SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFING ON BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA HIGHLIGHTS PROGRESS IN FORMING STATE INSTITUTIONS, ECONOMIC DIFFICULTIES
High Representative, Special Representative Address Council
NEW YORK, 21 September (UN Headquarters) -- If multi-ethnic society in Bosnia and Herzegovina failed after six years and $6 billion of international investment, there would be little hope for multi-ethnic States anywhere in the Balkans or on other historical, religious and cultural fault lines, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jacques Paul Klein, told members of the Security Council today during their consideration of the situation in that country.
Mr. Klein said Bosnia and Herzegovina must not be seen as some distant venture, isolated from global developments. The country remained a test case for the ability of three major ethnic and religious groups -- Bosniacs, Serbs and Croats -- to live in tolerance in one State under the rule of law. What was most needed, and what had been most lacking, was a credible and practical vision to assist the region shed its Balkan past and embrace its European future -- to move from "Yugo to Euro".
The High Representative for the Implementation of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Peace Agreement, Wolfgang Petritsch, briefing the Council on overall progress towards peace and reform in that country, said improving State and Entity finances, professionalizing the civil service, promoting the work of independent regulatory agencies, and establishing a modern legal framework would endow Bosnia and Herzegovina with institutions that could maintain stability and, in due course, take the country into Europe. However, the present level of international commitment could not be sustained. The Organization needed to develop a plan that would set the stage for the final steps of peace implementation. It was imperative to set benchmarks and develop action plans for core activities to improve focus and cooperation.
Responding to the two briefings, Council members expressed their satisfaction with the generally positive tendencies and more stable situation in the country. They urged better security for the returning refugees and emphasized the rule of law as fundamental to the country's reconciliation efforts. Economic reforms, it was repeatedly stressed, would continue to be a key element of strategies to stand the country on its feet and integrate it into the European community. Plans to streamline the international presence, already being evolved, should include clear benchmarks and funding requirements.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union, the representative of Belgium said the Union warmly welcomed the adoption of an Election Law on 23 August. It also welcomed progress made towards regional economic integration and hoped for considerable improvement in the country's economic situation. Particularly alarming was the 40 per cent unemployment rate, and he urged the local authorities to take the necessary legislative measures to address that. He stressed that responsible political management, combined with a total and immediate commitment to implement institutional, legal and economic reforms in full, were essential prerequisites for speedy integration into European Union structures.
The Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations said that the adoption of the Election Law set the country on the right track to becoming a member of the Council of Europe. The State Border Service was gaining ground control along 70 per cent of the country's borders, which was extremely important for combating all kinds of illicit activities, including drug smuggling and trafficking in human beings. Despite such gains, State institutions were only slowly strengthening, refugee return was still far from reaching a satisfactory level, and the presence of indicted war criminals threatened the country's fragile peace and stability. Still, he was convinced that Bosnia and Herzegovina would become a self-sustained democracy and a proud member of European families.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Ukraine, United States, United Kingdom, Tunisia, Ireland, Jamaica, China, Russian Federation, Norway, Bangladesh, Colombia, Singapore and France.
The meeting began at 12:09 p.m. and was suspended at 1:20 p.m. It resumed at 3:11 p.m. and was adjourned at 4:44 p.m.
The Security Council met today on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It had before it a letter of the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina, Wolfgang Petritsch (document S/2001/868). The report covers the activities of his Office and developments in the country from 12 June to 25 August.
The High Representative, appointed by the 1995 London Peace Implementation Conference, works closely with the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) and is the final authority on interpretation of civilian aspects of the Peace Agreement, which was initialled in Dayton, Ohio, in November 1995 and signed in Paris the following month. The Agreement resulted in the division of Bosnia and Herzegovina into two Entities, the Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The High Representative’s Office has focused on the effective functioning of Bosnia and Herzegovina State (or common) institutions, economic reform, judicial and legal reform and, in general, the country’s integration into Europe.
In his current report, Mr. Petritsch, who assumed his position in August 1999 and is the third High Representative since the end of hostilities, says that the consolidation of State institutions and the strengthening of their competence received his special attention during the reporting period. On 2 August, the first meeting of the Consultative Partnership Forum was held, at which the resolution of urgent issues of peace implementation, reflecting the principle of ownership, was discussed. Concerning the State's competencies, his Office organizes regular meetings in which representatives of the State and the Entities try to clarify the competencies of the different administrations. This is especially important with respect to the Republika Srpska, whose authorities have resisted the transfer of competencies to the State on many occasions.
The report recalls that, on 23 August, the Parliamentary Assembly passed the Election Law, after several years of failed attempts. This crucial legislation paves the way for the country's accession to the Council of Europe and the main European integration processes. Although Bosnia and Herzegovina has experienced moderate growth, serious problems remain with the pace of economic revitalization, particularly in the Republika Srpska. The mid-term rebalancing of the State and Entities' budgets faces significant financing gaps. Furthermore, unemployment continues to be unacceptably high: as of mid-2001, it affected some 40 per cent of the active working population.
Among other developments, he noted that on 17 July he imposed harmonizing amendments to both Entity Laws on Privatization for Socially Owned Apartments. The amendments eliminated provisions in the Republika Srpska law that placed returnees at a disadvantage in relation to residents in the privatization process. His decision also removed the so-called "two-year rule" in the Federation, which required two years of occupancy following repossession prior to purchasing a pre-war apartment. On 11 July, during a peaceful ceremony in memory of the victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, a marker stone for the future memorial site was unveiled. And, on 13 July, the Presidency officially transmitted to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) the wish of the country to join the Partnership for Peace Programme.
Also, under the auspices of the Office of the High Representative, Bosniac and Croat representatives signed an agreement on 2 August reuniting the municipalities of Gornji Vakuf and Uskoplje (Central Bosnia), he said. Under a separate mandate for the succession of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, he opened the ceremony and witnessed the signature of the Agreement among the five successor States on 29 June in Vienna. Following the Secretary-General's generous offer to act as a depositary for the Agreement, he sent the signed document to the Treaty Section of the United Nations. The streamlining of current international civilian implementation structures was one of the main issues of discussion at a Steering Board meeting at the Political Directors' level, held in Stockholm, Sweden, on 21 June. The Board also confirmed his tenure for another year.
In addition to the summary, the report provides further details on the following: political issues; economy; anti-corruption and transparency issues; return; property; education; media; judicial reform; human rights; legal issues; military issues; and streamlining of international civilian presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Background to Conflict
In 1991, two republics of the Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia, Slovenia and Croatia, declared independence. Croatian Serbs, supported by the national army, opposed the move, and war between Serbia and Croatia broke out. By 1992, the war had extended to Bosnia and Herzegovina, which had declared independence. The war intensified, with widespread reports of ethnic cleansing and the largest refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War. The Security Council in 1993 created, for the first time, an international court to prosecute war crimes.
Fighting in Bosnia and Herzegovina halted on 11 October 1995. From that date until 20 December 1995, forces of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) monitored a ceasefire put in place to allow for peace negotiations being launched in Dayton, Ohio. On 21 November 1995, in Dayton, the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina was initialled along with 11 associated annexes -– together called the "Peace Agreement". In signing the Agreement on 14 December 1995, the three Balkan States undertook a broad commitment to respect the "sovereign equality of one another", settle disputes by peaceful means, and "refrain from any action against the territorial integrity or political independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina or any other State".
The parties agreed to a ceasefire, which had begun in October 1995, withdrawal of UNPROFOR and deployment of a NATO-led multinational Implementation Force, to be known as IFOR. On 15 December, the Security Council endorsed the establishment of a High Representative by the London Peace Implementation Conference to mobilize, guide and coordinate the activities of the civilian organizations and agencies involved with the civilian aspects of the Peace Agreement. On 20 December, IFOR took over from UNPROFOR, and on 21 December, the Council decided to establish the United Nations International Police Task Force (IPTF) and a United Nations civilian office, brought together as the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH).
UNMIBH's mandate is to contribute to the establishment of the rule of law in that country by assisting in reforming and restructuring the local police, assessing the functioning of the existing judicial system and monitoring and auditing the performance of the police and others involved in the maintenance of law and order. The Council has renewed its mandate on several occasions, most recently on 21 June, which extended it for 12 months, until 21 June 2002. It simultaneously authorized the NATO-led multinational Stabilization Force (SFOR) – which was first authorized in December 1996 -- to continue operating in the country during the same period.
In that three-part resolution, which was adopted unanimously, the Council reiterated that the primary responsibility of national authorities for the further successful implementation of the 1995 Peace Agreement. Reaffirming its support for that accord, as well as for the Dayton Agreement on implementing the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it called upon the parties to comply strictly with their obligations, including to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia by surrendering all indicted persons.
Briefing by High Representative
WOLFGANG PETRITSCH, High Representative for the Implementation of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Peace Agreement, said the work of the international community in Bosnia Herzegovina to strengthen State institutions and establish the rule of law also contributed to the overall fight against global terrorism. There had been considerable progress in that work, which was predicated on empowering the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina and bringing the country closer to the European mainstream. In January 2000, he had imposed the State Border Service Law, establishing an institution that addressed the wartime legacy of fragmented, porous and unprotected borders patrolled by local police forces, which were often complicit on cross-border crime. His office had also initiated two years ago, in conjunction with local authorities, the Citizen Identity Protection System, a package of legal and administrative steps that would significantly improve Bosnia and Herzegovina’s border regime and allow authorities to address concerns over the country’s ability to deal with cross-border crime.
He said the Alliance for Change, a coalition of non-nationalist parties that had significant ideological differences, was held together by a common determination to replace the failed nationalist agenda with a raft of policies aimed at a creating a modern European State. They had asserted themselves and demanded greater respect and a partnership with the international community. In response, he had proposed the establishment of a Consultative Partnership Forum to discuss the issues of peace implementation with the Council of Ministers, re-electing the principle of ownership. The Partnership Forum would facilitate interaction between the country’s leaders and the international community. He was now preparing a Civic Forum, which would give the country’s recovering civil society a more active role in the public policy discourse.
He drew attention to the passage of an election law by the Bosnia and Herzegovina Parliamentary Assembly on 23 August, noting that, after having been stalled for years, it provided the necessary mechanisms for holding free and fair elections. He saluted the pragmatism of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s politicians and the efforts of the Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). As a consequence, he believed that Bosnia and Herzegovina’s application for membership in the Council of Europe should now be favourably considered.
On another burning issue –- the state of the economy –- he said that, in addition to the shift from war to peace, the country was engaged in the transition from a communist command-driven economy to a free market. Although a modern commercial baking system was swiftly taking root in the country, overall economic progress had been patchy in the last six months. The country needed a total immediate and professional commitment of its leaders to long-term economic reform, not short-term political calculation. He would seek to encourage that commitment. Unless the pace of reform rapidly increased, the country might be left behind and remain a weak link in the regional chain. While its current rate of economic growth was 5 per cent, it would take another six to eight years of annual growth to achieve a level of credit worthiness that would be sufficient to finance future development.
Continuing, he said the Entities here facing serious financial problems, particularly the Republika Srpska. Politicians still tended to look on profitable public utilities as cash cows to be milked for political purposes. The creation of a single economic space across the whole of the country had been stymied by procedural obstruction and an absence of political will, particularly on the part of the representatives of the Republika Srpska. On the positive side, it had become increasingly apparent that the Alliance parties were realizing that any further delay in instituting real economic reform was not an option.
The post-war recovery of Bosnia and Herzegovina depended on the return of refugees and displaced persons, he said. A breakthrough in the return process had been achieved last year, and in the first half of 2001 there had been an 85 per cent increase in minority returns over the same period last year. As communities recovered, they became better able to absorb larger numbers of returnees. By applying consistent and focused pressure on recalcitrant authorities, the Reconstruction and Return Task Force had successfully boosted the number of people who had been able to go home. He stressed that the presence of SFOR on the ground remained a precondition for those efforts. In July, he had imposed legislation that simplified the steps people had to take to buy formerly socially owned apartments. In Republika Srpska, he amended the law to eliminate procedural discrimination against returning minorities. He had also lifted the requirement under which displaced persons and refugees had to occupy apartments for two years before they could submit claims for purchase of socially owned apartments. Work continued apace to create a political environment conducive to return.
He had acted decisively to quell any recurrence of separatism, he said. While standing firm against regressive nationalism, his office had made consistent and successful efforts to reach out to moderate Croat leaders and respond to the legitimate concerns of Croat people in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Next week the Republika Srpska would decide whether to adopt legislation formalizing and facilitating cooperation with the ICTY. Regardless of the outcome, Republika Srpska was obligated to cooperate with the Tribunal, an obligation it had failed to honour, thus far. Passage of the bill would represent an important acknowledgment on the part of Republika authorities that their Entity cannot be the only holdout in the region against the process of international justice. He was seeking now to promote a regional response to the apprehension of fugitives from justice, including Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.
Improving State and Entity finances, professionalizing the civil service, promoting the work of independent regulatory agencies, and establishing a modern legal framework would endow Bosnia and Herzegovina with institutions that could maintain stability and, in due course, take the country into Europe, he said. He went on to say that the present level of international commitment could not be sustained. Donor fatigue had already led a strategic reduction in actual and projected aid. The Organization needed to develop, in coordination with the international community, and in consultation with the Government, a plan that would set the stage for the final stage of peace implementation. It was imperative to set benchmarks and develop action plans for core activities to improve focus and cooperation.
Briefing by Special Representative
JACQUES PAUL KLEIN, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Coordinator for the peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, acknowledged the "wrenching anguish and tragedy" for the people and city of New York and said that "our work must go on, with new urgency and determination". Weak and failed States were a target of opportunity for extremism. War and conflict had domestic and international consequences long after the fighting had stopped. A new reality was beginning to be understood. Without reconciliation, tolerance and the rule of law, all were potential victims of violence and terrorism. The response must be on two fronts: to find and punish those who committed those abominable acts; and to establish the social, political and economic conditions in which democracy, peaceful resolution of disputes and the rule of law could govern national and international society.
That, he said, was precisely what UNMIBH was striving to achieve. The Mission had a thin slice of the international mandate. Specifically, its role was to reform and restructure the local police forces. But, a look at the major domestic and international problem areas -– terrorism, corruption, and discrimination –- the establishment of professional, non-political and honest police forces was key to resolving each of them. And a look at future priorities -– economic reform to encourage investment, sustainable minority returns, and institution building -– none of those would be achieved without the rule of law based on effective policing and an impartial judiciary.
He said he wished to update Council members on achievements of UNMIBH since his last briefing in June and seek their engagement in, and guidance on, the process of streamlining in the context of imminent decisions about the future of UNMIBH and the United Nations role in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the area of policing challenges, the Mission was robustly undertaking one of the largest police reform and restructuring missions in history, but the judicial system remained completely dysfunctional. In such circumstances, police forces could not be effective; police and judicial reform must proceed hand in hand. He was prepared to aggressively weed out corrupt and non-performing police officers, but that was ultimately an impossible task if honest police could not make an honest living.
Good progress was being made on the Mission’s core mandate, he went on. The latest review showed that 30 of its 66 projects were completed; 28 were ongoing and eight were in the planning state. As effective border controls were a major weapon in the fight against international terrorism, completing it was vital, but in order to do so by November 2002 additional funds were urgently required. The major shortfall stood at $12 million. The Mission had also taken stringent measures against human trafficking. The focus was now on prosecuting traffickers and brothel owners and on assistance to international efforts to identify the gangs behind trafficking. In that regard, more protection should be given in home countries for trafficked women who agreed to testify.
Towards reforming the local police forces, he said that, particularly in Sarajevo canton, and in areas dominated by Croat hardliners, he was meeting political obstruction. In the Croat areas, suitable candidates had been identified, but local authorities were attempting to put conditions on their appointment. In Sarajevo, the Minister of the Interior, apparently under instructions from members of the Alliance parties, had completely failed to nominate even one candidate out of 1,800 local police who met the simple criteria. That was extraordinary and unacceptable behaviour from political parties who claimed to be serious partners of the international community. The UNMIBH was also engaged in constructive dialogue with the SFOR on how to bridge the public order "security gap" through advanced training of local police, for which additional funding for equipment was still required.
Turning to the question of streamlining, he reiterated that as long as the international community continued to pursue a "piecemeal" approach to the Balkans, in which loose coordination among a multitude of actors was an unsatisfactory substitute for purposeful planning, the real opportunities to close a tragic decade of war and instability would go begging. What was most needed, and what had been most lacking, was a credible and practical vision to assist the region shed its Balkan past and embrace its European future -– to move from "Yugo to Euro". What the region should look like in 2005, 2010 and 2015 should be articulated, as well as what the international community intended to do to get there.
Decisions must be made in the coming months about the future United Nations peace operations role in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he continued. With respect to the specific goals and directions of streamlining, establishment of the rule of law had to be a core task of the international peace implementation efforts. Without it, the three core goals -- refugee return, institution building, and economic development -- could not be achieved. Streamlining could be based on the following key elements, among others: a comprehensive 2002-2005 Dayton Implementation Plan, with benchmarks and timelines; the commencement of European integration; North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) inclusion in the process; and a continued robust SFOR presence.
In the context of the recent terrorist attacks on the United States, Bosnia and Herzegovina could not be seen as some distant venture, isolated from global developments, he said. The international community had real and abiding interests. It remained a test case for the ability of three major ethnic and religious groups -– Bosniacs, Serbs and Croats -– to live in tolerance in one State under the rule of law. If multi-ethnic society in Bosnia and Herzegovina failed after six years and $6 billion of international investment, there would be little hope for multi-ethnic States anywhere in the Balkans, or on other historical, religious and cultural fault lines. In such circumstances, further fragmentation and violence was likely, and the international community would, yet again, have to deploy a massive long-term military presence to prevent non-viable mono-ethnic States from going to war with each other, with their own minorities or with the international order at large.
VALERY KUCHINSKI (Ukraine) said he was encouraged by the positive tendencies and the generally more stable situation in the country. He welcomed efforts by the High Representative to consolidate the State institutions and strengthen their competencies. He also appreciated his activities focused on economic reform and refugee returns and was pleased at further progress in creating a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural State based on the democratic ideals of modern Europe. Further, he welcomed the recent adoption of the election law, which was a major step forward on the road to European integration. He fully supported the High Representative's steps aimed at stabilizing political life in that country and endorsed measures to preserve the country’s unity and create the necessary conditions for the productive work of the State’s institutions based on non-nationalistic principles.
He said that the adoption of a defence policy would help intensify further development of the country’s security and defence identity. He supported the country's intention to join the Partnership for Peace Programme, and he hoped that a positive response to that initiative could help advance the political and military reforms. In the economic sphere, he was confident that the advancement of economic reforms would continue to be a key element of the international community’s strategy in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The country would continue to face serious economic difficulties until structural reform was fully implemented. Indeed, effective economic reforms were impossible without sound and transparent financial administration. There had been some progress made towards the return of minorities, but much more should be done to ensure the necessary conditions for the security and equality of their rights upon their return. Similarly, property laws must be made more effective, judiciary reform should be promoted, and human rights institutions strengthened.
He asked the High Representative about the current situation with respect to the protection of the rights of national minorities.
CAMERON R. HUME (United States) said that the streamlining process reflected the evolution of the international community’s role in Bosnia and Herzegovina and was a clear signal that its leaders should work together ever more diligently on such things as refugee returns and economic reform. The slow progress in building healthy joint State institutions was a problem, not only because citizens were deprived of necessary services, but because that discouraged necessary investment for economic growth and security. A sense of urgency should be institutionalized, and the practices of procrastination should not be accepted.
He said that there must be a concerted effort by the High Representative’s Office to recognize that progress in strengthening border controls and combating the smuggling of women, among other activities, were linked to terrorism. That effort should be "pushed" even further. It was encouraging that progress on refugee returns had continued to improve dramatically. The country’s key institutions must be strengthened, however, as well as the police-related aspects of the Mission, since those would guide the future work.
STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom), referring to the streamlining exercise, said that a future police presence would be one key element of whatever emerged. The international community and the Steering Board hoped to hear later in the year about a solution that made everyone happy, avoided duplication, and met the long-term vision about which both Mr. Petritsch and Mr. Klein had spoken. Hopefully, work would be undertaken quickly against those background parameters. The State border services had remained a matter of priority. In that connection, he was pleased that 75 per cent of the border was now covered.
He asked if Mr. Klein could say how long it would take to cover 100 per cent. Concerning refugee returns, what progress had been made to implement the relevant court decision? Could the High Representative respond to whether the constitutional commissions were close to reaching agreement on that subject? he asked.
The meeting, which began a 12:09 p.m. was suspended at 1:20 p.m.
The meeting resumed at 3:11 p.m.
NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said the adoption of the Election Law was a decisive step that opened the way to ethnic reconciliation and preparation for democratic and pluralistic life. He also welcomed the Civic Forum as a place to guide the interests of all inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Economic reform ensured the success of the operation of the entire international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina and engendered social well-being. The creation of employment could strengthen social coherence and facilitate ethnic reconciliation. It was vital that the justice system be independent and non-discriminatory for the entire population. He commended the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement that regulated the appointment of judges and prosecutors.
He was pleased that in the first half of 2001 there had been a sizeable increase in the return of minority citizens. He also attached importance to education and he encouraged parties to implement all of the relevant reforms. He also supported inter-religious dialogue. Bosnia and Herzegovina still required solid support from the international community to strengthen its entire infrastructure.
RICHARD RYAN (Ireland) said his country’s position would be represented in the statement by the European Union, but he had noted with concern the information about inadequate support for the police force. Of interest to him were the problems concerning human rights and rule of law reform.
He said economic reform would strengthen the capacity of the country for self-sustainability. The adoption of the Election Law and the signing of the Memorandun of Agreement were positive steps. Further steps in resolving the plight of refugees were necessary. Also of concern were the residual problems in human trafficking. Democratization was essential to overall development in the Balkans. Success there would encourage the success of multi-ethnicity elsewhere. Bosnia and Herzegovina must not be allowed to become a weak link in the regional chain. The international community must continue to support the operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The international community needed to look forward for as much as 20 years and decide what its role should be.
CURTIS WARD (Jamaica) said that, politically, there had been advances and the different entities were working together in a spirit of compromise for the benefit of their country. He also commended the strengthening of institutions and their competencies. The adoption of an Election Law was a recent success and evidence that the political structure could be effective. At the same time, the problems resulting from nationalistic forces must still be overcome. He hoped, with time, the concept of an integrated Bosnia and Herzegovina would be accepted by all and the way would be clear for further progress.
He said that further economic growth and reform were priority goals for the future. Every effort should be made to encourage foreign and domestic investment, and curb the high unemployment rate. Significant benefits could be gained from such expansion. The pace of the country’s participation in the European integration process remained disappointing and the High Representative should continue to lay the groundwork for the attainment of that long-term goal. Despite the goal of true reconciliation, there seemed to be an undercurrent of ethnic tension remaining in the territory. The pace of progress had been hampered by the promotion of national and ethnic differences. Thus, efforts to smooth those tensions must be pursued.
He hoped the prosecutions and resulting justice would help bring the ethnic groups closer together, he went on. He wished to hear more about the recent court decision by Mr. Petritsch. He reiterated the need for a coordinated approach to refugee returns, and asked for a breakdown by ethnicity. He was concerned about the grim picture drawn by Mr. Klein with respect to the police and rule of law, and the seeming lack of cooperation by the political leaders.
SHEN GUOFANG (China) said the situation had remained stable since the Council last considered the situation. Some positive developments in implementing the Peace Agreement had been achieved and UNMIBH had continued to score achievements in restructuring enforcement institutions and the police forces. At the same time, the international community still faced a daunting task in rebuilding Bosnia and Herzegovina. The promotion of national reconciliation was still the most urgent task.
He called for further efforts to ease social conflicts and remove ethnic distrust, in order to enable the various ethnic groups to dedicate themselves to economic construction at the earliest date. The return of refugees, especially those of ethnic groups, was encouraging, but much remained to be done. He hoped the measures outlined by the High Representative would strengthen the security and safety in areas where ethnic groups lived. Those measures should also lead to finding reasonable solutions to property disputes.
GENNADY M. GATILOV (Russian Federation) said that, while the international community must strive to continue its support of the operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the international structures must not take the place of legally elected authorities. Bringing into force laws through the decision of the High Representative was not the best way of encouraging State building in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It could be built only through the efforts of the Bosnians themselves to reach acceptable solutions. They must make compromises and rise above narrow ethnic interests. Priority should be given to establishing normal State functions and the normalization of authorities at all levels, which would create the conditions for democracy and integration into the European structures. Only in that way could long-term stability be achieved.
He expressed concern about the security situation. He was against attempts to establish a single army, as it was against the Dayton accords. To ram that process through would be counterproductive and disrupt the fragile stability between the parties. Also, the rate of return of refugees was still inadequate. Over a million people had not returned home. Efforts must be stepped up to strengthen the security of returnees, particularly in the Republika Srpska. Regarding the plan for restructuring the international presence, the priority must be to define the criteria for implementation of the mandate and the transfer of that mandate to the Bosnians themselves. His country would continue to make a constructive effort towards resolving the remaining issues.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said his country would continue to support the Mission's activities, including in the priority areas of economic reforms, refugee returns and consolidation of State institutions. He welcomed the progress made in those areas. Almost six years after the Dayton Agreement it was high time that the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its entities assumed their share of responsibility for developing a peaceful, multi-ethnic and democratic society.
All Bosnian politicians must follow the paths taken by the democratic leaderships in Belgrade and Zagreb and prepare for regional cooperation and European integration. They must also implement the economic reforms drawn up by the international community without delay.
He condemned the ethnic violence in places like Mostar and Banja Luka, noting that sustained national and international efforts were needed to undermine the negative forces and to support the reformists. He urged better coordination among the international organizations active in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The international community must ensure that the United Nations, the High Representative, SFOR and the OSCE must ensure that they complemented each other without competing. He supported a streamlining of the international presence in Bosnia.
He said the international community and the Security Council must continue to support democratic forces and prevent extremists from creating further conflicts in the region. In that way, political stability and economic growth would be promoted in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
SHAMEEM AHSAN (Bangladesh) said that the overall situation remained stable but some issues should be addressed, including the need to consolidate State institutions and create an independent judiciary. Both were part of the country’s core agenda and indispensable to establishing the rule of law uniformly. With respect to judicial reform, the Republika Srpska had an obligation to cooperate with the Criminal Court. Without it, the indictees could not be brought to justice. The increasingly dire economic situation was of some concern. Also, the creation of a single economic space seemed to have come to a standstill, as many shortsighted political considerations seemed to have become dominant. Decisive and concrete steps were needed to forge economic reforms, attract investment and create jobs.
He said that the recent adoption of the Election Law was welcome, as that would demonstrate that the newly elected authorities were ready for compromise on essential matters. The international community should continue to support Bosnia and Herzegovina, as it had for the past six years. Failure to achieve the targets of institution-building and the rule of law would have repercussions throughout the region. The options presented by the High Representative with respect to streamlining pointed to the continuing need for the engagement of the international community. The success of multi-ethnicity was crucial for the country and the region.
MAMOUNOU TOURÉ (Mali) said he was pleased with the considerable efforts made in the framework of resolving the difficult issues, such as the establishment of the rule of law, among others. He welcomed the adoption of the Election Law, after years of unsuccessful attempts. That was a decisive step towards democratic governance and the country’s integration with Europe. All inhabitants must fully commit themselves to a democratic and multi-ethnic society. Institutional reform must go hand in hand with economic reforms, in order for the country to rely on its own strengths and internal resources. Because economic development was the best guarantor of peace, the parties should persevere towards macroeconomic reform and wage an unflagging struggle against corruption. An effective judiciary was also vital.
ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said the combination of positive and negative events in Bosnia and Herzegovina showed the complexity of the situation and demonstrated the commitment that the international community must continue to have. It must continue to give assistance, but with a steady change in its role. He noted the adoption of the Election Law which made it possible for Bosnia and Herzegovina to reform the political attitudes of the past. He was concerned, however, of the refusal by the Republika Srpska to cooperate with the International Tribunal. He underscored the increase in the number of minority refugees that had returned. He stressed the need to improve the mine removal programme, stating that the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina must increase their contribution to the programme.
BIJAYEDUTH GOKOOL (Mauritius) said that whatever decision was made eventually, it must take into account the situation on the ground. Ethnic tensions still remained. The rivalry that existed between the groups, however, should not undermine the police force. All communities should be represented in the police and all offenders should be brought to justice regardless of ethnic background. He welcomed reforms in the judicial system and called on the leaders not to interfere in the reform process. He also called on them to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia.
He said the problem of accommodation and property continued to plague the country. There seemed to be no organized procedure for those returning. He hoped the problem of pre-war property would be addressed as soon as possible. The economy needed the support of the donor countries to get back on its feet. He called on all to cooperate in the area of national reconstruction. Because of the efforts of the High Representative, he did not doubt that the rule of law, democracy and human rights would be protected.
KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) asked exactly what direction was being taken in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Why had progress been described as incremental and not fundamental? If that was so, what were the underlying causes for the slow incremental pace of change? Mr. Petritsch, addressing the Council in March, had referred to what he called a "dependency syndrome", implying that the local authorities had depended too much on the international community. Thus, he had informed the Council that he would pursue a process of ownership by the local authorities. If ownership was indeed being taken over by the participants in the peace process, would there be faster progress there? he asked.
He asked about the slow pace of economic reforms, and noted that the World Bank had said that growth would decline if the country failed to complete economic reforms or attract foreign investment. The return of refugees was a litmus test of how things were going. More were returning than last year, which was a positive development, but problems continued to hamper the returns. The big question concerned the overall trend on multi-ethnic harmony, which was a determinant of how the country would evolve. What impact were developments at The Hague having in terms of multi-ethnic relations? he asked.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France), speaking in his national capacity, said hope had been reborn in Bosnia and Herzegovina; steps had been advanced and reforms were coming closer to integration with Europe. Furthermore, Bosnians were taking charge of themselves. The adoption in late August of an Election Law was a most important indication of that independence. He welcomed the Government’s expressed resolve to keep up the momentum of reform. He hoped that would keep over the long haul and beyond the elections of 2002. The priority seemed to be improving the functioning of institutions, economic reforms, strengthening the judicial system, and combating corruption.
Still, he said, there was some cause for disappointment. The recently adopted bill on civil service, for example, would not ensure the protection of civil servants. He would encourage the Bosnian authorities to build a modern State and a civil service governed by "unchallengeable democratic principles". Also essential was speeding up reforms. As soon as possible, a single economic area must be created. Also crucial was improving the political and social framework and taking action against corruption. Those were prerequisites for attracting foreign investment and stimulating private enterprise.
He noted that the High Representative had been invited to make proposals with respect to restructuring the international presence, and that process was underway. There had been significant delays, however, with respect to the original targets. It was very important that work continue immediately in close cooperation with the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and those in charge of other relevant bodies in Sarajevo. Further thought should be given to the objectives and timetables of the international community there.
HUSEIN ZIVALJ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said that refugee return was still far from reaching a satisfactory level. It was, however, slightly improving in comparison with previous years. A very important precondition for facilitating the refugee return in minority areas was detaining all indicted war criminals and full cooperation with the International Tribunal. The presence of the indicted war criminals in his country was a constant and unnecessary source of instability and fear, and was a threat to the fragile peace and stability.
He added that, by far, the most important issue in his country was the economy. Assistance from the international community was needed to overcome the very painful transition from a former centralized economy to modern free-market, globally-oriented economy. The international community was eager to see capable, well-educated and reliable persons in his country’s institutions. He would also like to have, at all levels, representatives of the international community fully dedicated to the overall prosperity of the country.
The only feasible approach towards the difficulties his country was facing was the regional approach, he said. Only if there was a significant improvement in mutual cooperation among the States of South-East Europe could there be sustained development, peace and stability in his country. Also important was an unambiguous message from the European Union that his country was going to be a part of the Union after fulfilling certain criteria. Otherwise, the region would continue to be overloaded and the gap between it and the rest of Europe would increase. He considered the international presence -- especially the United States presence -- in Bosnia and Herzegovina indispensable in creating a safe, stable and prosperous country.
JEAN DE RUYT (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union and its associated States -- Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia -- welcomed the adoption of an Election Law by the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina on 23 August. The law marked the beginning of a new phase in redefining the country as an independent, multi-ethnic State, he said. Its adoption also constituted a step in the direction of the European institutions within the spirit of the road map laid out at the Zagreb Summit in November last year.
The European Union also welcomed the progress towards regional economic integration represented by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on trade liberalization by the Ministers for International Trade of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Romania and Bulgaria. It hoped the agreement's implementation and further development would considerably improve the economic situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The European Union remained convinced that the economic situation could be improved by the pursuit of the aims set out in the European Union road map and urged the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to take the necessary legislative measures towards that end. The European Union regretted that only seven of the 18 points contained in the road map had been implemented to date.
He said the European Union welcomed the increase in the number of minorities returning to the country and urged the High Representative to continue his campaign to raise awareness about them. It welcomed all the initiatives taken to help refugees return to the region. It also welcomed the draft legislation of the Republika Srpska on cooperation with the International Criminal Court for the Former Yugoslavia, noting that it would send a message to the public that the Serb authorities would meet their obligations. Responsible political management, combined with a total and immediate commitment to implement institutional, legal and economic reforms in full were essential prerequisites for speedy integration into European Union structures.
Mr. PETRITSCH, replying to a question about the status of national minorities, said that a law was currently before the House of Representatives, and he anticipated a positive outcome commensurate with European standards on minority rights.
To a number of other questions, he said that the International Tribunal played a very important and dynamic role in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Through its work, guilt and responsibility were being individualized -– and that was a very important part of its work, which was contributing enormously to an eventual reconciliation.
He said, to another comment, that the imposition of law was indeed a big problem when it came to a forceful, robust approach. It was a necessity in order to overcome procrastination and incremental rather than fundamental progress. Imposition was therefore necessary from time to time. Meanwhile, the concept of ownership would lead to a more proactive approach on the part of local authorities and he expected them to pass more legislation.
The recent genocide case was a landmark decision, he said, because that had been included for the first time in a verdict. On another subject, he said he did not have a breakdown by ethnic communities of returning refugees. He had not been pursuing that kind of analysis or division; the returns were into areas where the three constituent peoples constituted a minority.
He agreed with the representative of the United States that a sense of urgency was needed to motivate stronger institutions. He urged the international community to support him in getting out the message that time was running out. In economic terms, the country was now in a competitive situation and needed to compete regionally for foreign investment. That was the only way forward and should be clearly understood by local authorities.
In general terms, Bosnia was normalizing, he said. The overall restructuring and streamlining process for the international community's presence would include clear benchmarks and funding requirements. It would identify core requirements and functions, and recalibrate its mandates. The plan would be inclusive, on structural reforms and among various agencies, and would evolve a concrete vision for an end date. It would also pay special attention to justice and home affairs.
Mr. KLEIN said the key issues were economic and social. Regarding the time line, the mandate implementation plan had given all a sense of dedication and focus. The issue of war criminals was embarrassing. Their continued freedom undermined cooperation across the spectrum and was a poison cloud hanging over all.
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