20 June 2002
Bosnia and Herzegovina Mission Nearing Completion of Core Mandate, But International Support Still Needed, Security Council Told
UN Coordinator Says Political Commitment to State, at Large War Criminals, Absence of Rule of Law Unresolved Problems
NEW YORK, 19 June (UN Headquarters) -- The Coordinator of the United Nations Operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina told the Security Council this morning that the mission there was on the verge of successfully achieving its core mandate, but the country needed continued attention from the international community as it faced its political, economic and social challenges.
Briefing the Council, Special Representative Jacques Paul Klein said he agreed with the Secretary-General's recommendation to close the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) by the end of the year. Nonetheless, three fundamental and interlinked impediments to internal stability and external security remained unresolved. The first was a lack of political commitment to the State. Two of the three constituent peoples, the Serbs and the Croats, still did not believe in the State and their leaders failed to understand that it was a precondition for Europe, rather than an alternative.
Second, he said, as long as indicted war criminals, particularly Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, remained at large, political stabilization and reconciliation were not possible. Third was the absence of the rule of law. For seven years, UNMIBH had been virtually alone in arguing that the rule of law was essential to the consolidation of peace and the transition to a modern society. Serious legal and judicial reform had only been undertaken this year, with the result that organized crime and political corruption threatened the viability of the State, as well as regional security.
He added that the absence of a permanent Police Commissioner in every police jurisdiction and insufficient local funding for full deployment of the State Border Service were among the key issues hindering the successful completion of the core mandate. The presence of a permanent Police Commissioner in every police administration was crucial in insulating the work of law enforcement agencies from political interference.
He urged the Council to insist that the Federation's Prime Minister pass the necessary legislation, as he had promised to do last Friday. The UNMIBH had gone as far as it could in reforming the local police, but systemic flaws in the rule of law and unresolved political challenges necessitated continued international engagement and support.
Regarding the State Border Service, he said it was one of the few multi-ethnic State institutions that worked. Through the UNMIBH-initiated Regional Task Force, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and the police forces of Serbia and Montenegro had launched joint operations to strengthen borders, combat arms smuggling and illegal migration, and intensify actions against organized crime and terrorism.
This morning's meeting began at 10:23 a.m. and adjourned at 10:47 a.m.
When the Council met this morning, it had before it a report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) (document S/2002/618) in which he recommends that UNMIBH's mandate be extended until 31 December at an authorized strength of 1,600 police officers, to be reduced to 460 officers after general elections are held in October.
In the report, the Secretary-General states that UNMIBH is rapidly moving towards the completion of its core tasks. Significant achievements since his last report include: the commencement of the final phase of police certification; the quick progress of the systems analysis project to complete nationwide police restructuring; and the expansion of the State Border Service to cover 88 per cent of the border and its success in further reducing illegal migration.
Two core projects require additional support for their completion this year: the establishment of a permanent Police Commissioner post; and full deployment of the State Border Service. Given a shortfall in funding for the latter, the Secretary-General urges State authorities to give priority to the funding of the Service and potential donors to consider making additional financial contributions.
While UNMIBH will complete its core mandate by the end of this year, as envisaged by its mandate implementation plan, the systemic weakness of the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and continued obstruction, interference and illegal activities of entrenched political extremists and criminal organizations will require continued international attention, the report states. There will be a need for monitoring of and assistance to local police to preserve what UNMIBH has achieved and to ensure further progress towards the rule of law. This will be the task of the European Union follow-on mission. In addition, the continued presence and support of the multinational stabilization force (SFOR) will be essential.
Equally important, the report continues, is the apprehension of indicted war criminals, whose presence emboldens extremists and undermines reconciliation. The Secretary-General calls on the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina and on neighbouring States, as well as others concerned, to cooperate fully with the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
The Secretary-General notes that, on 1 June, Sven Christian Frederiksen took over from Vincent Coeurderoy as Commissioner of the Mission's International Police Task Force. The current strength of the Task Force is 1,586.
JACQUES PAUL KLEIN, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Coordinator of the United Nations Operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) had continued to achieve substantial progress, and had reached the point where the Secretary-General had recommended to close the Mission by the end of the year. He supported that recommendation, although it seemed paradoxical in certain respects. That paradox lay in the fact that UNMIBH was on the verge of successfully achieving its core mandate, while Bosnia and Herzegovina continued to need the attention of the international community.
He said Bosnia and Herzegovina faced, like many countries in transition, major political, economic and social challenges. Three fundamental and interlinked impediments to internal stability and external security had not yet been resolved: the lack of political commitment by the citizens of the State; the continued presence of war criminals; and the absence of the rule of law.
By reducing or ending its commitment, the international community would risk a re-engagement later, at a greater cost.
Two of the three constituent peoples, the Serbs and the Croats, still did not believe in the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina. What leaders failed to understand was that that State was not an alternative to Europe, it was a precondition. Until internal political settlement was achieved, the situation remained precarious. The October elections were an opportunity for change. Citizens, particularly youth, must be encouraged to reject the failed ultra-nationalist parties of the past and vote for their European future, he said.
As long as indicted war criminals, particularly Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, remained at large, political stabilization and reconciliation were not possible. "They are albatrosses around our necks", Mr. Klein said, "overshadowing everything we are trying to achieve." The arrest of those two war criminals would change the entire complexion of national politics. The quickest path to achieving peace and reconciliation was to put an end to the culture of defiance and impunity by achieving the arrest of Karadzic and Mladic and their trial in The Hague Tribunal. A firm commitment by all involved to do so was long overdue.
For seven years, UNMIBH had been virtually alone in arguing that the rule of law was essential to the consolidation of peace and the transition to a modern society, he said. Serious efforts at holistic reform of the entire legal and judicial structure had not been undertaken until this year, with the result that organized crime and political corruption threatened the viability of the State and the security of the region. Each week, there were new revelations of high-level corruption and illegality. The new High Representative, Paddy Ashdown, had set a fast pace in introducing legislation to combat organized crime and corruption, but the scale of the challenges that remained should not be underestimated.
The UNMIBH had gone as far as it could in reforming the local police, but systemic flaws in the rule of law, as well as unresolved political challenges, necessitated continued international engagement and support, he said. The Mission was in the final stages of creating a modern police force fit for Europe. In the area of police reform, UNMIBH had been the first organization to thoroughly check civil service for, among other things, criminal records and war-time conduct.
Minority police representation had improved, but not as quickly as had been hoped. UNMIBH's STOP programme was the most comprehensive anti-trafficking operation in the region. The State Border Service was one of the few multi-ethnic state institutions that worked.
The State Information and Protection Agency (SIPA) was the last building block necessary for Bosnia and Herzegovina to become fully integrated into international crime fighting. He expected it to be functioning later this year. Through the UNMIBH-initiated Regional Task Force, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and the police forces of Serbia and Montenegro had launched joint operation to strengthen borders, combat arms smuggling and illegal migration, and intensify actions against organized crime and terrorism.
The UNMIBH was also contributing to civic education and the promotion of human rights. Last month, final agreement had been secured for the formation of a multi-ethnic light transport composite unit and its deployment to a United Nations peace operation this summer. Active policing in return areas had created the security conditions essential for an unprecedented number of minority returns. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) did not rule out the possibility of over 130,000 such returns this year, a 30 per cent increase over 2001.
He said three issues stood in the way of the successful completion of the core mandate. Local funding was insufficient to maintain or fully deploy the State Border Service. Also, the position of a permanent Police Commissioner in every police administration was crucial to insulate the work of law enforcement agencies from political interference, and he urged the Council to insist that the Federation Prime Minister pass the necessary legislation, as he had promised to do last Friday. Finally, the resignation of the first Bosniac Deputy Police Chief in Republika Srpska was a great loss to the community. Had the Federation implemented its long-standing commitment to provide salary assistance to police officers in the Srebrenica area, that would not have happened.
Regarding the transition to the European Union Police Mission (EUPM), he said International Police Task Force (IPTF) Commissioner Sven Frederiksen would become head of the EUPM on 1 January 2003. Planning appeared to be going well, but he emphasized that the success of the European Union Mission depended on establishing mutually supportive relations with the European Commission. One of the constraints on UNMIBH was lack of access to guaranteed funding, he said. He urged the European Union and the European Commission to ensure from the beginning that their projects and funding priorities were mutually reinforcing.
* *** *