Prior to the signing of the General Peace Agreement in 1992, Mozambique had been in a state of armed conflict for 28 years (with a brief pause in 1974-1975). The struggle between FRELIMO and RENAMO left over 100,000 armed combatants in Mozambican society, state institutions were extremely fragile, up to six million people were displaced from their homes, and landmines littered the landscape.1 In addition, the transition to democracy stipulated in the Agreement required the country to hold its first ever multi-party elections within a year.2 These challenges were compounded by the impact of a major drought that hit the region in 1991-1992. Together, these factors posed a major hurdle to efforts to consolidate the hard-earned peace and posed a severe risk of sparking renewed armed conflict.
Following the signing of the Agreement, the UN led efforts to prevent a conflict relapse in Mozambique. A Special Representative was immediately dispatched to the country with a team of 21 military observers to monitor and verify the ceasefire, and in December 1992, the Security Council approved the formation of the United Nations Operations in Mozambique (Opérations des Nations Unies au Mozambique, ONUMOZ). The Mission was tasked with supporting the peace process, leading the Disarmament, Demobilisation, and Reintegration (DDR) process, building a new Mozambican military, and monitoring elections.3 Logistical problems impeded the deployment of ONUMOZ, delaying both the disarmament process and the scheduled elections, however by May 1993 it was up to strength.4 In October 1993, a year after the war ended, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali visited Mozambique and hosted wide-ranging talks, fostering consensus to move ahead with DDR and elections and introducing a police component to ONUMOZ.5 By August 1994, approximately 90,000 combatants had been disarmed and inducted into UN Development Programme reintegration programmes, while 10,000 troops of the new armed forces had been trained.6 This allowed the October elections, which were supported by 2,300 international electoral observers, to take place peacefully and in free and fair conditions.7 FRELIMO won the elections and remained in power, but with a democratic mandate to govern the country. With an elected government in place and the DDR process complete, ONUMOZ was drawn down throughout 1994, before the final personnel left in January 1995.8 Although many challenges remained in Mozambique, a return to armed conflict was prevented.