Tajikistan emerged from the Soviet Union in September 1991. Multi-party elections were held peacefully in November of that year; however, the result was disputed by a host of opposition parties. In 1992, demonstrations against the new government turned violent as the president began raising militias and elements of the opposition turned to the Taliban in Afghanistan for support.1 Tensions among these groups continued to heighten until May 1992, when armed conflict erupted between them. In September 1992, the president was ambushed by opposition troops and forced to resign.2 His replacement continued the war against an array of Islamic and Democrat opposition groups, which formed up under the banner of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO). By December, approximately 50,000 people had been killed in the fighting and 700,000 had been displaced from their homes.3 By early 1993, the UTO had been largely defeated by Russian-backed government forces, however a low intensity conflict continued across swathes of the country.4
The international effort to bring an end to the war began in the spring of 1993 with the appointment of a UN Special Envoy for Tajikistan, who was tasked with forging a ceasefire, and the creation of the Inter-Tajik Dialogue (ITD), which was led by Russia and the US and began hosting negotiations in 1993.5 In September 1993, the Confederation of Independent States established the Collective Peacekeeping Forces in Tajikistan to monitor Tajikistan’s borders (particularly the frontier with Afghanistan), promote dialogue, and deliver humanitarian aid.6 After several rounds of UN-mediated talks, the belligerents agreed to a temporary ceasefire in September 1994. In December 1994, the UN Security Council established the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan to monitor the ceasefire.7 In addition, both the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference established missions to support the peace process.8 Although these initiatives succeeded in stopping the fighting for more than a year, Tajikistan relapsed back into war in 1996. The intervention of CIS peacekeepers and the ongoing Track II diplomatic efforts of the ITD brought the belligerents back to the negotiating table by the end of the year, paving the way for a series of comprehensive peace agreements in 1997.9 The talks, once again hosted by the UN, culminated on 27 June 1997 with the General Agreement on the Establishment of Peace and National Accord in Tajikistan.10 After five years of war, the armed conflict in Tajikistan was over.