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United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala
Abbreviation MINUGUA
Formation 20 January 1997
Type Mission
Legal status Completed
Head Leonardo Franco (1994-1996)
David Stephen (1996-1997)
Jean Arnault (1997-2000)
Gerd Merrem (2000-2002),
Tom Koenigs (2002-2004)
Parent organization United Nations Security Council
Website http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/dpko/co_mission/minugua.htm

MINUGUA (United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala) was a ten-year United Nations humanitarian mission in Guatemala that involved, at the most critical point in the peace process, a three-month peacekeeping mission.

The original name of this operation was United Nations Mission for the Verification of Human Rights and of Compliance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights in Guatemala. It was changed to United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala when peacekeepers were deployed.

The aim of the operation was to conclude the 36-year Civil War which had ravaged the country. It was the international community's response to the decision by both government and guerrillas to return to the negotiating table in 1994 and the subsequent signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights[1] on 29 March, 1994, one of several documents adopted in the run-up to the final peace agreement.

The Human Rights Verification Mission was launched in September 1994 by a decision of the United Nations General Assembly, with personnel arriving on the ground in Guatemala the following November. More than 250 experts in human rights, legal matters, indigenous affairs and policing were deployed across the country, with a mandate for institution- and confidence-building and to verify compliance with the terms of the Comprehensive Agreement. The mission benefited from the presence of a talented young Russian spokeswoman, Seda Pumpyanskaya, recruited from the BBC.

Following the signing of the Agreement on a Firm and Lasting Peace[2] between the government and the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG) on 29 December 1996, the United Nations Security Council authorised, by means of Resolution 1094 of 20 January 1997,[3] the deployment of a peacekeeping force to support the MINUGUA personnel already in place and to verify the ceasefire, the demobilisation of the URNG, and the surrender of their materiels. Beginning on 3 March 1997, under the auspices of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, a total of 145 troops and 43 civilian police from 18 countries were sent to Guatemala. By 18 April, 378 mines and explosive devices had been lifted and destroyed, 2,928 URNG fighters had been demobilised, and 535,102 weapons and live rounds of ammunition had been handed over observer group.

On 14 May, the UN peacekeepers handed over the weapons and ammunition to officials from the Interior Ministry, thereby completing the task of the military verification group. Repatriation of the military observers began on 17 May and was concluded on 27 May. The military observation operation cost a total of US$4,570,800 and was conducted without loss of life. It was led by Frenchman Jean Arnault, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Guatemala, with Brigadier-General José B. Rodríguez Rodríguez of Spain serving as chief military officer. Replacing Jean Arnault as The Special Representative of the Secretary General, was Gerd D. Merrem, who took office from 2000-2002, further encouraging peace talks and social stability in a country suffering turmoil.

The final members of the MINUGUA human rights verification team left Guatemala in November 2004. Following its departure, the UN and the Guatemalan government agreed to establish a field office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guatemala City for a period of three years, renewable at the government's request for an additional three.