5. General Agreement and Expansion of UNMOT


Civil War

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 (OSCE)].

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 those objectives.

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.

Reporting 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 UN personnel.

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 reported 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 1206 (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 accordingly.


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.

Reporting 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 in Tajikistan.

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.



Prepared for the Internet by the Information Technology Section/ Department of Public Information (DPI).
Maintained by the Peace and Security Section of DPI in cooperation with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
(c)United Nations 2000


| Main Page.| UN Home Page |