The United Nations Operation in Mozambique (ONUMOZ) was one of the largest and most ambitious multidimensional peacekeeping operations in Africa of its time: its budget reached toward $1 billion, the mission deployed over 6,000 UN peacekeepers, and the mandate called for an operation that looked much like a transitional authority, with a Special Representative who held executive decision-making authority over all matters concerning peace implementation during the transitional period. ONUMOZ only became fully operational almost a year after the warring parties signed the General Peace Agreement in Rome in the fall of 1992, but managed nevertheless to be successful in both implementing its mandate and constructing political institutions that would serve to transform conflicts in Mozambique from militarized disputes to peaceful political forms.
The ONUMOZ operation, despite its size and ambitious mandate, was hardly noticed either in the international news media, or, more importantly, by the major powers on the Security Council. The Security Council generally supported ONUMOZ but did not play an active role in the implementation of its tasks. Another necessary but not sufficient source of the successful mandate implementation would be the willingness of the parties to commit to peace. While the parties did eventually agree to a peace deal as well as to institutional changes suggested by ONUMOZ, one would be hard pressed to characterize the two sides as “willing,” at least at the outset of the operation. Mozambique had been experiencing warfare within its borders since 1962. War had become a way of life.
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