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UN and Guatemala peace process

On this day in 1996, after three years of United Nations-moderated peace talks between the Government of Guatemala and representatives from the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity), the parties signed the Agreement on a Firm and Lasting Peace, ending decades of civil conflict that began in 1962 and took the lives of over 200,000 Guatemalans.

Following the signing of the Agreement, the United Nations continued supporting implementation of the peace accords. The formation of the Commission for Historical Clarification led to the 1999 publication of the Memory of Silence report. The Commission’s report clarified the approximate number of casualties and revealed that most of the victims of the war were indigenous Maya.

Initially established in 1994 as a human rights verification mission, the mandate of the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA), was extended in December 1996 to assist in implementing the Agreement. The Mission trained former combatants on demobilization to assist with resettlement and integration after years of war. Those efforts, among others, were building blocks to long-lasting reforms in the country and led to the United Nations declaring Guatemala eligible for access to the UN Peacebuilding Fund in 2011. The Fund is the Organization’s financial instrument for sustaining peace in countries or situations at risk or affected by violent conflict.

On the closing of MINUGUA in 2004, Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated that the Mission stood as a successful example of UN peacebuilding, with valuable lessons for operations in other parts of the world and that its closure should be seen as the beginning of a new phase in which national actors assumed responsibility for monitoring and promoting the goals of the peace accords.

For continued support of the peace accords, the Guatemalan Government and the United Nations opened a human rights office headquartered in Guatemala City in 2005. For information on human rights in Guatemala visit the High Commissioner’s Office.

United Nations peacebuilding work continues in Guatemala, including in the area of development and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. For news on UN activities in Guatemala visit Naciones Unidas en Guatemala.

Did you know?

The Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, in its assessment report on compliance with Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), recognized the Guatemalan peace negotiations for the participation of women in the peace process (see paragraph 46).