Security Council meeting 4517

Date23 April 2002
S-PV-4517 2002-04-23 10:30 23 April 2002 [[23 April]] [[2002]] /

The situation in Angola.

The meeting was called to order at 10.45 a.m.

Adoption of the agenda

The agenda was adopted.

The situation in Angola

The President

I should like to inform the Council that I have received a letter from the representative of Angola in which he requests to be invited to participate in the discussion of the item on the Council’s agenda. In conformity with the usual practice, I propose, with the consent of the Council, to invite that representative to participate in the discussion, without the right to vote, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter and rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.

There being no objection, it is so decided.

At the invitation of the President, Mr. Gaspar Martins (Angola) took a seat at the Council table.
The President

In accordance with the understanding reached in the Council’s prior consultations, and in the absence of objection, I shall take it that the Security Council agrees to extend an invitation under rule 39 of its provisional rules of procedure to Mr. Ibrahim Gambari, Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser of the Secretary-General for Special Assignments in Africa.

It is so decided.

I invite Mr. Gambari to take a seat at the Council table.

The Security Council will now begin its consideration of the item on its agenda. The Council is meeting in accordance with the understanding reached in its prior consultations.

At this meeting, the Security Council will hear a briefing by Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser for Special Assignments in Africa, Mr. Ibrahim Gambari.

Mr. Gambari (Special Adviser on Africa)

In my briefing of 20 March 2002, I informed the Council that the Secretary-General intended to send me on an extended mission to Angola, which intention was endorsed by members of the Council in their last presidential statement on Angola, contained in document S/PRST/2002/7, of March 28 2002. The objectives of the mission were to deliver a written message from the Secretary-General to President dos Santos; to witness the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding, which is complementary to the Lusaka Protocol; to clarify the role of the United Nations during the current, and next, phase of the peace process; and to have substantive discussions with the President and with senior members of the Government on how the United Nations can best assist in the peace process.

During my mission to Luanda, I was received in audience twice by President dos Santos. I also had discussions — often more than once — with the Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Planning, Finance, Territorial Administration and Social Reinsertion, as well as with the Chief of Staff of the armed forces of Angola. Furthermore, I met with parliamentarians, leaders of political parties — including those of UNITA representatives of the churches, national and international non-governmental organizations and members of the diplomatic corps — including the ambassadors of the P-5 countries resident in Luanda, ambassadors of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), ambassadors of the European Union and ambassadors of the troika.

Today I am in a position to report that, as a result of the consultations I had with the authorities and other stakeholders in the Angolan peace process, there is now greater clarity concerning the role of the United Nations in the present, as well as the next, phase of the process. Moreover, it is also fair to say that the prospects for lasting peace in Angola are brighter now than ever before, and certainly better than during the previous peace agreements aimed at ending the conflict in the country. The following are my main observations.

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in Luanda on 4 April 2002 was perhaps the most significant public event to take place during my mission to Angola. The Memorandum formally brought a halt to the hostilities in one of Africa’s longest-running wars, which had brought untold suffering to too many people in that country. As members of the Council may be aware, the Memorandum details the responsibilities of the Angolan armed forces and those of UNITA for the observation of a ceasefire, for quartering UNITA soldiers and their families and for the collection and destruction of weapons. The Memorandum also grants a blanket amnesty for all crimes committed during the conflict.

Furthermore, the Government also undertook the following tasks in the Memorandum: to provide assistance to UNITA soldiers; to manage the quartering areas; to select and reincorporate about 5,000 members of the UNITA military force into the Angolan armed forces and the police; and to demobilize over 50,000 UNITA soldiers. The estimated timeframe for the completion of these tasks is 262 days from d-day, which was 4 April 2002. The Government of Angola is also committed under the Memorandum to assist the families of UNITA soldiers, about 300,000 persons, and to provide vocational training and reintegrate former combatants into civilian life and into the productive sector.

Moreover, in its 15-point peace plan, which had been announced earlier, the Government of Angola pledged to give assistance to demobilized soldiers, including those from the last three wars — who are estimated to number about 150,000 — and to take care of the disabled, orphaned and widowed. In addition, the Government of Angola undertook the resettlement of an estimated 4.5 million displaced persons, a figure provided by the Government itself.

In my statement at the signing ceremony commemorating the agreement of the Memorandum of Understanding, I urged the parties to the Angolan conflict to seize the historic opportunity to end the tragedy of war in Angola once and for all. I also pledged the support of the United Nations in the entire peace process.

However, in signing the Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of the United Nations as witness, I expressed, and entered into the text of the Memorandum, a reservation concerning the non-recognition by the United Nations of any general amnesty that includes genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. That statement of principle left some apprehension in the minds of UNITA and some people in the armed forces of Angola — as well as in some segments of civil society — who felt that this position by the United Nations may undermine the peace process, because some combatants may believe that it negates the provisions of the amnesty law that had recently been passed by the Angolan National Assembly. I went to great lengths and spent considerable time during my visit to explain and clarify the principled position of the United Nations on this issue.

Concerning the irreversibility of the peace, all the people with whom I had consultations, including the authorities and UNITA, believe that the chances of returning to war in Angola — war such as the ones we saw in 1994 and 1998 — are now very negligible. A main factor contributing to this view is the military debility of UNITA, including through the effectiveness of United Nations sanctions. In this regard it may be of interest to recall that General Gato, the Secretary-General of UNITA, who is now head of the Joint Military Commission, has said that he was defeated not by the armed forces of Angola, but by United Nations forces. I think that this may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it is the first time that somebody has testified to the effectiveness of United Nations sanctions.

In any case, other factors that have contributed to the view that the chances of returning to large-scale war are now very negligible are the war fatigue on both sides of the conflict and in the general population; the adherence of all UNITA regional military commanders to the Memorandum of Understanding; and the physical presence in Luanda of the Chief of Staff of UNITA military forces, General Ukwachitembo “Kamorteiro”, his Deputy, General Samy, and other senior military officers, as well as the full backing given to the Memorandum by the political leadership of UNITA under its Secretary-General, Lukamba Paulo Gato, who has also been based in Luanda since 3 April 2002. Thus, all those who might want to perpetuate the war are already back and located in Luanda.

However, the irreversibility of the peace process will depend on a number of factors. First, the quartering of UNITA soldiers has to be done right, promptly and on schedule. Secondly, the humanitarian needs of their families, including food and medicine, must be met adequately. Thirdly, conditions must be created for the promotion of national reconciliation and national reconstruction. Fourthly, UNITA should emerge as a united political party and as a credible interlocutor in the peace process and democratization in Angola. In this regard, I stressed during my meetings with Mr. Gato and Mr. Manuvakola, who is the leader of UNITA-Renovada in Parliament, that the United Nations has no intention of interfering or mandate to interfere in the internal affairs of UNITA or in the emergence of the eventual leader of UNITA. On the contrary, we in the United Nations hold the view that UNITA should be allowed to choose its leadership in complete freedom and without any external interference.

I would now like to touch on the role of the United Nations. The Angolan Government has divided the peace process into two phases. The first deals with military issues and the implementation of related tasks under the Memorandum of Understanding, while the second will deal with political matters under the Lusaka Protocol. The latter includes, inter alia, the issue of the second round of presidential elections; the appointment of some governors, ambassadors and provincial administrators; the adoption of new national symbols; and what is called the “deepening” of democracy, including the revision of the Constitution.

In the first and present phase of the peace process, the United Nations is expected to participate as observer in the work of the Joint Military Commission, which is charged with the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding and with providing up to 11 military observers, including to the Technical Group of the Joint Military Commission. The United Nations is also expected to provide technical assistance in the quartering areas, of which there are now 36; to assist the Armed Forces of Angola in managing these areas; and to provide humanitarian assistance to the families of UNITA military forces and to about 4.5 million internally displaced persons.

The Government has, however, assumed primary responsibility for the funding and management of the quartering areas and for providing assistance to the family members of UNITA military forces in the quartering areas. It has also created the National Reconstruction Service to facilitate the process of reintegration of former combatants into the productive sectors and civilian life of the country.

However, the Angolan Government is requesting the United Nations to help in providing technical and material support, especially in the quartering areas, and in the demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants and their families. In order to raise funds to help to meet some of the challenges of the peace process, the Government is planning to organize an international donors conference in two phases. Phase one is intended to address emergency needs related to the peace process, such as support for demobilization, disarmament and reintegration activities, as well as the repair of infrastructure, such as bridges and roads, to allow access to the quartering areas and to those areas where the family members of UNITA military forces would be assembled. This first phase of the donor conference is planned for October 2002. Phase two, which would require a longer time for preparations, is likely to take place some time in 2003.

On sanctions, there is an apparent consensus within the country that, while the suspension of the travel ban on UNITA officials would be in order, it is premature at this point to talk about the lifting of other sanctions, especially those associated with the military, such as the arms embargo, fuel, diamond sales, funds and bank accounts. Some of those consulted, however, expressed the view that the maintenance of the travel ban on UNITA officials is now difficult to justify, especially after the National Assembly has offered a general amnesty to all UNITA members and referred to a period of 45 days within which they may wish to take advantage of the amnesty.

Furthermore, UNITA would like the members of its external mission to participate in the peace process and in the process of the reunification of UNITA. Indeed, some of the other stakeholders believe that the lifting of the travel ban would contribute to increased confidence in the peace process itself. In this regard, Mr. Gato, on behalf of UNITA, has written a letter to the President of the Security Council, which he has asked me to deliver, arguing that the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding and his party’s full participation in its implementation are grounds for the lifting of sanctions against UNITA.

On its part, the Government of Angola accepts in principle the lifting of the travel ban against UNITA officials, but has expressed the view that great caution is needed in implementing it and that, in this regard, a case-by-case approach is to be preferred. The argument here is that the international community must be convinced beyond doubt that all UNITA members have indeed abandoned the military option before lifting the travel ban and that this would require time to evaluate the actual behaviour of UNITA during the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding.

The humanitarian situation continues to be critical. The number of internally displaced persons has increased from 4.1 to 4.5 million. This increase reflects especially the population flows from formerly inaccessible areas. The humanitarian agencies in Angola have also been requested to provide assistance to an additional 300,000 people, the family members of UNITA military forces. There is also an unspecified number of refugees presently in Zambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Namibia who may wish to be repatriated, in addition to the need to care for orphans and over 200,000 disabled people.

In this regard, the Government has requested United Nations agencies, such as the World Food Programme, to continue to render their support until December 2002. Meanwhile, it should be noted that the international community has subscribed to only 10 per cent of the needs stated in the Consolidated Appeal Process. The Council may therefore wish to appeal again for continued assistance for the people of Angola, especially in this critical phase of the peace process. Meanwhile, the Government has authorized the relevant minister to enter into negotiations with the United Nations Resident Coordinator with a view to reaching a framework agreement on humanitarian relief efforts.

I should like to make the following concluding remarks. It is clear from consultations held during my mission to Angola that the United Nations is expected to play a role in the present phase of the peace process, including military observation of the quartering process, provision of technical and managerial support in quartering areas, demobilization and reintegration, as well as humanitarian support. The United Nations is also expected to chair the Joint Commission during the second phase of the peace process under the Lusaka Protocol.

The Government has also agreed in principle that the mandate of the United Nations Office in Angola (UNOA) needs adjustment in order to allow it to support the present phase as well as the next phase of the peace process. Therefore, the Secretary-General has directed that I and my colleagues in the Secretariat should begin critically to assess the areas where the Government has expressed interest in obtaining the support of the United Nations for the peace process and also carefully to identify the tasks involved and the implications in terms of human and financial resources. Those tasks would determine the recommendations that the Secretary-General may make to the Council with regard to possible adjustment of UNOA’s current mandate, including the implications for the size of a reconfigured mission and its duration. These are expected to be contained in the Secretary-General’s next report to the Council on Angola, which should be ready by next month.

Meanwhile, as a result of preliminary discussions with the Angolan authorities and the United Nations Country Team, as well as with the troika, United Nations support to the peace process may be in the following critical areas: first, military observation of the quartering process and the collection and destruction of weapons; secondly, civilian and human rights observation in the assembly areas for the families of UNITA military forces; thirdly, technical assistance and mobilization of material resources for the soldiers in the quartering areas and their families, as well as for demobilization and reintegration; fourthly, assistance in the preparation and mobilization of resources through the proposed international donors conference; fifthly, humanitarian assistance to the families of UNITA military forces and internally displaced persons, and in demining activities; sixthly, with regard to electoral assistance, President Dos Santos has admitted that the Secretary-General has in fact given his consent in principle to assist Angola in the proposed future national elections; and seventh, assistance in the transition from war to peace in Angola through the extension and consolidation of the structures of State administration through development programmes and national reconciliation programmes.

These issues would be further discussed within the Secretariat with the aim of developing a comprehensive United Nations strategy for Angola, including the future role of UNOA, in consultation with the Government of Angola.

The President

I now give the floor to the representative of Angola.

Mr. Gaspar Martins (Angola)

At the outset, allow me to congratulate you, Sir, on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council for the month of April. This has indeed been a very productive month for the Council, and the manner in which you have been conducting the deliberations has been a key factor. I would also like to commend your predecessor, Ambassador Ole Peter Kolby of Norway, on his outstanding performance during his mandate.

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on the cessation of hostilities marked a turning point in the history of the Republic of Angola. The Security Council of the United Nations, in its capacity as the body whose primary function is the maintenance of international peace and security, played a very pivotal role in the achievement of peace in Angola. Time and again, through the relevant resolutions and presidential statements, utilizing the tools and policy instruments at its disposal, it expressed the will of the international community regarding the conflict in Angola by upholding principles of democratic cohabitation in accordance with international law. The combined efforts of our institution, the cooperation of the Member States and the efforts of the Government of Angola led to the cessation of hostilities in Angola, as expressed in the Memorandum of Understanding to complement the Lusaka Protocol.

At this point, I wish to express my Government’s appreciation to the Secretary-General as well as to the Governments of Portugal, the Russian Federation and the United States, members of the troika, for having witnessed and co-signed the Memorandum of Understanding on 4 April. The fact that Under-Secretary-General Gambari, just returning from his three-week stay in Angola, is briefing the Council on his findings today is indeed a very positive development. My Government fully supports the recommendations contained in his briefings and stands ready to work with the Secretary-General on the way to advance the peace process in Angola.

I am pleased to announce that, as of this moment, there have been no violations of the ceasefire.

As the Council is aware, the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding is divided into two phases. Phase one comprises the quartering, disarmament, integration and demobilization of 55,000 UNITA combatants and accommodating approximately 350,000 members of their families. The parties agreed that 5,000 military personnel will be integrated into the Angolan armed forces and national police, while the remainder will be demobilized and integrated into civil society, accompanied by their families.

By the conclusion of phase one the military obstacles to the implementation of the remaining political items under the Lusaka Protocol will have been removed. Therefore the parties have agreed that upon conclusion of phase one, the Joint Commission to oversee the implementation of the Lusaka Protocol will be reinstated, enabling the process of national reconciliation and leading to national elections.

Although the ceasefire is holding and the parties are determined to achieve lasting peace in the Republic of Angola, my Government is aware of the magnitude of the challenges that it faces. Furthermore, my Government recognizes that the prevalence of lasting peace is predicated upon the successful implementation of the Lusaka Protocol.

The United Nations and the international community have a critical role to play in the success of the peace process. During phase one, the United Nations is called upon to provide military and non-military observers, to participate in the Joint Military Commission and to provide much-needed technical and material assistance for the quartering, demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of UNITA’s members. Additionally, the United Nations is called upon to provide technical assistance and to mobilize resources for soldiers and their families in and around quartering areas, as well as in the preparation of the donors conference for the emergency humanitarian situation. Subsequently, during phase two, the United Nations is called upon to resume its chairmanship of the Joint Commission mandated by the Lusaka Protocol to oversee the process of national reconciliation and reconstruction leading up to the provision of technical support for national elections.

With peace a reality, Angola will be ready finally to embark on a sustainable programme to address medium- and long-term reconstruction needs. We expect the United Nations to play a central role in assisting the Government in the organizing and mobilizing of support for an international donors conference.

The participation of the United Nations in the peace process in Angola is, without doubt, a fundamental factor for its success and for the strengthening of democracy in Angola. My Government welcomes resolution 1404 (2002), which extends the mandate of the monitoring mechanism on sanctions, as a manifestation of this body’s commitment to lasting peace in the Republic of Angola. Sanctions remain an effective policy instrument to ensure the full implementation of the Lusaka Protocol and to prevent any departure from the spirit of peace growing in Angola. While sanctions will continue to act as a catalyst for enduring peace, the Government of the Republic of Angola stands ready to cooperate with the Security Council on the consideration of appropriate exemptions so as to facilitate the process of national reconciliation.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to call upon the international community to continue its immeasurable support in order to alleviate the suffering of millions of internally displaced persons who are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

The President

I thank the representative of Angola for his kind words addressed to me.

In accordance with the understanding reached in the Council’s prior consultations, I should now like to invite Council members to take part in informal consultations to continue our discussion on the subject.

The meeting rose at 11.15 a.m.
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