The Tajik Supreme Soviet voted to proclaim Tajikistan an independent
State on 9 September 1991. This vote followed the failed conservative
coup d'état in Moscow in August of that year which marked the beginning
of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Tajikistan soon faced an
acute social and economic crisis. In addition, its stability was upset
by clan, regional and political tensions, further compounded by differences
between secularists and pro-Islamic traditionalists.
In May 1992, the Tajik opposition - an informal coalition of Islamic
and other groups - seized power de facto after two months of non-stop
demonstrations. Further tensions and frequent incidents of violence
dragged Tajikistan into civil war. After suffering defeat from the government
forces in December 1992, most of those opposition forces crossed over
into the territory of Afghanistan. Although the civil war as such ended
at the start of 1993, armed insurgency of the opposition forces, in
particular from across the Tajik-Afghan border, continued. To protect
the border, the Governments of Tajikistan and the Russian Federation
agreed that the Russian border forces would continue to be deployed
along the Pyanj river, which forms the Tajik-Afghan border.
By mid-1993, in a country of under 6 million, an estimated 50,000
people, mostly civilians, had been killed, some 600,000 had been displaced
internally, and an additional 60,000 had crossed the border into northern
Afghanistan. Many others had fled to neighbouring Central Asian republics
and to other countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
As part of the efforts to stabilize the situation in Tajikistan, the
Governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan
and Uzbekistan decided, at a meeting held in Moscow on 24 September
1993, to establish the CIS Collective Peacekeeping Forces in Tajikistan.
These forces had the following mandate: (a) to assist in the normalization
of the situation on the Tajik-Afghan border with a view to stabilizing
the overall situation in Tajikistan and creating conditions conducive
to progress in the dialogue between all interested parties on ways of
achieving a political settlement of the conflict; and (b) to assist
in the delivery, protection and distribution of emergency and other
humanitarian aid, create conditions for the safe return of refugees
to their places of permanent residence and guard the infrastructure
and other vitally important facilities required for the foregoing purpose.
Early United Nations involvement
There were a number of international and regional diplomatic efforts
to find a lasting peaceful solution to the conflict in Tajikistan, including
those by the Russian Federation, by neighbouring and a number of other
countries, and by the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe
(CSCE) [now the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
The United Nations became actively involved in the situation in Tajikistan
in September 1992, when the Secretary-General, in response to a letter
from the President of Uzbekistan, dispatched a fact-finding mission
to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan from 13 to 23 September to make a first-hand
assessment of the situation on the ground. He then sent a United Nations
good offices mission to the region which visited Tajikistan, Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation and Uzbekistan in November 1992 and
held a series of discussions with Government officials in those countries.
This was followed by the dispatch of a small United Nations unit of
political, military and humanitarian officers on 21 January 1993, to
monitor the situation on the ground and to help coordinate the international
community’s response to the humanitarian situation in the country.
In April 1993, reports from the United Nations mission led the Secretary-General
to conclude that there could be an escalation of the conflict. This
was especially true in the border areas between Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
Urgent action was required to establish a ceasefire and start a political
dialogue among all concerned for the earliest possible solution of the
problem. In this context, the Secretary-General appointed, on 26 April,
a Special Envoy for Tajikistan with the mandate to obtain agreement
on a ceasefire and make recommendations on appropriate international
monitoring mechanisms; to ascertain the positions of all the concerned
parties and make good offices available to assist in the establishment
of a process of negotiations for a political solution; and to enlist
the help of neighbouring countries and others concerned in achieving
In the following months, the Special Envoy held numerous discussions
with the President and other Government officials of Tajikistan. He
also traveled to Uzbekistan, the Russian Federation, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan,
Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia,
for talks with their leaders. In Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Iran, he
met with leaders of various groups opposing the Tajik Government and
other prominent opposition personalities.
Agreement on Temporary Ceasefire
Efforts by successive Special Envoys of the Secretary-General to reach
agreement on a ceasefire and to resolve problems through political dialogue
began to bear fruit in 1994, with the holding of the first round of
inter-Tajik talks in Moscow, followed by a second round in Tehran. The
talks resulted in the signing, in September 1994, of the Agreement on
a Temporary Ceasefire and the Cessation of Other Hostile Acts on the
Tajik-Afghan Border and within the Country for the Duration of the Talks
(also known as the Tehran Agreement).
In order to ensure effective implementation of the Agreement, the Tajik
parties agreed to establish a Joint Commission consisting of representatives
of the Government and of the opposition, as the principal monitoring
mechanism. They requested the United Nations Security Council to assist
the work of the Commission by providing political good offices and dispatching
United Nations military observers to the conflict areas. It was agreed
that the Tehran Agreement would enter into force as soon as United Nations
observers were deployed.
On 22 September, the Security Council welcomed
the Tehran Agreement and asked the Secretary-General to present urgently
his recommendations regarding the request of the Tajik parties for United
Nations support. Those recommendations,
presented to the Council on 27 September, included extending the mandates
of the Special Envoy and the small group of United Nations officials
in Tajikistan for a further period of four months. As a provisional
measure, the group was to be strengthened with up to 15 military observers
drawn from existing peacekeeping operations, pending a decision by the
Security Council to establish a new United Nations observer mission
in Tajikistan. A technical survey mission would travel to Tajikistan
to assess the modalities for establishing an observer mission.
The technical survey team visited Tajikistan from 4 to 12 October
1994. Also during October, 15 military observers arrived in Tajikistan
and were deployed in Dushanbe, Garm, Kurgan-Tyube and Pyanj. The ceasefire
came into effect as from 0800 hours local time on 20 October 1994, following
a public announcement by the Head of the United Nations office in Dushanbe.
Another round of inter-Tajik talks took place from 20 October to 1
November 1994, at which the parties decided to extend the Tehran Agreement
for another three months. The two sides also signed the Protocol
on the Joint Commission to monitor the implementation of the Agreement,
defining the role the parties wished the United Nations to assume in
assisting the work of the Commission. The Joint Commission, established
under the Tehran Agreement as the formal machinery for its implementation,
held its first meeting on 14 November 1994 at Dushanbe and began to
perform its functions assisted by the United Nations military observers
already in the country.
Establishment of UNMOT
On 30 November, the Secretary-General outlined
to the Security Council the composition and functions of a possible
United Nations peacekeeping operation. According to the proposed concept
of operations, the United Nations mission in Tajikistan would act on
its own initiative or at the request of the Joint Commission. In case
of a complaint about a ceasefire violation, the mission would investigate,
establish the facts and report its findings to the Joint Commission
and to United Nations Headquarters. It would also provide good offices
as stipulated in the Tehran Agreement. The Mission would be an integrated
civilian-military operation, headed by a person with political experience
and supported by a small civil affairs staff as well as military observers.
The personnel would be deployed in teams at a number of offices in the
country. Each office would serve as a base from which the teams would
cover a geographic area of responsibility.
The concept of operations
did not require a large mission. A military complement of 40 officers
would suffice to strengthen the headquarters in Dushanbe and the offices
in Kurgan-Tyube, Pyanj and Garm, and to open additional offices, for
example in Tavildara and Khorog. The Chief of Mission would need to
be supported in his headquarters by a small civilian staff; it would
also be desirable to have some additional civil affairs officers for
work away from headquarters. The mission would maintain close liaison
with the Russian border forces and the CIS Collective Peacekeeping Forces
in Tajikistan and rely on their cooperation as appropriate.
On 16 December 1994, the Security Council, by its resolution
968 (1994), welcomed the agreement on the extension of the Tehran
Agreement. It decided to set up the United Nations Mission of Observers
in Tajikistan (UNMOT) in accordance with the plan outlined by the Secretary-General.
By the end of January 1995, UNMOT's total personnel numbered 55, of
which 22 were military observers, 11 were international civilian staff
and 22 were local staff.
General Agreement and Expansion of UNMOT
For more than a year after the signing of the ceasefire agreement there
was no serious, sustained fighting in the country. However, starting
in July 1995, opposition forces began to make their way back from Afghanistan
into the central region of the country. Early in 1996, the opposition
launched an offensive in the Tavildara region and, by July 1996, the
ceasefire had all but collapsed.
In the meantime, efforts to stop fighting
and find a lasting solution to the conflict in Tajikistan continued.
Throughout that period, political dialogue was maintained with the help
of interested Governments, notably the Russian Federation and the Islamic
Republic of Iran. In May 1996, the Secretary-General appointed a resident
Special Representative and Head of Mission of UNMOT.
The signing, in December 1996, of the Khusdeh Agreement between President
Emomali Rakhmonov and Mr. Sayed Abdullo Nuri, leader of the United Tajik
Opposition (UTO), effectively restored the ceasefire agreement, paving
the way for the rapid succession of agreements which culminated in the
signing of the General Agreement on the Establishment of Peace and National
Accord in Tajikistan on 27 June 1997.
The signing of the Agreement and the subsequent convening of the Commission
on National Reconciliation launched the period of transition. During
this period, refugees were to return; UTO fighters were to be demobilized
or reintegrated into the governmental structures; the armed forces,
police and security apparatus were to be reformed; and the democratic
processes in the country were to be improved, leading to elections and
the formation of a new Government. The parties requested United Nations
assistance in the implementation of the Agreement.
to the Security Council on 4 September 1997, the Secretary-General indicated
that to carry out its new tasks UNMOT should be strengthened significantly.
The Mission's civil affairs component would need to be increased and
additional expertise added in the areas of public law (including human
rights), police, electoral affairs and coordination of international
assistance. The military component would also be increased to 120 military
observers from its previous authorized strength of 45. At the same time,
the Secretary-General warned that the security situation in the country
and the protection of United Nations personnel remained a serious concern.
The Security Council, by its resolution 1128
(1997) of 12 September, took note of the Secretary-General's recommendations
on the expansion of UNMOT and extended the original mandate of the Mission
for a period of two months until 15 November. It also requested the
Secretary-General to continue to explore ways to provide security for
In November 1997, the Secretary-General reported
that substantive progress towards addressing the security concerns
had been made, leading him to recommend that the Security Council expand
UNMOT's mandate as proposed in his September report. The Council, by
its resolution 1138
(1997) of 14 November, expanded the mandate of UNMOT and increased
the size of the mission in accordance with the Secretary-General's recommendations.
Further Progress Reported
In the following months, however, the peace process was disrupted
by violence and made only slow progress. In May 1998, the Secretary-General
that the process would take longer than allowed for in the timetable
of the peace agreement. As a result, it seemed unlikely that elections
could be held in 1998. He recommended an extension of UNMOT's mandate
for a further six-month period until 15 November 1998. By its resolution
1167 (1998) of 14 May, the Council extended the mandate of UNMOT
as recommended and called upon the parties involved to implement fully
the agreement. It also called on the parties to create conditions for
the holding of elections at the earliest possible time. UNMOT's mandate
was again extended until 15 May 1999 by Security Council resolution
(1998) of 12 November 1998.
In his further report
dated 4 November 1999, Secretary-General noted that the peace process
in Tajikistan had made progress, including the constitutional referendum
and the lifting of the ban on UTO political parties, both important
milestones. The last major event of the transition period envisaged
in the General Agreement would be the parliamentary elections, to be
held before the term of the current parliament expired at the end of
February 2000. The United Nations in cooperation with OCSE was actively
participating in preparing for international monitoring of the electoral
process. The Secretary-General recommended to the Security Council to
extend the mandate of UNMOT for another six months, until 15 May 2000.
By its resolution 1274
(1999) of 12 November 1999, the Council extended the Mission's mandate
The election for the 63-seat lower house of a new two-chamber parliament
of Tajikistan was held as scheduled on 27 February 2000, and went without
serious incident. It followed the adoption of an election law after
lengthy negotiations between the Government and the United Tajik Opposition.
The United Nations and OSCE deployed the Joint Electoral Observation
Mission (JEOM), in the hope that the engagement of the two organizations
would serve to promote democratic principles.
The JEOM, which arrived in Tajikistan in January and February 2000,
comprised 10 core staff and 13 observers from OCSE, and 5 electoral
experts from the United Nations. On polling day, the JEOM deployed 86
short-term international observers, who visited some 300 of the 2,761
polling stations and also observed the counting of the votes and tabulation
of the results. UNMOT provided logistic support to the work of the JEOM
throughout the process.
On 28 February, the JEOM issued its preliminary findings and conclusions.
It noted the significance of the inclusion of former warring parties
and others in the electoral process and the fact that Tajikistan had
held its first multi-party election in an atmosphere free of violence.
However, it also pointed out that the election did not meet minimum
standards. It listed weaknesses in the legislation and the minimum level
of transparency during voter registration, printing of ballots, tabulation,
announcement, and publication of the results. On polling day, there
was also a high rate of proxy voting.
to Security Council on 14 March, the Secretary-General observed that
with the holding of the first multi-party parliamentary election in
Tajikistan, the transition period envisaged in the General Agreement
was coming to a close and thus so was the process that UNMOT had been
set up to support. He said that that marked a significant achievement.
The transition process was difficult and threatened by several serious
crises. Nevertheless, the Tajik parties managed to overcome the obstacles
and put their country on the path to national reconciliation and democracy.
The Secretary-General noted that the United Nations had played an
important part in this success. The General Agreement was reached under
its auspices and with its active involvement, and UNMOT was instrumental
in ensuring the implementation of its provisions. "In difficult and
often dangerous conditions, the mission has fulfilled its tasks well,"
he wrote. The Secretary-General said that he intended to withdraw UNMOT
when its mandate expired on 15 May.
In a statement,
the Security Council welcomed decisive progress in the implementation
of the General Agreement and supported the intention of the Secretary-General
to withdraw UNMOT as scheduled.
UNMOT Completes its Mandate
The election to the 33-seat National Assembly (upper house) was held,
as scheduled, on 23 March and, in accordance with the Constitution,
25 deputies were elected by local assemblies and 8 were appointed by
the President. On 27 April, the newly formed bi-cameral parliament convened
its first joint session.
In his final report
on UNMOT, submitted to the Security Council on 5 May 2000, the Secretary-General
reflected on the efforts of the United Nations relating to the situation
in Tajikistan since January 1993. He said that several characteristics
of United Nations involvement in the peace process contributed to its
overall positive outcome. They were: the early engagement of the United
Nations in the conflict; sustained political support of the Security
Council and interested Member States in the region; cooperation with
other organizations, notably the OSCE; effective crisis management;
and, above all, the clear will of the Tajik people to end the war and
pursue a political solution.
The Secretary-General observed that from the beginning, the mandated
activities of UNMOT had been channelled towards a long-term objective,
namely, to promote peace and national reconciliation. The reintegration
of the opposition into the political life of the country was a big step
along that path. The parliamentary elections, while advancing the democratic
process in Tajikistan, were, in the view of international observers,
seriously flawed, however. Armed elements continued to operate outside
the control of the Government, contributing to insecurity. Daunting
economic and social problems must also be addressed as a priority. Consequently,
the possibility of renewed instability could not be excluded, owing
both to domestic factors and to the unstable situation in the region,
notably in neighbouring Afghanistan. The continued support of the international
community in the post-conflict phase would be important for Tajikistan’s
ability to sustain, and build on, the achievements of the peace process.
The Secretary-General said that he would be contacting the Council shortly
about the possible establishment of a post-conflict peace-building office
with the function of addressing institutional, social and economic development
in an integrated manner, to consolidate peace and promote democracy
The Secretary-General concluded by saying that Tajikistan was entering
into a new phase of nation building, based on national reconciliation.
While the United Nations involvement could be rated a success, it was
not without its price. It was to be hoped, he said, that the achievements
of the past years would be consolidated in the further strengthening
of the institutions in the country in accordance with accepted democratic
standards and the economic and social development of Tajik society.
On 12 May, the Security Council welcomed
the success achieved in the peace process in Tajikistan and noted
with satisfaction that the United Nations had played a successful and
important role. It also reiterated its support for the intention of
the Secretary-General to withdraw UNMOT when its mandate expired on
15 May 2000 and emphasized that the continued support of the international
community in the post-conflict phase would be crucial.