Past United Nations Missions in Africa

Listed with Context and Outcomes

The United Nations (UN) conducts a number of peacekeeping missions throughout the world. Beginning in 1960, the UN began missions in various countries in Africa. While just one mission occurred through the 1990s, turmoil in Africa escalated and the majority of missions were run from 1989 on.

Many of these peacekeeping missions were the result of civil wars or ongoing conflicts in African countries, including Angola, the Congo, Liberia, Somalia, and Rwanda.

Some of the missions were brief while others lasted years at a time. To confound things, some missions replaced previous ones as tensions in the countries escalated or the political climate changed.

This period is one of the most dynamic and violent in modern African history and it's important to review the missions that the UN carried out.

ONUC - UN Operations in the Congo

Mission Dates: July 1960 through June 1964
Context: Independence from Belgium and the attempted secession of the Katanga province

Outcome: Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba was assassinated, at which point the mission was expanded. The Congo retained the secessionist province of Katanga and the mission was followed by civilian aid.

UNAVEM I - UN Angola Verification Mission

Mission Dates: January 1989 through May 1991
Context: Angola's lengthy civil war

Outcome: Cuban troops were withdrawn one month ahead of schedule, having completed their mission.

The mission was followed by UNAVEM II (1991) and UNAVEM III (1995).

UNTAG - UN Transition Assistance Group

Mission Dates:  April 1990 through March 1990
Context: Angolan Civil War and Namibia's transition to independence from South Africa

Outcome: South African troops departed Angola. Elections were held and a new constitution approved.

Namibia joined the UN.

UNAVEM II - UN Angola Verification Mission II

Mission Dates: May 1991 through February 1995
Context: Angolan Civil War

Outcome: Elections were held in 1991, but the results were rejected and violence escalated. The mission transitioned to UNAVEM III.

UNOSOM I - UN Operation in Somalia I

Mission Dates: April 1992 through March 1993
Context: Somali Civil War

Outcome: The violence in Somalia continued to escalate, making it difficult for UNOSOM I to deliver relief aid. The United States created a second operation, the Unified Task Force (UNITAF), to help UNOSOM I protect and distribute humanitarian aid.

In 1993, the UN created UNOSOM II to replace both UNOSOM I and UNITAF.

ONUMOZ - UN Operations in Mozambique

Mission Dates: December 1992 through December 1994
Context: Conclusion of the Civil War in Mozambique

Outcome: The ceasefire was successful. Mozambique's then government and the major rivals (Mozambican Nation Resistance, or RENAMO) demobilized troops. Those people who were displaced during the war were resettled and elections were held.

UNOSOM II - UN Operation in Somalia II

Mission Dates: March 1993 through March 1995
Context: Somali Civil War

Outcome: After the Battle of Mogadishu in October 1993, the United States and several Western countries withdrew their troops from UNOSOM II.

The UN voted to withdraw UN troops from Somalia after having failed to establish a ceasefire or disarmament.

UNOMUR - UN Observer Mission Uganda-Rwanda

Mission Dates: June 1993 through September 1994
Context: Fighting between the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF, based in Uganda) and the Rwandan Government

Outcome: The Observer Mission encountered many difficulties in monitoring the border. These were due to the terrain and the competing Rwandan and Ugandan factions.

After the Rwandan genocide, the mission's mandate came to an end and it was not renewed. The mission was succeeded instead by UNAMIR, which had already begun its operations in 1993. 

UNOMIL - UN Observer Mission in Liberia

Mission Dates: September 1993 through September 1997
Context: The First Liberian Civil War

Outcome: UNOMIL was designed to support ongoing efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to bring an end to the Liberian Civil War and ensure fair elections.

In 1997, elections were held and the mission terminated. The United Nations established a Peacebuilding Support Office in Liberia. Within a few years, the Second Liberian Civil War had broken out.

UNAMIR - UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda

Mission Dates: October 1993 through March 1996
Context: Rwandan Civil War between the RPF and Rwandan government

Outcome: Due to the restrictive rules of engagement and an unwillingness from Western governments to risk troops in Rwanda, the mission did little to stop the Rwandan genocide (April through June 1994). 

Afterward, UNAMIR did distribute and ensure humanitarian aid. However, the failure to intervene in the genocide overshadows these significant although belated efforts.

UNASOG - UN Aouzou Strip Observation Group

Mission Dates: May 1994 through June 1994
Context: Conclusion of the territorial dispute (1973-1994) between Chad and Libya over the Aouzou Strip.

Outcome: Both governments signed a declaration agreeing that Libyan troops and the administration had been withdrawn as previously agreed upon.

UNAVEM III - UN Angola Verification Mission III

Mission Dates: February 1995 through June 1997
Context: Angola's Civil War

Outcome: A government was formed by the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), but all parties continued to import arms. The situation also deteriorated with the involvement of Angola in the Congo Conflict.

The mission was followed by MONUA.

MONUA - UN Observer Mission in Angola

Mission Dates: June 1997 through February 1999
Context: Angola's Civil War

Outcome: Fighting in the civil war resumed and the UN withdrew its troops. At the same time, the UN urged a continuation of humanitarian aid.

MINURCA - UN Mission in the Central African Republic

Mission Dates: April 1998 through February 2000
Context: Signing of the Bangui Accord between rebel forces and the Central African Republic's government

Outcome: Dialogue between the parties continued and the peace was maintained. Elections were held in 1999 after several previous attempts. The UN mission withdrew.

MINURCA was followed by a UN Peacebuilding Support Office in the Central African Republic.

UNOMSIL - UN Observer Mission in Sierra Leone

Mission Dates: July 1998 through October 1999
Context: Sierra Leone's Civil War (1991-2002)

Outcome: The combatants signed the controversial Lome Peace Agreement. The UN authorized a new mission, UNAMSIL, to replace UNOMSIL.

UNAMSIL - UN Mission in Sierra Leone

Mission Dates: October 1999 through December 2005
Context: Sierra Leone's Civil War (1991-2002)

Outcome: The mission was expanded three times in 2000 and 2001 as the fighting continued. The war ended in December 2002 and UNAMSIL troops were slowly withdrawn.

The mission was followed by the UN Integrated Office for Sierra Leone. This was created to consolidate the peace in Sierra Leone.

MONUC - UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mission Dates: November 1999 through May 2010
Context: Conclusion of the First Congo War 

Outcome: The Second Congo War began in 1998 when Rwanda invaded.

It officially ended in 2002, but fighting by various rebel groups continued. In 2010, MONUC was criticized for not intervening to stop mass rapes near one of its stations.

The Mission was renamed the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

UNMEE - UN Observer Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea

Mission Dates: June 2000 through July 2008
Context: A ceasefire signed by Ethiopia and Eritrea in their ongoing border dispute.

Outcome: The mission was ended after Eritrea imposed numerous restrictions that prevented an effective operation.

MINUCI - UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire

Mission Dates: May 2003 through April 2004
Context: Failed implementation of the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement, which was to end the ongoing conflict in the country.

Outcome: MINUCI was replaced by the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI). UNOCI is ongoing and continues to protect the people in the country and aid the government in disarmament and demobilization of former combatants.

ONUB - UN Operation in Burundi

Mission Dates: May 2004 through December 2006
Context: Burundian Civil War

Outcome: The mission's goal was to restore peace in Burundi and help establish a unified government. Pierre Nkurunziza was sworn in as President of Burundi in August 2005. Twelve years of midnight-to-dawn curfews were finally lifted on the people of Burundi.

MINURCAT - UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad

Mission Dates: September 2007 through December 2010
Context: Ongoing violence in Darfur, eastern Chad, and northeastern Central African Republic

Outcome: The concern for civilian safety amidst activities by armed groups in the region prompted the mission. By the end of the mission, the government of Chad pledged that they would retain responsibility for protecting its citizens.

After the termination of the mission, the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic continued efforts to protect the people. 

UNMIS - UN Mission in the Sudan

Mission Dates: March 2005 through July 2011
Context: End of the Second Sudanese Civil War and signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)

Outcome: The CPA between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) was signed, but it did not bring immediate peace. In 2007, the two groups came to another agreement and Northern Sudanese troops withdrew from Southern Sudan. 

In July 2011, the Republic of South Sudan was formed as an independent country.

The mission was replaced by UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) to continue the peace process and protect civilians. This started immediately and, as of 2017, the mission continues.

Sources:

United Nations Peacekeeping. Past Peacekeeping Operations.