Afghanistan / Pakistan - UNGOMAP - Background
   United Nations Good Offices Mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan
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On 27 December 1979, Soviet forces entered Afghanistan, in response to a reported request from the Afghan Government for assistance against insurgent movements. More than 100,000 Soviet troops were eventually deployed; they soon became embroiled in a protracted conflict with the factions of the Afghan resistance, or mujahideen.

Security Council debate of the issue in January 1980 failed to produce a resolution. In order to circumvent the deadlock, the matter was referred, under the "A Uniting for Peace" procedure (as provided for in General Assembly resolution 377 (V) of 3 November 1950), to an emergency session of the General Assembly, which, by resolution ES-6/2 of 14 January 1980, strongly deplored the armed intervention and called for the immediate, unconditional and total withdrawal of the foreign troops from Afghanistan.

On 11 February 1981, Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim appointed Mr. Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, then Under-Secretary-General for Special Political Affairs, as his Personal Representative on the Situation Relating to Afghanistan. In visits to the region in April and August 1981, the Under-Secretary-General held extensive discussions with the Governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan to determine the substantive issues to be negotiated in resolving the conflict. The acceptance by the parties of his suggested four-point agenda started the negotiating process which ultimately produced the Geneva Accords.

Geneva negotiations

Upon his assumption of the post of Secretary-General in January 1982, Mr. Pérez de Cuéllar designated Mr. Diego Cordovez, who had succeeded him as Under-Secretary-General for Special Political Affairs, as his Personal Representative. Beginning in June 1982 and over the next six years, Mr. Cordovez acted as intermediary in a series of indirect negotiations between the Governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan in Geneva and in the area .

The conclusion of the Geneva Accords was finally expedited by a growing desire on the part of the Soviet Government to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan. In February 1988, the Soviet Union announced that it would start repatriating its troops in May. The last round of talks ended on 8 April 1988 when Under-Secretary-General Cordovez announced that all the instruments comprising the settlement had been finalized and were open for signature.

Geneva Accords

The Accords, known formally as the Agreements on the Settlement of the Situation Relating to Afghanistan, consisted of four instruments: a bilateral agreement between the Republic of Afghanistan and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan on the principles of mutual relations, in particular on non-interference and non-intervention; a declaration on international guarantees, signed by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America; a bilateral agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan on the voluntary return of refugees; and an agreement on the interrelationships for the settlement of the situation relating to Afghanistan, signed by Afghanistan and Pakistan and witnessed by the Soviet Union and the United States.

This last instrument contained provisions for the timetable and modalities of the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. It also provided for arrangements to assist the parties to ensure the smooth and faithful implementation of the provisions of the instruments of the Accords and to consider alleged violations. The Secretary-General was asked to appoint a Representative to lend his good offices to the parties. The Representative would be assisted in his tasks by a support staff, organized as the United Nations Good Offices Mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan (UNGOMAP), which would investigate and report on any possible violations of the instruments. The mandate of UNGOMAP was derived from the instruments and, accordingly, comprised the monitoring of non-interference and non-intervention by the parties in each other's affairs; the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan; and the voluntary return of refugees.

UNGOMAP's operations in the field would be directed by a senior military officer designated as Deputy to the Representative. UNGOMAP would be organized into two small headquarters units, one in Kabul and the other in Islamabad, which would each consist of five military officers and a small civilian component.

There was also provision for the deployment of up to 40 additional military officers Awhenever considered necessary by the Representative of the Secretary-General or his Deputy. These military officers would be organized into inspection teams to ascertain on the ground any violations of the instruments comprising the settlement. They would all be temporarily redeployed from existing United Nations peacekeeping operations.



The Accords were signed by the four countries in Geneva on 14 April 1988. On the same day, the Secretary-General informed the Security Council of the role requested of him in their implementation. He stated his intention to dispatch 50 military observers to the area, subject to the concurrence of the Council.

On 22 April, he submitted a second letter with the texts of the Accords. On 25 April, the President of the Council informed the Secretary-General by letter of the Council's provisional agreement to the proposed arrangements. Formal consideration and decision were deferred until later. On 31 October 1988, in resolution 622 (1988), the Security Council confirmed its agreement to the measures envisaged in the letters.

The Secretary-General immediately initiated the creation of UNGOMAP. He retained Mr. Cordovez as his Representative and appointed Major-General Rauli Helminen (Finland) as Deputy to the Representative (Major-General Helminen was succeeded by Colonel Heikki Happonen (Finland) in May 1989). Fifty military officers were temporarily seconded from the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. Ten countries contributed to the mission: Austria, Canada, Denmark, Fiji, Finland, Ghana, Ireland, Nepal, Poland and Sweden.

The first elements of an advance party arrived in the Mission area on 25 April 1988. The two headquarters units in Kabul and Islamabad, with the combined total complement of 50 military officers, were operational well in advance of 15 May, when the instruments entered into force.

Monitoring of withdrawal

The strength of the Soviet forces stationed in Afghanistan on 14 May 1988 was declared to be 100,300, all ranks, about two thirds of whom were combat troops. They had already handed over some positions to the armed forces of Afghanistan, but still controlled 18 main garrisons. Soviet forces were present in 17 of the 30 provinces of Afghanistan. At the outset of its operations, UNGOMAP received from military representatives of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan detailed information on the plan and schedule for the withdrawal of the Soviet troops.

This included a map indicating the location of the main garrisons, the routes to be used by the troops as they left Afghanistan, and the crossing points on the Afghan-Soviet border which they would use, namely the towns of Hayratan and Torghundi. Starting on 14 May, UNGOMAP met regularly with the Afghan and Soviet military representatives. At these meetings, the Mission received information on the ongoing withdrawal as well as on any changes made to the original schedule.

UNGOMAP established three permanent outposts on the Afghanistan side: at the border points of Hayratan and Torghundi, and at the Shindand air base which was used for withdrawal by air. Each was normally manned by two officers whose task was to monitor the withdrawal of the Soviet troops.

UNGOMAP's operations also entailed visiting garrisons during or immediately after the departure of Soviet forces. In areas where uncertain security conditions prevented the presence of United Nations observers at the garrisons, the numbers of troops departing were recorded either at the airports of Kabul, Kunduz and Shindand or at the border-crossing points.

First phase

On 15 August 1988, the Soviet military representatives informed UNGOMAP that 10 main garrisons had been evacuated and handed over to the Afghan armed forces; 8 main garrisons remained under Soviet control. The latter were located in Kabul, to the north of Kabul and in north-west Afghanistan.

In accordance with the stipulations of the fourth instrument of the Geneva Accords, slightly over 50 per cent of the Soviet troops had been withdrawn three months after the entry into force of the Accords. A total of 50,183 Soviet troops had been repatriated by land and air. Numbers of fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and vehicles had also been withdrawn.

Second phase

UNGOMAP had been informed, on 14 May 1988, that the completion of the first phase of the withdrawal in August would be followed by a three-month pause. This would facilitate preparations for the second phase of the withdrawal, which was to be completed by 15 February 1989. Shortly before the withdrawal was due to resume, however, the Soviet representatives announced that it was being postponed in the light of prevailing conditions. They reaffirmed that it would be completed in accordance with the Geneva Accords. Between 15 August 1988 and 1 January 1989, UNGOMAP did not observe any significant withdrawal of Soviet troops.

On 25 January 1989, the Soviet military representatives informed UNGOMAP of the manner in which the final withdrawal of troops would be completed. Over a short period of days in the first half of February, troops would be repatriated both by air and by road in grouped convoys. This duly took place. On 14 February, an UNGOMAP team visited the remaining main garrison in Tashqurghan and confirmed that it had been evacuated on 12 February.

Despite some delays in prior notification of the withdrawal and the need occasionally to limit UNGOMAP's movement for security reasons, the mission concluded that the withdrawal of Soviet troops had been completed in compliance with the fourth instrument of the Geneva Accords. After the completion of the withdrawal, UNGOMAP closed its three outposts at Hayratan and Torghundi and at the Shindand air base.

Monitoring of non-interference and non-intervention

Numerous complaints of alleged violations of the first instrument, on non-interference and non-intervention, were submitted to UNGOMAP from the outset of its mission by both parties. Complaints submitted by Afghanistan included allegations of political activities and propaganda hostile to the Government of Afghanistan taking place in Pakistan, border crossings of men and matériel from Pakistan to Afghanistan, cross-border firings, acts of sabotage, rocket attacks on major urban centres, violations of Afghan airspace by Pakistan aircraft, the continued presence in Pakistan of training camps and arms depots for Afghan opposition groups, and direct involvement by Pakistan military personnel inside Afghanistan, as well as restrictions placed on refugees who wished to return to Afghanistan. Complaints lodged by Pakistan included allegations of political activities and propaganda hostile to the Government of Pakistan, bombings and violations of its airspace by Afghan aircraft, acts of sabotage and cross-border firings, including the use of SCUD missiles against Pakistan territory.

Despite the constraints often encountered in the course of its operations, UNGOMAP made every effort to investigate complaints lodged by the two parties and it submitted regular reports to them. However, a number of difficulties unavoidably hampered the effectiveness of the work of UNGOMAP's inspection teams. These included the rough nature of the terrain, the time which lapsed before many of the alleged incidents were reported, and the security conditions prevailing in the area of operation.

Two outposts were established on the Pakistan side in November 1988 - one in Peshawar and one in Quetta - to enhance UNGOMAP's capacity to carry out its investigations promptly. In April 1989, it further strengthened its presence on the Pakistan side of the border by setting up permanent presences at Torkham, Teri Mangal and Chaman.

Voluntary return of refugees

UNGOMAP maintained close cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and it stood ready to discharge its task under the third instrument, the Agreement on the Voluntary Return of Refugees. In particular, it was ready to monitor the situation inside Afghanistan and inform UNHCR of the safety conditions necessary for the return and resettlement of refugees. Up to 5 million refugees were estimated to be living in Pakistan and Iran. However, fighting in Afghanistan continued, conditions remained unstable and only a limited number of refugees returned to Afghanistan.


The Memorandum of Understanding, annexed to the fourth instrument of the Geneva Accords, provided that UNGOMAP's operation would cease two months after the completion of all the time-frames envisaged for the implementation of the instruments. The longest explicit time-frame contained in the instruments was the 18 months provided in the third instrument for the arrangements to assist the voluntary return of refugees. The implementation of this instrument did not begin - as Pakistan noted in November 1989 - and the first instrument had an implicit time-frame, so the duration of UNGOMAP's mandate envisaged in the Accords, i.e., 20 months from May 1988, became a matter of interpretation. Accordingly, on 9 January 1990, 20 months after May 1988, the Secretary-General, having consulted the parties and having obtained the concurrence of the countries contributing UNGOMAP's military personnel, sought the consent of the Security Council to an extension of UNGOMAP's mandate, indicating that more needed to be done for the implementation of the Geneva Accords. Two days later, the Council adopted resolution 647 (1990) extending the existing arrangements for two months.

In March 1990, the Secretary-General again held consultations with the signatories of the Geneva Accords but was unable to obtain the consensus necessary for a further extension of UNGOMAP's mandate. Consequently, and in view of the mandate he had been given under General Assembly resolution 44/15 of 1 November 1989 to encourage and facilitate the early realization of a comprehensive political settlement in Afghanistan, he informed the Security Council that he intended to redeploy 10 military officers as military advisers to his Personal Representative in Afghanistan and Pakistan to assist in the further implementation of his responsibilities under the Assembly's resolution. [The post of Personal Representative of the Secretary-General in Afghanistan and Pakistan was first established in May 1989 and was held at that time by Assistant Secretary-General Benon Sevan.]

UNGOMAP's mandate formally ended on 15 March 1990.

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