The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) (S/1998/491) ________________________ * Reissued for technical reasons.
|(The Presidency changes each month to the next member in alphabetical order)|
|Mr. Qin Huasun
|Mr. Sáenz Biolley
|Mr. Dangue Réwaka
|Sir John Weston
Adoption of the agenda
The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) (S/1998/491)
I should like to inform the Council that I have received letters from the representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Malaysia and Turkey, in which they request to be invited to participate in the discussion of the item on the Council’s agenda. In conformity with the usual practice, I propose, with the consent of the Council, to invite those representatives to participate in the discussion, without the right to vote, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter and rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.
There being no objection, it is so decided.
The Security Council will now begin its consideration of the item on its agenda. The Council is meeting in accordance with the understanding reached in its prior consultations.
Members of the Council have before them the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, document S/1998/491. Members of the Council also have before them document S/1998/502, which contains the text of a draft resolution submitted by France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Slovenia, Sweden, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America.
I should like to draw the attention of the members of the Council to the following documents: S/1998/475, letter dated 5 June 1998 from the Permanent Representative of Luxembourg to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General, transmitting the text of a statement on Bosnia and Herzegovina adopted by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) following the ministerial meeting held in Luxembourg on 28 and 29 May 1998; S/1998/498, letter dated 10 June 1998 from the Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General, transmitting, in his capacity as the coordinator of the Consulting and Coordinating Process, the declaration of the Luxembourg Peace Implementation Conference Steering Board issued on 9 June 1998; S/1998/501, letter dated 11 June 1998 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council, transmitting a letter of the same date from the Secretary-General of NATO addressed to the Secretary-General, conveying the seventeenth monthly report on the operations of the Stabilization Force; and S/1998/314, letter dated 9 April 1998 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council, transmitting a letter dated 9 April 1998 from the High Representative for Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina, conveying his ninth report.
The first speaker on my list is the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to whom I give the floor.
We wish to congratulate you, Sir, on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council this month. I know that your delegation and you personally are most capably handling the very grave responsibilities before the Council this month. I also know that your delegation and you yourself have some direct experience with our region, so it is indeed fortunate for all of us that you are in this position of responsibility.
I wish to thank you for the opportunity to bring the matter of Bosnia and Herzegovina before the Security Council. The resources being committed — military, civilian and economic — to serve peace and rebuild Bosnia and Herzegovina are having a gradual but steady positive impact. The reaffirmation that indicted war criminals will be brought before the Tribunal, evidenced by recent arrests, has given people confidence in justice and reconciliation. It has alleviated the sense of being victims of both human rights abuses and double standards. It has given all, the innocent victim and the victimizer, the expectation that those who planned and executed genocide and crimes, the leaders, will be brought to justice.
The process of rebuilding is also moving forward. Frankly, we are all anxious that it proceed quicker. We have an eager, willing and capable population that is looking forward to restoring homes, jobs and lives to normalcy. That in and of itself is a positive sign, and Bosnians are doing their part with hard work and sacrifice, despite very limited capital resources.
The High Representative faces the most complex and demanding task, but even in the functioning of Bosnia’s public and governmental institutions we do see progress. For this progress and assistance, we thank all represented here who have committed their resources, their soldiers, their personnel and even their goodwill for the sake of peace and normalcy in our country. Truly, as much as Bosnians may have felt abandoned by the international community, by this Council, during the beginning of the war, they are conscious and appreciative of the efforts being committed, along with our own, to rebuild our country.
So why are we still uncertain about the road to peace, the quality of life, the return of refugees in Bosnia and the region as a whole? Is it our destiny to be doomed to uncertainty and upheaval?
Are we to blame our own recent war, the genocide and murders, the fragility of peace and now even the events in Kosovo on the fact that we are in the Balkans? Are we doomed to ethnic hatreds and conflict in the Balkans? Without commenting on whose destiny is preferable, neither we in Bosnia nor any other people are predestined to a particular behaviour or future. It is in neither our genes, our geography nor our history.
All of us are compelled to suffer stereotypes, some more damaging than others. What kind of prejudiced stereotype will the people of the African States, or South-East Asia, or the Arab world, or Latin America have placed upon them? It may be more understandable for stereotypes to be perpetuated in the clichés of popular culture, but not in the highest decision-making institutions representing the international community. We must be more sensitive and wiser.
So if we cannot blame it on the Balkans, where should the responsibility lie? The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, of all ethnicities, religions and backgrounds, are overwhelmingly committed to peace and coexistence. But then an elderly Serb couple is burned to death in the home they recently returned to by extremist Croat criminal elements. The Catholic prelate of Bosnia and Herzegovina and his assistants are stoned and placed in deadly danger by an organized Serb mob when they return to a Catholic parish long “cleansed” of its parishioners.
Are these coincidences? Can refugees not go back because their old neighbours — ordinary citizens — will not allow them to return simply because the refugee happens to be of a different background? No; there is still an ongoing, organized criminal effort to keep the people from going back to their homes and to prevent the process of reconciliation and normalcy from taking hold. Exactly at a time when the momentum is positive, the enemies of peace and coexistence choose to launch their sabotage and send us backwards.
This is not my personal assessment. It is shared by the representatives of the Stabilization Force (SFOR), the Office of the High Representative and others, including Bosnians. And that is exactly why careless stereotypes are so dangerous. They not only stigmatize, but they also embolden those who wish to convince you that people who have lived together for centuries have in fact not done so and cannot live together now. They would use your potential lack of familiarity, your fatigue with the situation and the too-often carelessly expressed prejudices to create self-fulfilling stereotypes and prophecies.
When they burn an elderly Serb couple to death, they believe that you will become frustrated and lose confidence in Bosnia. When they beat up a man of God, they believe themselves to be immunized by your association of this crime with a false reading of Bosnia’s history and its people.
I hope for all our sakes that these enemies of peace and tolerance are not right in their reading of the collective “you”. However, it seems that the demagogues and dictators of the region who had shown their stripes in the attempt at genocide and “ethnic cleansing” in Bosnia are repeating their strategy, including, now, in particular, in Kosovo. Kosovo did not have to explode. A fuse was simply lit to a bomb that had been in the process of manufacture for some time.
The subject of Kosovo is not before the Council today. Nonetheless, I bring it up because the handling of the matter reflects a blame-it-on-the-history-and-people-of-the-Balkans stereotype. More urgently, however, those who light the fuse on Kosovo will be looking to play off your fears and prejudices by bouncing its attention from one manufactured conflict to another. They will try to sell their constructive engagement in one situation at the expense of another. Their commitment to constructive engagement in one situation is merely currency for them, to be turned quickly into an opportunity to create conflict in another situation.
Who is to blame for the wars in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and, maybe tomorrow, somewhere else — Macedonia or beyond, or back in Bosnia. The ordinary citizen — Serb, Croat, Bosnian, Albanian or otherwise — is not to blame. It is a leadership that preys in its neighbours, on its own people and on your own stereotypes.
The common thread is not Balkan history. The evidence is much nearer. When Srebrenica was overrun and thousands were massacred, the weapons of the United Nations mandated forces, including armoured personnel carriers, were also plundered, as in several other situations during attacks on United Nations forces in Bosnia. Now there is compelling evidence that those weapons taken at Srebrenica are now being used in Kosovo against the Kosovo Albanians. Regardless of where the weapons may have been taken in Bosnia, the fact that they end up being used to “ethnically cleanse” in Kosovo should be enough proof as to where the blame lies.
If we are not careful we all may become the victims of a cliché, a stereotype. The United Nations is already scapegoated in many political quarters. It is blamed for the failures of collective will in Bosnia, for failure to prevent genocide in Rwanda and so forth. Nevertheless, we in Bosnia are sober as to the capacity and responsibility of this institution. We seek to treat the role of this institution honestly, and we again thank all for their efforts and assistance in promoting peace and normalcy in Bosnia and Herzegovina. All we ask is that the Council treat us fairly as well and that it not be duped by the merchants of nationalism and “ethnic cleansing” and by the peddlers of stereotypes.
Let me conclude by reminding the Council of the words of one of our most distinguished colleagues, the former Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom, Sir David Hannay, speaking on 30 May 1992 as sanctions were imposed on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) for its aggression against Bosnia. He said,
“there is really no doubt at all where the principal responsibility now lies: with the authorities, civil and military, in Belgrade. And that cannot be ducked; it is simply no good suggesting that they have nothing to do with the events that are going on in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Multiple-rocket launchers are not found in Serbian peasants’ barns. They are provided from the supplies of the Yugoslav national army … If the authorities in Belgrade really wanted us to believe their protestations of innocence, I doubt if they would be bombarding Dubrovnik today. They must think we are very stupid people indeed.” [S/PV.3082, p. 43]
“They must think we are very stupid people indeed.” I humbly request the Council to consider the relevance of these words and of their reference to the Council six years later.
I thank the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the kind words he addressed to me and to my delegation.
I wish to make a statement on behalf of the European Union. The Central and Eastern European countries associated with the European Union — the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland Romania and Slovakia — and the associated country Cyprus, as well as the European Free Trade Association member of the European Economic Area, Iceland, align themselves with this statement.
The European Union welcomes the adoption of the draft resolution before the Council. The commitment and professionalism of the members of both the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina and of the Stabilization Force (SFOR) remain a major force for change in Bosnia. A number of European Union countries contribute personnel to both. The European Union would like to pay tribute today to all of the men and women in both organizations working hard in the service of peace.
Ministers of the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board met in Luxembourg on 9 June, against the heartening backdrop of progress on the ground in Bosnia and the genuine hope that Bosnia’s divided past can be replaced by a shared future. While there is much work still to be done, it would appear that the huge international effort in Bosnia, in lives, resources and money, is finally beginning to pay off.
The European Union strongly endorses the message of the Luxembourg meeting — that the international community cannot remain engaged in Bosnia forever, and that the time has come for the Bosnian people to deliver their share of the bargain, to start to take control of their own country and of their own destiny.
The challenges which the international community now faces are fewer, but they include some of the most sensitive, in particular the return of refugees and displaced persons to areas in which they are in a minority. The European Union deplores the recent increase in violent incidents against these people and urges local police authorities, with the assistance of the International Police Task Force, to pursue the restructuring of their forces and to provide for the integration of minority officers in order to help create confidence for returning refugees, in particular those belonging to minority groups.
As Bosnia and Herzegovina prepares for national elections in September of this year, it has a critical opportunity to shape its future as a modern European democracy. The European Union and member States will be meeting up to two thirds of the total costs of the supervision of the elections by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, including the provision of a large number of personnel.
Against this backdrop, the support of SFOR in providing a secure environment and broad support for civilian implementation in the coming months remains crucial to Bosnia’s prospects. Similarly, the work of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to be at the heart of efforts to restore peace and reconciliation to Bosnia and to build the multi-ethnic society upon which the success of the Peace Agreement ultimately depends.
So I hope — to inject a word in parentheses and to pick up on Ambassador Sacirbey’s injunction against stereotypes — that we will not blame all the past on the United Nations, nor on the European Union either, whatever it takes to end the war.
As the largest single donor of aid to Bosnia, the European Union will continue to play a role in a wide range of activities on the ground. The European Union and World Bank conference on 7 and 8 May raised a further $1.25 billion, much of it from the European Union itself and from European Union member States. Aid procedures have been adjusted to ensure rapid and more flexible disbursement, and to facilitate a more proportionate split in aid distribution between the entities. This will demonstrate to the people of the Republika Srpska the rewards that Dayton compliance can bring.
Finally, as an increasing number of persons indicted on war crimes charges arrive at the International Tribunal in The Hague — either through voluntary surrender or by the actions of the Stabilization Force acting under authority contained in the relevant Security Council resolutions — there is an opportunity at last for the people of Bosnia to build peace and reconciliation on the firm foundation of justice.
The goal of the European Union, like that of all the international community, is to see a democratic, prosperous Bosnia taking its place as a modern nation in Europe. The message to the people of Bosnia is clear: such a future is within their grasp, provided they continue to make good progress on the Dayton road, leaving the violence and ethnic hatred of recent years behind them.
The next speaker on my list is the representative of Croatia. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
As a witness to the Dayton/Paris Peace Agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia has a special interest in events and actions which may affect its implementation. The Dayton arrangement consists of a number of technical provisions which are undergoing frequent change, but also includes some basic principles which remain fundamental to the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina. These principles are: Bosnia and Herzegovina as a single, internationally recognized State; the decentralization of State apparatus; and equality among the three constitutive nations. Let me stress that Croatia cannot support any solution for Bosnia and Herzegovina that does not fully incorporate these founding principles. Deviations from these principles can be both damaging and destabilizing, not only for Bosnia and Herzegovina itself, but also for other States in the region.
The implementation of the Dayton principles will ensure that the interests, local customs and way of life of all three constitutive nations and other national groups in Bosnia are protected. A disrespect for these principles can precipitate a polarization and have undesirable repercussions.
Croatia has taken several steps since January with a view to strengthening its ties with Bosnia and Herzegovina. A presidential envoy is working closely with a Bosnian delegation in respect of special economic, transit and other bilateral arrangements between the two countries. Croatia has recently signed an agreement for the construction of a major highway linking Zagreb to Dubrovnik and passing through Federation territory. This major infrastructure project will link the whole region to important transport corridors to the north. The Government’s decision is indicative of the orientation towards economic cooperation for the mutual benefit of both countries. I should also mention the recent meeting held between Foreign Minister Granic’ and the Prime Minister of the Bosnian Serb entity, Milorad Dodik. While welcoming its newfound cooperativeness, Croatia believes that the Bosnian Serb leadership should be judged by its deeds and not merely by its words.
Croatia shall continue to place a great deal of importance upon the organized and dignified return of displaced persons to their previous places of residence. In order to help expedite this process the Government has already adopted Procedures for the Return of Persons Who Have Left Croatia, which it later supplemented with Mandatory Instructions. Furthermore, Croatia has signed bilateral agreements on the voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and both entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, the movement of persons and goods between Croatia and both entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina is now open, thereby encouraging economic and other links between the two countries and through Croatia to the rest of Europe.
Croatia recognizes the importance the return process will play in the ongoing stabilization of the region, and it is for this reason that the Government is currently working on a comprehensive plan for return, which should be completed by 25 June. Croatia considers it important to enunciate the unequivocal right of return of all of its citizens who wish to exercise it. I should like to recall that Croatia remains the only State in the region which has received a significant number of displaced persons from a group formerly affiliated with the rebel occupying forces.
Regrettably, a consequence of a one-sided approach with regard to refugee returns has already been reflected in a loss of confidence in the Dayton Peace Agreement. This phenomenon is becoming more evident among Bosnia and Herzegovina Croats. The growing alienation that is being felt by Bosnian Croats should not be taken lightly by the international community.
While it has often been pointed out that the key to the reintegration of Bosnia and Herzegovina into a multi-ethnic state lies in stimulating the return process, little concrete support has been given to Bosnia and Herzegovina Croats who have sought to attain this. Principal Deputy High Representative Klein stated recently that Croats genuinely feel that they are being treated unequally and marginalized. The cumulative result of these factors has led to a situation in which, according to conservative estimates, Croats, who once constituted 18 per cent of Bosnia’s population, now make up only about 12 per cent.
An additional reason for the disillusionment of Bosnia and Herzegovina Croats with the international community is directly related to their perception of the imbalance in the cases before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Despite recent positive developments in theatre with the voluntary surrender or arrest by the Stabilization Force (SFOR) of some Serb indictees, Bosnia and Herzegovina Croats continue to make up the vast majority of imprisoned indictees This continues to be the case even though Bosnian Croats and Muslims together were overwhelmingly the victims of war crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This, coupled with the fact that despite ample evidence no indictments for crimes committed against Bosnia and Herzegovina Croats are forthcoming, does not nurture their confidence in the international community.
Croatia supports the letter and the intent of the draft resolution before the Council. The continued presence and active support of the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina are essential. Nevertheless, it is the three constituent peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina that bear the ultimate responsibility for their mutual relations and the future of their country. Having this in mind, Croatia believes that measures to strengthen professionalism throughout all levels of the public service, as described in the Secretary-General’s report of 10 June 1998, deserve our unconditional support. The peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina — Croats, Muslims and Serbs — should use the benefit of an international presence for elaborating on and fully implementing an efficient institutional system in accordance with the basic principles of Dayton. Such an eventuality would make redundant the recent practice of imposing decisions upon the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
I should also like to reiterate that, in accordance with operative paragraph 16 of the draft resolution, members of the peacekeeping forces in theatre can count on the continued logistical and other support of Croatia during the course of their mandate.
The next speaker on my list is the representative of Italy. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
Let me congratulate you, Sir, on your position as President of the Security Council and on the excellent work you and your delegation have already done during this very busy month. I would like to express the same appreciation to your predecessor, the Permanent Representative of Kenya.
Italy fully associates itself with the statement made on behalf of the European Union by the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom.
We strongly support the conclusions of the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board meeting held in Luxembourg on 9 June 1998, which set the stage for further progress in the peace process in Bosnia. Since the last Peace Implementation Conference, in Bonn, substantial progress has been achieved, thanks also to the tireless efforts of the High Representative and his Office, and of the United Nations.
As we have said repeatedly in the past, if we wish to make the peace process irreversible and achieve full stabilization of the country and of the region, the parties and the international community need to make a strong commitment.
In the Balkans, the international community has striven to halt the break-up of the area and restore the State and its institutions. Italy assumed a major responsibility in Albania, where the Government and the people have been fully engaged in the process of restoring democratic institutions. We and other countries must continue to make a strong commitment in this regard.
Peace and coexistence in Bosnia are entering a decisive year. The Dayton agreements laid the groundwork involving the establishment of unified institutions, some of which are yet to be built. Italy has made a military and financial commitment that it will maintain to help oversee a social order that is still fragile, including after the adoption of the present draft resolution. But we are also contributing more police units to help foster the return of refugees and the consolidation of shared structures that are still in an embryonic state. The general elections scheduled to take place in September are the most important event on this year’s calendar. Only then can we measure how much longer the international presence is needed to maintain stability.
So far, the international community’s strategy in Bosnia has achieved positive results in implementing the Dayton agreements. The Implementation Force (IFOR) and the Stabilization Force (SFOR) have proved to be increasingly flexible instruments, apt to create an environment where the parties can cooperate more actively in establishing the institutions provided for in the peace accords. The continuation of the SFOR mission calls for an increased effort to cooperate with civilian entities. Italy fully supports this concept of operation.
From the outset, Italy has supported the idea of establishing a multinational specialized unit within SFOR, with the same mandate as other SFOR elements. Such a unit would enhance SFOR’s ability to support the local authorities in responding to civil disorder, but without engaging in police functions, including situations related to the return of refugees and displaced persons. Italy intends to make a substantial contribution to this unit.
Regrettably, the last three months have seen an increase in violent incidents that target returning refugees and displaced persons, especially those that belong to minority groups. This trend must be rapidly reversed so as to avoid jeopardizing years of effort. The combined forces of SFOR and the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) will no doubt have to concentrate on this priority issue over the next few months.
Italy is one of the main contributors of emergency assistance and reconstruction aid to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Effective use of reconstruction funds may prove crucial to fostering and consolidating peace. Economic assistance must also encourage democratization. This approach does not mean penalizing or discriminating against one party or another: it means encouraging the adoption of a positive attitude towards each and every aspect of the peace process, such as respect for human rights, the return of refugees, media liberalization and the fight against corruption.
The enhancement of political, civil and media freedom and the establishment of pluralism in opinions and political parties are still priority objectives. The ultimate goal should be political stabilization through democratic elections, with a view to achieving the insertion of a democratic and prosperous Bosnia as a modern nation in Europe.
The United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina is making a decisive contribution to these goals, especially through the restructuring of law enforcement institutions and through the International Police Task Force (IPTF), to which Italy contributes substantially. We welcome the expansion of IPTF’s role in key public security issues, such as financial crime, smuggling, corruption and judicial reform, and we support the information provided by the Secretary-General’s report on these aspects. The close relationship between UNMIBH and SFOR is particularly important. In the months to come, it will continue to provide the ideal framework for fostering peace and stability in the country.
I thank the representative of Italy for his kind words addressed to me, to my delegation and to my predecessor.
The next speaker on my list is the representative of Germany. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
Let me belatedly take this opportunity to congratulate you, Sir, on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council and at the same time to express my appreciation for the outstanding performance of your predecessor, Ambassador Mahugu of Kenya.
I would also like to affirm that Germany fully supports the comments made by the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom, Sir John Weston, on behalf of the European Union.
The Security Council is today examining two separate operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina: the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) and the Stabilization Force (SFOR). Each one is led by a different organization: the United Nations on the one hand and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on the other. There can be no question, however, that they are intrinsically linked, that one cannot exist without the other. UNMIBH still depends on the military protection and the ability to create a secure environment provided by SFOR’s presence on the ground. UNMIBH, and in particular the International Police Task Force (IPTF), together with the High Representative and his Office, provide the civilian mechanism without which sustainable peace could not be established in that war-torn country.
Regardless of all the progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the preconditions for durable and sustainable peace have not yet been firmly put into place. Among the remarkable positive developments, perhaps the most important has been the commitment of an elected Government in the Republika Srpska to the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement. On the other hand, there have been very worrisome incidents caused by elements in Bosnia which wish to maintain ethnic segregation as the result of earlier “ethnic cleansing”. Germany looks in particular to the leadership of the Bosnian Croats and to those who can influence them to curb efforts to render impossible the return of refugees and displaced persons. Let me add that Germany, which bears a heavy burden in providing for hundreds of thousands of refugees from the former Yugoslavia on its territory, takes a specific interest in the issue of refugee return. Also, in too many cases, the High Representative has had to do the job of the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities by imposing decisions they were unable to make.
A considerable number of indicted war criminals have either surrendered to the International Tribunal or been arrested. Only a few hours ago, German and French SFOR troops arrested another indicted person in south-east Bosnia. Still, however, the work of the Tribunal is hampered by incomplete cooperation with the Tribunal. The “champions” of ethnic violence, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, are still at large. In Germany’s view, durable reconciliation will not be possible without essential justice being done.
Germany considers it one of the important achievements of the last months that NATO has decided not to fix an end date to its engagement in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We agree that it is preferable for NATO to look at the actual situation on the ground and to be able to react flexibly in the framework of an overall strategy of transition towards sustainable peace without outside assistance. Still, it is proper that the Security Council, following its practice, authorize SFOR for a definite period of 12 months, with a view to further extending the authorization in the light of the situation. SFOR has further fine-tuned its abilities to the demands of the changed situation by creating specially trained and equipped multinational units to work in the field of public security.
IPTF, on its side, has taken similar action by assigning special task forces to areas such as corruption, drug smuggling and tax evasion. In close and fruitful cooperation with the High Representative, IPTF has achieved great advances both in restructuring and training the local police and in maintaining freedom of movement throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. As acknowledged in the annex to the Dayton Agreement relating to the IPTF, however, reform and restructuring of the local police will remain ineffective if not accompanied by similar efforts regarding the judiciary system. In this context, the High Representative has pointed out that the IPTF is best equipped to monitor criminal courts in Bosnia. The Security Council will urgently have to find a pragmatic solution which enables IPTF to begin this task, setting aside theological or budgetary disputes. It is our historic responsibility to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina to remain fully focused on the goal of lasting peace in that country which has suffered so much. It is our responsibility to taxpayers at home to make the international effort in Bosnia a truly coherent and therefore successful one, and not to be diverted by secondary questions regarding the philosophy of United Nations peacekeeping in general.
Let me end by expressing my country’s deep appreciation for the work of both the leaders and the members of UNMIBH, SFOR and the Office of the High Representative. Almost exactly a year ago, a tragic helicopter accident took the lives of high-ranking members of the Office of the High Representative and of IPTF, among them well-known German colleagues and friends of mine. All those who commit themselves to the goal of stable peace and reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina should know that their joint work is highly valued.
I thank the representative of Germany for his kind words addressed to me and to my predecessor.
The next speaker on my list is the representative of Turkey. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
May I first congratulate you, Sir, on your assumption of the presidency of the Council and also express our appreciation to your predecessor, the distinguished Ambassador of Kenya.
There is no doubt that to date considerable progress has been made in Bosnia and Herzegovina towards the implementation of the Dayton/Paris Peace Agreement.
The Stabilization Force, as a successor to the Implementation Force, has played a key role in creating a positive security environment. This has allowed the necessary steps to be taken towards consolidating the sovereign, integral, democratic and multi-ethnic State of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been successful in carrying out its task. The International Police Task Force is doing excellent work in the field. Both of these tasks remain of vital importance. However, several aspects of the Peace Agreement, especially those pertaining to humanitarian and civilian affairs, require firmer compliance by some of the parties.
During the last three months, there has been an increase in violent incidents against returning refugees and displaced persons. There has been continued resistance to integrating minority officers into the police force. Problems relating to common institutions, the disbanding of parallel bodies, the return of minorities and the full implementation of municipal elections still remain unresolved.
I would also like to underline the importance of economic revitalization in the process of attaining peace, stability and reconciliation in the region. We welcome the measures taken in the financial field, which will allow Bosnia and Herzegovina to make better use of multilateral economic assistance.
The implementation of the Peace Agreement includes the return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes and the establishment of common institutions. We attach importance to the early fulfilment of these prerequisites. Parties to the Peace Agreement must also fulfil their obligation to cooperate with the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991. Without a solid foundation of justice, peace will remain elusive.
We welcome the positive steps taken towards normalization of relations between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) and Bosnia and Herzegovina. But more needs to be done. We call upon the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to establish full and unconditional diplomatic relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Finally, we cannot isolate the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina from that in the rest of the region. In the light of the alarming developments in Kosovo, the international community has to be vigilant about the ramifications of these developments with respect to overall peace and security in the region. We should not allow the peace process in Bosnia to be derailed. Building on what has been achieved in Bosnia and Herzegovina, therefore, is not only imperative but most timely. The draft resolution before the Council contains the elements required for that purpose. My Government therefore supports the main thrust of the draft resolution.
It is our hope that the time will come in the near future when the goals of the peace process have been reached and when there will be no need for such measures.
I thank the representative of Turkey for the kind words he addressed to me and to my predecessor.
The next speaker is the representative of Malaysia. I invite him to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
The Malaysian delegation wishes to congratulate you, Sir, on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council for this month. We also wish to extend our sincere appreciation to Ambassador Mahugu, Permanent Representative of Kenya, for the skilful manner in which he presided over the work of the Council last month. We are pleased to have this opportunity to participate in a formal meeting of the Council on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina to join members and other non-members of the Council in demonstrating the commitment of the international community to peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Substantial progress has indeed been achieved in implementing several aspects of the 1995 General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Important efforts aimed at building a unified Bosnia and Herzegovina have also begun to take root. However, much more still needs to be done to resolve the remaining critical problems if peace is to endure in that country. Malaysia joins the rest of the international community in continuing to be actively and persistently engaged in ensuring the full implementation of the 1995 Peace Agreement.
My delegation welcomes the decision to be taken by the Council today to authorize the continued presence of the multinational Stabilization Force (SFOR) for a further period of 12 months and to extend for another year the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH), which includes the International Police Task Force (IPTF). We take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation to all those involved in SFOR, UNMIBH, the IPTF and other international organizations which are actively engaged in Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially to the men and women serving on the ground. Malaysia has played its role in contributing to SFOR. Although our troop contribution has had to be scaled down, we remain committed to contributing, within our means, to the pursuit of peace and security and to reconstruction efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We will continue to contribute police personnel to serve with the ITPF.
While the continuing commitment and active involvement of the international community is important and very much needed at this critical juncture, the main responsibility for achieving peace and national reconciliation ultimately lies with the Bosnians themselves. The parties should work harder to build upon the achievements made so far. There is no alternative but for them to remain fully committed to the Peace Agreement, which serves as the foundation for building lasting peace and stability and for providing a viable route to prosperity in a multiethnic, multicultural and multi-religious Bosnia and Herzegovina. We call upon the leaders to work strenuously towards establishing an integrated, independent and peaceful Bosnia and Herzegovina within its internationally recognized borders. They must make serious efforts to resolve the outstanding problems, in particular the issue of the return of refugees and displaced persons. We will support and encourage them.
In assessing the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we should be mindful also of the important work of the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991. The work of the Tribunal is another crucial element in securing not only justice but also reconciliation in the context of the broader implementation of the Peace Agreement. The climate of hatred and mistrust cannot be easily replaced by one of confidence and cooperation if the perpetrators of the horrendous crimes against humanity in Bosnia are not brought to face the consequences of their past actions. My delegation is seriously concerned that despite the efforts of the international community, and particularly those of the Tribunal itself, the major indicted war criminals remain at large. This calls for appropriate action. While the cooperation of the Bosnian authorities and the Governments of neighbouring countries is needed in arresting these criminals, we also believe that SFOR has a critical role to play in apprehending them. We commend SFOR for its past accomplishments in this area, but we hope that more serious efforts will be made. My delegation welcomes the Council decision taken on 13 May, as contained in resolution 1166 (1998), to establish a third Trial Chamber of the Tribunal. We would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation to all those who have made various contributions to facilitate the work of the Tribunal as it discharges its crucial mandate as set out in resolution 827 (1993).
The Council has determined that the situation in the region continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security. Recent and current events in the neighbouring areas, in particular in Kosovo, are a cause for concern. My delegation therefore believes that the international community must maintain its strong resolve and commitment to promote and build lasting peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to ensure that a situation similar to that which occurred there does not happen elsewhere in the region. We have full trust in the Security Council playing its appropriate role in this regard.
I thank the representative of Malaysia for the kind words he addressed to me and to my predecessor.
I should like to inform the Council that I have received a letter from the representative of Albania, in which he requests to be invited to participate in the discussion of the item on the Council’s agenda. In conformity with the usual practice, I propose, with the consent of the Council, to invite that representative to participate in the discussion, without the right to vote, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter and rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.
There being no objection, it is so decided.
I invite the representative of Albania to take a seat at the Council table and to make his statement.
I am honoured to speak today at this formal meeting of Security Council on the renewal of the mandate of the Stabilization Force (SFOR) and the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH). On this occasion, I would like to congratulate the Portuguese presidency and you, Mr. President, for conducting in a very skilful manner the work of the Security Council, as well as this debate.
We believe that today’s draft resolution is an important and needed step for further consolidating peace and stability in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. SFOR and UNMIBH, along with the International Police Task Force (IPTF), will together continue to provide a secure environment for another year for the work of reforming the judicial system and establishing a democratic police force in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Two and half years after the Dayton Agreement, it is evident that the goal of restoring peace and building a multi-ethnic society in Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot be reached without the continuous and strong support of the international community, although the final responsibility for achieving this goal remains in the hands of the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In his last report, the High Representative for Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina pointed out,
“Substantial progress has been made in enhancing the climate of reconciliation and tolerance, ensuring freedom of movement and minority returns”,
“the peace process has not yet become irreversible.” [S/1998/314, appendix, para. 4]
In our view, the question of the return of refugees and cooperation with the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia are essential for advancing the process of reconciliation and integration between all parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina. With 1.8 million refugees yet to go home and with unpunished war criminals at large, the peace process remains unsecured and threatened, and justice is not done. It is vital for the international community, in cooperation with the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the countries of the region, to ensure the safe return of refugees to their homes and properties and the surrender of war criminals to the Hague Tribunal.
The extension of the mandate of SFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a necessary step in the light of today’s situation in the Balkan area and the deepening of the crisis in the Kosovo region. The policy of conflict and “ethnic cleansing”, the deterioration of the situation in Kosovo and the massive flow of ethnic Albanian refuges from Kosovo into Albania as a result of violence and genocide used against them show that the Dayton process was an imposed victory of the international community over uncivilized nationalism and the policy of force.
This is why we are in favour not only of the extension of the mandate of SFOR, but also of energetic action by the international community to prevent a second tragedy like Bosnia from taking place in the Balkans. It is now time for the international community to be more united and determined to stop the “ethnic cleansing” in Kosovo and to find a peaceful and workable solution to calm the situation and to resolve the conflict in Kosovo. This action will strengthen the peace process in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the implementation of the Dayton Agreement, as well as peace and stability in the Balkan region.
I thank the representative of Albania for his kind words addressed to me.
With the concurrence of members of the Council I intend to suspend the meeting now.
It is my understanding that the Council is ready to vote on the draft resolution before it. Unless I hear any objection, I shall put the draft resolution to the vote.
There being no objection, it is so decided.
I shall first give the floor to those members of the Council who wish to make statements before the voting.
Today the Security Council has convened to consider the item on the agenda entitled “The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina”. This is an important question, and we hope that our discussion and the draft resolution to be adopted will make a contribution to the settlement of this question. Transcending the framework of this topic, particularly with dubious comparisons and allegories that are difficult to understand, clearly will not further this cause.
Despite the advances achieved in implementing the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina, the rate of progress in this process remains inadequate. This situation cannot satisfy the international community, which has made a large-scale political effort and expended significant material resources.
The keys to successfully completing the settlement process in Bosnia and Herzegovina and achieving an effective post-conflict rehabilitation of the country remain in the hands of the Bosnian parties themselves. This is precisely why, as was indicated recently at the meeting of the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board in Luxembourg, the international community expects prompt, concrete steps from them particularly as regards ensuring the effectiveness of joint Government institutions.
Of concern is the volume of problems persisting in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The constructive approaches on the part of the new Government of the Republika Srpska need to be consolidated. The Bosnian parties have been sent a clear and unequivocal signal.
The current level of international support in the political, economic and military spheres will not continue indefinitely. At the same time, such support at this stage continues to be extremely vital to bolster the positive impetus of the process of a Bosnian settlement.
An extremely important area of international assistance continues to be the work of the multinational Stabilization Force (SFOR) and the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH), which includes the International Police Task Force (IPTF). Consensus on the need to extend their respective mandates, which has been reached by the international community with the consent of the Bosnian parties, is reflected in the draft resolution under consideration today, of which the Russian Federation is a sponsor. The extension of the mandates provided for in this draft is limited to a period of one year, after which the Security Council will again review the situation, taking into account the implementation of the Peace Agreement and developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
An important guarantee for the success of SFOR and IPTF is their strict compliance in practice with the mandates established by the Security Council for these operations. We are convinced that SFOR cannot and must not assume any police functions whatsoever.
The adoption of the draft resolution will make it possible for UNMIBH and IPTF to continue their important work in restructuring and training local police forces, together with the useful work to help establish a viable democratic judiciary in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Ensuring the continuation of a phased and orderly return of refugees and displaced persons is an urgent task. On this front, it is important to have recourse to well-known alternative decisions. The Russian Federation, as an active party to international efforts to promote a Bosnian settlement, will continue to make a constructive, practical contribution to resolving outstanding problems in this area and to make Bosnia and Herzegovina a unified, democratic and multi-ethnic State.
My delegation is pleased to observe the steady progress made recently in the peace process in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The introduction of the new national flag, passport, common currency and licence plate for vehicles, as well as the adoption of important laws related to the economic activities of the country, are examples of this progress. Also, a positive trend is discernible, for example, in the general economic situation throughout the country and in the political climate in Republika Srpska.
Having said that, we must also admit that many of those developments have been achieved mainly through the affirmative will and initiative of the international community, and there remain a number of issues yet to be resolved. Ultimately, the responsibility for the establishment of lasting peace lies with the parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina themselves. In this regard, my delegation endorses the view set out in the declaration of the Ministerial Meeting of the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council, which was held on 9 June in Luxembourg:
“the implementation of the Peace Agreement is characterized by both substantive progress but also an inadequate rate of implementation”.
Promotion of the return of refugees and displaced persons, more effective functioning of the common institutions, fostering free and fair media, greater cooperation with the Hague Tribunal — these are the main issues which must be addressed, primarily by the parties themselves, without further delay. The parties in Bosnia should redouble their efforts in this direction.
The nationwide elections, to be held in September this year under the supervision of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, will be a significant milestone towards the achievement of a peaceful future Bosnia. But free and fair elections can be conducted only if a safe and secure environment is ensured by the parties, in cooperation with the relevant international institutions. Japan will dispatch supervisors and observers to the September elections, as it did at the time of the two previous nationwide elections.
Under these circumstances, the Government of Japan believes that the continued presence of UNMIBH, including IPTF, in Bosnia is indispensable. Japan highly appreciates the role played by UNMIBH, and especially by IPTF, in monitoring the activities of the local police forces, in their restructuring and in other fields. My delegation also considers it meaningful that UNMIBH will be engaged in an aspect of judicial reform in the country and appreciates the positive consideration by the Secretary-General of this issue.
Japan is also convinced that the presence of the Stabilization Force (SFOR) remains an essential factor in the maintenance of stability in Bosnia. SFOR is providing safety and security not only to the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina but also to UNMIBH and IPTF, as well as to other international workers. We therefore welcome the recent decision by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to continue the activities of SFOR.
Based upon these considerations, my delegation will vote in favour of the draft resolution before us, which extends the mandate of UNMIBH, including IPTF, and authorizes the activities of SFOR for one additional year.
I should like to close by expressing the deep appreciation of my Government to all the men and women working for UNMIBH, IPTF, SFOR and other international bodies and non-governmental organizations for their efforts and dedication in carrying out their important mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Let me first state that my delegation associates itself fully with the statement made earlier today by the representative of the United Kingdom on behalf of the European Union.
Less than three years ago, Bosnia and Herzegovina was a country in flames. In the summer of 1995, intense fighting was going on in large parts of Bosnia, the policy of “ethnic cleansing” showed its ugly face in Srebenica and the shelling of innocent civilians reached a horrible climax at the Sarajevo market.
Since then, Bosnia and Herzegovina and its people have come a long way. The Dayton Peace Agreement laid the foundation for a better future. In implementing that Agreement, day by day and step by step, the hope for a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Bosnia is steadily growing.
So far, progress has been made possible by the strong support, and often active intervention, of the international community. It is now time for the current political leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as for those who aspire to be elected in September, to rid themselves of their old way of ethnic-oriented thinking and to make the necessary compromises in a spirit of democracy and pluralism.
The international community has made a long-term commitment to peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The draft resolution we are about to adopt today, extending the authorization of the international Stabilization Force (SFOR) and the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH), including the International Police Task Force (IPTF), is a clear demonstration of this commitment. As indicated in paragraph 10 of the draft resolution, the Council stands ready to extend the authorization of SFOR further in the light of developments.
SFOR and UNMIBH, with IPTF, both have key roles in the peace-implementation process. The SFOR military presence is absolutely crucial in providing the secure environment necessary for all civilian efforts. IPTF’s work to restructure local police and to build a democratic Bosnian public-security capability will in time reduce the need for an international security presence. The two missions are complementary in a truly multidimensional peacekeeping effort. Their fruitful cooperation, in close coordination with the High Representative, is commendable.
That cooperation will be particularly important during the forthcoming period, which will be marked by the return of refugees and displaced persons to the so-called minority areas.
Another important aspect of peace-building in Bosnia is the programme for judicial reform coordinated by the High Representative. In this context, Sweden supports the recommendations of the Secretary-General and the High Representative concerning an UNMIBH-led court-monitoring programme. We look forward to the Council expeditiously returning to this issue, as stated in its resolution 1168 (1998).
Sweden will continue to support fully the peace implementation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This will be done nationally, through the European Union and through the United Nations, and not least by the continued participation of some 500 Swedish soldiers in SFOR and 50 civilian police in IPTF.
Finally, let me say that Sweden welcomes the fact that Bosnia and Herzegovina has started on a path leading towards closer integration into European structures. The process is still very fragile and developments in Bosnia will merit close attention. The democratic elections in September, under the supervision of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, will be an occasion to lay the groundwork for taking this process further. We urge the leaders and the people of Bosnia to seize this opportunity.
The activities carried out under the umbrella of the Dayton Agreements in Bosnia and Herzegovina through the multinational Stabilization Force (SFOR) and the International Police Task Force (IPTF) constitute an ambitious mobilization of military and police support for the stabilization of a member State which is only slowly recovering from the deep wounds of the most serious conflict in Europe since the Second World War.
There have been encouraging signs regarding the internal evolution in Bosnia, particularly since a new Republika Srpska leadership has shown a more cooperative attitude. On the other hand, recent episodes of violence associated with minority returns are to be strongly deplored, while local instances of intransigence in certain cantons and municipalities and obstruction in the adoption of the common licence plate are simply inadmissible.
Attentive international vigilance is still required. While reaffirming our support for United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) and IPTF activity in Bosnia, on the understanding that the situation does not yet allow for a withdrawal of SFOR or a modification of its Chapter VII mandate, we continue to believe that a regular detailed appraisal of the situation on the ground remains indispensable.
The tri-monthly reports on UNMIBH, which we expect to continue receiving in the future, as well as the monthly reports on the multinational Stabilization Force, should allow us to monitor Bosnia closely, with a view to evaluating the advances made in the months ahead. It is essential that the Security Council continue to press for full compliance by the parties with the Dayton agreements. Cooperation from countries in the region, in particular from the Republic of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, will remain of paramount importance.
We envisage the renewal of the Security Council’s authorization for the presence of SFOR in Bosnia and the extension of IPTF’s mandate as the expression of a joint long-term commitment by the international community to establish an irreversible peace in Bosnia, as called for by the Secretary-General in his report. It would be counterproductive and undesirable, however, to interpret “long-term” as meaning indefinite or open-ended. Let us hope that in the 12-month period ahead of us Bosnia will make sufficient progress in overcoming its internal divisions so as to be able to gradually free itself from an international armed presence.
Our own historical experience has persuaded us that tolerance among different ethnic and religious strands is a stronger and longer-lasting cement for nation-building than weapons or police activity. As democratic pluralism based on tolerance takes root in Bosnia and elsewhere in the Balkans, the emphasis currently placed on military and public-security issues should progressively shift to economic and social development, institutional consolidation and cultural revival. We are convinced that this is the wish of the majority of Bosnians, young and old, irrespective of their ethnic or religious backgrounds.
The Secretary-General’s recommendation that the mandate of UNMIBH/IPTF be extended for an additional one-year period, along with that of SFOR, has been justified as necessary in the light of the relative fragility of the complex reconciliation process in Bosnia. Our understanding is that this recommendation is in line with the consensus in the Council. We will join in that consensus.
Allow me at the outset to express our deepest thanks to the Secretary-General for his useful report concerning the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH). We should also like to pay tribute to the Swedish delegation for drafting the draft resolution now before us.
The presence of UNMIBH in the field has played a large role in the achievement of an atmosphere of stability and peace and Bosnia and Herzegovina. That role has increased lately, which pleases us.
A great deal of progress has been made in the restructuring of police forces in the Federation and in the Republika Srpska. That progress has been closely linked to the comprehensive progress in the implementation of peace, although some difficulties and obstacles remain — as was, in any case, to be expected. We hope that the efforts of the Mission in training police forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina and restructuring police forces in the Federation and in the Republika Srpska will succeed.
On another front, the International Police Task Force (IPTF) has been making strenuous efforts in cooperation with the Stabilization Force (SFOR) to implement the Operation Harvest programme, through which individuals who hand over weapons in their possession to SFOR or IPTF are granted immunity. My delegation welcomes the achievement made in this field, whereby SFOR has been able to collect 6,799 mines as well as tens of thousands of weapons and related equipment. This is most encouraging indeed.
My delegation expresses its regret regarding the incidents that have taken place in the last three months, including acts of violence against refugees and returnees, as well as other incidents that have taken place from time to time in various parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We urge the officials concerned to take the necessary measures to avoid any further incidents of this kind.
On the other hand, my delegation supports the close cooperation between UNMIBH and other international organizations, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, particularly within the framework of preparations for the national elections scheduled for 13 September 1998.
My delegation expresses its great appreciation to the United Nations system for its efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as for the important role undertaken by related agencies and organizations.
My delegation urges all parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina to closely implement the Dayton Peace Agreement with regard to setting up the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and to cooperation with the international community, as represented by the United Nations, its missions and the various bodies acting in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
My delegation reaffirms its support for the important role played by UNMIBH, SFOR and the IPTF, and wishes to stress its support for efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Coordinator of United Nations Operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the important role of the Commissioner of the International Police Task Force.
While reaffirming its support for the Dayton Agreement, Bahrain wishes to renew its condemnation of all repressive Serbian practices and of the excessive use of military force against other ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We condemn in particular crimes committed against Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In that regard, my country believes that all Serbian war criminals must be prosecuted for their crimes, as an example to others. This is especially true because what took place in Bosnia also takes place elsewhere; witness, for example, the ongoing events in Kosovo, which is now the scene of excessive Serbian violence against Kosovar Albanians.
In conclusion, my delegation supports the draft resolution before the Council today, by which the Council would decide to extend the mandate of UNMIBH for an additional period terminating on 21 June 1999. We shall vote in favour of the draft resolution.
The United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) has contributed significantly to the progress in the peace process in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As one of the participating countries, Kenya is proud to be associated with that process. The Mission’s activities of monitoring, advising and training the local police have had a very positive effect, inter alia, in creating an atmosphere conducive to freedom of movement. The introduction of a common license plate, which has brought about a fundamental change towards increased freedom of movement, is a case in point.
While welcoming these positive developments, my delegation is concerned that violent incidents directed at returning refugees and displaced persons have been on the increase in the last three months. We call upon all the parties to take advantage of the United Nations presence in order to consolidate peace and reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
My delegation has always reiterated that economic development is an integral part of any peace process. In this regard, we commend the efforts of the United Nations system and the World Bank in trying to bring about progress in major sectors of the economy. Although much has been achieved, much more remains to be done. The support of the international community, therefore, remains necessary for Bosnia and Herzegovina to consolidate the progress made so far.
Finally, my delegation supports the recommendation of the Secretary-General that the mandate of UNMIBH be extended for an additional period terminating on 21 June 1999. We agree with his observation that such a renewal would be a demonstration by the international community of its long-term commitment to the peace process in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We shall therefore vote in favour of the draft resolution before us.
Building a firm and lasting peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a process that requires meticulousness and great care, and one that has been undertaken in difficult circumstances. As the Secretary-General notes in his most recent report, it requires patience and persistence. At this post-conflict stage, when Bosnia and Herzegovina and the international community are trying to build for the future, we can view the true dimensions of the confrontation, which rent asunder the country’s entire political and administrative structure and fractured coexistence among the inhabitants to the extent that it virtually disappeared.
These difficult circumstances in which peace-building is taking place in Bosnia and Herzegovina call for an appropriate national and international effort, because the breakdown is of such magnitude that it demands a massive rebuilding effort in all areas of the State and of society. A prerequisite for this process to succeed is that the parties fulfil all their obligations, in particular the local authorities, which must once and for all adopt a constructive attitude in accordance with what was agreed at Dayton. If the national and local authorities refuse to fulfil those obligations, the international presence in the country will have very little meaning.
Costa Rica therefore takes the view that a sound approach has been taken with respect to the functions of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH). Its goal is essentially to lend momentum to the establishment and strengthening of genuine local and national administrative structures, which will promote and guarantee social integration, national reconciliation and the rule of law.
Here I wish to refer to two points of interest to my delegation. Costa Rica is of the view that the question of policing is of particular importance in this sphere; it should therefore continue to be the object of special attention aimed both at supervising the daily activities of the police forces and at building for the future. In both areas, emphasis should be placed on finding ways to integrate the composition of the forces to guarantee the inclusion of members of the various ethnic groups. It is also essential that the conduct of the police in Bosnia and Herzegovina to meet satisfactory standards that are in accord with European norms for the maintenance of public order with full respect for the human rights of all the country’s inhabitants.
Along these same lines, I wish to refer to the administration of justice at the national level. The point in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not merely speedy and complete justice; it goes beyond that, and is closely bound up with trust and credibility. Reconciliation and integration in Bosnia and Herzegovina requires the existence of a judicial system that is autonomous, effective and, above all, trustworthy and credible for the entire population. We believe that UNMIBH’s role of supervision and training is proper, and we trust that there will be positive results in the near future.
All of us here agree that the tasks before us in Bosnia and Herzegovina are not easy ones. They require patience, which, of course, implies time and stability. We therefore agree with the Secretary-General’s proposal to extend the mandate of UNMIBH for an additional 12 months. We hope that during that time the Mission will continue to follow the effective course it has followed thus far; this will require constant political and material support from the international community.
Costa Rica will therefore vote in favour of the draft resolution before us today.
Essentially, all that we are trying to achieve through the draft resolution before us is to give ourselves the necessary legal framework within which to continue, together with the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the long-term process of rebuilding civil society in that country. The key element in this whole process involves the safe return of all refugees and displaced persons.
Rebuilding a civil society goes hand in glove with the restoration of law and order so that there is security and justice for all.
This is what the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) has been mandated to do, in close collaboration with the International Police Task Force (IPTF) and the Stabilization Force (SFOR). Initially, UNMIBH was concentrating primarily on monitoring, observing and reporting; but with reasonable progress the emphasis is now shifting to training of the local police. This takes time, and we are therefore not surprised that in the report of the Secretary-General it is stated that police reform needs patience and persistence.
In addition to that, and despite the substantial progress achieved so far, some serious incidents of arson, physical assault, murder and harassment have been reported. In fact, in the Secretary-General’s report it is indicated that there has been an increase in such violent incidents directed against minority groups in particular. In order to ensure that the Bosnian authorities create an environment free from these hostilities, we share the Secretary-General’s view that the success of the programmes in Bosnia and Herzegovina will depend upon the ability of the international community to secure the compliance of the parties with their commitment in the Peace Agreement.
In the light of the foregoing, therefore, and in view of the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the presence of a credible military force is a precondition for the effective implementation of the mandate of UNMIBH and for further progress in the peace process in general, my delegation will vote in favour of the draft resolution calling for the extension of the mandate of UNMIBH.
I would first of all like to pay tribute to the Secretary-General for the quality of his report of 10 June 1998 (S/1998/491). The content of that report allows us to gauge all aspects of the progress made in the resolution of the conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Indeed, we have noted with satisfaction the progress made by the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) in the training of local police, as well as in implementing the programme of restructuring those forces. These noteworthy advances clearly demonstrate that the pertinent resolutions of the Security Council have been taken into account and have been implemented by all the international actors involved in the quest for a solution to this crisis. I am thinking in particular of paragraph 5 of resolution 1144 (1997) of 19 December 1997, which reads as follows:
“Urges also Member States to provide training, equipment and related assistance for local police forces in coordination with the IPTF, recognizing that resources are critical to the success of the police reform efforts of the IPTF”.
Nevertheless, serious obstacles stemming from disagreements between the Croatian authorities and UNMIBH at various levels are likely to jeopardize the peace process, as is the increase in recent months of violent incidents aimed at refugees and displaced persons, particularly at members of minority groups. In this connection, we urge all the parties to cooperate unfailingly with UNMIBH in order to contribute to the full achievement of the objectives of the Peace Agreement and to ensure the security of the Mission’s personnel.
It is only through sustained dialogue and mutual concessions that the parties in conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina will be able to achieve a lasting political settlement. My delegation will vote in favour of the draft resolution before us in order to support the efforts of UNMIBH.
Today the Security Council is extending the authorization for the multinational Stabilization Force (SFOR) and the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH), including the International Police Task Force (IPTF). In so doing, the Council once again reaffirms the international community’s commitment to help build a lasting peace in the former Yugoslavia.
In the last two years, SFOR and UNMIBH have been critical to the implementation of the long-term process agreed by the parties in the Dayton/Paris accords. Today, war is a receding memory, but the peace remains fragile. SFOR and IPTF continue to provide the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the security and confidence they need to move forward in the difficult tasks which still lie ahead.
My Government would like to state once again its appreciation to the men and women who have served with SFOR and UNMIBH and to the Governments which have cooperated to make these operations successful. The United States also expresses its appreciation to the High Representative and his colleagues, as well as the representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. We also recognize the critical role of the non-governmental organizations and private individuals who are working to consolidate the peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and throughout the region.
Much work remains, however, and this will take time. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has adopted a series of benchmarks to measure progress in the overall implementation of the Peace Agreement. Meeting the benchmarks will permit progressive reductions in the size and profile of the Force.
We reiterate that the primary responsibility for the implementation of the Peace Agreement rests with the parties themselves. Bosnia and Herzegovina must take responsibility for its future and prepare to stand on its own. We call on all the parties to the Peace Agreement to redouble their efforts to implement the Agreement and abandon patterns of procrastination, obstructionism and minimal compliance with Dayton. Full cooperation with the International Tribunal, the return of refugees and the strengthening of joint institutions are key.
Despite problems, there are hopeful signs. This is especially true since the election of moderate leadership in the Republika Srpska. The political and economic influence of indicted war criminals in the Republika Srpska have been significantly reduced, and the State-run media have been restructured. The local police are now cooperating with IPTF restructuring and reform programmes, matching the progress already achieved in restructuring the Federation police forces. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, police restructuring and training — together with the issuance of new common licence plates — are facilitating freedom of movement across the inter-entity boundary line. There is a new Bosnian flag, and a new common passport has been issued. A provisional currency will begin to circulate very soon.
Since the war ended, over 400,000 refugees and displaced persons have returned home, and 170,000 of those returned in 1997 alone. We will continue to press for accelerated returns of the remaining refugees and displaced persons, particularly to areas where they are in the ethnic minority. This process is slow, complex and often dangerous, but the goal of minority returns can be achieved.
We particularly welcome the creation within SFOR of a multinational specialized unit, to be led by Italy, which will enhance SFOR’s ability to support the local authorities in responding to civil disorder. This, in turn, will assist in the return of refugees and displaced persons, as well as in the installation of elected officials.
There have been many achievements in the past year, particularly the successful holding of municipal elections and the installation of democratically elected local officials in all but one of the 136 municipalities. The nationwide elections scheduled for September 1998 provide an opportunity for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina to exercise their democratic right to vote in support of Bosnia’s future and to reject the politics of the past. With new and courageous leadership committed to the ideals and principles enunciated in Dayton, Bosnia can look forward to a future of peace and prosperity.
In voting in favour of this draft resolution, the United States reaffirms its commitment to consolidating peace in Bosnia and to the international community’s efforts to help the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina build a secure and democratic society.
Slovenia cosponsored the draft resolution submitted for action to the Security Council today and supports the extension of the mandates of the Stabilization Force (SFOR) and of the United Nations operations and activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In addition, we would like to take this opportunity to refer to some of the basic aspects of the peace process in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
It is encouraging to note that the necessary building blocks of statehood are being put in place in Bosnia and Herzegovina and that we seem be approaching the point of irreversibility in the peace process. However, some essential conditions for achieving lasting peace still need to be met: the return of refugees and displaced persons, reconciliation, comprehensive minority protection, the democratization of society and institutions, and economic recovery. The United Nations has and will continue to have an important role in fulfilling all of these conditions.
The return of refugees is the single most important task in 1998. There are still more than 1.4 million refuges and displaced persons. Only about 100,000 have returned so far, most of them to areas where their national group is now a majority. Comprehensive refugee return, especially minority return, is, however, crucial to lasting peace. The role of the International Police Task Force (IPTF) in democratizing and monitoring the reformed local police is of the greatest importance. We expect that the necessary security backing for the returning refugees will be provided by the enhanced SFOR ability to respond to civil disorder.
Political democratization is another important condition for irreversible peace and one closely linked to refugee return. The elections scheduled to take place in September this year will therefore have a special significance.
Another important aspect of the effort to build a democratic society is national reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Reconciliation is also a conditio sine qua non of lasting peace. In this regard, we are pleased to note that the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has taken steps to establish its coordination office in Banja Luka and that cooperation with the Tribunal is at last gaining momentum. The improved cooperation of Bosnian Serbs with the Tribunal is welcome but not yet sufficient. More needs to be done to bring the remaining indictees before the Court. The process of reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina will be significantly constrained until all war criminals, including the major ones, are brought to justice.
An additional and essential segment of national reconciliation is the need to clarify the fate of more than 19,000 missing persons, including the fate of 7,000 citizens from the United Nations designated “safe area” of Srebrenica.
We note with satisfaction that the international community has initiated its engagement in the development of an educational curriculum that will eliminate hate propaganda in history and language. We share the view of the Secretary-General that this is one of the key future tasks in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We would like to restate again that, in this context, special attention should be paid to the policy of minority schooling and, in that regard, the policy of equality of use of both scripts should be effectively pursued.
Demining is one of the areas that Slovenia considers an especially important condition for the return of refugees. Against that background, the Government of Slovenia established the International Trust Fund for Demining and Assistance to Mine Victims in Bosnia and Herzegovina in March this year. I am pleased to inform the Council that the Fund will start its activities by the end of this month, June 1998.
SFOR has made a decisive contribution to peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina. But despite encouraging progress made recently in the implementation of many aspects of the Peace Dayton Agreement of 1995, a number of critical problems remain. Therefore, we welcome and support the commitment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to assist further in the implementation of the Peace Agreement. Slovenia itself will continue to participate in SFOR activities in the future.
IPTF is making an important contribution to lasting peace and to respect for human rights in the country. IPTF has a crucial role in building a democratic police force, in monitoring local police operational activities and in investigating human rights abuses. We would like to stress the importance that IPTF continue with the independent investigations in human rights violations. The present draft resolution gives IPTF the necessary authorization for that. IPTF has so far made a significant contribution to efforts in the field of human rights. However, we cannot ignore the facts that IPTF monitors have on several occasions failed to adequately respond to human rights abuses; that monitors have frequently not been aware of their authority to conduct human rights investigations independently of local police; that many monitors have no professional background in human rights investigations; and that monitors have not received sufficient training. These and other anomalies were reported recently by Human Rights Watch. The recommendations made in the report by that organization are useful.
We believe that the successful implementation of the tasks of IPTF rests on the quality, experience and professional skills of its personnel. Therefore, we support the determination of the IPTF Commissioner to provide the best personnel for such important tasks that the international community assigned and Bosnian authorities entrusted to IPTF.
The role of the United Nations remains very important in a wide variety of areas of work: refugees, police, the Tribunal, human rights monitoring, and assistance. The Security Council should continue to maintain oversight of all these activities and help with the appropriate decisions within its competences.
In closing, I wish to express the appreciation of Slovenia to NATO-SFOR and the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s IPTF. Their role in the realization of the essential tasks for durable peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina is fundamental. We hope that, within the extended mandates, decisive progress will be made in the months to come.
China is very concerned about the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The achievement of peace in that country has significant implications for the stability of the entire region of the former Yugoslavia.
Since the Peace Agreement was signed over two years ago, the situation in that country has generally developed in a positive direction. The parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the help of the international community, are seriously committed to national reconciliation and reconstruction. All this is gratifying to us.
We have always believed that only the people of the various ethnic groups of Bosnia and Herzegovina can ensure full reconciliation and lasting peace there. We believe that the Bosnian parties can take the long-term interests of their country into account, establish mutual confidence and make common efforts to solve the problems in the implementation of the Peace Agreement, especially the question of the return of refugees. They can lay a sound political basis for their national economic and social reconstruction.
In principle, we support the idea that the international community should make an active effort to help the Bosnian parties to reach their goals of peace and development. We have noted that the activities of the regional organizations currently involved in Bosnia and Herzegovina are carried out in accordance with the requests of and on the basis of consultations with the parties in that country. We hope that, as the situation continues to stabilize, the newly established unified administrations and institutions will play larger roles at various levels.
I wish to reiterate that China’s reservations about the invocation of Chapter VII of the Charter and the authorization of the use of force contained in the draft resolution before us remain unchanged. We still believe that, in implementing the mandate set out by the Security Council, the Stabilization Force (SFOR) must not misuse force. Moreover, Chapter VII, as invoked in the draft resolution, is not applicable to the parts concerning the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the International Police Task Force.
In view of all this, considering the requests of the parties concerned and based on our support for peace, reconciliation and reconstruction in Bosnia and Herzegovina, my delegation will vote in favour of the draft resolution before us.
I also wish to point out that, in implementing the actions authorized by the Security Council’s resolutions, SFOR must accept in earnest the political guidance of the Security Council, strictly respect its obligations and report promptly to the Council on the implementation of its tasks.
I shall now make a statement in my capacity as representative of Portugal.
I would like to express Portugal’s full support for the draft resolution before the Council, which gives effect to the recommendation contained in the report of the Secretary-General with regard to the extension of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) and the International Police Task Force (IPTF).
Portugal shares the belief that the long-term commitment of the international community to the peace process in Bosnia must be reaffirmed through its continued support of the peace implementation process by UNMIBH and IPTF and continued security arrangements provided by the Stabilization Force (SFOR).
On the other hand, this commitment must be matched by Bosnians themselves, who must increasingly assume responsibility for their future together in peace. Portugal participates fully in UNMIBH, IPTF and SFOR, and stands ready to continue to do so. My delegation, of course, associates itself fully with the statement made by the United Kingdom on behalf of the European Union.
I now resume my functions as President of the Security Council.
I shall now put to the vote the draft resolution contained in document S/1998/502.
favour=15 against=0 abstain=0 absent=0
Bahrain, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, France, Gabon, Gambia, Japan, Kenya, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States
There were 15 votes in favour. The draft resolution has been adopted unanimously as resolution 1174 (1998).
The Security Council has thus concluded the present stage of its consideration of the item on its agenda.