The United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM II) was established on May 30, 1991 by Security Council Resolution 696. This extended the U.N.'s mandate beyond overseeing the Cuban withdrawal from Angola to monitoring the implementation of the Bicesse Accords. UNAVEM I's mandate was completed with the final withdrawal of Cuban troops in 1991. UNAVEM II's mandate was to monitor the demobilization of government troops and UNITA guerrillas. It also participated in several of the monitoring commissions. However, both sides had negotiated that UNAVEM II would not be given the power to enforce compliance with the military and political process and it was also given only limited resources, a budget of $118 million. A total of only 350 military observers and 126 police observers were deployed. The then-special representative, Margaret Anstee cogently compared her position of having limited resources and mandate with "fly[ing] a 747 with only the fuel for a DC 3."31
UNAVEM II became a text book example of the sort of peacekeeping operation that should not occur. It was powerless to intervene when it became evident early on that both sides failed to comply with the demobilization plan of the "self-implementing" Bicesse accords. As the election approached, demobilization was badly behind schedule. Only 37 percent of government troops and 85 percent of UNITA troops had nominally been quartered in the forty-eight established cantonment areas by the August 1, 1992 deadline. Only 8,800 had been integrated into the new joint army, FAA.
Because the formation of the FAA was a precondition for the elections going ahead, it was symbolic created on September 27, two days before the elections. Both sides were not only uncooperative in the demobilization process, but evidently maintained secret armies in violation of the Bicesse Accords. The government also openly created its new paramilitary police force, the "Ninjas."
After the elections, UNAVEM II's efforts shifted to trying to stop a return to conflict, by January 1993 undertaking a mediation role in a series of efforts aimed at reaching a negotiated settlement. In June 1993, Margaret Anstee retired and former Malian foreign minister Alioune Blondin Beye replaced her. In November 1993, a new round of peace talks began in Lusaka, chaired by Beye. By this stage the U.N. and international community were determined that any future U.N. operation would learn from the mistakes of UNAVEM II, namely that the U.N. would have sufficient resources for the job and that UNITA's army woulddemobilize properly prior to any election. It was also recognized that there should be a transitional period of reconciliation and power-sharing before any election could take place. There was no acknowledgment that the U.N.'s determination to monitor silently-without public exposure of violations of the agreement-was the heart of its failure.
In February 1995, three months after the signing of the Lusaka Protocol, the security council agreed to mount a new peacekeeping operation in Angola.32 UNAVEM III had an authorized military contingent of up to 7,000 personnel. The Lusaka Protocol and the much larger and better resourced UNAVEM III was aimed at making good on the perceived mistakes of UNAVEM II, namely what was acknowledged to have been too small a U.N. mission with too limited resources and a "winner past the post" goal that encouraged competition and hostility.33 Reconciliation, power-sharing, and a blind-eye to both sides abuses would be the foundation blocks of UNAVEM III and diplomatic strategy.
The U.N. Security Council in August 1995 extended UNAVEM III's mandate for six months to February 1996. In a climate of international frustration over peacekeeping, there was strong pressure, particularly from the U.S., not to allow the operation to drag on indefinitely. Largely for this reason, UNAVEM III's mandate was renewed for only short periods in 1996 and 1997, making long-term planning difficult.34
It had been originally planned that UNAVEM III would complete its mission in February 1997. However, due to slippage in the Lusaka Protocol's timetable the plan changed to a phased withdrawal. Four of the six infantry battalions, together with additional support units and some military headquarters personnel were repatriated by June. The remainder were to have left by August, but this withdrawal was postponed because of the deteriorating security situation.
The end of June 1997 saw the end of the mandate of UNAVEM III, when the operation was replaced by the United Nations Observer Mission to Angola (MONUA).35 MONUA was comprised of 1,500 "rapid reaction troops," deployed in six companies to assist 345 Civilian Police (CIVPOL) and just eighty-fivemilitary observers. The Security Council ruled in August that the drawdown of MONUA was to be completed by the end of November. However, the deadline was subsequently extended until late January 1998.36 In the end, despite repeated postponements combined with U.N. sanctions against UNITA, it appeared that neither side was any longer susceptible to U.N. or outside pressure. This was a key indicator in 1998 that both sides had decided that renewed war was their preferred choice.
The plan for 1998 was to complete the withdrawal of the military component of MONUA from Angola. However, four infantry units with a total strength of up to 910 personnel were to remain for deployment in strategically important regions. After that, MONUA would become the unarmed observer mission that it was originally intended to be, with the Angolan government taking over responsibility for the security functions that MONUA's troops provided for U.N. and humanitarian personnel.
In 1998 MONUA's Division of Political Affairs was intended to operate at mandated strength, and its officers "would continue to be stationed in all provinces to verify the normalization of State administration, participate in local conflict-resolution mechanisms and provide good offices."37
In the first half of 1998, the mandate of MONUA was extended to June 30. The U.N. security council also endorsed an expanded deployment of eighty-three civilian police observers, and the complete withdrawal of all military personnel by July 1, except for one infantry unit, a helicopter unit, the signals and medical support units, and ninety military observers. The council expressed its intention to take a final decision by June 30 on MONUA's mandate, size, and organizational structure. It would also decide whether a follow-on U.N. presence would be needed after that date, based on further recommendations to be submitted by the secretary-general by June 17, 1998.38
Because of the deteriorating security situation on July 1, the U.N. renewed the mandate of MONUA for two months, up to August 31, and then for a further thirty days. On October 15 the mandate was extended for a further six weeks, by which time Angola was back at war. On December MONUA's mandate was extended to February 26, 1999. In December, because of fighting and an increasing number of incidents of harassment of MONUA staff, the U.N. decided to relocate all U.N.team sites to safer areas. It was also in this December-January 1999 period that two U.N. aircraft, with a total of fifteen passengers and eighteen crew were shot down in areas of active military operations.
The U.N. could not politically afford in 1998 to pull out in this deteriorating context, but was threatening to do so in an attempt to bluff the two sides into being more compliant. In the early phases of the Lusaka peace process this had some impact, but over time both sides became virtually immune to U.N. pressure. By early 1999 following the outbreak of war and the shooting down of two U.N. aircraft, the secretary-general decided that MONUA could do no more. In his report to the Security Council in January, he wrote:
42. Obviously, the Organization cannot impose its presence on the Angolan parties, nor can it play an effective role without their cooperation. The United Nations came to Angola at their explicit request and can be proud of what is accomplished. It has brought four years of relative peace, the longest period Angola has enjoyed since its independence. However precarious and imperfect that peace may have been, the UNAVEM III and MONUA provided to the Angolan parties ample political space to reach a peaceful solution and achieve national reconciliation. It is estimated that, the United Nations, its programs and agencies have also contributed up to U.S.$1.5 billion in support of the peace process. History will, of course, pass judgement on the reasons for which this unique opportunity was missed. In the meantime, however, the parties and their leaders must assume full and direct responsibility for the suffering of their people.
43. In these circumstances, I believe that MONUA has no other option but to continue to reduce its presence within Angola, and proceed with the orderly repatriation of United Nations personnel and property as requested by the Angolan Government.39
The secretary-general's key recommendation, to terminate MONUA's mandate on February 26 and have an orderly phased withdrawal over the following six months, did not find favor amongst the Security Council members, African ambassadors to the U.N and international and domestic NGOs inside Angola. Itwas felt that whatever MONUA's failings, a small multidisciplinary successor operation was appropriate. Not least to signal that the international community was not washing its hands of the Angolan crisis. This lobbying effort and two days of heated debate resulted in a Security Council presidential statement on January 21 calling on the government of Angola to reconsider its opposition to having U.N. peacekeepers remain in the country. The council underscored "the great importance it attaches to a continued multidisciplinary presence of the United Nations" in Angola.40
However, the Angolan government continued to oppose this option. Higinio Carneiro, deputy minister for Territorial Administration, told parliament that "[t]he government will not accept the continued presence of any member of the United Nations observer mission in Angola."41 Parliament responded with two motions, one urging the government to terminate the U.N. mission and another blaming the U.N. for the slide back to war.
Despite intense diplomatic lobbying, the government failed to budge on its desire to see MONUA out, and MONUA's mandate finally expired on February 26.42 The task of withdrawing the U.N. from Angola would take over six months and a substantial number of administrative, logistical, and other personnel, as well as a small medical unit would remain to see it through.43 The withdrawal would also require retaining for up to three months about thirty staff officers and a dozen police. The U.N.'s hope at the time of writing is that during this protracted liquidation phase the government will have a change of heart and be able to negotiate some sort of new small multidisciplinary mission.
The U.N. special representative in Angola, Issa Diallo, left Angola on March 15, marking the end of the U.N. peacekeeping operation. "The U.N. did what it could in Angola and it is not abandoning this country, it is just pulling back," Diallo told journalists at Luanda airport.44 Diallo remains in New York as the U.N. special envoy on Angola. On March 25 the Security Council president issued astatement on Angola, expressing particular concern at the "serious deterioration of the political, military and humanitarian situation in Angola."45 This call was reiterated in a statement by Security Council President Alain Dejammet of France on April 14 who called on both sides to cooperate in improving the humanitarian situation by giving access to humanitarian aid.46
On June 7 U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan "expressed deep concern at the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Angola where the extremely precarious security situation now requires the distribution of most humanitarian aid by air, an effort threatened by lack of funding." Kofi Annan also appealed for access to all those in need of assistance and called on both parties to end the conflict and to take "necessary steps to safeguard the lives of the civilian population."47
U.N. special envoy for Angola Issa Diallo returned to Angola on June 17 for two days of talks with the Angolan authorities about a follow-on U.N. mission from MONUA. Diallo, accompanied by U.N. under-secretary general for peacekeeping Benard Miyat, met on June 18 with Angolan Foreign Minister João Miranda. After briefing the Security Council on what occurred in Luanda, Miyat announced that an agreement in principle had been reached with senior Angolan officials on a small U.N. mission that would include political, information and humanitarian components. However, "there was no agreement yet, on military observers or human rights monitors," but more discussions were expected to follow.48 According to diplomats the U.N. has, after a bureaucratic mixup, budgeted for the Human Rights Division to remain operational to the end of August, while the drawing down of MONUA is budgeted until the end of October. Miranda told the delegation that he needed to present the U.N.'s proposals to the Council of Ministers and that he would then report back. In an interview to the press Miranda signaled that his government would consider a follow-on mission as long as it was small, "reflected on past errors," and was limited to human rights institutional capacity building and humanitarian assistance.49
Minister Miranda replied on June 29 in a letter to the secretary-general of the U.N. He wrote:
Under present circumstances, a United Nations presence can be of significant utility and be consistent if it is limited within the framework of humanitarian aid and in helping reinforce the institutional capacity of the government in the area of Human Rights. Toward this end, a total of thirty persons was proposed who would deal with the aforementioned questions and would be integrated within the structures of the UNDP.
Your Special Envoys transmitted to me a proposal for fifty to sixty persons to deal with political, military, humanitarian aid and human rights issues. This proposal not only goes beyond the government's proposal in numbers, but it agrees in its essence neither with the nature of the Angolan government's proposals nor with its scope of action.50
Secretary-General Kofi Annan met Minister Miranda during the Organization of African Unity summit in Algiers in July to further discuss the future of the U.N. in Angola. Minister Miranda on July 26 sent a second letter to the Secretary-General indicating that following the Algiers talks his government had agreed to a Security Council, (not UNDP), presence.51 Secretary-General Kofi Annan replied to the Miranda letter on August 2 stating that "the overall tasks of the United Nations would be to liaise with the relevant authorities, with a view to explore effective measures for restoring peace, as well as to assist the Angolan people in the area of capacity-building and promotion of human rights and to coordinate other activities."52 The U.N. mission would have thirty professional staff (and additional support staff), with human rights as its biggest component, but also a few military and political officers, a public information specialist, interpreters, and a legal advisor. It is likely to have a short but renewable mandate of several months at a time.
In an admission that the Lusaka peace process was over, and that a new mediation effort needed to begin, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan inaugurated on July 28 a fourteen nation committee to promote a peaceful settlement of theAngolan conflict, using bilateral and multilateral interventions among the warring parties.53
The members of the committee, known as the Committee of Friends for Angola, include the five permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States) and six African countries-Côte D'Ivoire, Gabon, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe.
Humanitarian Aid Corridors
The most pressing priority for U.N. agencies in 1999 is to get unhindered access for relief efforts. According to the U.N. by April 1999, 1.6 million people have been displaced by the conflict, including 680,000 in 1998. The U.N. agencies do not presently have access to fourteen out of eighteen provinces.54 Ramiro da Silva and Martin Griffiths, the deputy to the under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs visited Luanda in March to have talks with the government on opening up humanitarian corridors and presented the government with a "non-paper"-a formal document with no official status-on the issue.55 The government responded that it did not believe in any contact with UNITA as this would legitimize the rebels. On April 2 in London the World Food Program called upon the government and rebels to accept the creation of humanitarian corridors so that relief could be effectively distributed.56 The U.N. would also like to do a comprehensive humanitarian needs assessment in government and UNITA-controlled areas. However, on April 6 the Angolan government turned down this appeal saying the timing was not right and that the government would eventually open its own corridors.57 The urgency of safe humanitarian corridors was underscored on April 15 when six aid workers were killed in an ambush on a road south of Luanda between Lobito and Sumbe, when they were on their way to a meeting to discuss help for newly displaced people.58
A second, similar attack occurred on June 12 when two humanitarian workers were killed and two injured near Barraca, Bengo province. The workers, of the NGO Instituto Portugues de Medicina Preventiva were ambushed by an armed group while they were carrying out a polio eradication campaign and driving in clearly identified vehicles. The attackers were reported to have taken some itemsand set fire to the vehicles. U.N. Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Sergio Vieira De Mello on June 16 issued a statement urging the Angolan government and UNITA rebels to take immediate measures to bring those responsible for the act to justice and to improve the security and protection for humanitarian workers.59 A further attack on an aid convoy occurred on July 20 between Lucala and Samba Caju, on the six hundred kilometer journey from Luanda to Uige. Many people were killed and about thirty vehicles destroyed, including a vehicle belonging to the Catholic aid agency Caritas International.60
The government slightly softened its position in July over humanitarian assistance to areas controlled by UNITA. President dos Santos agreed to let the U.N. humanitarian assistance unit (UCAH) and the International Committee of the Red Cross contact UNITA about conducting a polio vaccination drive in rebel areas.61 On August 10 the government softened its position further and announced that it would authorize the opening of "humanitarian corridors" under the auspices of the ICRC to ease the transport of emergency aid to the war.62
The World Food Program on June 23 appealed for international donors to provide $40 million to stave off imminent famine in Angola.63 This followed a joint warning on June 17 with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) that over 1.7 million Angolans face malnutrition from a combination of war and an insufficient donor response to the crisis.64 Donor reaction was poor to this appeal so on July 19 the World Food Programme pleaded for more funding, asking for $5 million so it could continue to fly emergency relief flights to several besieged towns, such as Huambo and Kuito.
U.N. Radio Station
One of the great failures of UNAVEM II was its failure to create a neutral independent information source which people could have trusted. The May 1991-September 1992 period, for example, was notable for the dissemination of hostile propaganda by both the government's Rádio Nacional and UNITA's Vorgan. Both fomented violence and intolerance. Margaret Anstee, the U.N. special representative in Angola at that time, later decried the failure to have set up an independent U.N. radio station:
If I looked back and changed two things in UNAVEM II. It would be to have an effective human rights monitoring component and an independent radio station. Both are critical ingredients for a success in Angola.65
However, it was not easy to set up a U.N. radio station, even though Security Council Resolution 976 of February 1995 endorsed the secretary-general's call in his February 1 report "for UNAVEM III to have an effective information capability, including a United Nations radio station to be established in consultation with the Government of Angola."
For ten months there were sporadic negotiations between UNAVEM III and the government about setting up the radio station. Finally in December, the government, under increasing U.N. pressure, responded by claiming the issue was out-dated. Angolan Minister of Information, Hendrik Vaal Neto, said in a December 1995 interview on Angolan radio that:
I do not think it is necessary for the United Nations to operate its own radio service independent from Rádio Nacional. We are willing to allocate any time the United Nations requires. Regarding the opening of a private radio station, one should realize Angola has a constitution which we must uphold. The constitution bans private radio stations, particularly short wave stations. The United Nations needs to be heard throughout the country, and for that we have Rádio Nacional.66
Then-U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali raised the issue on December 7, 1995 in his report to the Security Council:
Although UNAVEM III has been offered more time on national radio and television, no adequate response has been received so far from theGovernment regarding the United Nation's own radio, and the situation essentially remains as described in my last report in October.
The U.N. continued in 1996 to raise the issue but eventually dropped even mentioning it. One of the U.N. press staff in Angola at the time told Human Rights Watch that:
We were just posturing. Beye doesn't want to make the government angry. So we are halfhearted on this. As long as we had plenty of coverage of Beye he was happy.67
Answering a question in December 1995, President dos Santos defended his government's position against a U.N. radio station by saying:
UNAVEM has its own radio program, they use Angolan radio and TV-without any restriction or control. It is a way we found for UNAVEM to send its message, which is cheaper for UNAVEM, which has to pay expenditures. I'm not saying that we're in the Guinness Book of World Records in terms of press freedom, but we're doing our best.68
The U.N. had to make do with broadcasting its "Paths of Peace" programs on state television and radio at set times each week. Despite the handicap of limited broadcasting schedules the broadcasts were respected. Mario Paiva, an independent Angolan journalist said "we also listened to the U.N. broadcasts to get a different view. Imagine what they could have achieved if they had been able to do it properly."69
The unsatisfactory nature of this arrangement became apparent on October 7, 1998 when the Angolan government cut the U.N.'s broadcasting time from three hours to two per day, reportedly because it was annoyed that the U.N. aired an interview with U.N. regional commander Bernard Gendré, who criticized the conduct of the Angolan Armed Forces.70 The allocated broadcasting time was cutby another hour by the Angolan government on February 15, 1999 in a further demonstration of its power over the U.N.71
The importance of press freedom and of initiatives like the U.N. radio station should be self-evident. Angolans have had little tradition or exposure to free expression. An independent, nonpartisan radio station which could have broadcast across the country was of critical importance in breaking the monopoly of control of information by both sides.
U.N. Human Rights Monitoring
The U.N.'s limited capacity to disseminate public information in Angola was matched by its poor record of human rights monitoring and reporting. UNAVEM II did little to protect human rights, often turning a blind eye to reports of human rights abuses. More typical of its rights activities was its organization of a rushed one-day human rights seminar in the National Assembly building in Luanda, in August 1992, at which General Obasanjo of Nigeria and a number of U.N. officials and academics spoke. This record improved little under the follow-on missions under the Lusaka process, despite there being a dedicated U.N. Human Rights Division with over twenty staff to monitor the abuses. When there was solid information on abuses by the government and UNITA available, the U.N. continued to observe passively and to suppress any public reporting of its findings. Margaret Anstee, the former U.N. special representative later concurred with the need for a strong U.N. human rights monitoring capacity, if not on the need for public reporting of abuses:
I will single out one [Human Rights Watch recommendation] for wholehearted endorsement: that the U.N. should deploy human rights monitors in Angola. As the report rightly observes, this was a big gap in UNAVEM II's original mandate, precisely because the issue was given scant importance in the Bicesse Accords, in negotiation of which the U.N. was involved. I do not agree, however, that the U.N. [UNAVEM II] was virtually silent on human rights abuses. Instances that came to our attention were taken up with the side concerned, and we organized the first human rights seminar held in Angola. It remainstrue, nonetheless, that our role in this key area was severely limited by a lack of mandate and resources.72
Ambassador Paul Hare, one of the architects of the Lusaka Protocols and the U.S. special envoy on Angola, took a different view. Hare claimed on a panel discussion on Angola in October 1997 that, "human rights was a subtext in the negotiations" in Lusaka, but that during the implementation phase, "human rights has not been [given] the same priority as has been given to other pressing issues, such as monitoring the cease-fire." Hare argued strongly that human rights initiatives must be balanced against other measures to prevent large-scale violence, taking the position that holding the two sides to human rights standards could jeopardize delicate negotiations. "Sadly," he stated, "after four years of negotiating and implementation, the issue of war and peace in Angola still hangs in the balance."73 After his retirement Ambassador Hare wrote at greater length about his views on accountability for abuses, saying:
The Lusaka Protocol provides for general amnesty for any crimes that may have been committed by any individual during the long course of Angola's civil war. As has been mentioned previously, there has been no disagreement between the two parties on this point because both recognized that without this provision, there would have been no peace agreement. Given Angola's bloody history, each side would have accused the other endlessly about specific acts and atrocities committed during the civil war. How could these accusations have possibly been sorted out? Who would have been the judge or judges?
Some have argued, however, that some type of mechanism or procedure-perhaps based on South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission-should have been established to deal with the injustices of the past in order to promote real healing and national reconciliation. At some point, the Angolan people will have to come to grips with what has been their national tragedy and nightmare. In Angola's case, this ismore likely to come through the voices of its poets, writers, musicians, and church leaders, rather than through the institution of more formalized procedures that would only deepen the wounds.74
With the collapse of the Lusaka peace process this strategy of see no evil, speak no evil appears to have back-fired badly. Twice this strategy has been used and twice the peace accords have collapsed and the country has returned to war. There is an urgent need for a clean break with the past, by making Angola's leaders accountable for their actions and cognizant of the potential penalties they face if they knowingly endorse abuses of human rights.
With the majority of the architects of the Lusaka Protocols advocating that upholding human rights be given a low priority, monitoring and reporting on these abuses would be severely constrained. Human Rights monitoring was however, a part of UNAVEM III's mandate under the Lusaka Protocol:
The Government and UNITA commit themselves to implement the "Acordos de Paz para Angola" (Bicesse), the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and the Lusaka Protocol, respecting the principles of the rule of law, the general principles of internationally recognized human rights, in particularly, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the fundamental freedoms of the individual, such as defined by the national legislation in force and the various international legal instruments to which Angola adheres.75
The Security Council in turn, in resolution 976 of February, 8, 1995, established UNAVEM III stating that it:
Welcome[d] the Secretary-General's intention to include human rights specialists in the political component of UNAVEM III to observe the implementation of the provisions [in the Lusaka Protocol] related to national reconciliation.
Following further questions about human rights issues in the Security Council, the Report of the Secretary-General (S/1995/588) of July 17 stated in paragraph 22 that:
The Angolan parties have been registering complaints about human rights violations with my Special Representative and with the Joint Commission. In response to these complaints, and in accordance with the provisions of resolution 976 (1995) UNAVEM established a small sub-unit to deal with human rights issues and observe implementation of the relevant provisions of the Lusaka Protocol.
Further, Security Council Resolution 1008 of August, 7 1995 expressed "concern at reports of human rights violations," while recognizing the contribution that human rights monitors can make in building confidence in the peace process. "The council confirmed its support by stating in paragraph 16 that it [a]uthorizes the Secretary-General to increase as appropriate the strength of UNAVEM III's human rights unit."
The U.N.'s Joint Commission, overseeing the peace process, in September 1995, also agreed to put human rights on the agenda of all its regular sessions and to request UNAVEM to report periodically on the general human rights situation in Angola, as well as on the results of its investigations of reported violations.
The principle of human rights monitoring was initially taken up at the time of the Lusaka Protocol by then U.N. Special Representative Alioune Blondin Beye. Beye approached various foreign ministries requesting them to seek NGOs which would be prepared to fund their own personnel to go in as human rights monitors in contested zones. Due to the continued fighting in Angola and the lack of the expertise and desire of many NGOs to send unprotected civilians into what were in fact active war zones this initiative made no progress.
In the spirit of the Security Council's report through Resolution 976 Beye requested the services of three Human Rights Experts, which Denmark, France and Portugal provided for six months in 1995. The number was later raised to five. These formed a human rights unit, which was placed within the Political Affairs Division in Luanda and headed by Amadou Niang, a Malian with family connections to Beye who lacked distinguished human rights credentials.
Although in name a human rights division existed in 1995, Human Rights Watch was told when visiting UNAVEM headquarters at the time that "the situation is too sensitive for serious human rights monitoring. Making public what we know could undermine the peace process and put us back to war." Other seniorofficials did not even acknowledge that there was a human rights component to UNAVEM when briefing the organization about UNAVEM's mandate.76
The human rights experts found on arrival that there was no "clear understanding of what UNAVEM wanted from us. No preparations were made by the Human Rights Division: there was no office, no computer, no radios [hand sets]; we were not briefed;... there seemed not to be much support from the Chief of the Human Rights Division."77 The human rights specialists spent much of their time in Luanda, but were not permitted to conduct human rights work in the area. Luanda was made the jurisdiction of the division's head, Amadou Niang, although little monitoring was conducted in Luanda up to November 1995. It appears that Luanda was seen as too politically sensitive for the documentation of human rights abuses because of the role of senior government officials there.
The lack of feedback, encouragement, or signs of interest in their human rights findings back at UNAVEM headquarters in Luanda was the common experience of UNAVEM's human rights experts until November 1995. In an internal memo obtained by Human Rights Watch, one specialist reported:
I don't know if my observations and recommendations have been discussed in the Joint Commission or anywhere else. I am not even sure if my reports have reached the SRSG's office, or if the office has only received extracts of my reports made by the Chief of the Human Rights Division. I find this lack of feedback very unsatisfactory. I have as well never received backup of any kind from the Chief of the Human Rights Division.78
UNAVEM was not noted for its transparency. All reports, including human rights reports, were withheld from the public. Most were reportedly withheld even from internal circulation.
Under UNAVEM's mandate U.N. Civilian Police (CIVPOL) officials were supposed to visit prisoners and observe the situation in the prisons; this however was largely disregarded before October 1995 but gradually improved after this. The seriousness with which CIVPOL officers conducted their human rightsresponsibilities has also been variable. One CIVPOL officer at Vila Espa, UNAVEM's headquarters described human rights as:
Too much work. I'm not here to die. If we push human rights too much it gets too dangerous. It is OK for you to say monitor and report these violations. But you don't work here.79
While not all CIVPOL officers were equally negative, this reflected the need for better human rights training and monitoring of UNAVEM officials in the performance of their mandated human rights roles.
One human rights specialist attached to UNAVEM concluded in a departure memo that:
Human rights work within the verification mission in Luanda is given a very low priority. As well when one compares with U.N. peace missions elsewhere[sic]. However, there may be reasons for this, financial reasons, I believe. But financial reasons can not justify problems and restrictions of the kind I have experienced during my stay in Angola.80
Amadou Niang, the head of UNAVEM's Human Rights Unit from 1995 to 1998 admitted that for most of 1995 human rights work had been a low priority:
While UNAVEM was consolidating its position I had strict instructions from Beye to maintain a presence but not engage in work that could cause political problems. This is no longer the case and as you see, in 1996 we are rapidly expanding our work.81
In November, the Human Rights Unit became more active and the division's capacity was expanded to seven officers in addition to Niang. In mid-1996 the number peaked at thirteen, with the six additional monitors funded by the E.U.
The Human Rights Division produced a flimsy "Integrated Plan for Human Rights" in 1995 that foresaw a continued presence until at least February 1997. Holding human rights training seminars for government and UNITA forces andofficials was the priority in the integrated plan. On November 23 1995, UNAVEM held its first seminar in Luanda, focusing on the role of the Lusaka Protocol in the protection of human rights and on UNAVEM III's plan of action in this area for the period up to February 1997. A second such seminar was held on January 17, 1996 in Luanda. This was higher profile, and the heads of the government and UNITA delegations to the Joint Commission were invited. Alioune Blondin Beye and Minister of Justice Paulo Tchipilica also attended. However, no Angolan NGOs concerned with rights issues were invited. The seminars appeared to be largely public relations exercises.
In early 1996 the unit expanded its coverage with a presence in each provincial capital, and held a series of regional seminars on human rights in government and UNITA controlled zones. In April 1996, the Human Rights Unit produced a report on the human rights situation in Angola which it submitted to the Joint Commission. It was not made widely available outside U.N. circles. A second report, produced in December, was not widely distributed either, although Amadou Niang claimed it was for open distribution.82 A third report, covering December 1996-December 1997, has never been circulated and remains confidential, although Human Rights Watch has seen a copy of the document. The report does not include any case material for 1997, reports largely on seminars and awareness raising programs, and does not assess the overall human rights situation, while overstating the unit's own efforts. In June 1997 the unit was upgraded to becoming a fully fledged division within MONUA.
The division investigated a number of complaints received in 1997, many of them about prison conditions. Six cases of human rights violations were submitted in July 1997 by MONUA to the ad hoc group on human rights at the Joint Commission. Between June and August 1998 police observers investigated twenty cases of alleged human rights abuses and MONUA staff visited prisons in the Luanda area. The staff of the Human Rights Division was reduced in July 1997 with the departure of six Association of European Parliamentarians for Action on [Southern] Africa (AWEPA) human rights monitors funded by the E.U.83 InJanuary 1998 the Human Rights Division maintained observers in seven provinces: Bié, Moxico, Lunda Sul, Huila, Benguela, Cuando Cubango, and Uige.
In a January 1998 report on MONUA the U.N. secretary-general called for more resources for human rights work:
As a result of the protracted conflict, Angola still needs international assistance in fostering a culture of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is significant that both parties continue to support the enhanced role of the United Nations in this area. While UNAVEM III and MONUA have monitored the human rights situation closely in some areas of the country, difficulties and delays in the recruitment of United Nations human rights observers have affected the scope of investigations into alleged violations of individual rights and advocacy programs. Additional steps are being taken to strengthen the Human Rights Division as mandated. Under the supervision of my Special Representative and the guidance of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, this component would continue to promote awareness of human rights issues and investigate allegations of abuses, which are the source of major concern. It would also assist in the capacity-building of national institutions and non-governmental organizations.84
But the unit's record was poor. In 1996 the Swedish embassy funded a consultant to look at what it could contribute towards building up a culture of human rights. After her initial visit the consultant wrote to the Human Rights Division with suggestions, returning to Angola in January 1998 to provide further advice to the Swedish embassy. Amnesty International also visited the Human Rights Division in mid-1996 and its successor in November 1997 and wrote to it with suggestions on raising human rights standards.
In January 1997, after a request by the Department of Peace-Keeping Operations of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ian Martin, a former secretary general of Amnesty International and head of U.N. human rights operations in Rwanda and Haiti, visited Angola on an assessment mission. Martin correctly identified that:
The next stage of the peace process is one in which the protection of human rights will be critical to its success. The extension of state administration throughout the country means the deployment of the Angolan National Police and Government officials to areas currently controlled by UNITA. These are areas where human rights abuses by UNITA have probably been greater than abuses in Government-controlled areas since the Lusaka Protocol. Initial relationships between the ANP and UNITA supporters, and between the new local administrations and the population, cannot be expected to be easy. Demobilized soldiers will be returning to their home areas, and some may add to the severe law and order problems, notably armed banditry, already being experienced in some parts of the country. Disarmament of civilians is essential for future peace and stability, but the period during which it is actively pursued will be a difficult one. Refugees and displaced people must be assured that they return home without fear. The justice system will only be beginning to function in some areas, and major efforts will be necessary if it is to be able to provide independent adjudication of disputes and prompt and fair trial of criminal cases. Opposing political parties must be able to function without fear in areas dominated by their opponents. Freedom of expression will begin to be tested in areas and contexts where it is as yet unfamiliar.85
Martin recommended that the unit be increased to forty-eight and that it became more proactive in pushing for rights improvements, including building up the capacity of Angolan institutions, particularly nongovernmental organizations. He concluded that the Center for Human Rights in Geneva could offer experience and possibly some resources, while emphasizing the need to hire professional human rights monitoring staff.
In mid-1997 the Center for Human Rights began searching for candidates to head a revamped Human Rights Division in Luanda. Three candidates who were offered the director's post turned it down. In May 1998, Nicholas Howen, former head of Amnesty International's legal department took over as head of the Human Rights Division.
Throughout 1997 the Human Rights Division maintained a low profile, claiming it lacked staff and resources to conduct any significant program. The unit had also failed since 1995 to work with local groups or engage in capacity building.In the provinces a number of monitors took their own initiatives and were responsible for some local-level improvement in rights observance. But this was not systematic or sustained. Other U.N. agencies became frustrated, their officials complained that information they provided to the Human Rights Division was never acted upon and several sought ways to circumvent the unit with their own information on violations.
Until late 1998 the Human Rights Division failed to win the confidence of local groups. When Benjamin Castello, head of the NGO Church Action for Angola, was asked about the unit's human rights seminars in government and UNITA areas, he replied, "An empty stomach is willing to do anything. MONUA is spending funds on seminars for people who have empty stomachs."86 A seminar in Huambo in 1997 was almost derailed when the participants demanded to know what the unit had done to track down the hundreds of people that were forcibly removed by UNITA in November 1994. Mass graves were also uncovered in Malanje, Huambo, and Soyo in 1996 and 1997 but although there were public pronouncements that they should be investigated no investigation had taken place. A number of other mass graves were suspected near Lubango and around Luanda. The Human Rights Division consciously avoided investigating past incidents, saying it only had the mandate to monitor current human rights abuses.
The U.N.'s Human Rights Division was ineffective because it had chosen not to report abuses in the public domain. Instead, it passed its findings to the Joint Commission and the U.N. using it as a dumping ground for its information. This was consistent with U.N. Special Representative Beye's belief that exposing human rights abuses could undermine the peace process and his public welcoming of an amnesty. In May 1996, when the National Assembly formally approved an amnesty law for all human rights abuses committed between May 31, 1991 and May 8, 1996 -the sixth amnesty law passed by Angola's parliament since 1981, Alioune Blondin Beye praised the law as providing a new impetus for the peace process. The strategy of impunity for human rights abuses perpetrated during conflict was also advocated by the U.S. Special Envoy to Angola, Paul Hare, who in October 1997 stated: "without a general amnesty in Angola you would soon find yourself in a morass from which you would never, never, never escape."87 The morass,however, grew deeper as the United Nations found the peace process collapsing around it.
The U.N. approach to human rights issues in the period November 1994 to May 1998 did little to create awareness of human rights issues or accountability for even the gravest abuses. It achieved even less in advancing a culture of respect for human rights in Angolan society.
The U.N.'s main contribution in this period was to persuade politicians from both sides to pay lip-service to human rights protection during its seminars. Indeed the Angolan government planned to host an extraordinary meeting of the Organization of African Unity Council of Ministers on human rights in October 1998 and a meeting of the African Commission on Human and People's Rights to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the U.N. Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Luanda canceled these events at the last moment citing the fragile state of the peace process.
With the peace process collapsing, Blondin Beye finally approved a change of U.N. strategy in late May 1998, calling on MONUA to carry out its investigations more expeditiously. This provided more space for some of the skilled human rights staff to become more active in their human rights monitoring efforts. When the new director, Nicholas Howen, arrived in post in early May, he began revamping the division, and was greatly assisted by Beye's change of strategy later that month. The immediate task for Howen was to implement the more comprehensive mandate endorsed by the Security Council in June 1997 and to recruit up to the authorized strength of twenty-three professional and twenty-six U.N. volunteer posts. Whole new programs of work were also created, the work of the division redirected, and teams in the provinces and the headquarters strengthened. The Human Rights Division's mandate was more clearly defined:
* Assist the government in strengthening the justice system and the police so they are professional, guided by the rule of law and have the confidence of the people.
* Gather information and facts about the human rights situation, so that cases can be referred to the appropriate authorities and to assist the government in better understanding structural obstacles and identifying solutions.
* Encourage the growth of civil society as a partner in building human rights, peace and development.
Because of the deteriorating peace process in 1998, resulting in the initial evacuation of seventeen of the thirty-eight MONUA teamsites and then a complete pull-back to Luanda by early 1999, the revamped Human Rights Division really had only six months to show what it could achieve, and this in an increasingly difficult context. Despite these disadvantages, the division began to more actively investigate and document the growing number of human rights abuses occurring across the country. In January 1999 in Luanda a summary reports of these findings were more widely disseminated, unlike previous MONUA human rights reports. The division was also much more open to dialogue with international human rights NGOs than it had been in the past.
The Human Rights Division developed a good working relationship with the Ministry of Justice following up on the government's statement that it wanted to provide the means for its citizens to come forward and exercise their rights. In this regard the Angolan Constitution envisages the creation of the office of an Ombudsman. While this has not yet been established, to some extent the Ministry of Justice filled this gap with the creation of Provincial Human Rights Committees in 1998 bringing together representatives of government ministries and institutions with NGOs and traditional and religious leaders. With the support of the provincial governor, a pilot project was started in 1998 in Benguela Province with the creation of three community-based centers where citizens were able to raise with human rights counselors difficulties faced with government agencies. The Benguela Human Rights Committee was said by the Human Rights Division to have played a role in seeking to resolve the complaints with the relevant agencies. The same committee also endorsed a Human Rights Division project in which 350 citizens were trained as human rights promoters in the province's communes. The minister of justice, Paulo Tchipilka, told Human Rights Watch the Human Rights Division is doing important things. "We benefit much from their assistance. We need to put into practice the human rights principles set out in the Angolan constitution and law."88 However, there has been no independent assessment of the effectiveness of these projects to date and they appear to have collapsed due to the resumed war.
Outreach efforts also had some success. An Angolan theater troupe, JULU, has worked with MONUA to write and perform a twelve-part series of dramatic plays on a range of civil, cultural, economic, political, and social rights. These were highly successful plays and have been shown weekly on the MONUA television slot, followed by an on-screen round-table discussion by Angolans from government and civil society. In Benguela and Huambo the plays were performedto packed audiences, including the governor of each province, and have inspired local groups to copy them.89
The Human Rights Division also sought donor funding in December 1998 for a number of projects, including the provision of training/reference materials to the Angolan justice sector; support for a prosecutors' training seminar; training trainers of Angolan National Police; Advocacy/para-legal training; and training and support for prison/detention facilities.90
In February 1999 the Human Rights Division had twenty-seven observers, all in Luanda apart from two in Lobito and two in Lubango. By July the division had twenty-four observers, all in Luanda. Despite the reduction of the U.N.'s presence and the resumption of war, Howen believed that the division had a continued role to play:
A significant U.N. human rights presence should continue in Angola. There is still a great deal of long term human rights development work to do here, perhaps even more so during a war to lay a foundation for the future: institution-building work with the government to make the police force more professional, the justice system more responsive and the prison system more humane; capacity-building to give civil society more confidence and skills to promote and protect human rights; stimulating public discussion about how human rights are necessary for peace and sustainable development. These aims are in line with statements of the President and initiatives of several government ministries. War is only one of the realities in Angola. It is still possible for Human Rights Officers (HROs) to work in many provinces, along the coast and inland.91
The Angolan government determination to see the multidisciplinary U.N. operation in Angola terminated was accepted to by the Security Council on February 26 after intensive efforts to get the government to change its mind. An immediate challenge for the Human Rights Division was to seek the support and funds to stand alone, possibly under the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, although this would require the negotiation of a memorandum ofagreement between the office of the High Commissioner and the Angolan government, a process that can be lengthy. The six months-plus phase-out period for MONUA provides time for such arrangements to be made, taking account President dos Santos' letter to the U.N. secretary general committing his government to "continue to deal with U.N. agencies' representatives on issues of humanitarian assistance, human rights, and other issues relevant to the populations involved."92 The Human Rights Division was also mandated by the Security Council in its resolution on February 26 "to continue its current activities during the liquidation period."93 The Human Rights Division hopes to remain in Angola as a part of whatever U.N. presence emerges from the ongoing negotiations.
Despite the Security Council decision on MONUA's phase-out, the budget for MONUA's liquidation made no provision for human rights during the continuing liquidation phase. In what may well reflect the lack of seriousness with which human rights monitoring is taken at the U.N.'s headquarters in the Vth Committee. This budget was prepared without the input of the Human Rights Division or the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. After intense lobbying by Nicholas Howen, the Human Rights Division was given a stay of execution pending the two- day visit in mid-June of U.N. special envoy on Angola Issa Diallo and U.N. under-secretary general for peacekeeping Benard Miyat.94 As discussed above, this visit did not resolve the U.N.'s future in Angola. There was only agreement in principle on the presence of political officers and on human rights. Foreign Minister Miranda stated that he wanted only a few human rights monitors, only in Luanda and only doing capacity-building.
The future of the Human Rights Division continued to be uncertain until August, with different departments of the U.N. also in disagreement over whats its future role should be; some were keen to see a few political and military observers deployed under a Department of Peacekeeping Operation rather than a solely United Nations Development Program-driven initiative. An attempt to resolve this crisis by Canada and the Netherlands in late July by with a specific Security Council discussion on its future was blocked by China.
By August the future of the Human Rights Division appeared to be more secure. President dos Santos agreed to a Security Council mandated U.N. operationof thirty professional staff (and additional support staff), with human rights as the biggest component in the operation. This will be the first time ever that a Security Council-mandated operation has human rights as its largest component.
For the first seven months of 1999 the Human Rights Division was unable to play the role it envisaged. It spent much of its energy on trying to carve out a future and could perform little serious investigative work on rights abuses; it produced no publication. The division had also discouraged journalists from talking to it. It remains questionable what can be achieved unless the Human Rights Division can obtain a clear-cut mandate which includes investigative work and the dissemination of its findings.
Any future U.N. human rights operation needs to have a clear-cut mandate with a five pronged focus on institution building, fact-finding and publication, protection, capacity-building in civil society, and public promotion of human rights values. The size of such an operation could remain at the current mandated size of forty-nine, to be located mainly along the coast and in Luanda, with several teams tasked to go into the interior when the security conditions permit.
UNAVEM III and its successor, MONUA, were for much of their existence classic examples of a U.N. operation in which human rights were not a priority. This policy changed in May 1998, but by then it was too late. The damage had been done.
The lack of initiative by governments supporting the U.N. presence to push for investigative work by the Human Rights Division, for the dissemination of its findings, and to support an independent U.N. radio station contributed to the collapse of the Lusaka peace process. The leadership of MONUA and the U.N.'s top political leaders at no time showed a strong commitment to making human rights monitoring, protection, and promotion an integral part of the peace process, but rather opted continually to subordinate this part of their mandate to what was deemed politically expedient, however, shortsighted.
Too little effort was also made in working through grassroots initiatives and too much time was spent placating elites while ignoring the continued human rights violations and the violations of the Lusaka Accords that occurred. Even the government's refusal to budge on the issue of an independent U.N. radio station, in defiance of Security Council resolutions, was met by little in the way of diplomatic pressure; ultimately the initiative was quietly forgotten.
The incorporation of a Human Rights Division in the U.N. operation in Angola was a step in the right direction. But its inability to pursue a comprehensive rights defence program or to work to build a local capacity to monitor and protecthuman rights undermined its credibility This failure was due mostly to Beye's strategy of silence and passivity in the face of grave rights abuses but was made worse by the lack of vision and poor management skills of the initial director of the division, Amadou Niang. Niang failed in 1995-1998 to use-or permit-the division to investigate and document rights abuses in any meaningful manner. The division also did little to help local Angolan NGOs and institutions build up their capacity to defend people's rights, or to assist local efforts through the media, churches, and civic groups to promote greater political tolerance. However, he ensured that the secretary general's reports to the Security Council had human rights entries.
55 Human Rights Watch has a copy of this "non-paper" on file.
56 Público (Lisbon), April 3, 1999.
57 AP, 6 April, 1999.
58 Jornal de Notícias (Lisbon), April 20, 1999.
59 PANA, June 16, 1999. Food distribution is also becoming more dangerous. In early June a group of gunmen in Menongue threatened World Food Program staff and stole ten tons of maize, resulting in the suspension of food distribution. WFP Emergency Report, Report No.23 of 1999, June 11, 1999.
60 Reuters, July 20, 1999.
61 Reuters, July 16, 1999.
62 Lusa (Macão), August 10, 1999.
63 Lusa (Macão), June 23, 1999.
64 IRIN-Southern Africa, "Angola: FAO, WFP alarmed at food situation ." The appeal was based on a joint agency assessment of Angola in May.
65 Interview with Margaret Anstee, March 11, 1998.
66 Rádio Nacional de Angola, 0800 GMT, December 12, 1995.
67 Interview with João Carlos Gomes, New York, November 1996.
68 President dos Santos reply to Human Rights Watch question, Center for Strategic and International Studies Seminar, Washington D.C., December 8, 1995.
69 Interview with Mario Paiva, Luanda, August 17, 1998.
70 Citing "the country's highest interests," RNA state radio announced that the one-hour morning program had been axed, but that the afternoon and nighttime editions could still run.
71 Público (Lisbon), February 16, 1999.
72 Margaret Anstee in her book review of Human Rights Watch's Angola: Arms trade and Violations of the Laws of war since the 1992 Elections, Journal of Southern African Studies, November 1995, pp.335-337.
73 Ambassador Paul Hare cited in "Panel 2: Angola Post-Cold War Harvest, panel summary," in, How Can Human Rights Be Better Integrated into Peace Process?: Conference Report (Washington DC: The Fund For Peace, January 1998).
74 Paul Hare, Angola's Last Best Chance for Peace: An Insider's Account of the Peace Process (Washington DC: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1998) p.137.
75 Annex 8, General Principles 10, reproduced in U.N. Document DPI/1552, p.104.
76 See the section on human rights monitoring, Human Rights Watch, "Angola. Between War and Peace," A Human Rights Watch Short Report, February 1996, vol.8, no.1 (A), pp. 36-41.
77 Confidential memo provided to Human Rights Watch, 1995.
78 Confidential memo provided to Human Rights Watch, 1995.
81 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Amadou Niang, Luanda, January 11, 1996.
82 Human Rights Watch has copies of both these reports in their possession. Neither were circulated although a limited number of copies were provided to a select number of diplomats. It is interesting to note that many of the field investigations described had been initiated in response due to letters sent to the unit by Amnesty International sections requesting information.
83 The Netherlands-based AWEPA had no prior human rights monitoring track record. At our request, it permitted Human Rights Watch to provide a short briefing to a number of candidates in Brussels in 1996 but made no effort to liaise afterwards.
84 "Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA)," S/1998/17, 12 January 1998.
85 Ian Martin, "Report on the Human Rights Activities of UNAVEM and Proposals for an Enhanced Programme," unpublished report, February 2, 1997.
86 Cited in, Action for Southern Africa (ed), Achieving Lasting Peace in Angola: The Unfinished Agenda. Report of conference held at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, on 4 September 1997 (London: ACTSA; Christian Aid; CIIR, 1997), p.26.
87 Ambassador Paul Hare, cited in "Panel 2: Angola Post-Cold War Harvest, panel summary," in How Can Human Rights Be Better Integrated into Peace Process?: Conference Report (Washington DC: The Fund For Peace, January 1998).
88 Interview with Paulo Tchipilica, Minister of Justice, Luanda, August 30, 1998.
89 MONUA, "The Current & Future Role Of A United Nations Human Rights Presence in Angola," November 1998.
90 MONUA, `Human Rights Division: Summary of Human Rights Projects Requiring Funding,' December 1998.
91 Nicholas Howen, communication, January 1999.
92 "Letter to U.N Secretary General Kofi Annan from President José Eduardo dos Santos Regarding the Continued UN Presence in Angola," dated, Luanda, February 11, 1999.
94 There is now funding for the Human Rights Division until the end of August, following an intense lobbying exercise in the Vth Committee.