India and Pakistan emerged from the British Empire in 1947. The Princely State of Kashmir also emerged from the Empire and was initially independent, however following a Pakistani invasion in the wake of the British withdrawal, the Kashmiri leadership elected to join the Indian Union in exchange for military assistance from New Delhi. In 1948, the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) was established to mediate an end to the conflict. Its efforts culminated with the signing of a Ceasefire Agreement on 27 July 1949.1 With the ceasefire in place, United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) was added to UNCIP to monitor and verify the terms of the ceasefire. When UNCIP was withdrawn in 1951, UNMOGIP remained in place to continue its work.2
By facilitating communication between the belligerent armed forces and offering reassurances to both sides on the conduct of the other with regular inspections, UNMOGIP helped to prevent minor clashes or disputes from escalating into interstate conflict. It was remarkably successful in this regard, helping to limit the conflict almost entirely for decades.3 However, UNMOGIP faced a major challenge in 1965, when the conflict escalated again. The UN Security Council immediately implored the governments of India and Pakistan to observe the ceasefire and cooperate with UNMOGIP. The following day, the fighting ended and negotiations mediated by the Government of the Soviet Union culminated with another ceasefire agreement in January 1966.4 To support the de-escalation process, UNMOGIP was reinforced and an additional peacekeeping force, the United Nations India Pakistan Observation Mission (UNIPOM), was deployed to monitor the withdrawal from troops from Kashmir.5 India and Pakistan went to war again in 1971 when the former supported Bangladesh’s bid for independence from the latter. UNMOGIP provided a key mechanism for the disengagement of forces after the conflict. The Mission’s role was significantly reduced after 1972, however its personnel have remained in place, continuing to observe the ceasefire and report to the UN Secretary-General.6 The conflict erupted again briefly in 1999, but a major war between India and Pakistan over Kashmir has been averted for over 70 years thanks in part to the work of UNMOGIP.