Security Council, Annan hail EU move on police mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The United Nations Security Council and Secretary-General Kofi Annan today welcomed the decision by the European Union to take over UN's police training and monitoring duties in Bosnia and Herzegovina next year and expressed optimism that the EU can help the country continue to build a professional, multi-ethnic police force.
Following an extended discussion, the Council unanimously adopted a resolution welcoming the Bosnian Peace Implementation Council's (PIC) acceptance last week of the EU's offer to provide a EU Police Mission (EUPM), from 1 January 2003, to follow the end of the mandate of the UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH). The Council further welcomed the EU's intention to invite non-EU member States to participate in the EUPM.
The Council also backed the PIC's designation of Lord Ashdown to succeed Wolfgang Petritsch as High Representative, and reaffirmed that post as the final authority regarding civilian implementation of the Dayton peace settlement as well as the top official responsible for mobilizing and coordinating all civilian activities.
Speaking at the outset of the Council’s open meeting, which was chaired by Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen, the Secretary-General noted that UNMIBH was on track to complete its core mandate by the end of this year and praised the Mission’s civilian and police officers, who “have done much to give the people of Bosnia faith in a better, peaceful and united future.”
Specifically, UNMIBH has transformed and reduced the police force from a 40,000-strong wartime militia to a 16,000-member professional police force trained in human rights, Mr. Annan said. There still remained challenges, however, including low police salaries and poor housing conditions, lack of funds and continued political interference in the work of law enforcement agencies.
"Ultimately, it is the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina who must take control of their own destiny and build a peaceful, prosperous future as a successful multi-ethnic state," Mr. Annan said. "It is my hope that they will find support and inspiration in the many countries around the world which have made their diversity their greatest asset, with opportunities for all in a climate of tolerance and mutual respect."
During the ensuing discussion, in which representatives from some 20 countries took the floor, Mr. Petritsch said he was convinced that Bosnia and Herzegovina could and would be a viable State if the international community's overall plan was implemented with firmness and consistency. "It is essential that we do not lose focus at this crucial stage," he stressed. "Forces bent on destruction and division are not yet completely defeated."
|Jacques Paul Klein|
For his part, UNMIBH chief Jacques Paul Klein voiced his confidence that the Mission would achieve its goals this year and successfully hand over its operations to an EU mission. "On the basis of our knowledge of UNMIBH and our experience elsewhere, we consider that there is sufficient time to fully plan and deploy the new EU mission in a seamless transfer, providing that key pre-planning personnel begin work in March-April, and that financial resources are made available to them to begin procurement of essential equipment and facilities," he said.
Javier Solana, the Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union, said the EUPM would seek to establish sustainable policing arrangements under Bosnian ownership in accordance with best European and international practice, and should complete its mission by the end of 2005. "The EU's aim is a broad approach to the whole range of rule of law needs, including police activities," he said. "The EU police mission would thus contribute to overall peace implementation in BiH as well as to the achievements of the EU's overall policy in the region."