Annan asks for 12-month extension of UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Annan asks for 12-month extension of UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina

UN trains police in crowd control
Calling Bosnia and Herzegovina a "test case" of international efforts to bring lasting peace to a troubled country, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended a 12-month extension of the United Nations operation there.

In a new report to the Security Council, the Secretary-General warns that if peace efforts fail in Bosnia and Herzegovina, "the consequences throughout the region and possibly beyond will be profoundly adverse and even dangerous." He says the world community cannot afford to lessen its commitment to the country because "the consequences for the people of the region and for international peace and security could be incalculable."

The report documents progress achieved by the UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH), especially through its International Police Task Force, which is helping the country to professionalize its law enforcement capacity. While Bosnia's police performance has improved, the report warns of the likelihood of a "hot summer" resulting from criminal actions of extremist elements opposed to minority returns and the reconstruction of religious sites.

Local police officers will not be able to substitute for a continued robust international security presence as long as they are paid insufficient and irregular wages, the report warns. The Secretary-General appeals to Member States to contribute generously to UNMIBH's priority projects and to the Trust Fund for the Police Assistance Programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"Establishment of the rule of law is a fundamental precondition for self-sustaining peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina," observes the Secretary-General. "UNMIBH's role in police reform and restructuring is key to that endeavour."