Although a United Nations (UN) resolution had terminated South African rule in Namibia in 1966, the government of South Africa had refused to relinquish control of the region. Namibia was the centre of guerrilla resistance by the South West African People's Organization. South Africa continued to maintain control of the area for reasons of national security.
In January 1989, South Africa agreed to free elections in Namibia and the subsequent withdrawal of South African troops. The UN Security Council established the UN Transition Assistance Group to supervise election and troop withdrawal. The Canadian contingent consisted of 301 personnel, including 100 Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers.