45th Session Issues
Angola is situated in the West coast of Southern Africa with an area of 1,246,699 square kilometers. The population of Angola is around 8.5 million and the religions in the country include Roman Catholic, Protestant, and traditional religions. Angola achieved its independence from Portugal on November 11, 1975. The rebel group UNITA however, is currently fighting a civil war against the Luanda government to gain power in the country.
History Of Angola
Ever since Angola received its independence from Portugal on November 11, 1975, the two sides have been fighting to control Angola and run the politics in the country their own way. The Movimiento Popular de Libertacao de Angola (M.P.L.A.), founded in 1956, was a multi-ethnic group run by the upper class and supported by the Mbundu.
The M.P.L.A has been in control of the government since independence and has received support from Portugal, the Soviet Union, and Cuba. The Uniao Nacional para a Independencia Total de Angola (UNITA), founded in 1966, was based on a strong African nationalism and supported by the Ovimbundu. UNITA received backing from South Africa and the United States. The two groups were constantly clashing from 1975-1991, in a gruesome civil war, until the United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM I) was put into place in 1990, which was designated to verify the withdrawal of 50,000 Cuban troops from Angola. The mission was composed of 70 military observers, and a civilian support staff of 20. Its three year budget was $ 19.4 billion.
The 16 year civil war in Angola was temporarily ended with the peace accord of May 1991, between the Luanda government and UNITA. The cease-fire accord was followed by the country's first free elections in October 1992, and run by the Angolan National Electoral Council and supervised by the United Nations. Consequently the United Nations Angola Verification Mission II, composed of observers from 24 nations, was designated to oversee developments in the country. Moreover, the UN Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros Ghali, and his special representatives in Angola appealed to Angola's leaders, parties, and the national electoral council to agree on a code of electoral conduct. However, when UNITA lost the ballot it rejected the cease-fire and the war resumed. Nonetheless, UNAVEM II maintains its presence in Angola, since the election did not bring a national reconciliation within a democratic framework in the country.
In November 1993 peace talks between the warring parties of Angola were held in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, and this was seen as a last chance effort to end the civil war after threats of tougher sanctions against UNITA were imposed by the United Nations. The United Nations had already imposed an oil and arms embargo on UNITA for more than two months before the Lusaka peace talks, and threatened harder sanctions if UNITA continued to spurn the chance of peace. For four weeks, the peace talks between the Angolan government and UNITA were held under a UN mediation effort. In the first phase of the negotiations both parties agreed to establish a new armed force composed of an equal number of soldiers from both sides. But, UNITA demanded an equal number of government ministerial posts, especially in key posts such as defence minister, interior minister and information minister.
UNITA also demanded special protection for Jonas Savimbi and other high ranking officials. Each time the two sides looks close to an agreement, each side tries to strengthen their bargaining position by making military gains. This kind of bargaining lends to a dim outlook to a peaceful future in Angola.
Current Issues In Angola
The United Nations with its "blue helmets," as a sign of peace, is involved in different activities in many counties. Today the scope of UN activities worldwide is growing dramatically. One of the most prominent UN activities is peacekeeping and this shows the United Nations' commitment to international peace. The United Nations first started to participate in Angola during the late 1990s to monitor the withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola and in the negotiation of a powersharing agreement to end the civil war in the country. The United Nations was directly involved in the United Nations Angola Verification Mission. The UN has also been involved in UNAVEM II and inn the many other peace talks that have taken place.
In a country where millions of people lack appropriate food and medical aid the United Nations desperately tries to provide for those who are in need. One UN official warned that the worst disaster could yet be to come, and we will probably see more human suffering in Angola than we have ever seen anywhere else before. According to the British based aid group "Save the children," out of every 1000 children, 300 die in Angola, and this is the highest death rate anywhere in the world.
The United Nations International Children's Education Fund called for nations around the world to assist on relief supplies for the victims of the Angolan civil war. In reply, the Japanese government donated $750,000 of emergency aid to assist the millions of Angolans caught in the uprising. The French government donated 2.5 million francs of their own humanitarian assistance to the war victims in Angola.
According to a UN report, the Angolan civil war kills at least 1,000 people a day, and this makes the civil war one of the world's bloodiest conflicts. When fighting resumed in Angola, thousands of people were killed and large numbers were displaced from their homes. In Angola there is a massive refugee problem, and this problem is accompanied by hunger and a high medical demand. The Angolan government, and its opposition UNITA, remain so implacably hostile towards each other, yet both realize that a military solution is not the answer.
In such a deadlock for a solution, the United Nations has intervened so that a level of trust can be kept between both sides. In October of 1993, a mediating mission led by Alioune Blondin Beye, imposed a media blackout. However, in order to press for further concessions from the Angolan government, UNITA broke the news embargo and the hopes of an early settlement vanished.
In the past six months a bloody civil war has raged on. Food and medical aid are still lacking for more than 1 million Angolans because the battlegrounds are too unsafe to transport the supplies. However, Nelson Mandela was persuaded to attend the Angolan summit in Pretoria. At the summit, Mandela had words with President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, who has been breaking the trade embargo by supplying UNITA. In October 1994 negotiations, the Angola government and the rebels agreed to a cease-fire and a peace treaty. Under the treaty, a UN force would provide security and a power sharing arrangement would be put in place.