Following the Bicesse Accords, UN Security Council Resolution 696 established a second Angola mission, UNAVEM II, on 30 May. Its duty was to observe and verify the disarmament process and support the creation of a new single national army. It also oversaw de-mining, provided humanitarian aid and facilitated the extension of state authority to the whole of Angola's territory. UNAVEM II was staffed with 350 unarmed military observers, 90 unarmed police observers (later increased to 126) and 100 electoral observers (increased to 400 during the elections period). The initial budget was US$132.3 million, later increased by $18.8 million in recognition of its election duties. The UNAVEM II operation in Angola was meant to build on the success of UN involvement in Namibia and elsewhere. However, whereas the UN role in Namibia involved organising the elections, UNAVEM II's role was merely to observe and verify them. Whereas in the smaller and less devastated Namibia the UN had mounted a full-scale operation involving more than 6,000 personnel, the Angola mission was undertaken in a country affected by 16 years of civil war, wrecked infrastructure, and buttressed by two large and mutually suspicious armies.
In effect, the UN's mission, intended to be a small and manageable operation vaguely defined as verification and monitoring, was neither peacebuilding, peacemaking, peacekeeping nor peace enforcement. UN Special Representative Margaret Anstee argued that "the countries most closely concerned with Angola genuinely wanted peace to be restored, but they wanted a 'quick fix', particularly the two superpowers, the main protagonists of the Cold War. ... The result was an agreement flawed from the start, and a marginal role for the UN that was doomed to be ineffectual." Anstee concluded that the UN should never again accept a role in the implementation of a peace accord unless it had been involved in the negotiations of its terms and mandate.
The UN also sought to use Angola as a case study in low-cost post-conflict management, building on its success in Namibia (which in fact benefited from a much higher budget of US$430 million). When Security Council Resolution 747 expanded UNAVEM's mandate and authorised the election budget of US$18.8m, Margaret Anstee famously described her mandate in Angola as like "flying a 747 with only enough fuel for a DC3".
The UN mission declared the September 1992 elections generally 'free and fair', a verdict agreed by the US, EU, South Africa and other international observers. Yet with UNITA disputing the results, within weeks of the elections Angola returned to war. Anstee's attempts to negotiate a ceasefire failed and the Security Council responded by reducing and then fully withdrawing all UNAVEM military personnel. Many Angolans felt disenchanted and blamed the UN for the failure of this transition period, believing that it had been in UNAVEM's power to intervene. In fact, both the government and UNITA publicly denounced each other's failure to comply with the Bicesse Accords by blaming the UN. As British researcher Alex Vines noted, "in September 1992 the government transferred special forces to Malanje under orders to encourage anti–UN slogans during the day and firing gunshots at night. Most of the shots were exchanges between UNITA and MPLA supporters but some were directed towards the UN compound. If the MPLA fared badly in the elections it intended to blame the UN for helping UNITA". The Troika countries, which had been such key players in the Bicesse Accords, were spared any blame.
Two years of war followed before a new peace agreement was reached. Rounds of talks in Namibe province in November 1992, in Addis Ababa in January 1993 and in Abidjan in April-May 1993 all failed. At Namibe both sides agreed to fully implement the Bicesse Accords but the deal and all subsequent attempts at peace talks collapsed, arguably because UNITA sought power at any cost. Both parties were willing to talk only when the balance of power was out of their favour. As Anstee noted, "Angola is on a tragic seesaw. When one side is up they don't want to talk and when the other is up, they don't want to talk." The Security Council's lack of interest was also to blame. With attention focused on Bosnia-Herzegovina, it refused to send 1,000 Blue Helmets demanded by UNITA as a precondition for signing the Abidjan protocol – leaving Anstee as a mediator with empty hands.
In 1993 the UNITA leadership demanded that the UN Special Representative be replaced, implying Anstee was pro-government. Anstee, who had asked to be relieved of her Angolan duties at the end of 1992, was kept on because the UN did not want to appear to be dictated to by UNITA. She departed after the failed Abidjan talks and was replaced by former Malian Foreign Minister Alioune Blondin Beye, who was optimistic about brokering a peace deal. Backed by some African leaders and the Troika of observers and after arduous shuttle diplomacy, he succeeded in bringing the government and UNITA together for preliminary talks in Lusaka in June and November 1993. The US Special Envoy Paul Hare praised Beye's diplomatic experience, intelligence, unflagging energy and tenacity, his willingness to enforce discipline, and the team spirit he instilled amongst the Troika observers. Coupled with the immense military pressure on UNITA, Beye's approach led the parties to finally put pen to paper. The Lusaka Protocol was signed on 20 November 1994.