Tag: Deaux

In final report Annan hails UN mission in Guatemala as model of

Current and future United Nations operations can take away valuable lessons from the world body’s recently-closed mission in Guatemala, which stands as a successful example of multidimensional peacebuilding, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in his wrap-up report on the mission’s work.The UN Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA) officially closed shop at the end of December, after 10 years of verifying human rights and helping the country implement its far-reaching peace accords. The accords, signed in 1996, ended 36 years of conflict that killed an estimated 200,000 people, most of them civilian victims of massacres, and the majority Mayan indigenous villagers.In his end-of-mission report to the General Assembly, Mr. Annan hails the operation’s accomplishments as a model to be emulated elsewhere. He summarizes the Mission’s work on each of the agreements and outlines its two-year transition programme designed to ensure continuity in the peace process beyond the end of the mandate.Mr. Annan chronicles the evolution of MINUGUA – which faced “tough criticism” from some conservative elements early on – through the decade, spanning four government administrations, and over a vast subject area contained in the accords. The accords attempted not only to end the conflict and disarm the parties, but to address the root causes of the war through long-range public policies on human rights, justice reform, demilitarization, the fight against racial discrimination and against poverty.“Perhaps the most difficult challenge for MINUGUA was to operate in the complex multi-ethnic, multicultural and multilingual environment of Guatemala, with its deeply entrenched racism and abandonment of the nearly two dozen Mayan, Xinca and Garifuna indigenous communities that comprise at least half the population,” Mr. Annan says, adding that the Mission made use of national indigenous staff and translators able to explain the peace accords and the mandate.Although the Mission verified continuing abuses during that first period, some very serious, its presence generally had a dissuasive effect, contributing to a steady decline in violations from the time of its arrival through a ceasefire and the final signing of the peace agreement. According to the report, human rights activists and members of rural communities who had been targeted during the conflict saw the Mission as a source of protection.The signing of the Agreement on Firm and Lasting Peace on 29 December 1996 marked the end of 36 years of conflict and signalled a new phase in the life of MINUGUA. Its mandate expanded beyond human rights to the verification of a wide-ranging package of accords designed to overcome the economic, social, political and cultural root causes of conflict. MINUGUA also expanded and broadened its expertise, adding specialists in indigenous affairs, macroeconomic and fiscal policy, labour issues, land rights and agrarian policy, military and public security reform, and gender issues, among others.The Mission dedicated its final year to ensuring that peace priorities were reflected in the policies of the new administration, while continuing, through its transition strategy, to build national capacities to promote and monitor peace accords implementation after its departure.The centrepiece of the transition effort during the final year was the National Transition Volunteers Programme, through which 60 young Guatemalan professionals received special on-the-job training within MINUGUA as verifiers and promoters of the peace accords. “That was one of the most successful initiatives undertaken by MINUGUA which could potentially be replicated in other missions,” Mr. Annan says.Also during the final period, each MINUGUA field office prepared an in-depth analysis of the state of peace implementation in its respective region, for use by newly elected authorities, civil society counterparts and regional staff of international cooperation agencies.Finally, Mr. Annan notes that MINUGUA’s closing marks not only a milestone for Guatemala, but also ends a long chapter of UN involvement in Central America, where it also helped Nicaragua and El Salvador emerge from civil wars, and adds: “With the end of international verification, the Guatemalan peace process has matured into a new and important phase in which national actors area assuming fuller responsibility for monitoring and promoting the goals of the peace accords.” read more