UN’s Bosnia mission ready to hand-off to European Union, Security Council told

UN’s Bosnia mission ready to hand-off to European Union, Security Council told

Jacques Paul Klein addresses Security Council
As the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) winds down its operations by the end of the year, arrangements for a seamless transition to the European Union are in place, the head of UNMIBH told the Security Council today.

In an opening briefing this morning on the largest police reform and restructuring operation in UN history, Jacques Paul Klein told the Council that the draw down of the UN International Police Task Force (IPTF) and the gradual build-up of the EU Police Mission (EUPM) had been carefully coordinated, with the first Mission deployment scheduled for 4 November.

Mr. Klein welcomed the fact that the EUPM had agreed to give priority to the State Border Service, the State Information and Protection Agency, and the maintenance of effective counter-trafficking measures, and that it intended to take a robust approach to organized crime.

As for the recent elections, in which nationalist parties fared well, Mr. Klein stressed, “this is not a time for either pessimism or complacency.” The parties’ strong showing does not mean the peace process will stop, but it does present a more challenging political environment that will require strong intervention and continued commitment by the international community.

Nevertheless, for UNMIBH, the elections had been an unqualified success, taking place in conditions of full security, Mr. Klein reported. That achievement built on the impressive record of local police in implementing security plans for minority returns and sensitive public activities such as religious gatherings and sports events. The country also had now a lower general crime rate than many countries in Western Europe, underpinning the largest number of returns of refugees and displaced persons since the war. And it was no longer the principal entry point into Europe for illegal migrants.

UNMIBH had been a success and many lessons had been learned, Mr. Klein said. The experience reaffirmed three fundamental points: the introduction of the rule of law in a post-conflict situation was the foundation for democracy, economic progress, and an exit strategy for peacekeepers; reconciliation and healing were impossible if notorious war criminals were not brought to justice; and unstable, dysfunctional societies and the detritus of war could not be allowed to fester unattended, or to be abandoned in midstream.

In addition to Mr. Klein, High Representative Paddy Ashdown, the top civilian official responsible for implementing the Dayton peace accords, spoke at today’s open meeting, which also saw the participation of all 15 Council members as well as other interested countries.

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- Security Council meeting