SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED ON ESTABLISHMENT OF
WAR CRIMES CHAMBER WITHIN STATE COURT OF
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
NEW YORK, 8 October (UN Headquarters) -- While progress was being made in the “unglamorous” but vital work of entrenching peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, closure could not be achieved until those responsible for the suffering in that country were brought to justice, Paddy Ashdown, High Representative for the Implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement, told the Security Council this morning.
In addition to the consideration of the High Representative’s latest report on general progress in implementing the 1995 Peace Agreement, much attention was focused today on the establishment of a special War Crimes Chamber within the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a joint initiative of the Office of the High Representative and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. For that reason, the meeting also featured a briefing by the Tribunal’s President, Theodor Meron.
The Security Council, in July 2002, endorsed a broad strategy for the transfer of cases involving intermediary- and lower-level accused to competent national jurisdictions as the best way of allowing the Tribunal to achieve its current objective of completing all trial activities at first instance by 2008.
Highlighting the progress made thus far, High Representative Ashdown said that, under the slogan “justice and jobs”, the focus on establishing rule of law and reforming the economy had been maintained. In addition, the process of bringing police forces and the court system to international and European standards was continuing, and organized crime and trafficking in human beings were being tackled. There was a long way to go, but, bit by bit, “Bosnia’s lawless rule was being replaced by the rule of law”, he said.
On the economic front, he said a “bulldozer had been driven through red tape”, in coordination with a panel of local business representatives actually called the Bulldozer Committee. Now it was time to tackle other structural reforms, starting with public finances and the tax system. Also, attitudes were starting to change and groups were starting to work together. He added that the pace of reform, however, remained too slow, especially regarding criminal justice.
The War Crimes Chamber, Judge Meron said, would allow the Tribunal to focus its work more tightly on high-level war criminals, accelerate the process of justice and reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and contribute directly to a firm foundation for the rule of law in that country’s national institutions. He appealed to the international community to demonstrate its support for that process -- which would require approximately €30 million over the next five years -- at an upcoming donors conference in The Hague.
In the discussion that followed, Council members strongly supported the efforts and priorities of the High Representative, as well as the establishment of the Special War Crimes Chamber. Pakistan’s representative, however, cautioned that the Chamber should not be thought of as a replacement to the Tribunal. The representative of the United States, while also supporting the Special Chamber, underscored the importance of bringing high-level war criminals to justice in The Hague. Along with other speakers, France’s representative called on the Republika Srpska and other regional authorities to cooperate more fully with the Tribunal in that effort.
The representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina stated that, however impressive the results so far, the fact remained that the two most infamous war criminals, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, were still, eight years after being indicted, as elusive as they had ever been. There could be no reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina until all indicted war criminals were brought to justice. The War Crimes Chamber would be a step forward, but it still needed to be funded.
He added that authorities in his country remained committed to reforms and were ready to go down the road towards membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union, “with more power in the engine of its own institutions and less power in the tow truck of the High Representative”.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union, Italy’s representative expressed support for the priorities of the High Representative, namely, to first promote the rule of law and then dismantle barriers to business growth and job creation through reforms. Important progress had been made in the reform process, but much remained to be done in the area of the economy and the consolidation of central State structures. Responsibility for that, he noted, rested with local authorities.
Also speaking this morning were the representatives of Germany, Syria, Chile, Guinea, United Kingdom, Spain, Mexico, Russian Federation, China, Bulgaria, Angola and Cameroon. Deputy High Representative Bernard Fassier responded to questions.
The meeting, which began at 10:20 a.m., was adjourned at 1:10 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to discuss the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in particular, to consider the transfer of certain cases from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to national courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was expected to hear briefings by the Tribunal’s President, Judge Theodor Meron, and the High Representative on the Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina, Paddy Ashdown.
In presidential statement S/2002/PRST/21 of 23 July 2002 (see Press Release SC/7461), the Council endorsed a broad strategy for the transfer of cases involving intermediary and lower-level accused to competent national jurisdictions as the best way of allowing the Tribunal to achieve its current objective of completing all trial activities at first instance by 2008.
The Council had before it a letter dated 25 September from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council (document S/2003/918), transmitting the twenty-fourth report of the High Representative, which covers the period from 12 October 2002 to 31 August 2003.
In his report, the High Representative states that, since taking over the post on 27 May 2002, his aim is to set Bosnia and Herzegovina irreversibly on the road to statehood within the European Union. In December 2002, the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Conference endorsed his Mission Implementation Plan, which outlines as core tasks: entrenching the rule of law; ensuring that extreme nationalists, war criminals and their networks cannot reverse peace-building progress; reform of the economy; strengthening governing institutions; establishing civilian control over armed forces and reforming the security sector; and promoting sustainable return of refugees and displaced persons.
Since the last report, measurable progress has been made in several areas. An Anti-Crime and Corruption Union has been set up and the process of restructuring the court system at all levels has begun. The Legal Reform Unit and the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Councils are now functioning. The European Union Police Mission was successfully launched on 1 January, and an expert reform commission covering indirect tax policy, defence and intelligence has been established. After a long process of government formation, coalition governments at the State, entity and cantonal levels were formed.
The report states that, while full restoration of the country’s pre-war multi-ethnic tapestry remains a distant prospect, the implementation of property legislation, the increasing visibility and self-confidence of return communities, and the number of people returning means that the drawdown of the Reconstruction and Return Task Force at the end of 2003 is on track.
Regarding the transfer of cases from the Tribunal to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the report noted that the plan for domestic trial of war crimes in a special panel of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been the subject of several meetings during 2003. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe were invited to offer comments. Recommendations resulting from discussions with those groups and the Tribunal were approved by the Peace Implementation Conference on 12 June. The Conference’s Steering Board of Political Directors called for establishment of a War Crimes Chamber in the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and a War Crimes Department in the Prosecutor’s Office.
PADDY ASHDOWN, High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the Western Balkans were no more at the centre of the Council’s agenda, but the slow, “unglamorous” and vital work of entrenching peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina continued. Real progress was being made. Under the slogan “justice and jobs”, the primary focus on establishing rule of law and reforming the economy had been maintained.
He said the process of bringing police forces to international and European standards was continuing. Reforming the court system also continued in pace. Bosnia and Herzegovina was the first country in the Balkans with separation of the judicial branch and the legislative branch. The new State Court, with special panels for organized crime, had been created from scratch. The Special Chamber would shortly hear the biggest human trafficking case in history. It was not just organized criminal networks, however, they were after, but also networks supporting war criminals. There was a long way to go, but, bit by bit, “Bosnia’s lawless rule was being replaced by the rule of law”.
On the economic front, a bulldozer had been driven through the red tape, he stated. A panel of local business representatives, known as the Bulldozer Committee, was preparing practical reforms in cooperation with the Government. Fifty reforms had been passed in 180 days. In a recent report, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had said the country’s macroeconomic framework was being strengthened at commendable speed. There had been low inflation and a stable currency. It was now necessary to tackle other structural reforms, starting with public finances. The current decentralized structure was not designed to meet individual needs, but to protect groups. That system meant that the country had 13 prime ministers, five presidents, three parliaments and two armies. This summer, authorities had begun to reform the tax system. That reform would lead to a modern European value added tax system by 2006. Cutting public expenditure was a major and urgent task for the year ahead. Benefits of such changes were already being felt.
A less measurable change was also being detected, he said, namely, in the attitudes of the people. Old enmities had not died yet, but events had given cause for some optimism. Commissions composed of Bosnia and Herzegovina representatives were involved in creating tax administration at the State level, army command control, creating a modern intelligence service, and addressing the issue of the city of Mostar. For the first time, authorities had begun to “break out of the Dayton prison”.
However, the pace of reform remained too slow, he noted. New institutions were weak and underfunded, and criminal forces in Bosnian politics remained powerful. Security Council resolution 1503 (2003) had called for the establishment of a chamber for war crimes in the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. His Office was committed to the success of that project. A task force had addressed issues such as the legal framework and witness protection. Another issue was the lack of detention facilities. However, implementing those projects depended on sufficient funding. He appealed for maximum attendance at the donors conference, to be held in The Hague later in the month. There could be no closure until those responsible for the suffering were brought to justice, he stated.
THEODOR MERON, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, elaborated on progress in the establishment of a special War Crimes Chamber within the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which he said was a joint initiative of the Office of the High Representative and the Tribunal. Their proposal outlining the structure and financing of the War Crimes Chamber had been endorsed in June by the Peace Implementation Council, which had urged the donor community to support the project. Later this month, the Tribunal would host a donors conference in The Hague for the Chamber.
“We are now moving from plans to action”, he said. Once the finances were established, a series of working groups, staffed by representatives of the Office of the High Representative, the Tribunal, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and other interested groups, would be created to detail policies needed to get the Chamber running. They would discuss such issues as procedure and evidence, witness protection and conduct of investigations.
The Sarajevo War Crimes Chamber, he said, would serve as an essential prerequisite for the success of the Tribunal’s completion strategy, which included focusing the work of the Tribunal more tightly on the prosecution of the most senior leaders accused or suspected of crimes within its jurisdiction, as well as enacting a series of internal procedural reforms designed to improve the efficiency of its proceedings. An orderly completion strategy would form an essential element in the legacy the Tribunal would leave to the international community’s historic effort to bring accountability for those who commit terrible atrocities.
He said the Chamber would also contribute directly to a firm foundation for the rule of law in the national institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and ensure that the prosecution of war criminals took place in an efficient and fair manner. At present, unfortunately, the existing institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina could not be relied on for those efforts. Local courts still suffered from significant structural difficulties, political pressure on judges and prosecutors, an often mono-ethnic composition of the local courts, ethnic bias, difficulties in protecting victims and witnesses effectively, and lack of adequate training of court personnel.
The process of reform initiated by the Office of the High Representative would not be completed for several years, so the Chamber offered the best chance to establish expeditious justice and advance reconciliation in a timely manner. Transferring to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina the responsibility for prosecuting war crimes could also play an absolutely essential role in advancing reconstruction and reintegration into the international community.
A tremendous amount of work, however, remained before the Chamber was up and running, he said, from construction and renovation of buildings to enactment of laws and rules, to the hiring of local and international judges and prosecutors. The international community must become fully engaged in that task if an imaginative blueprint was to be turned into a vital reality.
GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany), aligning himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, said there had been marked improvements in key areas such as security, monetary stability, refugee return and constitutional guarantees of equality of the three ethnic groups. Remaining problems included partly dysfunctional State structures and the “notorious” ethnic divide. He supported the focus of the reform process on the rule of law, economic rehabilitation and consolidation of State structures. The “Reform Commissions” would have to play an important role. Further progress now depended on the sense of “ownership” the authorities would develop. Bosnia and Herzegovina must grow into its role as a fully sovereign State. He also expressed full support for the Tribunal, a “milestone in international criminal justice”.
He said Bosnia and Herzegovina should now be able to bring war criminals to justice in national courts. In that regard, he called on the international community to support the establishment of the War Crimes Chamber. He understood that questions about a court’s ability to deliver justice in a timely and cost-effective manner were very relevant. Internationally assisted courts had been shown to be interesting and cost-effective alternatives. Also, since the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC), there was now a permanent instrument of international justice. He urged ongoing cooperation and cross-fertilization between the various actors operating in the sphere of international justice, and suggested the Council give increased consideration to the possibility of referring situations to the ICC.
MILAD ATIEH (Syria) said Mr. Ashdown had put Bosnia and Herzegovina on the right track for regaining its sovereignty. He supported his slogan “justice and jobs”. At this crucial juncture, the creation of a judiciary system that could deal with all kinds of crimes was important, as was freezing assets of those helping war criminals.
Economic reform should also be a priority, he said, including reforms of the banking and tax systems. The “Bulldozer” initiative should remove obstacles for growth and liberalize the economy. The contributions of Member States and financial institutions would be helpful in that regard. However, the return of refugees should also be emphasized. More efforts should be deployed to promote permanent return of refugees and to integrate them into society.
JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France) said he completely supported the actions undertaken by High Representative Ashdown, and agreed with the priorities he had identified. A State was being built consistent with those of the European Community. He underscored, however, his country’s close monitoring of the concrete applications of reforms, noting local resistance which often hindered it. He also expressed concern about the lack of cooperation of the Republika Srpska with the Tribunal, as called for in resolution 1503. Political leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina must put into action their support for reforms.
He also outlined the considerable -- and increasing -- political, human and financial involvement of the European Union in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He hoped that the donors conference at The Hague would elicit support from the entire international community. He also called for the acceleration of the process that would integrate the country into the European Union.
HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile) noted the tragic past of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which now seemed distant due to the progress made in many areas. In particular, he cited work against crime and corruption, the implementation of legal reforms and modern norms in public administration, reforms in banking and statistics and the “Bulldozer Committee”.
Attention, however, must be turned to the restaffing and restructuring of weak institutions, he said. There were auspicious signs in the matter of refugee return, but more legal work needed to be done in that area. He agreed with the efforts to establish mechanisms to try lower-level war criminals at the local level. Local involvement in justice was essential, he said, as it strengthened national judicial systems. Regional and international support was needed for those and other completion efforts. Chile would continue to cooperate in efforts to make sure Bosnia and Herzegovina encouraged, once again, a vital, multi-ethnic society.
ALPHA IBRAHIMA SOW (Guinea) commended the High Representative for the progress achieved, and noted improvements in the functioning of major institutions in the country and more stable financing. The establishment of a unit to combat corruptions, the overhaul of the judicial system, and the launching of the European Union Police Mission, among other things, were encouraging factors on the road to building ethnic harmony and stability.
In the area of justice and the rule of law, he encouraged the High Representative to continue combating networks which protected war criminals, and supported the creation of a Special Chamber for war crimes within the Bosnian State Court. Rapid implementation of the project would be one of the pillars for reconstruction of the country. Progress, however, should not conceal difficulties. He was concerned about the replacement of members of various public entities for political reasons and questioned the carrying out of constitutional responsibilities by council ministers. The drop in international assistance was also a matter of concern.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said today Bosnia and Herzegovina was a far cry from the killing fields of the 1990s. It was a testament to the sustained commitment of the international community in implementing the Dayton Agreement and to the brave people of Bosnia and Herzegovina for their determination to rebuild a nation which had been torn asunder. While it was important to try lower-level accused in a special chamber of the Bosnian State Court, the Tribunal must continue its task to try the major war criminals.
He said that, despite progress, the restoration of the country’s pre-war tapestry remained a distant prospect. The peace process still remained under threat from extreme nationalists, war criminals and organized crime networks. While recognizing that the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina was in Europe and that the European Union must have a leading role in its political and socio-economic recovery, the United Nations must continue to have a role in establishing peace and security there. Possibilities should be explored for the United Nations to work in concert with the European Union and other European entities to realize common objectives.
EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) said that Bosnian leadership would greatly help the implementation of the reforms. It seemed like they were, indeed, assuming more and more ownership of that process. Less government, including fewer prime ministers, and defence sector reform were also important, with the goal of moving towards one Government and a unified armed forces. Cooperation within the State and within the region was also crucial.
Efforts against organized crime were among the sectors in which he hoped to see quicker progress. Police training, taken over by the European Union, helped provide a model for regional organizations taking over from the United Nations in such areas. It was right that high-level war criminals should be taken to The Hague, but it was also right that other judicial action should be taken within the country itself, for the purpose of accelerating reconciliation.
INOCENCIO ARIAS (Spain) said that State reform and a restructuring of the economy were essential for Bosnia and Herzegovina to reach the same levels in all sectors as the other countries of Europe. He asked whether the State reforms now being pursued would allow the country to join the international community on an equal level in peace efforts and other areas. He said justice was the only way of building peace. He commended the work of the Tribunal and the establishment of the War Crimes Chamber.
CARLOS PUJALTE (Mexico) said November would mark the eighth anniversary of the Dayton Agreement. Since those agreements were signed, Bosnia and Herzegovina had made considerable headway towards normalization. Progress had been made in the administration of justice, as well as in combating corruption and organized crime. He emphasized the importance of strengthening the justice system, which was key to building the rule of law. He welcomed the establishment of a War Crimes Chamber in the State Court and supported the completion strategy of the Tribunal, in particular, the transfer of cases of lower-level war criminals to the national level. He also noted the contributions of civil society in economic reforms.
More than 1 million refugees and internally displaced persons had returned home, he said, but 500,000 more still remained. The international community’s support must be maintained until all outstanding issues were solved. There was progress in the collection of small arms, but less so with regard to ammunition and mines. In order to complete the reconciliation process, it was crucial to ensure that there was no impunity. He hoped the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina would soon become the sole party responsible for its future.
GENNADY M. GATILOV (Russian Federation) noted with satisfaction the substantial progress achieved in the implementation of the Dayton Agreement. The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina was reaching a level at which a greater authority must gradually be transferred to legally elected authorities. Strengthening trust among the country’s peoples and achieving consensus on questions of State building were important in that regard. He supported the programme of the High Representative for reforms in the economic, judicial and social spheres, but stressed that implementation should take place in strict observance of the Dayton Agreement and the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Given the fragility of the political situation, he said that monitoring by the international community of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina was appropriate. He supported the establishment of a War Crimes Chamber, and trusted that the Council would continue to carefully follow efforts in that connection through regular reports. The information submitted today had given rise to optimism that deadlines for the Tribunal would be met. Transferring cases from the Tribunal to the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina was an important part of completing the Tribunal’s mandate. As a guarantor to Dayton, his country would continue to lend all necessary assistance to reforms, trusting that the principles of Dayton would be respected by all sides.
ZHANG YISHAN (China) expressed satisfaction that the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina was progressing towards stability, and hoped the people of the country would continue to work in that direction. China would continue to support those efforts with the goal of putting the country on the path to independent development. He supported the work of the Tribunal and hoped that the Special Chamber would help advance completion of international work there.
STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) praised High Representative Ashdown’s work in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Pointing to his own country’s impending entry into the European Union, he said the more that the horizon for entry into the European community opened up, the greater the momentum for progress in a given country.
Reform of the justice system, he said, was crucial as it would also benefit the economy, which could not function without the rule of law. He also emphasized the importance of defence sector reform, which would provide the glue for the unification of the country. The peace partnership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) could accelerate the process. Finally, he strongly supported the Special Chamber, as it would bring the administration of justice closer to the Bosnians themselves, and affirmed that his country would continue to assist the progress of their neighbour, especially in the policing and legal spheres.
ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said the international community’s commitment had been a determinant factor for progress achieved. The two-pronged approach outlined by the High Representative was the appropriate strategy to lead the country to freedom and well-being. The efforts deployed by the international community and the people in the country should be relentlessly pursued until the objective of creating a modern society was achieved.
He said that Council resolution 1503 had reiterated the completion strategy for the Tribunal, which called for the ending of trials at first instance by 2008. Transferring low-level indictee cases to local authorities was probably the best strategy to reach the deadline. It would also help to strengthen a feeling of national ownership. He strongly encouraged the High Representative to continue on the path towards building a multi-ethnic, democratic community, and hoped that Bosnia and Herzegovina would stand as another success story of post-conflict reconstruction.
MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said the report of the High Representative had highlighted the significant progress that had been made in a relatively short time, including promoting jobs and establishing the rule of law. Those achievements were part of the improvements in the political panorama. In order for those achievements to be lasting and effective, reform should be based on a solid legal foundation.
He said the completion strategy of the Tribunal and the possibility of having some cases put before national jurisdiction had become more relevant now than ever before. Reforming the judicial system, in particular, the Special Chamber to supplement the work of the Tribunal, would make it possible to meet the concerns about the completion strategy. However, the criteria governing cooperation between the Tribunal and the War Crimes Chamber must be clearly defined. He asked for more information in that connection. He also asked what strategies had been envisioned to reconcile the requirements of justice and those of national reconciliation.
JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States) said it was a priority for his country that war criminals were brought to justice, in particular, such leaders as Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. Karadzic’s criminal network continued to cause suffering and deprivation in the country. The time had come for the Republika Srpska to do its part and comply with all the provisions of the Dayton Agreement in cooperating with the Tribunal.
It was also appropriate, he said, to create domestic capacity by creating the War Crimes Chamber within the Bosnian justice system. He urged that it be established without delay and pledged that the United States would provide expert assistance and up to one third of the cost. He also advocated steps to prevent assistance to war criminals in their evasion of justice. In addition, he urged that all States restrict travel and freeze assets to stop such evasion. Also, the relevant authorities must approve and accelerate reforms in legal and economic areas. His country would provide economic assistance to the country for those purposes and he urged others to do so, as well.
MIRZA KUSLJUGIC (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said that the past year had been marked by slow but steady progress in post-war recovery and transition. The platform of “Jobs and Justice through Reforms”, and the implementation plan of the Office of the High Representative had provided a well thought-out strategy. In addition, as legislative reforms progressed, the number of imposed laws had decreased. The focus on bringing Bosnia and Herzegovina closer towards Euro-Atlantic integration was also successful, as was the package of laws and regulations that were meant to give a boost to private enterprise. The reform of customs, tax and revenue systems, the reorganization of the army structure, and the establishment of the State Court were also noteworthy accomplishments.
However impressive the results, he said, the fact remained that the two most infamous war criminals, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, were still, eight years after being indicted, as elusive as they had ever been. There could not be reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina until all indicted war criminals were brought to justice. The War Crimes Chamber would be a step forward, but it still needed to be funded. He asked for donor generosity.
In addition, the return of refugees and displaced persons could be considered a great success, but property return has fallen short, he said. He asked for more economic support to returnees. In addition, the importance of the privatization process had been underestimated and a viable model was needed. Similarly, public information had been made too low a priority.
The authorities in his country remained, he said, committed to reforms, and were now entering a new phase of discussion for European integration with full confidence. That was the result of the response of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s leaders to such major challenges as the fight against corruption, the strengthening of State institutions, the instituting of legal reforms, the implementation of structural reforms, and the reduction of the unemployment rate. Additional efforts were required, however, with the assistance of the international community, to deal with the sensitive matter of missing persons.
Duly elected authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said, were ready to take ownership and to bear more responsibility for the future of the country with the ultimate goal of entering the European Union and NATO, going down that road “with more power in the engine of its own institutions and less power in the tow truck of the High Representative”. Despite the great expense of institutional and constitutional reforms, the country was determined to create a vision for the twenty-first century through its own efforts and with the assistance of the international community.
MARCELLO SPATAFORA (Italy), speaking on behalf of the European Union and Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Iceland, said he fully supported the priorities of the High Representative, namely, to first promote the rule of law and then dismantle barriers to business growth and job creation through reforms. In particular, he supported the “Commission approach” to reforms. Important progress had been made in the reform process, but much remained to be done in the area of the economy and the consolidation of central State structures. Responsibility for that, he noted, rested with local authorities.
In addition, he supported the “unambiguous message” of Council resolution 1503 (2003) to countries and parties in the region to improve cooperation with the Tribunal and to bring Karadzic, Mladic and Gotovina to justice. He also supported the establishment of a special chamber within the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina to handle cases of lower-level accused.
The European perspective regarding the Balkans had been reaffirmed by the European Union heads of State and government at the Thessaloniki summit last June. It represented a powerful leverage for Bosnian leaders to intensify their efforts towards introducing and implementing necessary reforms. The Union was also involved in security through its Police Mission. The European Commission would be presenting a feasibility study on negotiations for a Stabilization and Association Agreement. The role played by the European Union Police Mission and High Representative Paddy Ashdown to coordinate the international community’s efforts in the fight against organized crime and illegal trafficking remained crucial, he said.
Closing Remarks by High Representative
The High Representative, Mr. ASHDOWN, first gave the floor to the Senior Deputy High Representative, Bernard Fassier, to clarify the nature of support needed to carry out the project for a special chamber for war crimes.
Mr. FASSIER said the project of establishing a special chamber for war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina could not be carried out without appropriate support from the international community. For that project, €30 million was needed over five years. Initially, two thirds or €20 million would be needed, and he hoped that would be pledged at the donors conference at the end of October. An absolute minimum of €15 million was needed, or the project would not see the light of day. Therefore, he urged capitals to transform their unanimous political endorsement into concrete support for the project.
There were plans for the transfer of 15 indictees and 50 prosecutorial files to Sarajevo, he continued. The Security Council should convince Members States to give the Sarajevo chamber the exact same support they were currently giving to the Tribunal regarding detention of criminals on trial and the witness protection programme.
Mr. ASHDOWN thanked speakers for their support, and stressed that the real heroes of peace-building were the ordinary people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was difficult to construct ethnic tolerance after a war. However, recently, 20,000 Albanian Bosnians had buried nearly a thousand of their victims in the middle of a Serbsk area in absolute peace and dignity. He was convinced that the nation as a whole would remain a multi-ethnic one, due to the extraordinary courage of its people. He said it was his job to “get rid of his job”, and that moment should not be far off.
Answering a question about a date to join the Partnership for Peace, he said necessary legislation should be passed by next September. It would then be up to the North Atlantic Council to decide. Regarding refugees, he said the most difficult task, that of refugee return, would be handed over to local authorities. It would be a disaster if that task was not supported by the necessary funds.
He added that the question of whether NATO activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina should be transferred to the European Union was up to the international community to decide. He believed Europe should take more of a lead, provided the security of the people in Bosnia and Herzegovina was sufficiently guaranteed. He agreed with the Russian Federation that the Dayton Agreement was the legal basis of his job.
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