Bosnia and Herzegovina

UN mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina reports headway in fulfilling its mandate

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The United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) has made "considerable headway" with the key elements of its mandate -- police restructuring and reform, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report released today at UN Headquarters.
"UNMIBH has launched important initiatives to accelerate changes in the ethnic composition of local police, improve inter-entity police cooperation, de-politicize local police administration and advance the establishment of court police," Mr. Annan said.

He noted, however, that there was continued "obstruction, resistance and delay" in other areas. The implementation of the state border service had been delayed, the Bosnian Croat authorities in Mostar had "blatantly refused" to integrate the interior ministry and police in their part of the city, while Republika Srpska had missed "key benchmarks" for minority recruitment.

This, the Secretary-General added, had again demonstrated that while "tangible progress" was possible in Bosnia and Herzegovina, "it requires intensive, coordinated and robust international engagement."

UNMIBH would need the support of the Security Council and Member States with influence on the Bosnian Croat and Serb authorities to overcome such resistance.

In some areas, Mr. Annan went on, progress was linked to improvements in the overall political and economic situation in the wider region. The pledge by the newly elected Government in Croatia to respect the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina was a "welcome development."

The mission's special project to form a Bosnia and Herzegovina police contingent for service in a UN peacekeeping operation was an "important symbolic contribution to strengthening state identity." In February, the Secretary-General reported, the first such contingent -- comprising 16 officers from both entities and all three ethnic groups -- had successfully completed background checks and a two-week training course and was now expected to be deployed to East Timor.