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UN Timeline: 1990s

1990: Namibia gains independence after UN peacekeepers monitor South Africa's withdrawal Elections follow the troop pull-out and the southwestern African country is hailed as the UN's first smooth success for the 1990s.


1991: Persian Gulf War begins with U.S. bombing of Baghdad with UN authorization. Saddam invades Kuwait in August 1990 and the Security Council immediately and unanimously condemns the aggression in an emergency meeting. Eleven resolutions follow, making the end of Iraqi aggression an international effort. When sanctions and diplomacy fail to make progress, the US uses force with UN authorization. Saddam's forces are quickly driven back, but he is left in power.


1991: A peace accord is signed in Angola between the government and UNITA rebels, but hostilities continue. UNITA disputes the election results the UN has declared "free and fair" and resumes fighting. The UN stays on until 1999, when after the downing of several UN planes over UNITA territory and the total collapse of the peace process, the peacekeeping mission in Angola is terminated.


1991: President George Bush persuades the General Assembly to repeal resolution equating Zionism with racism. The 1975 resolution had helped turn American public opinion against the UN. The decision was repealed by a vote of 111 to 25, with 13 abstentions.


1991: El Salvador cease-fire negotiated. After meeting for almost two years with UN mediation, the Government of El Salvador and the rebel group, FMLN, sign a peace agreement at UN Headquarters at midnight, New Year's Eve 1991, ending the civil war that ravaged the country through the 1980s. The UN continues to provide humanitarian assistance for the natural disasters that wrack the country from 1998 to 2001.


1992: Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt is appointed Secretary-General. After six months on the job, he issues "An Agenda for Peace," proposals to improve the UN's approach to preventive diplomacy, peacemaking, and peacekeeping.


1992: First-ever Security Council summit gathers heads of state of major powers and declares "the world now has the best chance of achieving international peace and security since the foundation of the UN."


1992: UNPROFOR is established in what is soon to be the Former Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia starts breaking apart and into civil war in 1991. The UN Protection Force, UNPROFOR, is set up to safeguard delivery of humanitarian supplies to civilians caught in fighting in Bosnia and Croatia and to set up demilitarized "safe areas." The "safe areas" concept later proves unfeasible with tragic consequences.


1992: Earth Summit in Rio The UN Conference on Environment and Development -- better known as the "Earth Summit" -- is held over two weeks in Brazil. Attended by world leaders from more than 100 countries, it is the largest intergovernmental gathering in history and results in Agenda 21, a plan of action for sustainable development that includes commitments to tackle deforestation and global warming.


1993: Eritrea gains independence from Ethiopia in UN-supervised referendum. In 1998, Ethiopia and Eritrea go to war over a border dispute. After two years of fighting, UN peacekeepers go in to monitor the cease-fire.


1993: UN-supervised elections held in Cambodia The UN arrived in 1991 with a force of more that 20,000 troops, police and civilians, a budget of $1.6 billion and a threefold mission: to keep order after the end of hostilities, clear landmines and prepare for national elections.


1993: U.S. support for peacekeeping operations in Somalia evaporates after 18 U.S. rangers are killed. The UN mission in Somalia began as an attempt to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid, but soon expanded to restore order to a country in chaos. Taking the lead, the U.S. sent in troops in 'Operation Restore Hope.' During an attempt to capture Somali warlord Mohamed Aideed by U.S. Rangers not under UN command, two helicopters are shot down and 18 soldiers killed. Their bodies are dragged through the streets, the image broadcast internationally. President Clinton withdraws U.S. forces by March 31. The UN mission continues until 1995.


1994: 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis are massacred in 100 days. A cable sent to UN Headquarters warning the massacre was imminent is not acted on. The UN Security Council condemns the killing, but the resolution omits the word "genocide" which would have obliged the UN to act to "prevent and punish" the perpetrators. Burned by the recent debacle in Somalia, the U.S. shies away from involvement in Rwanda.


1994: South Africa holds democratic elections and rejoins the UN. Peaceful UN-monitored elections are held over three days and Nelson Mandela is elected president. The Security Council lifts the arms embargo and on June 23 South Africa rejoins the General Assembly after a 24-year absence.


1994: In November, the Security Council sets up tribunal to prosecute perpetrators of the genocide in Rwanda.


1994: UN monitors Mozambique's first multi-party elections. A UN-brokered peace accord ends 15 years of civil war and free elections are held. Mozambique becomes a model of peaceful reconciliation and economic stability, but the country suffers heavily from floods in 2000 and 2001 affecting nearly a quarter of the population.


1995: Fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations' founding


1995: First UN War Crimes Tribunal on Yugoslavia held at The Hague.


1995: As many as 20,000 Muslim men are massacred in the UN-controlled "safe area" of Srebrenica. In November 1999, when Annan is Secretary-General he issues an official report on the fall of Srebrenica that takes a hard-hitting and critical look at UN failures in the operation.


1995: Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty adopted. To curtail the development of new and more advanced weapons, the treaty calls for a total ban of any nuclear weapons testing. Three countries with nuclear weapons -India, Pakistan and North Korea - refuse to sign. Although President Clinton is the first to sign it, the U.S. Senate fails to ratify it in 1999.


1995: NATO takes over peacekeeping operations in Bosnia. The new organization, known as IFOR, steps in to keep the peace after the signature of the Dayton Peace Accords ending the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.


1996: UNAIDS formed to coordinate UN efforts in the battle against HIV/AIDS. The World Health Organization had led the UN's AIDS effort since 1986, but by the mid-1990s it was clear that no single agency could stem the spread of HIV. Seven UN agencies formed a joint program to address the multiple factors driving the world HIV epidemic.


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