Preventing armed conflict in FYR Macedonia


A timely diplomatic intervention by a range of international organisations and the deployment of a preventive peacekeeping mission helped the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to avoid armed conflict during the collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Macedonia was one of six republics within the federal framework of socialist Yugoslavia. In 1991, Slovenia and Croatia (two of the other republics), fell into armed conflict as their respective administrations attempted to guide them towards statehood. When the Macedonian population voted for independence in a September 1991 referendum, many observers feared another armed conflict would ensue, either with Belgrade or among the diverse Macedonian population.1 Although the Yugoslav National Army withdrew peacefully in February 1992, later that year the leadership of the nascent Macedonian state requested that the UN send observers to monitor events. Peacekeepers already deployed to the region as part of the UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR) entered Macedonian territory in December 1992 and were quickly reinforced with 500 American troops.2 The Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe also established the Spillover Mission to Skopje and tasked it with maintaining peace in the area.3

Tensions between the government and parts of Macedonia’s Albanian community escalated in 1992 following an unofficial referendum on increased autonomy for a predominantly Albanian part of the country. The result (a large majority in favour) was dismissed by the government in Skopje.4 As a similar turn of events had preceded every other conflict in former Yugoslavia, Macedonia became the focus of the CSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Max van der Stoel. After conducting 11 fact-finding missions, he recommended that the government introduce Albanian-language education, hold a nationwide census, progress towards ethnic representation in state institutions, and strengthen an advisory body tasked with proposing solutions to problems among Macedonia’s communities, the Council for Inter-Ethnic Relations.5 In addition to suggesting policy, van der Stoel also helped mediate discussions between the Macedonian government and Albanian leaders, ultimately resolving a potentially violent conflict peacefully. On 13 March 1995, the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP), representing the first deployment of its kind, was established to replace UNPROFOR.6 UNPREDEP remain in Macedonia until 1999.

1 Alice Ackermann. “Managing Conflicts Non-Violently Through Preventive Action: The Case of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.” Journal of Conflict Studies, Vol. 19, No. 1. (1999) p.1

2 UN Peacekeeping. Introduction to UNPREDEP. (UN, 1999) Available at: (Accessed 14/10/2020)

3 OSCE. Mandate of the Spillover Monitor Mission to Skopje. (OSCE, 1992) Available at: (Accessed 14/10/2020)

4 Přemysl Rosůlek. “Albanians in the Republic of Macedonia (1991-2001): Could the attempt to create a Multiethnic Society Succeed?” Perspectives Review of International Affairs, No. 17. (2002) p.44

5 Max van der Stoel. Peace and Stability through Human and Minority Rights: Speeches by the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities. Hamburg: Nomos, 1999) p.103

6 UNPREDEP. UNPREDEP Mission Profile. (UN Peacekeeping, 1999) Available at: (Accessed 14/10/2020)

Start Year


End Year



North Macedonia

UN Regional Group

Eastern Europe

Type of Conflict

Risk of a vertical (state-based) intrastate conflict with foreign involvement

Type of Initiative

Diplomacy, Mediation of a peace agreement, Peacekeeping mission

Main Implementing Organisation(s)

The Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe




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