flow into, through and out of Somalia, in contravention of the embargo. Little headway was made in the border dispute between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), which maintained its presence along the border zone, continued to monitor the implementation of the 2000 Algiers Peace Agreements between the two countries. Although a decision on delimitation of the border had been made in 2002 by the Boundary Commission and the Secretary-General's Special Envoy continued to negotiate with both sides, the physical demarcation process remained stalled throughout 2004. In November, Ethiopia proposed a plan for resolving the dispute through peaceful means, including the suggestion that both sides implement the Boundary Commission's decision. Eritrea was dismissive of the plan. The question of the future of Western Sahara also remained unresolved due to a lack of compromise by the two parties to the dispute, Morocco and the Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguía el-Hamra y de Río de Oro (POLISARIO), despite their 1990 agreement to hold a referendum for the people to decide between independence or integration of the Territory with Morocco. The latest peace plan, drawn up in 2003 by the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy, would divide governmental and administrative responsibilities between the parties before the results of the referendum were finalized. POLISARIO eventually accepted that plan, but Morocco continued to reject it. By the end of the year, the Secretary-General said that an agreement appeared more distant than a year earlier, as there was no consensus on how to proceed to overcome the deadlock. The United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) continued to monitor the ceasefire. In December 2003, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya announced its decision to abandon programmes for developing weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), on 10 March, welcomed the voluntary decision and Libya's request that IAEA ensure verification that all its nuclear activities would be under safeguards and exclusively for peaceful purposes. In April, the Security Council also welcomed the decision and encouraged Libya to ensure the verified elimination of all of its weapons of mass destruction programmes.
Yearbook of the United Nations, 2004. v. 58; Vol. 58
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