Series S-0529 - Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG)

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Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG)


  • 1946 - 1992 (Creation)

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No. of Boxes: 103

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Pre-UNTAG Files (1946-1990)
Martti Ahtisaari served as the United Nations Commissioner for Namibia from 1978-1982. With deployment of the United Nations Assistance Transition Group (UNTAG) on 1 April 1989 under the mandates of Security Council resolutions 435 (1978) and 632 (1989), Ahtisaari was appointed the mission’s Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG). Security Council Resolution 435 (1978) outlined the Settlement Proposal, which put forward proposals for a ceasefire, for the withdrawal of South African forces, and for UN-supervised elections in South Africa-controlled South-West Africa. These records document Ahtisaari’s activities as UN Commissioner for Namibia and as UNTAG’s SRSG. Records consist of: correspondence; summaries and briefs of meetings and consultations; press releases; and notes for the file. They document a variety of subjects including: the establishment of an electoral system in South West Africa/Namibia; disputes concerning the border of South West Africa; the establishment and monitoring of a demilitarized zone; political parties in Namibia; and UNTAG’s Status Agreement.

Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General
The Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) had both coordinating and line functions. It was responsible for overall coordination and liaison with: UNTAG elements; the South African Administrator-General's Office and administration; the political parties and local interest and community groups; and with the governmental and non-governmental organizations and observer missions that came to Namibia for the implementation process. Its line functions were mainly in the political and information areas. The Office of the SRSG was responsible for negotiations with the local administration on each step necessary for the political transitions outlined in the Settlement Plan and for an extensive information programme, which was under the direct supervision of the Special Representative. The SRSG’s office consisted of the SRSG and his support staff, which included: the SRSG’s personal assistant; the Deputy SRSG; the office’s director and deputy director; the Senior Legal Advisor; the Civilian Police Liaison; the UNTAG Information Service; and other liaison officers. S-0529 includes: weekly summaries of UNTAG activities sent from the SRSG to the United Nations headquarters; records documenting the repatriation of Namibian exiles from Angola, Zaire and other locations; records pertaining to political parties, such as summaries of meetings between the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and representatives of political parties, and reports describing incidents of intimidation made against members of political parties and civilians; and records pertaining to the release of political prisoners and detainees.

Senior Legal Advisor
The Senior Legal Advisor was responsible for advising the SRSG on legal matters as they pertained to UNTAG’s mandate according to Security Council resolutions 435 (1978) and 632 (1989), including: the repeal of discriminatory and restrictive laws; waivers of immunity granted to UNTAG staff; and the drafting of laws regarding the elections to establish the Namibian government. Documents include: correspondence; waivers of immunity; reports; and agreements between UNTAG and Member States regarding the fulfillment of UNTAG’s mandate.

Civilian Police Liaison
The Civilian Police Liaison was responsible for keeping the Office of the SRSG up to date on the activities of UNTAG’s civilian police force and coordinating the force’s administration with UNTAG’s Division of Administration. These documents include: situation reports from the Civilian Police Commissioner; training materials for civilian and South West African police; and correspondence.

UNTAG Information Service
The UNTAG Information Service was established to counteract the established newspapers and public broadcasting system, which were deeply partisan and prone to disinformation. It provided Namibians with relevant and objective information about the changing political situation in their country. The service used radio, television, a variety of visual and print materials, and word-of-mouth to disseminate information in support of UNTAG’s mandate.

The records of the UNTAG Information Service consist mainly of daily press briefings sent to regions and districts throughout the country. These briefings included UNTAG press briefings; transcripts of UNTAG radio programmes in English and Afrikaans; press briefings from the Department of Press and Information in New York; summaries of local media content; speeches; statements; and other important political documents. Also included are: correspondence; press releases from the Administrator-General’s office; and UNTAG advertisements run in Namibian newspapers.

Other Liaison Officers
Other liaison officers in the Office of the SRSG were responsible for coordinating the activities of UNTAG with other UN organizations, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). UNHCR operations in Namibia were responsible for the return of Namibian exiles, their reception and their resettlement. These operations were not financed from the UNTAG budget. However, the UNHCR did operate within the overall political structure of UNTAG, and UNTAG facilitated its work.

The records of these liaison officers document the return and reintegration of Namibian exiles and refugees, and the demobilization and disarmament of South African Koevoet forces. Also present in this series is the advice of the Independent Jurist regarding the repatriation of specific Namibians and correspondence with regional directors and district centres regarding refugees and election matters. The Independent Jurist was appointed to advise UNTAG on any disputes that might arise in connection with the release of political prisoners and detainees.

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Previous number(s) -, 1990/0226

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