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Foundation set for modern police force in Bosnia and Herzegovina, UN envoy says

Foundation set for modern police force in Bosnia and Herzegovina, UN envoy says

The foundations are now in place for a modern, democratic, non-political police force in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the next step being the long-term establishment of the rule of law, the United Nations envoy to the country said today as the world body prepares to wrap up its operations there at the end of the year.

The UN was able to accomplish its objectives because "we had clearly formulated goals," Jacques Paul Klein, the head of the UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH), said at a press briefing in New York. Secretary-General Kofi Annan "clearly laid out the direction and guidelines for me in August 1999, and the goal was a modern, democratic police force fit for Europe."

The mandate for UNMIBH expires on 31 December, and the European Union Police Mission is set to take over responsibility for monitoring the Bosnian police force the next day.

Mr. Klein said UNMIBH will enter the history books as the most extensive police reform and reconstruction mission in the history of the UN, having taken 44,000 police officers in Bosnia and Herzegovina prior to the country's civil war down to less than 16,000 today. The Mission vetted them, and then provided the officers with training in human rights, forensics, traffic management and crime scene investigation techniques, he said.

In noting some of the Mission's other accomplishments, Mr. Klein said the number of women serving in the police force has risen to 3 per cent, the country now has a secure frontier thanks to a functioning border service, and the illegal immigration and trafficking that used to occur throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina has been curbed.

The country has also participated in UN peacekeeping missions around the world, sending police to Timor-Leste and military observers to Ethiopia and Eritrea as well as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Those efforts demonstrate that Bosnia is not only a recipient of international aid and assistance, "but a country willing to contribute," Mr. Klein said.

"More than 13,000 individual police officers from 43 countries have served with UNMIBH, making this endeavour a truly multinational effort," he said.