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Annan proposes extending UN mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina through December

Annan proposes extending UN mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina through December

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended extending the UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) through the end of this year and reducing its strength in October as the Mission is rapidly moving towards the completion of its core tasks.

In a report released today, Mr. Annan proposes maintaining an authorized strength of 1,600 police officers until the 5 October general elections. Afterwards, the mission will be quickly reduced to 460 officers by 31 December.

"During that time, UNMIBH will coordinate closely with the European Union and the High Representative in order to ensure a seamless transition of responsibilities from IPTF [International Police Task Force] to the European Union Police Mission," the report says.

While anticipating the end of UNMIBH's mandate, the Secretary-General calls for continued vigilance about security in the country. "[T]he systemic weakness of the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and continued obstruction, interference and illegal activities of entrenched political extremists and criminal organizations will require continued international attention," he writes. "There will be a need for monitoring of and assistance to local police to preserve what UNMIBH has achieved and to ensure further progress towards the rule of law."

The European Union follow-on mission will address those issues, but in addition, "the continued presence and support of SFOR [the multinational stabilization Force] will be essential," Mr. Annan says. "Equally important is the apprehension of indicted war criminals, whose presence emboldens extremists and undermines reconciliation," he adds, calling on the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina and neighbouring States, as well as all others concerned, to cooperate fully with the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

The report also calls for additional support for two core UNMIBH projects. The first involves the establishment of a permanent Police Commissioner post - a move which aims at "insulating the work of law enforcement agencies from political interference." The second core project is the State Border Service (SBS), which the Secretary-General says is facing severe funding shortfalls. "Delaying the timely deployment of the SBS will negatively affect the fight against illegal migration, organized crime and terrorism in Europe," he warns.