Security Council meeting 4188

Date15 August 2000
S-PV-4188 2000-08-15 10:30 15 August 2000 [[15 August]] [[2000]] /

The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The meeting was called to order at 10.50 a.m.

Adoption of the agenda

The agenda was adopted.

The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The President

In the absence of objection, I shall take it that the Security Council agrees to extend an invitation under rule 39 of its provisional rules of procedure to Mr. Bernard Miyet, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.

There being no objection, it is so decided.

I invite Mr. Miyet to take a seat at the Council table.

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.

At this meeting, the Security Council will hear a briefing by Mr. Miyet, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. I give him the floor.

Mr. Miyet (Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations)

We appreciate your request, Mr. President, for a briefing on the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH), since this gives us the opportunity to provide Council members with a progress report on this Mission, as was suggested by Council members during the last round of consultations on UNMIBH in June.

Council members will recall that the Secretary-General, in his last report on UNMIBH, which has been circulated as document S/2000/529, identified police restructuring, police reform and strengthening of the common institutions in the police sector as the main priorities for UNMIBH. I will therefore focus my briefing on these issues.

In the context of police restructuring, the International Police Task Force (IPTF) Commissioner has reduced the allowed maximum police strength in the Federation by about 1,000, to 10,600, because of the introduction of the State Border Service and reduced needs in some of the smaller Federation cantons. Meanwhile, registrations of police officers continue, and since 2 June 2000 more than 2,800 additional officers have been registered. The Mission is on track to conclude the full registration process by mid-December 2000, resulting in the first transparent and comprehensive Law Enforcement Personnel Registry in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In parallel to the registration of the current police officers, UNMIBH continues to assist local authorities in fulfilling their obligations to ensure adequate minority representation in their police forces. This is being done by means of, first, the recruitment of minority cadets for the police academies; secondly, the voluntary redeployment of existing minority officers between entities; and, thirdly, encouragement for displaced and refugee former police officers to return to their pre-war homes and rejoin local police forces. In total, nearly 450 minority officers are currently attending or have graduated from the two academies, and 130 minority officers have been identified for redeployment across entity lines.

To promote police reform, UNMIBH has continued its efforts to establish police commissioners in the Federation police, in order to create a professional, non-partisan, civil-service type of leadership for the police and insulate it from the direct political influence of the Ministries of the Interior. In canton 9 (Sarajevo), which was selected as a pilot project, the appropriate laws have now been adopted, and in canton 6 (Central Bosnia), canton 2 (Posavina), and the Federation and the Republika Srpska Ministries of the Interior, preparatory work has commenced.

With regard to inter-entity police cooperation and the strengthening of the common institutions, a major initiative was taken on 27 June with the establishment of Joint Entity Task Forces on Illegal Immigration and Organized Crime through the Ministerial Consultative Meeting on Police Matters. In practical terms, the Doboj Public Security Centre in the Republika Srpska and the canton 2 (Posavina) Ministry of the Interior in the Federation cooperated to break up a group involved in drug smuggling and the production of counterfeit deutsche marks. In the Federation, Croat and Bosniac officers started to cooperate in the formerly divided Mostar police in carrying out the joint investigation and subsequent arrest of a group producing counterfeit passports.

Inter-entity police cooperation was admirably demonstrated at the commemoration of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. Weeks of preparation, led by UNMIBH and closely coordinated with the Stabilization Force (SFOR), ensured a peaceful event that was attended by more than 3,000 people. The Zvornik Public Security Centre in the Republika Srpska and the canton 3 (Tuzla) Ministry of the Interior in the Federation had drafted and implemented detailed security plans, and during the event the IPTF monitored more than 700 Republika Srpska police officers who were deployed to the area and were deemed particularly effective.

spoke in French
Mr. Miyet (Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations)

A visible and significant step towards building State institutions was the inauguration of the State Border Service entry point at the Sarajevo airport on 6 June. Similarly, in late July and early August this same, new Border Service opened three additional crossing points at Doljani/Metkovic, in an area that was formerly controlled by Croatian police; at Izacic, which was formerly controlled by Bosniac police; and at Zvornik, which was formerly controlled by Serb police. There are now 358 officers assigned to the State Border Service. Of this total, 176, or 49 per cent, are Bosniacs; 114, or 32 per cent, are Serbs; 67, or 19 per cent, are Croats; and there is one “other”. The opening of the Border Service has enabled the authorities and UNMIBH to gather reliable data on movements through the Sarajevo airport and, in particular, on the apparent organized use of the airport as a point of entry for illegal immigration into Europe.

Meanwhile, UNMIBH’s judicial system assessment programme is finalizing its work. It has concentrated on drafting a set of laws relating to the police and the courts for the Brcko District. Some of these laws have already been adopted. Similarly, the programme has continued with its work to design a methodology for nominating judges and prosecutors by means of the newly established Judicial Review Commissions. This work is being done in close coordination with the Office of the High Representative, which, as Council members know, is expected to assume most of the judicial assessment functions when UNMIBH’s mandate in this area expires in the fall of this year.

Finally, it can be reported that the returns of minority refugees and displaced persons continue to show progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina. These include, in particular, returns to areas that were formerly considered hard-line in the Republika Srpska, with 300 Bosnian families having returned to the Prijedor, Doboj, Visegrad and Foca municipalities. All in all, over the last six months, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has registered over 19,500 minority internally displaced persons and refugees returning to Bosnia and Herzegovina, compared to just over 2,000 returns registered in the same period last year. Thus, the increase is very marked here — from 2,000 last year to more than 19,500 this year. Some Governments, in particular those of the United States and Germany, have provided additional resources to encourage and sustain this return movement.

For its part, in order to facilitate this movement, UNMIBH continues to advise the local police on setting up security plans and at the same time monitors the implementation of these plans, which is generally considered to be satisfactory thus far. UNMIBH is also working very closely within the Republika Srpska and the cantonal Ministries of the Interior to identify and resolve cases of illegal double activities of police officers.

In short, and by way of assessment, it can be noted that UNMIBH continues to move ahead positively in the implementation of its mandate. There has been progress in all areas, including inter-entity law enforcement arrangements and growing day-to-day cooperation between the Ministers of the Interior of the Federation and of the Republika Srpska. State institutions such as the State Border Service are beginning to function, judicial reform is slowly gaining ground and restructuring continues in all the entity police forces. However, although UNMIBH has instituted mechanisms for minority recruitment of police officers, still more needs to be done by the local authorities to ensure that adequate levels of minority representation are achieved in local police forces, in line with existing agreements.

The President

I thank Under-Secretary-General Miyet for his succinct, yet comprehensive, briefing.

I shall now give the floor to members of the Council.

Ms. Soderberg (United States)

I would like to express our appreciation for this open meeting on a subject in which the Council and my country have been deeply engaged over the years.

Before turning to the issue at hand, I would like to say a word on another subject, on behalf of Ambassador Holbrooke, who is in Brazil; I would like to make just a brief comment on the outcome of the 14 August Lusaka summit on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While we are disappointed in some aspects, we are encouraged that there was consensus among the non-Congolese signatories on concrete measures that could be taken to further the disengagement of belligerent forces, hasten the withdrawal of foreign forces and implement the national dialogue.

There was broad consensus on a number of key issues, including the restoration of a full and effective ceasefire; full support for the continuation of Sir Ketumile Masire as the facilitator of the inter-Congolese dialogue, with an appeal to the Kinshasa Government to reconsider its opposition; reaffirmation of the Kampala ceasefire agreement; a call for the restoration of the 5 April ceasefire line and for the completion and implementation of the disengagement plan; strong support for the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) from all belligerent parties, except the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and also the Southern African Development Community States’ full endorsement of the need for MONUC to be able to operate freely and without hindrance and to deploy as required.

Unfortunately, there was not consensus on these important points, although I would argue that there is broad consensus in the international community for them. We are disappointed that the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was not a part of the consensus on this document and continues to oppose full implementation of the Lusaka Agreement.

The United States calls on the Government in Kinshasa to honour the agreement it has signed and will join with all the other parties to the conflict in a cooperative resolution to the Congolese conflict.

The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo must lend its full support to the Lusaka process and desist from its efforts to hinder the work of former President Masire and the implementation of the national dialogue. It must provide the requisite security guarantees, access and cooperation that will enable the United Nations to deploy its peacekeepers.

The United States remains committed to assisting in the Lusaka process. The Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement is the most viable means for bringing an end to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the United States strongly supports it. We strongly support MONUC deployment, once adequate conditions of security, cooperation and access have been ensured, and we intend to remain fully engaged on this important issue.

I appreciate the indulgence of my colleagues on that issue, but it is one that is of great importance and one that we will be discussing in the Council later this week.

Now let me turn briefly to the subject at hand, the open briefing that we have just had from Mr. Miyet. We appreciate the update.

Five weeks ago, the Council met to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) for another 12 months and to call for a clear strategy for completing the Mission by December 2002. As the Secretary-General makes clear in his latest report, this is a realistic objective that can be reached if we provide UNMIBH with the resources it needs to get the job done.

We welcome this briefing on UNMIBH’s progress since June, and the additional opportunity to discuss the Secretary-General’s report, which, in our view, did not get adequate coverage in June.

My Government supports UNMIBH and the international community’s important priorities: refugee returns, economic reform and the strengthening of State institutions. The United States has set aside significant resources for work in these areas, including $67.2 million to support minority refugee returns and close to $2 million for the new State Border Service. We will also continue our significant contribution, currently more than 10 per cent of the total force, to the International Police Task Force (IPTF).

We also commend the work of UNMIBH’s judicial system assessment program over the last two years. It has highlighted critical problems in the judicial system of Bosnia and made important recommendations.

We welcome the agreement by the Office of the High Representative to establish an independent judicial commission, which will closely monitor and intervene in the upcoming re-vetting process for judges and prosecutors in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as provide oversight for the Bosnian councils which are responsible for their appointment and discipline. We are looking forward to more details as to how and when the handover from the judicial system assessment programme to the new Commission will occur, as well as further information on how the programme will be implemented.

We are encouraged by the positive developments referred to in the Secretary-General’s report. It is inspiring to see the dramatic increase in refugee returns, even of minority groups, to areas that saw some of the most dramatic violence during the war. We are seeing slow but continuing progress in setting up the State Border Service, a key element of the New York Declaration agreed to by members of the Joint Presidency during their appearance in the Council last November.

We need to continue our common efforts to ensure that all of Bosnia’s joint institutions are vigorous and effective.

We are encouraged by signs that the nationalism and hatred of the past are slowly giving way to new respect for democracy and the rule of law.

There is also good news from Croatia, where the new, democratic, Mesi-Racan Government has had a positive impact on the Croat community in Bosnia. We particularly applaud the strong message of support to Croatian moderates delivered by Prime Minister Racan during his recent visit to Bosnia.

But we cannot tolerate continued obstructionism. In that regard, my delegation fully supports aggressive use in Bosnia by the High Representative and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe of the mandates provided by the international community. We applaud efforts to remove or restrain all those standing in the way of Dayton’s full implementation: the war criminals remaining at large, the organized criminals and the nationalist extremists.

Of course, the greatest obstacle to progress in Bosnia, as in the rest of the region, remains in Belgrade. The Belgrade authorities continue to obstruct progress in Bosnia, repress their own people and threaten democracy in Montenegro. The international community’s efforts to bring the Balkans into Europe will never fully succeed until the current regime is gone.

Despite these obstacles, Bosnia is beginning to knit together. Much work remains to be done. We reaffirm our commitment, together with our colleagues in the international community, to see the task through.

Mr. Chowdhury (Bangladesh)

Our thanks go to Under-Secretary-General Bernard Miyet for his briefing and update on the current situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We recall the last briefing on developments there, given in an open meeting of the Council by Special Representative Jacques Paul Klein on 13 June. In May, we also had an occasion to hear from High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch. We found all these briefings very useful and worthwhile.

The Council has extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) until 21 June 2001, against the backdrop of visible and encouraging signs of peace taking root in that country. We note that the security situation has stabilized, the return of refugees and displaced persons is accelerating and political pluralism is gaining strength. All this indicates steady progress towards peace and stability. In this context, we would like to focus on the following four points.

I turn first to the State Border Service. Following the establishment of the first State Border Service entry point, on 6 June at the Sarajevo airport, the State Border Service has been established at a number of other points. This is an appreciable sign of progress. We believe this process will be further accelerated by the adoption of the law on the border service by the Bosnia and Herzegovina Parliament. The authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina should, in coordination with UNMIBH, work to further accelerate the deployment of the State Border Service.

Secondly, with regard to an effective judiciary, an independent and impartial judiciary is a prerequisite for the establishment of the rule of law. Progress in the area of judicial reform must be accelerated. In this context, we consider the strengthening of the Constitutional Court and the establishment of a State court to be among the major priorities. The entity institutions of the country should implement legislation to remove all political influence from the judicial branch. UNMIBH has a key role in the area of consolidating the judicial system, as well as in police restructuring. We are encouraged by the information that Under-Secretary-General Miyet shared with us today on progress in the area of police reform, particularly as regards the involvement of minorities in the police force.

Thirdly, the return of refugees and internally displaced persons remains a real test of commitment to the peace process. Some significant progress has been made recently — and we have also heard from Mr. Miyet about this — particularly in rural areas, although the will of citizens to return to their pre-war homes has not been matched by the actions of authorities at all levels. The progress in urban return is slower. This indicates a necessity to implement property legislation and to enforce the legal rights of all citizens. We encourage the Bosnian authorities to concentrate further on these areas.

Fourthly, with regard to economic reconstruction, some large-scale post-war reconstruction–particularly in the infrastructural sector–has been taking place in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is expected to drive economic growth. In order to achieve the objective of self-sustaining growth, efforts should be concentrated on encouraging private-sector-led development and on creating conditions for a single economic space in the country. The donors should continue their support for achieving these objectives.

We note that some important initiatives have been launched and that some gains have been achieved. But much of the progress will depend on overcoming obstruction and delays. We hope that with the willingness and commitment of all parties concerned and the continued efforts of UNMIBH, considerable progress will be possible in achieving peace and development objectives in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Mr. Doutriaux (France)

I would like to thank Mr. Bernard Miyet for his briefing on Bosnia and Herzegovina. The areas he has covered are indeed the priority issues that emerged during the last Peace Implementation Conference, held at Brussels on 23 and 24 May 2000, namely, speeding up the return of refugees and displaced persons and strengthening common institutions. France would like to express it full support for the work of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH).

The existence of other regional crises must not cause us to distance ourselves from the issues pertaining to Bosnia and Herzegovina. We must remain very attentive to what is happening there, and we must ensure that the necessary resources continue to be devoted to it. In particular, work in the area of police is essential if we wish — and it is both our wish and that of the international community — to establish a State of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or even just a State.

We believe that it is important for the local authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to be more responsible, which is something the international community continues to work towards. Five years after the signing of the Dayton Agreements, the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina must take charge of the future of their country. Moreover, the approach taken by UNMIBH is appropriate: its support is of a transitional nature and is not meant to continue indefinitely.

Allow me to recall the contribution of France to the International Police Task Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina. With 106 policemen, we are the fourth-largest contributor. The European Union is overall the major aid contributor to Bosnia and Herzegovina, having contributed 2.5 billion euros since 1991. I would also note that the French Presidency of the European Union is now making preparations for a summit to be held next fall among countries of the European Union and all the countries of the western Balkans, beginning of course with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Mr. Bernard Miyet has already answered most of the questions I wanted to ask, but I have a few left. My first question has to do with the assessment of the judicial system. Mr. Miyet has told us that after the programme’s anticipated end in December 2000, it will be the responsibility of the High Representative. It is important that the experience gained by the 18 experts in the area of judicial system assessment not be lost. It is therefore very important that the programme continue after December 2000. I just have a question as to how financing will be made available to the programme after December 2000. I understand that the High Representative will be responsible for the programme, but how will its work be carried out? What activities are envisaged by the United Nations Development Programme and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in this area?

My second question relates to refugees and displaced persons. Mr. Miyet gave us some very interesting figures on the marked increase in the number of returns. He also said that the returns are now taking place even in the most sensitive areas, particularly in the Republika Srpska. Can he give us a general breakdown of the returns by entity and by ethnic origin?

Mr. Kuchynski (Ukraine)

We would like to thank Under-Secretary-General Miyet for his very informative, comprehensive and encouraging briefing. Since the adoption of Security Council resolution 1247 (1999), the progress achieved in Bosnia and Herzegovina in furthering the implementation of the Dayton/Paris Peace Agreement has in fact been substantive. We think that a significant contribution to the overall success reached so far by the international community has been made through the strenuous efforts of the United Nations system organizations, headed and coordinated by the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH). My delegation feels that UNMIBH and the International Police Task Force (IPTF), as its core component, continue to play a crucial role in the implementation of the civilian aspects of the Peace Agreement, in particular in establishing the mechanisms for the rule of law.

Ukraine commends the activities carried out by UNMIBH in the fields of police restructuring and reform, building common institutions, establishing a judicial system and ensuring respect for human rights. We acknowledge the professionalism of the IPTF, which carried out the mandate in difficult conditions of reduced authorized strength, mainly because of the additional requirements for Kosovo.

At the same time, we think that much has yet to be done in the field of police minority recruitment in both entities, as well as in providing security to the minority returnees. We also believe that more attention should be paid to accelerating the process of cross-border refugee return to Bosnia and Herzegovina and its neighbouring countries. In our view, one of the major tasks today is to ensure that the leaders and the peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina are totally committed to the implementation of the Peace Agreement in full, while realizing that the future of their country is mainly their responsibility. In this regard, we share certain misgivings expressed at the latest meeting of the Peace Implementation Council in Brussels on the current insufficient level of commitment demonstrated by the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities to the peace process.

It is obvious that there is still a long way to go to make the process of peace, reconciliation, stability and democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina irreversible. In this regard, we believe that the Security Council should continue to give its solid support to the activities of UNMIBH and strongly encourage the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities to demonstrate their firm commitment to the implementation of the Peace Agreement in full cooperation with UNMIBH.

I would like to reiterate Ukraine’s determination, as a contributor to the IPTF, to continue its participation. In conclusion, let me wish further success to all the staff of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina in pursuit of our common strategy aimed at restoring lasting peace and stability in that part of the Balkans.

Mr. Eldon (United Kingdom)

Thank you, Mr. President, for arranging this meeting, and thanks to Under-Secretary-General Miyet for another extremely useful briefing.

It is clear that Bosnia is heading towards a busy autumn, or perhaps I should say fall. General elections will be held in November. The Constitutional Court ruling on the constituent people’s issue and the recently passed and amended law on the Izetbegovi succession will continue to generate strong political debate. The Stabilization Force and the Office of the High Representative are actively working with local leaders on taking forward defence restructuring, and, as Under-Secretary-General Miyet has said, refugee returns are continuing apace and with spontaneous returns in particular raising the temperature locally, although of course it is extremely welcome that the numbers of people returning are going up.

Against this background, the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) and the International Police Task Force (IPTF) are to be particularly commended for their sustained effort. It is very clear that Special Representative Klein and his team deserve our thanks and compliments for a very well-executed programme. Particular congratulations are due for the operational successes they have had, such as the recent opening of more State Border Service posts, to which Under-Secretary-General Miyet and others around the table have referred. But it will be particularly vital for UNMIBH to maintain its pressure on the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities to make real progress in tackling the problems of smuggling, organized crime and illegal immigration. As Ambassador Chowdhury said, progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina often depends on overcoming problems and overcoming delays, and sustained pressure in that area will continue to be vital.

It is also clear from the complex number of issues going on at the moment in Bosnia and Herzegovina that close cooperation and coordination between UNMIBH and the other international organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina will be crucial as the reform agenda moves forward, and I am sure that we can count on Special Representative Klein and his staff to ensure that that cooperation and coordination take place.

Finally, when Special Representative Klein briefed the Council in June, he indicated that UNMIBH had started work on an exit strategy for the Mission, a point to which Ambassador Soderberg also referred. We would welcome more details from Under-Secretary-General Miyet of how this work is progressing, and it would be helpful at an appropriate stage to have sight of a written plan. It is clear that the financial and personnel implications of the exit strategy will need to be carefully considered by the United Kingdom and other contributing countries as early as possible. As work progresses, I should also stress the importance of tying the exit strategy to the achievement of specific objectives. Here again the coordination with other international organizations working in Bosnia and Herzegovina will be crucial.

Mr. van Walsum (Netherlands)

Let me begin by thanking Under-Secretary-General Miyet for his informative briefing.

Five years after Dayton, there is progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but the progress is slow and much remains to be done. One field of rather spectacular progress this year has been that of refugee return to minority areas. This year witnessed the return of three times as many internally displaced persons as the year before. We consider this a very positive development. As refugee return is a sort of yardstick for the assessment of the situation in the minds of displaced persons, this sharp rise testifies to progress achieved in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Unfortunately, we also hear reports on growing tension in the Republika Srpska on the issue of returnees. In this light we reiterate our call on all parties to work towards a democratic and multi-ethnic Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Netherlands is concerned about the relationship between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the financial institutions, especially the World Bank. A review is due on 30 November, and it seems that Bosnia and Herzegovina will have the greatest difficulty in meeting the conditions for further disbursements. The budgets of both the Federation and the Republika Srpska show considerable gaps, amounting to almost 30 per cent of the total. Measures must be taken to address this situation.

We are aware that these budget gaps are partly caused by revenues being much lower than estimated. There may be several reasons for that, but two seem to stand out. One is the weakness of the system of duty and tax collection. There is a clear need for more vigorous enforcement here, but this will be feasible only once the institutional structures of law enforcement and of an effective judicial system are in place. We know that these structures are being set up, but this is a field where progress is slow.

Another reason for the budget deficits is corruption and crime. It has been estimated that every year $500 million of domestic revenue is lost due to smuggling, particularly of cigarettes. Without this loss of revenue there would be no budget deficit. Smuggling on such a huge scale implies that high-level Government officials must be involved.

My delegation is aware of Bosnian efforts to curb corruption and crime, but we feel that much more needs to be done. It is obvious that crime and corruption risk impeding the successful implementation of the Dayton and Paris Peace Agreements. In this connection, it has been pointed out that the country is going through many simultaneous transitions. We grant this, but the conclusion can only be that the Bosnian authorities must redouble their efforts to stamp out crime and corruption. They must be aware that foreign aid is not an infinite commodity.

Mr. Ward (Jamaica)

My delegation joins colleagues in thanking Mr. Bernard Miyet for updating us on the latest developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We recognize the important work being carried out by the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) in establishing mechanisms for the rule of law and in implementing the peace process. We note in particular the efforts of UNMIBH in the area of police reform and restructuring. Of equal importance is the assessment and restructuring of the judicial system. Effective local police and judicial institutions are critical elements in efforts at creating self-sustaining peace. It is therefore important that judicial reform continue to be a priority.

We are encouraged by the briefing we received today. While we recognize that there are still many challenges, we believe that these incremental steps forward demonstrate that progress is possible even under very difficult circumstances. The acceptance of accountability and responsibility by local leaders is crucial to the process, and the ultimate success of UNMIBH’s work will depend on the continued cooperation of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

During the past few weeks we have had encouraging reports of increasing numbers of refugee returns. We are concerned, however, about reports that local authorities have been slow to act on the illegal occupancy of homes of returnees. It has been reported that illegal occupancy is the biggest single barrier to returns. My delegation would like to hear from Mr. Miyet about what steps, if any, are being taken or are contemplated to correct this situation.

Mr. Martinsen (Argentina)

I should like to begin by echoing the thanks conveyed by earlier speakers to the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Bernard Miyet, for the briefing he just gave us on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and on the activities of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH).

At present, certain events and facts permit some optimism about the consolidation of political institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina with a view to building a modern democratic State, five years after the conclusion of the Dayton Accords. Those events include the opening of some State Border Service posts, as mentioned by Mr. Miyet, at Sarajevo, Izacic and other locations. We think this is a particularly significant step in the fight against smuggling and illegal migration.

Another positive fact is that the Council of Ministers has approved the amendment of passport legislation to make possible a single Bosnia and Herzegovina passport. That helps meet one of the commitments made to the Security Council last year by the three members of the Joint Presidency.

My delegation is particularly pleased at Mr. Miyet’s comments on the increased rate of return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes, in particular in areas where there had been the greatest difficulties in this regard.

A matter for regret was that the High Representative felt obliged to remove the Minister of Agriculture, Water Resources and Forestry of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Director of the Federation Tax Administration from their posts in view of their obstructive behaviour, which was hampering the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement. The Council and the international community as a whole should lend full support to the High Representative as he works to build and consolidate joint democratic participatory institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Mr. Chen Xu (China)

We wish first of all to thank the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Miyet, for his briefing. The Chinese delegation notes that there have been some improvements in the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina since the last time the Security Council met on this item. The United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) and its International Police Task Force (IPTF) have made important contributions in that regard. We welcome the progress that UNMIBH has made in reforming and training the police force, and the Mission’s efforts to strengthen the country’s legal structures. At the same time, we note that the situation with regard to the recruitment of police officers from among minority groups is not yet satisfactory; it is our hope that UNMIBH’s efforts in that regard will continue.

The overall situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina remains to be stable, and the Dayton Peace Agreement is being implemented. This is a source of satisfaction for us, as these developments are due to the political will and cooperation demonstrated by the peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

However, progress in the implementation of the Peace Agreement is taking place at a far slower pace than the international community had expected, especially with respect to capacity-building in the area of self-government; reconciliation and harmony among the different ethnic groups; post-war reconstruction; and the return of minority refugees. Indeed, a great deal of work remains to be done by the parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

We have always believed that a comprehensive and thorough settlement of the question of Bosnia and Herzegovina lies ultimately with the people themselves. The international community, in participating in the reconstruction process, must abide by the principle that the people themselves should play the primary role. It must also respect their will and focus its work on helping them to achieve self-government and gradually to reduce their dependency on foreign aid, so as to prevent the re-emergence of social and political problems once international assistance is reduced.

I should like to take this opportunity to emphasize that the achievement of national reconciliation is the fundamental prerequisite for the peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina to be able to live peacefully and in harmony. There is still a long way to go before this goal can be achieved, as extremist and radical elements continue to exist in all of the parties.

The international community, including the United Nations, must make greater efforts to promote national reconciliation among all ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina so as to ultimately build a unified, democratic, multi-ethnic and economically self-reliant Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Mr. Jerandi (Tunisia)

I should like at the outset to commend you, Mr. President, for organizing this meeting on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We have listened with great interest to the very comprehensive briefing by Mr. Miyet, and we thank him for the information he has provided the Council on the situation.

We share the view that significant progress has been made in the implementation of the mandate of the United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We also believe, however, that its pace is too slow. Indeed, efforts should be consolidated and made speedier so as to ensure that the peace process can proceed of its own momentum.

We believe that the efforts of the international community and the sacrifices made by the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina will succeed in bringing about a lasting peace, in particular following the commitment made by the Joint Presidency in the New York Declaration.

The participation of all parties in the establishment of a multi-ethnic society on the basis of democratic institutions will ensure the success of this undertaking. That is why we deem it necessary to work to reduce the continued resistance to change, which is hampering the full implementation of the Dayton Agreement.

We believe that the State should address the activities of the extremist nationalist groups, inter alia by promoting a culture of peace and tolerance and by engaging in a common political process in which all Bosnian citizens can participate fully, without discrimination.

We commend the continuing reform, restructuring and change in the mono-ethnic character of the police forces, which should ultimately lead to the appropriate representation of minorities within the police system in the Federation. It is up to the police at this crucial stage to promote social peace and to prohibit any actions based on ethnic considerations alone.

The judicial system assessment programme must be translated into concrete actions emphasizing reform so as to ensure the independence, impartiality and effectiveness of the system.

As concerns the return of refugees and displaced persons, we welcome the return of a large number of refugees. It is of paramount importance to continue efforts to ensure the full implementation of this process. Conditions conducive to their return must be created, in particular as concerns the minorities, so as to help build a multi-ethnic society in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In conclusion, I would like to pay tribute once again to the members of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina and of the Stabilization Force for their commendable and dedicated work in implementing the mandate entrusted to them.

Mr. Angell (Canada)

My delegation joins others who have spoken in thanking Under-Secretary-General Miyet for his very informative briefing. My own comments will be very brief.

Canada supports High Representative Petritsch’s decision to amend the law on filling a vacant position of a Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This decision will strengthen the conformity of the law with the spirit of the Constitution and will help to ensure the efficiency of the election process.

We believe that a coherent and integrated strategy is essential if the development of the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina is to be sustained. In this regard, Canada commends the work and achievements of the judicial system assessment programme under the auspices of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH).

We are encouraged by the fact that progress is being made in changing the composition of police forces to better reflect the multi-ethnic character of their communities, and we welcome the details provided by Mr. Miyet in this regard. We encourage the Bosnian authorities to cooperate fully with UNMIBH in establishing professional and accountable multi-ethnic police forces.

The return of refugees and displaced persons to their pre-war homes is a top priority. The Bosnian authorities must implement fully measures likely to foster returns, such as the property law, and must cease to obstruct legal evictions. Progress on this front is critical in measuring the real commitment of Bosnia’s authorities to a lasting peace within the Dayton framework.

We must also keep the pressure on Croatia and the Republika Srpska to ensure that they follow through on their commitments and take the appropriate actions to fully implement the agreement they signed last March on two-way refugee return.

Canada will assume command of Multinational Division (South-west) this October on a rotational basis with the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. We are determined to play a strong role within our sector of command, particularly with regard to refugee returns and the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Mr. Gatilov (Russia)

We are grateful to Mr. Miyet for his informative briefing on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We believe that regular reports to the Council, pursuant to Security Council resolutions on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, help to ensure a closer monitoring of the operations of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH).

We also deem it important to ensure that the settlement process is stable and irreversible in order to strengthen the multi-ethnic statehood of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the basis of democratic changes and respect for the rights of all peoples of that country.

As is well known, the key to success here is full and consistent respect for the Dayton Peace Agreement. However, the basic responsibility for the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina lies with the Bosnians themselves. We hope that the new generation of Bosnian politicians, who will take charge of the country following the elections this fall, will be able to energetically begin resolving the remaining tasks. There are quite a lot of such tasks.

Unfortunately, we must say that implementation of the provisions of the Dayton Agreement is proceeding slowly. The common governmental institutions in Bosnia are operating ineffectively. Political change in the country is being hindered by nationalist forces. Social tension is still growing, and there has been no decline in inter-ethnic confrontation.

Recently, problems regarding the return of refugees to Bosnia and Herzegovina have appeared to be exacerbated. There have been a series of incidents involving acts of violence. This disorder has shown that there is an acute problem in providing alternative housing for Bosnians returning to their homes. We believe that a solution to this problem must be all-encompassing.

We note that the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) is taking steps to normalize the socio-political processes for developing Bosnian statehood. Russia continues to support the work of the United Nations Mission and of the Stabilization Force (SFOR), as important elements in the international effort to move the Bosnian settlement forward. The United Nations Mission plays an important role in coordinating the activities of all the international organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Thanks to its contribution, law and order is being strengthened and the local police are becoming increasingly professional and are being reorganized on an inter-ethnic basis. The judicial system is being reformed, and attempts are being made to combat organized crime and corruption. A single multi-ethnic border service has now been established and is gradually taking over the control of all the entry points on the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina. At the same time, UNMIBH still has to do a lot to neutralize the taking of narrow ethnic approaches and also to combat illegal activities in the police and judicial areas.

We believe that raising questions about the establishment of a single defence system in Bosnia and Herzegovina — and even more, of a single, common Bosnian army — runs counter to the provisions of the Dayton Agreement. Under that document, questions involving defence lie exclusively within the competence of the entities and can be shifted to common Bosnian institutions only with the consent of the entities.

We also confirm our position that having SFOR contingents arresting persons indicted by the Tribunal runs counter to SFOR’s mandate. Unfortunately, it has still not been possible to rid the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia of all elements of politicization or to bring its activities into accordance with its statute and the decisions of the Security Council.

We would also like to confirm our deep conviction that attempts under any pretext whatsoever to isolate the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from the Balkan settlement processes are counterproductive. They simply provoke new crises in the region, and they run counter to the spirit of the Dayton Agreements, one of the signatories to which is Yugoslavia.

Russia, for its part, will continue to make an active and constructive contribution to developing the peace process in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the basis of the strict implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreements. We believe that the work of UNMIBH should continue to be directed towards this end.

Mr. Uanivi (Namibia)

Thank you, Mr. President, for convening this important meeting on the implementation of the peace process in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We would also like to thank Under-Secretary-General Miyet for his valuable briefing on the current developments in the country.

We note with appreciation the overall improved situation within which the programme on police reform and restructuring continues to make incremental progress. In this regard, Namibia acknowledges the activities of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) in assisting local authorities with meeting their obligations, inter alia, to institute a common Border Service, to increase minority police recruitment and/or transfer minority police officers to various locations throughout the country; and to attract displaced and former police officers to return to their pre-war homes and rejoin the local police forces there. In addition there is the ongoing registration programme geared towards establishing a personnel data bank of authorized police officers in country.

We appreciate also the rate of return of refugees and internally displaced persons to the pre-war areas; however, we take serious note of the open obstructionism and lack of political will on the part of local authorities with respect to the implementation of the property laws.

In conclusion, my delegation wishes to commend all the personnel of the various international institutions, including the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the International Police Task Force, who have dedicated their lives and their time to a good cause: to help the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina reconstruct their lives and build a multi-ethnic society.

The President

I shall now make a statement in my capacity as representative of Malaysia.

My delegation, too, would like to thank Under-Secretary-General Bernard Miyet for his comprehensive and useful briefing on the latest developments and the ongoing work of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH).

We are gratified by the progress that has been made in the implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement. UNMIBH, under the leadership of Special Representative Jacques Klein, continues to solidify the establishment of the rule of law through the restructuring and strengthening of the local police and judicial system. Equally important are efforts by High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch and his Office, and by the Stabilization Force (SFOR) and other international organizations, to further consolidate the path towards peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We fully support these efforts and appreciate the achievements made so far.

We nonetheless recognize that progress in the peace process has thus far been slow and has fallen short of expectations. Much remains to be done and many challenges remain to be overcome before Bosnia can enjoy self-sustaining peace and security. Further determined efforts should therefore be made with a view to tackling effectively the core issues or challenges that continue to impede the building of a democratic, unified and multi-ethnic Bosnia and Herzegovina, within its internationally recognized borders.

One of the main challenges that remains is the need to strengthen Bosnian State institutions. These institutions must be able to carry out their functions and responsibilities effectively. We are concerned by the continuing obstacles to the smooth functioning of these joint institutions, in particular the Joint Presidency and the State Parliament, which are necessary if Bosnia and Herzegovina is to be viable as a State. The leaders of Bosnia must exercise their political will to work together for the common good of the country, and not for their sectarian and other short-term interests.

This underlines the urgent need for much stronger commitment and cooperation on the part of the Bosnian leadership and people at every level, in order to match the commitment and contributions of the international community to the peace process. Ultimately, the main responsibility for achieving peace, national reconciliation and nation-building lies with the people of Bosnia themselves.

We are pleased with the progress made in consolidating the Bosnian State Border Service. We welcome the recent steps to further strengthen the Service by deploying it at additional entry points.

The State Border Service not only is a vital political symbol of Bosnian statehood, but also is essential in the fight against trafficking and transborder organized crime. We strongly support the efforts being made at restructuring and integrating the military forces of the two Bosnian entities. A unified Bosnia cannot afford to have two separate armies.

The return of refugees and displaced persons is another major challenge; nearly every problem in Bosnia today stems from this core problem. The safe return of all refugees and displaced persons to their homes is an important ingredient for lasting peace in that country. We have been encouraged to learn of an increase in the number of returns in recent months. However, the return process overall has been slow. Well over 1 million refugees and internally displaced persons are still not able to return to their pre-war homes. The situation is much worse in the case of the so-called minority returns and the return to urban areas. The overall return process to the Republika Srpska is still much slower, compared to other areas in the Federation. Political and administrative obstructions still impede the return process. So do return-related violence and intimidation. Clearly, further effective measures should be taken to effectively address these problems.

On 13 July 2000, the Council issued a commemorative statement on the anniversary of the tragic event at Srebenica. We recalled the horrors of ethnic cleansing and gross violations of international humanitarian law and human rights that characterized the Bosnian conflict. Reconciliation after that conflict will obviously require a long time for healing, as well as the meting out of justice for the perpetrators of those heinous crimes. In this regard, we wish to underline once again the important role of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and to emphasize that the necessary support should be extended to it so as to enable it to fully carry out its mandate. We reiterate our call for more serious efforts to be made to bring those indicted by the ICTY to justice, especially the major figures, such as Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, who continue to enjoy freedom and impunity.

This also contributes to the climate of insecurity that limits refugee returns, particularly in minority areas. The arrest and prosecution of war criminals is not only an issue of justice, but also one that will have important and long-lasting effects on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s ability to form a democratic State, institute market reform and effect national reconciliation among the ethnic groups. In this regard, we would encourage the Office of the High Representative and the Stabilization Force to work more closely with the Tribunal.

I now resume my functions as President of the Security Council.

I shall now give the floor to Mr. Bernard Miyet to respond to the comments and questions addressed to him.

Mr. Miyet (Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations)

I will endeavour to respond to the various points and questions addressed to me. Let me begin with the two questions posed by the representative of France.

First of all, on the future of the judicial system assessment programme, its means of financing and its coordination with other programmes, let me say that this particular programme has always been and will continue to be part of a broader programme covering the whole of the judicial and system and involving various regional organizations — the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), as well as the Council of Europe, which bears some responsibility in this regard. All of this falls under the coordination and authority of the High Representative. Of course, it will be for the High Representative himself, following consultations with the parties and international organizations, to determine how to pursue the assessment programme that was undertaken initially by the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH). The Special Representative and his team have constantly cooperated with the High Representative and continue to do so. Mr. Jacques Klein recently travelled with the High Representative to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg to discuss matters relating to the follow-up of the implementation of the programme from the standpoint of a transfer of activities.

With respect to the means of financing, it is clear that that responsibility will no longer be a United Nations responsibility; it will no longer be an activity financed from the UNMIBH peacekeeping budget. It will be up to donor countries and the High Representative to determine how this activity will be funded in future. This no longer falls within the responsibility and jurisdiction of the Secretariat, and I am convinced that, in the framework of the follow-up conferences to the Dayton Agreements, this matter, upon the initiative of the High Representative, can be discussed. For our part, we will provide the whole set of documents that have been prepared and will make the necessary proposals so that the staff who have worked for UNMIBH can, depending on their own personal wishes, be transferred on negotiated terms to the High Representative’s Office.

The second question raised was a more specific one concerning the returns of refugees and internally displaced persons. I do not have with me specific figures, canton by canton, or community by community. I will ask our Mission on the ground and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as well as the International Organization for Migration (IOM), to provide more specific figures; but what is clear is that there are returns of Serb families to areas with a majority of Croat or Bosniac families, as well as returns of Bosniac families to majority Serb or Croat areas. This is actually not really the case for Croats, who so far are not moving from one area to another. Despite the agreement established between the Croatian Government and that of Bosnia and Herzegovina, there has been no Croat movement across the border in order to return to Bosnia and Herzegovina. So, essentially, for the time being, two of the communities are benefiting from these movements, but not the other.

I would also note that this movement of displaced persons has expanded since the time it became, in fact, more spontaneous. There had been a lot more resistance on the part of the receiving populations, communities or municipalities when the international community tried to organize, as the case dictated, a rather strong-armed approach to the return of refugees. But it seems now that families are returning spontaneously to their original communities, and this is taking place in a way that appears to be more acceptable and more flexible. I think this is a lesson for the international community and the Mission to learn.

spoke in English
Mr. Miyet (Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations)

There was also a serious question raised by Jamaica on the question of illegal occupancy. It is clear that the return of refugees and how one tries to promote it are key problems.

As has been said, on the more general matter, we can record about 30 or 50 evictions — I would say, forced evictions — a week in order to vacate accommodations that are illegally occupied. But this is done when the eviction is backed up by the capacity to find new accommodations for the families that we want to leave the apartment. So I would say the difficulty is more closely linked to the availability of accommodations and trying to move people as humanely as possible.

As concerns more assertive measures in a very particular area, we are right now, as I have said, trying to promote the process of registering police officers. In particular, we are trying to promote the redeployment of police officers to the locations where they are from in order to push the policemen themselves to try and respect the law.

With regard to where we are now in the process of registration, we are identifying police officers who are “double occupants”. They are given two choices: either to leave the police force or to vacate their apartments. In a way, I would say that, at least for these institutions, we are trying to promote a situation in which we create the conditions for the policemen themselves to see to it that these laws are respected.

Through the International Police Task Force, we are also following very carefully what the local police forces are doing with regard to the issue of double occupancy in order to determine whether decisions are followed up once they are taken.

The OSCE is also employing a similar measure during the registration process of persons wishing to be candidates in elections. Persons who are double occupants also have two choices: either to be struck from the list of candidates or to vacate their illegally occupied apartments.

So I would say that this is a way to try to have a policy at all levels that is also respectful of the social and human problems. But at least those persons who have an official role or image to uphold try to respect this rule.

The last question was raised by Ambassador Eldon and pertained to what he called an exit strategy, although I myself would not use that term. I would use the term “implementation strategy”. I would say that this is more of a tentative date than it is a formal one, and it is a way to try to see how we can achieve the objectives and determine the desired end. This is what was discussed at the retreat of Security Council members, and we have tried to keep it in mind. So it is a way to try to anticipate and determine what might be the objectives and the benchmarks.

On this first point, it is clear that for us the objectives and the benchmarks are linked to the mandate of UNMIBH and its specific mandates relating to the police. I will not go into detail, but I think this would be linked to the status of registrations and to the professionalization of the police to ensure that every officer has been trained and equipped and that he has behaved in the right manner, as well at to ensure in particular that everyone has been checked in connection with war crimes.

In terms of benchmarks, one also wants to have the mechanisms necessary to ensure that a level of minority recruitment is reached that is acceptable to the international community. More generally, I would say that one would also want to have in hand the elements that will allow for a minimum level of transparency and accountability mechanisms within local police forces. We will also have all the sectoral plans and know how the police forces in each entity and the common policy institutions are functioning. So I think all these elements will have to be in place. I am sure that the Council will have the other elements when a new report is presented at the end of December.

The second aspect that Ambassador Eldon referred to has to do with the fact that the achievement of the objectives of UNMIBH cannot be seen in isolation from the efforts made in other areas. Here he referred to cooperation with other organizations involved in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In our minds it is clear — and in this regard we always refer to our colleagues in the Stabilization Force — that there is a link between civilian and military activities. As the Council knows, at some point we also wondered what the exit strategy might be for the military component and what the impact of that would be on the civilian component. So what we do on our side must be closely linked to, and we must have close cooperation and discussions with, the military component.

As was referred to in the questions pertaining to the judicial system, we will also have to interact with civilian regional organizations that are dealing with elements closely connected to what we do. This is clearly the case with the Council of Europe, the European Union and the OSCE. A benchmark here might be similar to our achievement in Eastern Slavonia, where we transferred ultimate responsibility for the police to another organization. I would say that the exemplary transfer of responsibility that took place in that case might, at some point, also be something that could be envisioned if necessary. I do not know what the situation will be.

There is just one more point that will also have to be taken into account. It is clear that what we will have to do in Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot be seen in isolation from what happens in the region. It is clear to everyone that the situation and developments in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia have a real impact on the pace of reform and on the constitution of the Bosnian State. I would say that this may either facilitate that process or create hurdles for it. So we will also have to try to keep this point in mind. I am sure that the members of the Council will follow those developments with great interest.

In conclusion, I would just like to praise Mr. Jacques Klein and his team for the excellent work that they are doing in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I would say that the stamina and energy demonstrated by Jacques Klein since he has been there is impressive. I would also like to praise his creativity in what has been a success story. I believe it is a very good move that he is now trying to put together a mixed contingent of peacekeepers made up of policemen from Bosnia and Herzegovina to go to East Timor. I think this is due to his forceful nature. I was there in July to spend a day at the Mission. It is true that when one goes to different missions one can feel each one’s atmosphere. I have found in Bosnia and Herzegovina the same kind of cohesiveness, energy and enthusiasm that I experienced with him in Eastern Slavonia.

The President

I thank Under-Secretary-General Miyet for the clarifications and answers he has provided.

There are no further speakers inscribed on my list. The Security Council has thus concluded the present stage of its consideration of the item on its agenda.

The meeting rose at 12.20 p.m.
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