In September 1989, following a formal request from the Government of El Salvador and the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN), the Secretary-General began assisting in talks aimed at ending the civil war in that country. The first major accord was achieved in 1990, when the parties agreed to ensure respect for human rights. To verify this and future agreements, the Security Council established in 1991 the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador (ONUSAL).

Further intense negotiations brokered by the Secretary-General and his personal representative culminated in the Peace Agreements of January 1992, which put an end to a conflict that had claimed some 75,000 lives. The Security Council assigned to ONUSAL the mandate to monitor the implementation of the Agreements.

In one of the most comprehensive operations in United Nations history, ONUSAL monitored the accords and verified the demobilization of combatants, their reintegration into society and the respect by both parties of their human rights commitments. The formal end of the 12-year conflict was proclaimed in December 1992, as FMLN troops completed their demobilization. This was followed by a 50 per cent reduction in the Salvadoran army and the departure of officers allegedly responsible for human rights violations.

ONUSAL also assisted in bringing about reforms needed to tackle the root causes of the civil war -- such as judicial reforms, the phasing out of the national police, the training of the new civilian police, and transfer of land to former combatants and landholders. At the request of the Government, ONUSAL observed the 1994 elections, won by the ruling party, the Republican National Alliance (ARENA), with FMLN emerging as the main opposition party.

ONUSAL's mandate ended in April 1995, and a small United Nations office -- the United Nations Mission in El Salvador (MINUSAL) -- remained in the country to provide good offices to the parties, to verify implementation of the outstanding points of the agreements and to provide a continuing flow of accurate and reliable information.


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