A slightly different version of this article appeared in International Peacekeeping, Vol.2, No.2, Summer 1995, pp.175-93. Copyright Frank Cass, London.

Dismantling the instruments of conflict, that is the military and the weapons of war, is undoubtedly the single most significant and defining step in any peace support operation. The subject of intense negotiation and scrutiny, demilitarization represents the clearest expression of opposing parties’ desire to resolve their dispute through peaceful means. As such, and given the history of mutual antipathy engendered in any long standing conflict, demilitarization is a process fraught with obstacles of a political, military and humanitarian nature. The demilitarization programme in Mozambique, a country ravaged by seventeen years of external intervention and civil war, was conducted by the United Nations under circumstances which highlighted the inter-dependency of these features as well as the complexities involved in fielding a multi-lateral response to a delicate operation of this kind. Hailed as a success, the process of dismantling the war in Mozambique is an example of the difficulties in developing and implementing a demilitarization programme in the aftermath of war and the role of the United Nations in that process.

This article will investigate the process of demilitarization as conducted by the United Nations in Mozambique, first examining the framing of the objectives and demilitarization programme, secondly the implementation of demilitarization and finally analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the demilitarization programme in Mozambique.

Demilitarization: Framing the Objectives and the Programme

Demilitarization is the process of dismantling the physical instruments of conflict, namely the military and its weaponry. It develops out of a particular political context, one which sets the terms of the negotiated settlement of armed conflict in a given territory and, ultimately, exercises a determining influence on the outcome of any demilitarization programme. It consists of five basic activities, linked sequentially, namely: monitoring a cease fire; cantonment, demobilization and repatriation of soldiers; collection and destruction of weaponry (including land mines); and integrating opposing forces into a new national military. A sixth, the integration of demobilized soldiers into civilian life, has been recognized as a crucial element in the long term viability of this process.[1] Replicating its post-Cold War experiences in peacekeeping, the UN approach to demilitarization in Mozambique consisted of a strictly military dimension (monitoring cease fire; cantonment, demobilization and repatriation of soldiers; collection and destruction of weaponry; integrating opposing forces into a new national military) and a more broadly based humanitarian dimension (long term integration of demobilized soldiers and demining) which incorporated traditional elements of humanitarian and development assistance with the objectives of demilitarization. [2]

Demilitarization: Establishing the Political Context

The UN involvement in Mozambique grew directly out of the General Peace Agreement (GPA) negotiated between the Mozambican government and the opposition Resistancia Nacional Mocambicana (Renamo) under the auspices of the Sant’ Egidio Community, a Catholic charity organization, between July 1991 and October 1992.[3] The agreement reached in Rome called for UN monitoring of the cease fire and election components, as well as calling upon it to provide humanitarian assistance to bolster the reconstruction of the economy. It established a time table for the implementation of the major components of the peace agreement, inter alia, full demobilization of both armies by April 1993 and the elections in October 1993.[4] After a debate within the Security Council and the passage of Resolution 797 (1992) in October, the United Nations Operation for Mozambique was officially launched. Led by the Secretary General’s Special Representative, the scope of the UN mission was to allow for up to 7,500 military personnel and, in accordance with the time table established by the GPA, the proposed budget for the whole operation was estimated to run $260 mn through its completion after the elections in October 1993.[5] In addition to $760 mn donated by the international community towards the economic recovery plan, the Italian government issued a plea for $420 mn to support the demilitarization and electoral process as well as general emergency assistance requirements.[6]

In cooperation with the Western powers which had been party to the Rome agreement, the UN, the Government and Renamo formally established the Supervising and Monitoring Commission (CSC) as the central authority overseeing the implementation of the GPA. Chaired by the UN’s Special Representative, Aldo Ajello, the CSC was composed of representatives from the Government, Renamo, Italy, Portugal, France, Great Britain and the United States. The CSC’s mandate included the settling of disputes between the parties, any question of interpretation of the GPA and a coordinating role for the subsidiary commissions to be established. At its first meeting on 4 November 1992, the CSC created three subordinate commissions to deal directly with the immediate issues surrounding the demilitarization of the conflict. These were the Cease Fire Commission, the Commission for the Reintegration of Demobilizing Military Personnel and the Joint Commission for the Formation of the Mozambican Defence Force.

The demilitarization of conflict was a priority issue for the new UN mission, or ONUMOZ as it was called, in Mozambique. ONUMOZ was charged with the structuring and implementation of the demilitarization scheme for the estimated 63,000 Government troops and 20,000 Renamo troops.[7] Through the mechanism of the Cease Fire Commission and, bolstering its activities, the introduction of a large UN peacekeeping presence into the country, ONUMOZ was to act as guarantor of the cease fire, the inviolability of the transportation network and assist in aspects of the demobilization effort. These measures were to be followed by the implementation of steps to bring about the complete demilitarization of the situation, which included demobilization of all military forces before the elections, the devotion of substantial resources to the process of reintegrating soldiers into society and the creation of a new national army. Oversight of these latter procedures was put in the hands of the ONUMOZ Technical Unit for Demobilization.

Underlying the decisions surrounding the structure of the demilitarization programme was the recent UN experience in Angola. Concurrent with the establishment of the UN mission to Mozambique was what was to have been the culmination of Angola’s own peace process. Having begun in 1988 with the signing of the New York Accords outlining the conditions for both a withdrawal of South African and Cuban troops from Namibian and Angolan territory, the peace process in Angola had moved into the introduction of democratic elections.[8] Instead, Unita’s contesting of the results degenerated into an outright military conflict with the Angolan government. With both sides utilizing personnel and weaponry which were both subject to and outside the demilitarization programme, the understaffed and poorly funded UN mission came under severe criticism.

ONUMOZ and Demilitarization: The Military Dimension

Monitoring the withdrawal of foreign troops from Mozambique, a condition Renamo had insisted upon at Rome, was the first task of the UN demilitarization programme in Mozambique. Concern was high amongst Mozambique’s landlocked neighbours, particularly Zimbabwe and Malawi which had both committed troops in defence of the transportation links through the country, that the withdrawal of their forces would open their goods to banditry and sabotage. As such, they had insisted that the termination of their military presence along the Beira, Nacala, Tete, and Limpopo transport corridors (the National Highway was ultimately included as well) would be followed by the installation of UN peacekeeping forces.

Complementing the introduction of UN troops was the work of the Cease Fire Commission (CCF). It was composed of the Mozambican parties, representatives of the international community and members of ONUMOZ. The terms of the Commission were specific: it was to investigate allegations brought to it of violations of the cease fire agreement signed in Rome. The procedure for this process was twofold. In the first instance, a tripartite team consisting of ONUMOZ, the Government and Renamo representatives would investigate an alleged violation. After studying the case, a consensual decision on a recommendation would be taken by the team. If there was no agreement between the various representatives, then the CCF would send an ONUMOZ team to pass judgement on the alleged violation.[9]

The UN institution given responsibility over the delicate set of procedures entailed in demilitarization was the mission’s Technical Unit for Demobilization. The Technical Unit, as it was known, was heralded as one of ONUMOZ’s innovations in its integrated approach to peace keeping. In fact, it owed its origins to an initiative undertaken by the Swiss government in 1991. The impending reduction in military assistance to Mozambique following both the policy changes in the Soviet Union and, ultimately, the collapse of the socialist states in Eastern Europe, sparked a financial crisis for the Mozambican government. With the assistance of Swiss officials, the Mozambican government developed a plan which called for the unilateral demobilization of 45,000 soldiers and 6,000 employees of the Ministry of Defence to be organized through the Gabinete de Reintegracao.[10]

The signing of the GPA measurably changed the complexion of the situation in Mozambique and UN officials hurried to integrate the Swiss plan into the general ONUMOZ mission. Armed with a broader mandate, the Swiss plan was re-shaped to meet the new circumstances engendered by the Rome Agreement. Central to the new plan was the desire to separate the demobilization process from that of the electoral process. In other words, echoing Boutros Ghali, officials at the Technical Unit saw it as imperative that all the soldiers be fully demobilized before the election campaign commenced if Mozambique was to avoid the disaster besetting Angola. In this manner, should the outcome of the election be in doubt, whether due to accusations of fraud or a patent unwillingness to accept the outcome, the parties would not be in a position to carry out a renewal of conflict.[11]

To achieve the demilitarization of Mozambique, the Technical Unit proposed to establish a team of three UN military officers and one civilian officer in each of the 49 assembly areas for the demobilizing Mozambican troops. This group was to organize — in conjunction with the local camp commander in charge of the troops — everything from the registration of soldiers, their disarmament and storage of their weaponry,[12] logistics for the maintenance of the camps themselves, the monitoring of disputes, assisting in the processing of selected soldiers for the new national army and, finally, in the formal demobilization and transport of ex-soldiers. Provisions for the dependents of the soldiers, including wives and children who took up residence at the edge of many of the camps, were included in the development of the assembly areas. Recognizing that the period of cantonment in the assembly areas, while envisioned as no more than eight to ten weeks, was a crucial time to lay the foundation for the psychological re-integration of combatants into civilian life, the Technical Unit planned to use this opportunity to both entertain and inform the soldiers through a range of methods. Among the activities which were to be introduced by the Technical Unit were educational programmes such as literacy classes, recreational activities such as football matches, general information about the nature of the peace process and specifics on demobilization, through camp radio broadcasts and lectures. Finally, when the ceremony marking the official return of the soldiers to civilian status took place, it was the job of the Technical Unit team to coordinate with IOM for the transport of the ex-soldiers to their preferred destination. As the demilitarization programme developed, the actual physical return and re-integration of demobilized soldiers into Mozambican society fell under the purview of the humanitarian assistance wing of the UN mission (see below).

The last component of demilitarization was the creation of a new national army. At the time of the Rome Agreement it was envisaged that the new army would consist of 30,000 soldiers, equally divided between former Government and former Renamo troops.[13] The establishment of training centres for the new army, staffed by professional soldiers from Britain, France and Portugal, was to give the soldiers a professional military background. Those former Government and Renamo soldiers selected to be part of the new national army would undergo instruction in an array of techniques and courses found in the curriculum of Western militaries. It was through this process that the core of a new national defence force, instilled with professionalism and a commitment to the new democratic state, would develop. The Joint Commission for the Formation of the Mozambican Defence Force was to be the point of intersection between the Mozambican parties and key members of the international donor community. Significantly, ONUMOZ had no representation on the Committee.

ONUMOZ and Demilitarization: The Humanitarian Dimension

Extending the scope of humanitarian assistance to include aspects of the demilitarization process was a unique feature of the UN mission to Mozambique. Believing that there needed to be concrete prospects for the long-standing economic and social integration of the differing Mozambican military forces into Mozambican society, as well as adequate provisions for the return of an estimated one million refugees from neighbouring states, ONUMOZ developed a programme which sought to utilize humanitarian assistance to meet these concerns. This included food, shelter and medical treatment as well as vocational training and literacy programmes for encamped soldiers and their dependents awaiting demobilization; transportation (along with food and accommodation) of demobilized soldiers and their dependents to their preferred destination; and provisions for their long term maintenance at that destination. The ever-present danger of the land mines placed civilians in jeopardy. Transport on Mozambique’s dilapidated roads and any form of settlement in the rural areas were imperiled by the prevalence of an estimated two million land mines. The swift creation of an identification and de-mining programme was therefore absolutely imperative. In short, a coordinated and nuanced programme which sought to ensure that the achievements of the protracted peace process were not lost after the election.

The United Nations Office for Humanitarian Assistance Coordination (UNOHAC) was to be the novel instrument for the administration of ONUMOZ’s humanitarian objectives. It was formally established at the International Donors Conference in December 1992 in terms of the Declaration on Guiding Principles for Humanitarian Assistance signed by the Government and Renamo earlier in the year.[14] UNOHAC’s parent agency, the Department of Humanitarian Affairs in Geneva, acted on the recommendations of the international donors in developing an overall plan to address the issues of resettlement of demobilized soldiers and the development of a country-wide demining programme.[15] At the heart of the UNOHAC effort was to be an administrative structure, replicated at both the national and provincial levels, that would oversee both the introduction of emergency assistance into the rural areas and manage the long term elements of the de-mobilization process, namely the Information Referral Service (IRS) and the Reintegration Support Scheme (RSS). These latter measures were to be integrated into the actions taken by the Commission for Reintegration (CORE), the institution established by the Rome Agreement to direct the process of re-integrating soldiers and refugees into civilian life. CORE was to be chaired by the UN and composed of representatives from the Government, Renamo, and several Western powers, as well as South Africa.

In carrying out its mandate, UNOHAC sought to utilize the range of development and refugee support agencies which traditionally worked in the field of humanitarian assistance. In the area of de-militarization, UNOHAC contracted out to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which has been involved in refugee work since the end of the Second World War, to organize the transportation of de-mobilized soldiers and their families. The World Food Programme was employed to provide foodstuffs for the Assembly Areas. For the provisions of long term assistance to ex-combatants, UNOHAC turned to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), whose lengthy experience in the country and in the field of development, made it eminently qualified for this role. UNDP, in partnership with the Ministry of Finance, were to put into play the Reintegration Support Scheme while IOM was to work with CORE in developing the Information and Referral Service (see below). Finally, in the crucial area of demining, UNOHAC entered into a lengthy process of contracting out to suitable companies or development agencies for the identification and eventual demining of the land mines in the country.

Demilitarization: Implementing the Operation

With the structures of ONUMOZ coming together in Maputo, the implementation phase of the demilitarization programme was poised to commence. However, continuing problems ranging from the interpretation of the Protocols of the GPA to outright obfuscation of the process – issues thought to have been resolved with the signing in Rome – were to cause significant delays in execution of the programme. Compounding these problems were inter-agency squabbles within the UN system, inadequate or inappropriate bureaucratic procedures on the part of UN agencies which hindered implementation, and a host of unexpected developments which accompany any operation of this magnitude.

While the terms of the GPA called for the introduction of a UN presence into the country almost immediately, it took nearly six months for the UN mission to establish itself in the country.[16] Underlying the delay was a combination of intransigence on the part of the parties in Mozambique, the difficulties in obtaining a Status of Forces agreement with the Government and the generally slow pace which seemed to accompanied the formation of UN operations of this type. Thus, the withdrawal of foreign troops from the transport corridors, a pre-condition in the entire demilitarization process, did not take effect until 15 April 1993. With ONUMOZ only fully operational in June 1993, the overall time table established in the Rome Agreement (which had called for de-mobilization to be completed in mid-April and the elections to take place in October) was clearly unworkable.

Concerned about the lack of progress in Mozambique, the Secretary General went before the Security Council on 2 April 1993 to report on the situation. Boutros-Ghali outlined the problems in the implementation of ONUMOZ’s mission, including the delays surrounding the introduction of UN peace keeping forces (see below) and the continuing mistrust between the two parties, suggesting that the established time table for the mission was "unrealistic".[17] In an effort to revive the stalled peace process, Boutros-Ghali engineered an extra-ordinary summit with the two Mozambican leaders in mid October 1993. Working with the recalcitrant Mozambican leaders, he hammered out a new time table which gave the mission sixteen more months to complete its task. It called for the concentration of troops in the Assembly Areas to begin in September 1993 with full demobilization completed in May 1994; the transportation home of demobilized soldiers to begin in October 1993 and be completed by April 1994; the new army to be established in May 1994 and fully operational by September 1994; and the election to take place in October 1994. The continuing concern within both the Security Council and the international donor community as to the slow progress in implementing the GPA caused the Security Council to pass SC Resolution 898 (1994) in February 1994, linking the introduction of over one thousand UN police with a time table for the withdrawal of ONUMOZ on 15 November 1994.

The politics of the peace process were a significant factor in the slow pace of implementation of the demilitarization programme. The two parties to the Rome Agreement were not fully reconciled to the spirit to the agreement, resulting in a seemingly unending series of skirmishes over the implementation of the terms of the GPA. Both the Government and Renamo found cause to obfuscate in the CSC forum on the details or implementation of previously agreed upon programmes, most notably in the areas of demobilization, demining and the election. It was apparent from the outset that Renamo was nowhere near prepared to engage in the responsibilities incumbent upon it as partner in the peace agreement, from politicking on committee structures to complexities of conducting an election campaign.[18] Recognition of this fact led Dhlakama, who insisted upon the receipt of $15 mn promised in Rome to facilitate the transformation of Renamo from a military organization to a political one, to throw several obstacles in the way of the process. These included a reluctance to take up residence in Maputo (and have Renamo officials sit on the various committees governing the peace process), the call for the withdrawal of 65% of foreign soldiers before beginning the concentration of Renamo troops into Assembly Areas and an unwillingness to identify Assembly Areas for the demobilization, in spite of the phased introduction of the programme agreed upon at a Supervisory and Monitoring Commission (CSC) meeting in January 1993.[19] Its three month boycott of the CSC and other committees, only ended in June 1993, significantly stalled the peace process.

Demilitarization Implemented: The Military Dimension

The initial step in implementing the demilitarization programme was to bring in the UN peace keeping forces to monitor the withdrawal of Zimbabwean and Malawian troops. Situated along the transport corridors which cut across the country, ONUMOZ would have to organize a phased pull out of foreign soldiers concurrent with the introduction of UN peace keeping forces. Renamo’s insistence that 65% of the foreign troops be withdrawn before the concentration of troops for de-mobilization could commence put additional pressure to bring in UN troops. By February 1993, with the deadline for the introduction of UN troops already passed, sixteen countries had agreed to supply the UN with soldiers though no definitive schedule of deployment had been set. The difficulties in securing a Status of Forces Agreement with the Government, which allows UN troops freedom of movement and immunity from local taxation and import duties, was another barrier to the introduction of UN forces.[20] As it stood, ONUMOZ gave the draft agreement to the Government in late February, receiving a response from Maputo in mid-April and finally coming to an agreement in May. In the end, it was only in August 1993 that 6,000 "blue helmets" were finally put into place.[21]

Concurrent with the introduction of UN peacekeeping forces was the monitoring of the cease fire between the Government and Renamo by the CCF. As it transpired, the overwhelming majority of cease fire violations were centred around movement of troops rather than accusations of shooting incidents or attacks.[22] The principal exception to this were controversies in the southern tip of the country, an area called Salamanga, and in Tete province; in the first instance, Renamo was declared to have violated the cease fire, in the second, the Government drove Renamo forces out of an area they occupied illegally.[23] This constant shifting of forces from one location to another, represented each side’s anticipation of or response to developments in the peace process, especially with regard to de-mobilization and the forthcoming elections. The separation of forces, a step provided for in the GPA, had been in effect abandoned as its implementation would have further stalled the peace process.[24]

The next phase of demilitarization, the demobilization of Government and Renamo troops, proved to be exceedingly problematic.[25] In the first instance, the actual location of the Assembly Areas was a source of contention. Both parties sought to retain effective control of territory, thus the selection of Assembly Areas was made on a strategic basis which ignored simple logistical criteria such as proximity to roads and water for re-supply of the camps.[26] This situation was compounded by conflicting interpretations of the GPA, which allowed for "dual administration" of territory controlled by the Government and Renamo, a status to be reconciled before the elections through a joint commission on territorial administration.[27] In an effort to break the deadlock, Ajello devised a compromise for siting the Assembly Areas which involved a four phased introduction of concentration points on the principle "strategic parity".[28] The end result was that it was not until 30 November 1993 that twenty of the forty-nine Assembly Areas were actually officially opened to receive troops; the other twenty-nine had became operational by February 1994. An additional difficulty was the issue of the Government’s para-military forces, something not adequately addressed in the GPA. Estimated to number 155,000 [29], Government militias were scattered across the rural areas, often only nominally under the authority of district or provincial officials. It was only in January 1994 did they actually begin to disarm with two-thirds of their number demobilized by July.[30]

Another issue, linked to the formation of the new national army, was the substantial delay in selecting those soldiers who were to join the new military from those to be demobilized. The procedure was to have been that, once the soldiers had been registered at an Assembly Area, their papers would be sent to the military authorities of either party. There they would be scrutinized and then a list of those soldiers who were to be assigned to the new army would be sent back to the ONUMOZ team at the Assembly Area. On that basis, the steps necessary to complete the formal demobilization and transport of ex-soldiers would be taken. In fact, the Government, and to a lesser extent Renamo, took a considerable amount of time to execute this procedure. It gradually became apparent that a major cause of the hold up was the fact that officials in the Ministry of Defence had deliberately over estimated the number of troops for years, and on that basis had pocketed a considerable amount of money in redundant salaries to non-existing soldiers. Unable to account for the reduced numbers of Government troops, Ministry officials were eventually obliged to adjust their figures downwards to 49,638 men in arms.[31] Another delay was caused by the clandestine demobilization of Renamo’s notorious child soldiers, abducted in their hundreds and forcibly incorporated into the guerrilla army. Assisted by the International Committee of the Red Cross, Save the Children and UNICEF, their repatriation back to their villages proceeded the opening of Renamo territory to general access.[32]

While the implementation of demobilization plans were being debated and re-negotiated in Maputo, the situation in the Assembly Areas was becoming desperate. Government and Renamo troops, stripped of their weaponry but confined to the monotony of camp life, began to chafe at the slowness of demobilization. Complicating matters, especially amongst Renamo troops, was the fact that Renamo commanders had made elaborate promises to the soldiers to induce them to surrender to the peace process. These included assurances of certain conditions in the camps (specific provisions which were not always in evidence upon their arrival), substantial remuneration, and the expectation of a rapid return to their homes.[33] Difficulties in obtaining basic services such as food and water were directly a result of the decision by the Mozambican parties to select cantonment sites on a military-strategic basis. Confronted with the absence of pledged goods and the prolonged process, troops began to stage a series of disturbances in the Assembly Areas. Typically, these involved attacks on UN officials, the taking of UN hostages in the camps, blocking major roads in the area or looting in neighbouring towns. Mediation efforts by ONUMOZ, often involving flying top Renamo or Government officials into the camps, did not always quell the disturbances – in some cases, Renamo generals found themselves the victims of assault by disgruntled troops – and the introduction of Government police or troops occasionally resulted in injuries or death. By 1 September 1994, 37 reported incidents had occurred in Renamo Assembly Areas and 40 in Government Assembly Areas.[34]

With increasing pressure to commence the demobilization from both the international donor community and the soldiers themselves, spurred on in part by the approach of newly established deadlines for the mission, ONUMOZ decided that the first demobilizations should take place on 10 March 1994. Up to January 1994, the Government provided the bulk of the troops, bringing 8,000 to their Assembly Areas as compared with Renamo’s 4,000.[35] However, by mid-March 1994 the balance had shifted with 50% (31,000) of the Government troops and 65% (12,413) of Renamo troops in cantonment, though this still represented only half of the total number of Mozambican troops; by 5 July 84% (41,974) of the Government troops in the Assembly Areas and 90% (17,402) of Renamo troops.[36] It was clear to ONUMOZ observers from the pattern of registration that both parties were withholding their crack troops and weaponry for the last. By August, with the deadline for demobilization weeks away, suddenly the prevarication on the part of the Government changed to cooperation: its 8,000 remaining troops were rushed to the Assembly Areas for demobilization.[37] Despite the overwhelming logistical difficulties created by the mass influx of Government troops, the Technical Unit and IOM were able to complete the processing of the rest of the soldiers. With the assembly phase completed on 15 August, the final total of registered soldiers was 64,130 (Government) and 22,637 (Renamo).[38] The total number of weapons recovered during the demobilization stood at 150,000, including arms found at declared government and Renamo caches.[39] At the same time, the UN mission privately acknowledged that both sides retained forces and weaponry outside of the demobilization process, approximately 5,000 Government troops and 2,000 Renamo troops, as a hedge against post-electoral crises.[40]

The establishment of the Forcas Armadas de Defensa de Mocambique (FADM) was another contentious aspect of the demilitarization programme. While written into other aspects of the peace process, ONUMOZ was not supposed to get involved in this area. Portugal, France and Great Britain, were to take the leading role and, with the signing of the Lisbon Declaration in July 1993, the programme was officially inaugurated. After a delay of several months, 550 soldiers – half from the Government side and the other half from Renamo – were sent to a camp in Nyanga, Zimbabwe, where British officers provided instruction on aspects of military training which the Mozambicans were expected to pass on their own troops back home. It was only in early 1994 that 200 Mozambican officers and 450 commandos embarked on training courses organized by the Portuguese, while the French commenced their mine training programme in July.[41] Continuing acrimony between the two Mozambican parties, coupled with the slowness in identifying the potential new recruits, continually threatened to paralyse the process. Reacting to this dilemma, the Security Council authorized the Special Representative to take up the chairmanship of the Joint Commission for the Formation of the Mozambican Defence Force. Aggravating the situation further was the fact that, in spite of the desire by Government and Renamo leadership to have a large army, the vast majority of their soldiers wished to demobilize. Announcements that some soldiers were to continue on in the new military often provoked rioting. According to one top UN official, the absence of sufficient incentives – a demobilized soldier received greater financial assistance (and had the option of finding a second income) than an infantry man in the new army – was another factor in dissuading ex-soldiers from joining the FADM.[42]

Joint command of the new army, led by Brigadier Lagos Lidimo (Government) and Lt. General Mateus Ngonhamo (Renamo), was finally agreed upon in January 1994, while eighty top officers were appointed in June to command the newly created infantry battalions. Delays in the supply of new equipment and the renovation of inadequate training facilities, coupled with the prolonged process of identifying new soldiers forced the compression of training into six weeks. Unhappiness over the prospect of being forced to continue in the military (many of the soldiers were clearly not volunteers), brought about strikes and desertions.[43] By election time in October 1994, less than 10,000 soldiers had completed their training and Mozambican officials were lowering the target size of the FADM to 15,000.

Demilitarization Implemented: The Humanitarian Dimension

The ONUMOZ humanitarian assistance programme, initially conceived as an innovative attempt at identifying and coordinating existing expertise in the field, was subject to growing controversy as the mission progressed.[44] This was especially the case with the de-mining component of demilitarization. Nonetheless, through its provisions for food disbursement and primary health care to the Assembly Areas, transportation of demobilized soldiers and their dependents, and its long term re-integration projects for the ex-combatants, UNOHAC made a considerable contribution to the demilitarization programme.

The final phase of demilitarization, introducing measures for the long term maintenance of the demobilized troops, was taken up by UNOHAC’s Information and Referral Service (IRS) and its Reintegration Support Scheme (RSS). The IRS was conceived as a mechanism for providing demobilized soldiers with access to information on the job market as well as basic information on aspects of the reintegration programme. Originally falling under the auspices of CORE (which proved to be ineffective), its eleven provincial offices were actually run by IOM and received over one thousand enquiries in the first six weeks of operation.[45] Using a Trust Fund administered by the UNDP, the RSS was to provide demobilized soldiers with eighteen months of subsidies in the form of cash disbursements given at local branches of the Banco Popular de Desenvolvimento.[46] By providing a reasonable assurance of financial support for an extended period of time, it was hoped that the former combatants would find employment in their districts and, concurrently, integrate into the local community. The end result would be to cement the transition from the life of a soldier to that of a civilian. To assist in this process, vocational kits consisting of agricultural tools, seeds, and food rations for up to three months were given to demobilized soldiers upon departure from the Assembly Areas by the International Labour Organisation. Additional provisions for a long term training programme at the provincial level was called for by UNOHAC but, due to resistance by the international donor community and elements in ONUMOZ, were put on hold.

The issue of demining caused the most difficulties for UNOHAC. On 26 January 1993, after reaching agreement in the CSC, ONUMOZ officials formally presented their demining programme: 2,000 kilometres of "priority roads", deemed crucial for humanitarian assistance and the transport of repatriated refugees and demobilized soldiers, were to receive attention.[47] A small company was contracted to begin work immediately on demining 636 kilometres of road in Sofala and Gaza provinces; its slow progress, partially due to delays in the disbursement of funding by international donors, resulted in less than half of the designated roads being demined by December 1993.[48] Concurrently, conflicts within the CSC between Renamo and the Government, principally motivated by Renamo’s unwillingness to allow Government access to its areas of control, delayed formal CSC approval of additional demining activities until late November 1993.[49] Further exacerbating these problems were aspects of the UN’s sub-contracting process, involving everything from delays in shifting the Trust Fund monies from the DHA account to its sub-contractor agency UNDP to conflicting accounting and procurement practices within UN agencies.[50] Finally, UNOHAC’s desire to establish a Mine Clearance Training Centre, which would provide a forum for the further training of Mozambican deminers (as the entire process was believed to take twenty years), ran into criticism from the international donor community both in terms of its conception and its cost.[51] The end result of this lengthy process was that UNOHAC had spent millions of dollars on its de-mining programme without having cleared the majority of mines which were in fact in the rural areas along dirt paths and in fields, not on the designated "priority roads", something which drew the ire of both the international donor community and the Mozambican public.

Though demobilization was acknowledged to be incomplete, the momentum of the peace process moved ahead to the election campaign. On the eve of the voting, the Renamo leader withdrew from the elections claiming fraud and, for twenty-four hours, the fate of the entire peace support operation was in the balance. However, through the persuasive powers of South African Deputy-President Thabo Mbeki and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Dhlakama was convinced to rejoin the elections. With approximately 85 per cent of the electorate participating, Joaquim Chissano was elected President with 53 per cent of all votes cast as against 33 per cent for Afonso Dhlakama while the governing Frelimo party won 129 seats in the National Assembly to Renamo’s 112 and Unido Democratica’s 9. Declaring that its mission had been a success, ONUMOZ began its withdrawal in November. Mozambique’s long journey from war to peace appeared at last to be complete.

An Assessment of the Demilitarization Programme in Mozambique

As less than a year has passed since the October election, any assessment of the demilitarization programme in Mozambique and, more specifically, the UN contribution to this programme, would be premature. This is especially true with the longer term objectives of demilitarization which are yet to be fully realized. Nonetheless, there is sufficient information and experience to allow for some preliminary conclusions to be drawn in the areas of the structure and implementation of the demilitarization operation in Mozambique and, more broadly, demilitarization in general.

In the first instance, the UN could enhance its performance in the demilitarization sphere by integrating certain features into the peace negotiations, specifically a status of forces agreement and an equivalent status of humanitarian assistance agreement, as well as encourage the development of realistic time tables for the whole peace process. Concurrently, in order to avoid the politically costly delays in sending in UN peacekeeping forces which, as has been demonstrated in numerous UN missions, loses local credibility in those crucial first months after the signing of a peace agreement, internal UN procedures must be streamlined. This includes selectively implementing the recommendations contained in Erskine Childers and Brian Urquhart’s work on Renewing the United Nations System and the Report of the Commission on Global Governance; among these are better budgetary procedures for peacekeeping missions, as well as devising new methods of solicitation and training of UN peacekeeping forces to enhance the UN’s responsiveness to the onset of crises and their settlement.[52] Rationalizing contracting and procurement procedures between the many agencies of the UN system would go a long way towards addressing the problems seen in ONUMOZ’s demining efforts.

With regard to the structure of the demilitarization programme itself, once agreed upon by all parties, any plan should seek to minimize the role that local forces can play in aspects of the implementation process. There should be as little room as possible for them to block de-mobilization, as was the case in Mozambique, through their involvement in the verification of registered soldiers. In so far as there are direct links between the demobilization process and the creation of a new unified military force, de-mobilization of soldiers should be complete before selections of recruits for the new military begins. This has the virtue of ensuring that every soldier is de-mobilized who wants to be and, hopefully, encourages a more rapid adherence to the demilitarization process itself on the part of the military leaders anxious to secure their own position. In the case of Assembly Areas, these should be selected on logistical criteria rather than strategic to avoid the problems of access to food, water and transport. Finally, where possible, police and other para-military forces should be included in the whole demilitarization effort as their presence outside the process is a hindrance to the trust-building nature of demilitarization.

Turning to the implementation of the demilitarization programme, the UN team assigned to the Assembly Areas would benefit from more training in de-mobilization procedures. Furthermore, the composition of the team was unfairly weighted towards the military officers engaged in strict observer functions when much of the critical logistical responsibilities fall on the single civilian member, the Technical Unit Camp Officer. The present cumbersome procurement methods, which require the UN mission to process requests for material through New York, inhibit the smooth functioning of the Assembly Areas and can actually feed into soldiers’ dissatisfaction. The small Civilian Police (CIVPOL) component of the UN mission was one of the under-utilized components of ONUMOZ. Charged with the monitoring of police activities, its 1,114 member force was to have unrestricted access in Mozambique so as to carry out its mission.[53] With its relationship to the National Police Commission confined to that of an advisor, CIVPOL was not in a position to act on the violations of political and human rights nor compel the state to do so either. Finally, as was underscored by the discovery of 146 undeclared weapons caches containing a further 22,000 arms, there still seems to be no way to verify that the arms submitted at the Assembly Areas represent even the bulk of weaponry held by local forces.[54]

The last observation to make on demilitarization is simply this: there is no substitute for political commitment to demilitarization on the part of the leadership and participants in the peace process. The situation which confronted the UN in Mozambique, as well as other UN peacekeeping missions, was one to be replicated throughout the entire protracted peace process. Despite the formal signing of a cease fire and the establishment of a national commission to oversee the implementation of the peace agreement, the Government and Renamo took only limited action to realize these objectives. Testifying to the mistrust which characterized much of the implementation of demilitarization were the breeches of both the spirit and letter of the peace agreement, from alleged cease fire violations to cynical manipulation of the terms of the GPA, threatening at times the viability of the whole process.

Recent reports of increasing crime and the availability of small arms in the aftermath of the UN mission to Mozambique must be balanced against the successful avoidance of a return to outright warfare as was the case in Angola and, to a lesser degree, Cambodia.[55] While ONUMOZ’s demilitarization programme was certainly never in a position to eliminate the sources of conflict it nevertheless played a crucial part in using the opportunity offered by the peace agreement to rid the combatants of the means to carry out war. On this foundation Mozambicans can now begin to build their peace.


1. See The World Bank, Demobilization and Reintegration of Military Personnel in Africa: The Evidence from Seven Country Case Studies, Discussion Paper, Africa Regional Series, Report No. IDP-130, October 1993, Washington, D.C., pp. 4; Boutros Boutros-Ghali, "Supplement to An Agenda for Peace," in Boutro-Ghali An Agenda for Peace 1995 (New York: United Nations 1995), pp. 11, 23-24.

2. See United Nations, Information Notes: United Nations Peace-Keeping Update: December 1994 (New York: United Nations 1994); William Durch (ed.), The Evolution of UN Peacekeeping (London: Macmillan 1993).

3. See Cameron Hume, Ending Mozambique’s War: The Role of Mediation and Good Offices (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Institute of Peace 1994). For an historical overview of the conflict see Chris Alden, "Mozambique: An Abiding Dependency," in Southern Africa at the Crossroads, L. Benjamin and C. Gregory eds., (Johannesburg: Justified 1992).

4. For an outline of the timetable see Protocol Four, Protocol Five, Protocol Six, General Peace Agreement 1992 (Amsterdam: African-European Institute 1992), pp. 34-36, 42-44, 48-50, 56-64.

5. "Mozambique Accords Aid Relief Effort," Africa Recovery, December 1992-February 1993, pp. 25.

6. The donor response was to provide $308 mn with $15 mn of the electoral finances specifically directed to Renamo. The mission’s initial budget — running from the onset of the operation through June 1993 — was only approved on 15 March 1993, thereby setting the stage for the first of a series of delays in implementing the mission. AWEPA, Mozambique Peace Process Bulletin, May 1993, No. 3, pp. 2.

7. UNOHAC, "Repatriation of Demobilized Soldiers," Mozambique Report, June 1993, pp.1.

8. "Mozambique Accords Aid Relief Effort," in Africa Recovery, December 1992-February 1993, pp. 25.

9. Interview with Colonel Pier Segala, Cease Fire Commission, 14 September 1994.

10. Republic of Mozambique, "A Demobilization and Reintegration Programme for Mozambican Military Personnel, First Phase 1991-1992,", Maputo 25 May 1992, pp. 1.

11. Ton Pardoel, Chief Technical Unit Officer, 26 May 1994.

12. To be examined by UN troops for serviceability and either destroyed or turned over to the new army.

13. General Peace Agreement 1992 (Amsterdam: AWEPA/African-European Institute 1992), pp. 30.

14. UNOHAC, Consolidated Humanitarian Assistance Programme for 1994, May 1994, Maputo: ONUMOZ, pg. 1. It should be noted that it took over the role of the UN Special Coordinator for Emergency Relief Operations, which had a more narrowly defined area of administrative coordination.

15. Its Consolidated Humanitarian Assistance Programme for the period May 1993 to April 1994 budgeted $US 560 mn towards the fulfilment of these and other tasks.

16. See the General Peace Agreement 1992 (Amsterdam: AWEPA/African-European Institute 1992).

17. United Nations Peace-Keeping Operations: Information Notes 1993, Update No. 2, New York: UN, pp. 74.

18. Renamo sent forty-five of its officials to a month-long seminar at its headquarters in Maringue in March 1993. AWEPAA, Mozambique Peace Process Bulletin May 1993, No. 3, pp. 1.

19. "Mozambique Accords Aid Relief Effort," Africa Recovery December 1992-February 1993, pp. 26.

20. It was alleged that the Government was reluctant to lose the estimated $1 mn a day it collected from the UN as well as an unwillingness to have ONUMOZ monitor its troop movements. Africa Confidential 14 May 1993, vol 34:10, pp. 8.

21. Keeping the Peace or Disturbing It: UN Humanitarian Military Intervention in Mozambique, case study prepared by Australian Embassy (Maputo) September 1993, pp.4.

22. Interview with Colonel Pier Segala, Cease Fire Commission, 14 September 1994.

23. AWEPA, Mozambique Peace Process Bulletin, August 1993, No. 5, pp. 5.

24. Interview with Ton Pardoel, Chief Technical Unit Officer, 26 May 1994.

25. The Technical Unit received approval to assist in the de-mobilization of 13,765 Government soldiers already scheduled under the previous plan; this served as a valuable dress-rehearsal for ONUMOZ.

26. UNOHAC, "Demobilization Update," Mozambique Report, August 1993, pp. 6. For example, the site of the Nhamagua Assembly Area was not near any potable water.

27. See Protocol V, General Peace Agreement 1992 (Amsterdam: AWEPA/African-European Institute 1992), pp. 54.

28. Joao Paulo Borges Coelho and Alex Vines, "Pilot Study on Demobilization and Re-integration of Ex-Combatants in Mozambique," Refugee Studies Programme, Oxford University 1995, pp. 3-6.

29. Interview with Colonel Pier Segala, Cease Fire Commission, 14 September 1994. Segala estimated that the Renamo militia consisted of 2 or 3 thousand soldiers.

30. Renamo officials were particularly concerned about the Government’s expanding Rapid Intervention Force which, like its Angolan counterpart, included numerous ex-soldiers.

31. AWEPA, Mozambique Peace Process Bulletin, July 1994, No. 10, pp. 2.

32. Sunday Times (UK), 6 November 1994. Only 3,632 child soldiers were in fact discovered at the Renamo bases, though it was clear to UN military observers that numerous Renamo soldiers were only just above the internationally sanctioned age of fifteen.

33. Interview with Major Esko Blanksvard, Military Observer (Chimoio Assembly Area) and Bengt Svensson, Technical Unit Coordination Officer (Chimoio Assembly Area), 1 June 1994.

34. CCF, "Problems/Incidents in Assembly Areas and Other Areas," (Maputo: ONUMOZ) September 1994. Interviews with Military Observer (Catandica Assembly Area), 2 June 1994; Antonio Lopes, Technical Unit Coordination Officer (Nhamagua Assembly Area), Captain Daniel Rodriguez, Military Observer (Nhamagua Assembly Area), Major Asaduzzaman, Military Observer (Nhamagua Assembly Area), Major Fernando Ferreira, Military Observer (Nhamagua Assembly Area), 2 June 1994.

35. Africa Confidential, 7 January 1994, vol 35:1, pp. 5.

36. Africa Confidential 18 March 1994, vol 35:6, pp. 6-7; AWEPA, Mozambique Peace Process Bulletin, July 1994, No. 10, pp. 2.

37. Some ONUMOZ officials contend that the Government, anticipating that the Technical Unit and IOM would not be able to cope with the enormous influx of personnel, had hoped that this would serve to discredit the ONUMOZ mission. Private communication.

38. Africa Confidential 23 September 1994, vol 35:19, pp. 3-4.

39. Africa Recovery December 1994, pp. 14. ONUMOZ checked all declared government caches but only inspected 60% of the Renamo sites.

40. Interviews with senior ONUMOZ officials.

41. Borges Coelho and Vines, op.cit., pp. 24-25.

42. Interview with Belrooz Sardy, Deputy Special Representative to the Secretary General, 3 June 1994. There was no shortage of officers as the FADM offered higher pay to soldiers in that category.

43. AWEPA, Mozambique Peace Process Bulletin, July 1994, No. 10, pp. 5.

44. See Chris Alden, "The UN and the Resolution of Conflict in Mozambique," Journal of Modern African Studies 33:1 1995, pp. 19-21.

45. IOM press release, 24 May 1994.

46. Each Government and Renamo soldier is to receive six months of their regular salary plus bonuses (with a minimum of 75,000 meticais) from the Government, with half of that given to

them at the point of official de-mobilization and half given to them in the district of re-settlement. Upon completion of the Government subsidy programme, the UNDP will provide a further eighteen months of support.

47. Mozambique has 29,000 kilometres of road, of which only 5,000 kilometres is paved.

48. The GSG, working in cooperation with Lomaco and funded by the European Community, applied hand clearance techniques, slowing de-mining considerably; only 178 kilometres of road were cleared by the time the contract ran out in January. Human Rights Watch/Africa, Landmines in Mozambique (Washington, D.C.: Human Rights Watch 1994), pp. 80-83; AWEPA, Mozambique Peace Process Bulletin April 1994, No. 10, pp. 7; UNOHAC, "An Integrated Mine-Clearance Training Programme," Mozambique Report, February 1994, pp. 6.

49. Human Rights Watch/Africa, Landmines in Mozambique (Washington, D.C.: Human Rights Watch 1994), pp. 99; UNOHAC, "De-mining Update," Mozambique Report, August 1993, pp. 8. This Norwegian team had experience in Cambodia.

50. Interview with Felix Downes-Thomas, Director of Office for Humanitarian Assistance Coordination (UNOHAC), 15 September 1994.

51. Private communications; UNOHAC, "De-mining Update," Mozambique Report, August 1993, pp. 8. Initially, the training of ex-soldiers as de-miners was envisaged by the UN, though the delays in starting the de-mobilization process was a factor in bringing in foreign expertise.

52. See Erskine Childers and Brian Urquhart, Renewing the United Nations System (Uppsala: Dag Hammarskjold Foundation 1994); Our Global Neighbourhood, the Report of the Commission on Global Governance, (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1995), pp. 338-340.

53. 70% of CIVPOL was to be deployed during voter registration between April and June 1994, while the rest were to arrive in August.

54. Africa Recovery December 1994, pp. 14.

55. Africa Confidential 14 April 1995, vol 36:8, pp. 6-7.

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