Historical background, International Conference on Kampuchea, Paris Conference, Intense diplomatic activity, P-5 proposal, Ceasefire
Establishment, Expansion of mandate, Ceasefire violations


Historical background

The Agreements on a Comprehensive Political Settlement of the Cambodia Conflict were signed in Paris on 23 October 1991 at the final meeting of the Paris Conference on Cambodia. They were the culmination of more than a decade of negotiations in which the United Nations had been closely involved from the outset. The Agreements, also known as the Paris Agreements, invited the Security Council to establish the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) and to provide it with the mandate set out in the Agreements. The Council fully supported the Paris Agreements in its resolution 718 (1991) of 31 October 1991 and requested the Secretary-General to prepare a detailed plan of implementation.

In signing the Agreements along with 18 other States, Cambodia took a vital step in its emergence from years of internal conflict and relative isolation. In the 1950s, French colonialism had given way to a period of political instability and civil conflict, exacerbated in the 1960s and 1970s by the spillover of the war in Viet Nam, including bombardment by United States forces. From 1975 to 1979, the country suffered a vastly destructive regime under Pol Pot. The cities were emptied of their populations and the general mass of people were subjected to harsh labour and political re-education. It is estimated that more than 1 million people died in a brutal process of Asocial reconstruction. Pol Pot's regime C the AKhmer Rouge C was ended by the intervention of Vietnamese troops in late 1978 and the installation of a new government in Phnom Penh.

But the battle for control of the country continued. Three factions opposed the Phnom Penh government: the United National Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful and Cooperative Cambodia (FUNCINPEC), led by Prince Norodom Sihanouk; the Khmer People's Liberation Front (KPNLF); and the Party of Democratic Kampuchea (PDK), also known as the Khmer Rouge. In 1982, the three factions formed a coalition party under the name Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea, later called the National Government of Cambodia, and led by Prince Sihanouk. The coalition occupied the seat reserved for Cambodia at the United Nations from 1982 until the signing of the Paris Agreements.

The Phnom Penh government C the People's Republic of Kampuchea C was backed by Viet Nam and the Soviet Union, and fielded an army thought to total approximately 50,000. It controlled some 80 to 90 per cent of the country. The coalition was backed by China, the United States and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand). It had combined forces of between 50,000 and 60,000 and operated from areas along the border with Thailand and in north-western Cambodia.

International Conference on Kampuchea

The Security Council first considered the question of Cambodia in early 1979, following the intervention by Viet Nam, but could take no action for lack of agreement among its permanent members (China, France, Soviet Union, United Kingdom, United States). The General Assembly then took up the matter, and in November 1979, as it did annually for most of the decade that followed, called for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Cambodia and self-determination for its people. The Assembly also welcomed efforts begun by the Secretary-General to coordinate relief assistance to the Cambodian people, who in this turbulent period, fled their country in large numbers. Over three hundred thousand found refuge in Thailand.

In July 1981, an International Conference on Kampuchea was convened by the United Nations General Assembly. Although Viet Nam did not attend, it did accept the offer of good offices by the Secretary-General. Mr. Rafeeuddin Ahmed, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Humanitarian Affairs in South-East Asia, visited the area many times during this period.

By 1985, the Secretary-General had identified, through quiet diplomacy, a set of objectives to be achieved by negotiation. These were elaborated into proposals for action following a December 1987 meeting between Prince Sihanouk and the Prime Minister of the Phnom Penh government, Mr. Hun Sen. That meeting took place at the invitation of the Government of France which, with Indonesia, assumed a lead role in the ongoing effort to end the war in Cambodia.

Paris Conference

In July 1988, the representatives of the Phnom Penh government and the three Cambodian opposition parties met informally in Indonesia. That first direct contact, followed by another in February 1989, set the scene for the Paris Conference on Cambodia. The Conference was held from 30 July to 30 August 1989 and was attended by the representatives of all four Cambodian parties and of 18 other States: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, China, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Soviet Union, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, Viet Nam and Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe was then chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement. Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar was present. France and Indonesia co-chaired the Conference which, although mapping out a broad strategy to move towards peace, was unable to agree on a comprehensive settlement. The major unresolved issues were the power-sharing formula during a transitional period before elections and the drafting of a new constitution, and the role of PDK. The conference was suspended without being able to agree on an international mechanism to verify the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops from Cambodia. That withdrawal, as announced by Viet Nam, was undertaken without international verification in September 1989. In Phnom Penh, the government of Mr. Hun Sen continued in power. Since May 1989, that government had been known as the Government of the State of Cambodia (SOC).

Intense diplomatic activity

There was intense diplomatic activity in the first half of 1990. The Cambodian parties met in Indonesia in February 1990 and in Tokyo in June 1990. In addition, a series of consultations was undertaken by the five permanent members of the Security Council beginning in January 1990. The basis for their discussions was a proposal put forward by Australia the previous October. After the first meeting on 15 and 16 January 1990, the Five issued a summary of conclusions in which they agreed to be guided by the following principles in working for a resolution of the Cambodia problem:

(1) No acceptable solution could be achieved by force of arms. (2) An enduring peace could only be achieved through a comprehensive political settlement, including the verified withdrawal of foreign forces, a ceasefire and cessation of outside military assistance. (3) The goal should be self-determination for the Cambodian people through free, fair and democratic elections. (4) All accepted an enhanced United Nations role in the resolution of the Cambodian problem. (5) There was an urgent need to speed up diplomatic efforts to achieve a settlement. (6) The complete withdrawal of foreign forces must be verified by the United Nations. (7) The five would welcome an early resumption of a constructive dialogue among the Cambodian factions which was essential to facilitating the transition process, which should not be dominated by any one of them. (8) An effective United Nations presence would be required during the transition period in order to assure internal security. (9) A Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General was needed in Cambodia to supervise United Nations activities during a transition period culminating in the inauguration of a democratically elected government. (10) The scale of the United Nations operation should be consistent with the successful implementation of a Cambodian settlement, and its planning and execution should take account of the heavy financial burden that might be placed on Member States. (11) Free and fair elections must be conducted under direct United Nations administration. (12) The elections must be conducted in a neutral political environment in which no party would gain advantage. (13) The five permanent members committed themselves to honouring the results of free and fair elections. (14) All Cambodians should enjoy the same rights, freedoms and opportunities to participate in the election process. (15) A Supreme National Council might be the repository of Cambodian sovereignty during the transition process. (16) Questions involving Cambodian sovereignty should be resolved with the agreement of the Cambodian parties. (17) The Five supported all responsible efforts by regional parties to achieve a comprehensive political settlement, and would remain in close touch with them with a view to reconvening the Paris Conference at an appropriate time.

P-5 proposal

The United Nations, in preparation for a peacekeeping operation in Cambodia, sent several fact-finding missions to the country to study its devastated administrative, economic and social infrastructure and the requirements for the repatriation of refugees. The findings helped shape an August 1990 proposal from the five permanent members of the Security Council for a comprehensive settlement in Cambodia. The proposal was accepted by the four Cambodian parties at an AInformal Meeting on Cambodia in Jakarta on 10 September. They agreed to constitute a Supreme National Council (SNC) of 12 members and to accept Prince Sihanouk's proposal that the 12 members might elect a chairman. The Security Council in resolution 668 (1990) of 20 September endorsed the proposal. Indonesia and France then took charge of the negotiations to fill out the framework proposal into a peace agreement. At a meeting in Paris from 21 to 23 December 1990, they presented the draft agreements on a comprehensive political settlement to the 12 members of SNC. After some discussion, and the submission of an explanatory note by the five permanent members, SNC accepted the draft. It was then presented to Thailand and Viet Nam in February 1991.


On 22 April 1991, the Secretary-General appealed jointly with France and Indonesia for a temporary cessation of hostilities in Cambodia as a gesture of good faith. As a result, a ceasefire went into effect on a voluntary basis and was generally observed over the next several months as negotiations continued. Meeting in July, SNC decided to elect Prince Sihanouk as its chairman. It also decided to send a letter signed by Prince Sihanouk asking the United Nations to dispatch a survey mission to Cambodia. In response, on 8 August, the Secretary-General informed the Security Council of his intention to proceed with the necessary arrangements. On 26 August, Prince Sihanouk wrote to the Secretary-General asking Ato have at least 200 United Nations personnel sent to Cambodia as observers in September 1991 in order to assist SNC in controlling the ceasefire and the cessation of foreign military assistance, as a first step within the framework of a comprehensive political settlement.



The Secretary-General reiterated to the Security Council on 30 September 1991 that the United Nations could help in maintaining the ceasefire by deploying in Cambodia a small advance mission consisting mainly of military liaison officers in order to help the parties to address and resolve any violations or alleged violations of the ceasefire. Such an advance mission could be envisaged as the first stage of the good offices mission foreseen in the draft peace agreements. On that basis, the Secretary-General recommended that the Security Council authorize the United Nations Advance Mission in Cambodia (UNAMIC), to become operational as soon as the Paris Agreements were signed. UNAMIC would be absorbed into UNTAC once UNTAC was established by the Security Council and its budget adopted by the General Assembly.

The Secretary-General recommended that UNAMIC operate under the authority of the Security Council and United Nations command. The mission would be led in the field by a civilian Chief Liaison Officer, who, in addition to duties in relation to UNAMIC, would have responsibility for maintaining contact with SNC on preparations for the deployment of UNTAC and on other matters related to the role of the United Nations. A Senior Military Liaison Officer would report to the Secretary-General through the Chief Liaison Officer. The Secretary-General would, in turn, report regularly to the Security Council on the operations of UNAMIC.

UNAMIC would deploy small teams of military personnel with experience in training civilian populations on how to avoid injury from mines or booby traps. Initially, the teams would give priority to populations living in or close to areas of recent military confrontation. The Secretary-General envisaged the eventual expansion of the programme, in close consultation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to repatriation routes, reception centres and resettlement areas for refugees. These activities would need to be carefully coordinated with the mine-awareness programme begun earlier in 1991 for Cambodian refugees and displaced persons in the camps along the Cambodia-Thailand border.

UNAMIC was estimated to require 8 civilian liaison staff, 50 military liaison officers, 20 other military personnel to form the mine awareness unit, and approximately 75 international and 75 local civilian support staff. In addition, there would be a military communications unit of some 40 persons, provided by Australia as a voluntary contribution. An air unit of four utility helicopters and one fixed-wing aircraft would also be needed.

The Secretary-General also informed the Security Council that, operationally, UNAMIC would be headquartered in Phnom Penh, deploying military liaison units to the general military headquarters of each of the Cambodian parties. In addition, teams would be deployed to two forward positions, Battambang and Siem Reap, which were also to be main bases for the mine-awareness programme. UNAMIC would require an effective and independent round-the-clock communications system, open to the Cambodian parties so as to facilitate communications between them and help resolve problems with the maintenance of the ceasefire. The Secretary-General expected full deployment between mid-November and mid-December 1991.

The Security Council, in its resolution 717 (1991) of 16 October 1991, authorized UNAMIC as recommended by the Secretary-General. UNAMIC became operational on 9 November 1991 when Mr. A.H.S. Ataul Karim (Bangladesh) assumed his functions as Chief Liaison Officer of UNAMIC in Phnom Penh. Brigadier-General Michel Loridon (France), Senior Military Liaison Officer, assumed command of the military elements of UNAMIC on 12 November and, on the same day, an air operations unit contributed by France arrived in Phnom Penh.

On 27 November 1991, the PDK delegation arrived in Phnom Penh. It was forced to flee, however, after demonstrations against the delegation became violent, and its members were attacked. On 3 December, SNC held an emergency meeting in Pataya, Thailand to discuss, among other things, the security measures for SNC members.

Demonstrations against corruption in the Phnom Penh administration, which started around 17 December, also became violent, and the security situation in the city deteriorated during the next few days. Although the SNC meeting scheduled for 21 December did not materialize, Prince Sihanouk chaired a special meeting of the SNC Secretariat to assess the situation. Also discussed was the deployment of UNAMIC liaison teams to the parties' headquarters and the activation of the mixed military working group (MMWG) stipulated in the Paris Agreements. The deployment of the liaison teams was completed on 22 December, and the first meeting of MMWG was held with the participation of all four parties on 28 December. The meeting appealed to the Secretary-General for the early deployment of UNTAC and the appointment of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.

Expansion of mandate

At the end of December 1991, the Secretary-General reported to the Security Council on the need to expand the mandate of UNAMIC to undertake on an urgent basis a major de-mining effort in Cambodia. This effort should begin even before the establishment of UNTAC to prepare the ground for the safe and orderly repatriation of Cambodian refugees and displaced persons.

The Secretary-General recommended the addition of 1,090 military personnel. Forty of these would be assigned to a planning and liaison unit to liaise with the National Mine Clearance Commission established by SNC, as well as with UNHCR and other international agencies. The unit would gather information on all known mine fields in the country and would develop a training programme for Cambodians in mine-detection and clearance, establish priorities for action and allocate work among different units.

The Secretary-General also recommended the addition of a field engineer battalion of 700 personnel to begin clearing repatriation routes, reception centres and resettlement areas and to carry out emergency repair and rehabilitation work on roads and bridges already cleared. Other requirements included 200 personnel to comprise expert teams to train local military personnel made available by the four Cambodian parties, and 150 logistic support personnel. On 8 January 1992, by its resolution 728 (1992), the Council expanded the mandate of UNAMIC as recommended by the Secretary-General. In this connection, an engineering battalion from Thailand was deployed in the Sisophon/Battambang area on 21-22 February.

Ceasefire violations

Until January 1992, the ceasefire was generally maintained. However, in Kompong Thom, where forces of all four Cambodian parties were present, there were armed clashes in January between forces of SOC and forces of PDK. UNAMIC deployed a military liaison team to the area on 29 January. Although UNAMIC's presence contributed to calming the situation, the atmosphere remained tense.

On 26 February, a United Nations helicopter on a reconnaissance mission in the Kompong Thom area came under fire, and a member of the Australian contingent was wounded. This was the first attack against United Nations peacekeepers in Cambodia. UNAMIC immediately undertook an investigation.


The second session of the Paris Conference on Cambodia met from 1 to 23 October 1991. Cambodia was represented by SNC, with Prince Sihanouk as its Chairman. Also present were the five permanent members of the Security Council, the six members of ASEAN, Australia, Canada, India, Japan, Laos and Viet Nam. Yugoslavia attended in its capacity as Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, replacing Zimbabwe in that capacity. The peace plan that emerged from the Paris Conference became known as the Agreements on a Comprehensive Political Settlement of the Cambodia Conflict. The Agreements consisted of a Final Act and three instruments: the Agreement on a Comprehensive Political Settlement of the Cambodia Conflict; the Agreement concerning the Sovereignty, Independence, Territorial Integrity and Inviolability, Neutrality and National Unity of Cambodia; and the Declaration on the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Cambodia.

The Secretary-General informed the Security Council of the adoption of the Paris Agreements on 30 October 1991. The Council welcomed the Agreements and noted the intention of the Secretary-General to send a survey mission to Cambodia to prepare a plan for the Council's approval. The Council also asked for a detailed estimate of the cost of UNTAC, Aon the understanding that this report would be the basis on which the Council would authorize the establishment of the Authority, the budget of which is to be subsequently considered and approved in accordance with the provisions of Article 17 of the Charter of the United Nations.

On 19 February 1992, the Secretary-General submitted to the Security Council the implementation plan for UNTAC and subsequently submitted an indication of administrative and financial aspects. By resolution 745 (1992) of 28 February, the Security Council established UNTAC for a period not to exceed 18 months.

Meanwhile, UNAMIC continued to function until UNTAC became operational, at which time the Mission and its functions were subsumed by UNTAC. The initial phase of UNTAC's deployment began on 15 March 1992.


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