Bosnia and Herzegovina

UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH): The end of a mandate

News and Press Release
Originally published
Tonight at midnight, the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina will draw to a close having successfully completed its mandate - the most extensive police reform and restructuring mission ever undertaken by the United Nations. It will also mark the end of a decade long of UN peacekeeping in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The task given to the United Nations under Annex 11 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace has been fulfilled. Local partnership and ownership have been the key to the realization of our mandate.

After difficult and painful beginnings, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the United Nations embarked on a new journey to bring rule of law to the citizens of this country through the reform and restructuring of all law enforcement agencies. Today, seven years later, our enterprise in partnership has reached its destination.

Together, we leave behind a legacy of democratic law enforcement ensuring a secure environment for returns. Independent police structures have been established with approximately 16,000 law enforcement officers certified after a comprehensive verification process. All police officers have been trained in basic standards of democratic policing. Progress has been made on minority recruitment and gender balance through the two UNMIBH established Police Academies.

Institutionally, UNMIBH's accreditation of the Ministries of Internal Affairs of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska, 10 Cantons and Brcko District signifies that these police administrations have been organizationally restructured and now have in place external and internal redress mechanisms, insulated from political interference. Directors of Police and Police Commissioners have been appointed in the two Entities and ten Cantons. It will now be up to the leadership of Bosnia and Herzegovina to ensure that politics are kept out of policing and to safeguard the integrity of the police forces and ensure the sustainability of the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The establishment of the multi-ethnic and the most modern State Border Service in the region has enhanced both statehood and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is playing a critical role in the fight against international terrorism, organized crime and trafficking of human beings. With the State Information and Protection Agency and INTERPOL National Coordination Bureau, and intra-state and regional cooperation mechanisms in place, the country now has an integrated law enforcement network to facilitate national, regional and international cooperation.

To combat the reprehensible trade of human trafficking, UNMIBH initiated in July 2001 the largest and most intensive anti-trafficking program in Southeast Europe comprised of local police monitored by IPTF. As a result, 265 trafficked women have been voluntarily repatriated to their home countries.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is no longer only a beneficiary of - but also a contributor to UN peacekeeping operations. Civilian police and military observers from Bosnia and Herzegovina are participating in three UN peacekeeping operations and troops as part of the Composite Unit are ready for deployment.

Progress has been reinforced through two specialized United Nations Trust Funds. Through the United Nations Trust Fund for Police Assistance, USD 16.5 million has been provided for basic police equipment and facilities. Additionally, more than 540 quick impact projects have been implemented from the UN Trust Fund for the Restoration of Essential Public Services, costing USD 25 million.

In one of our greatest challenges - the legacy of Srebrenica, our aims were not only to assist in healing the wounds of the survivors of the tragic massacre but also, in the scope of peace building and to lay the foundations for recovery. We encouraged multiethnic representation in the police forces to build confidence for returnees As many as 3,500 Bosniacs have returned to the wider Srebrenica region so far. From the UN Trust Fund we dispersed over USD 1.6 million for infrastructure projects, including the construction of a model community police station. Additionally, in close cooperation with UNDP, we initiated the Srebrenica Regional Recovery Programme.

Further normalization depends on the handover of war crime suspects to the International Criminal Tribunal of Former Yugoslavia.

The European Union Police Mission (EUPM) will take over as of 1 January 2003 and every effort has been made to ensure a seamless transition.

The closure of the UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is not the end of United Nations involvement in the country. The UN will remain engaged furthering the country's post-war recovery and economic development through its Agencies.

Bosnia and Herzegovina now has 'a police force fit for Europe' firmly based on international standards of democratic policing and in the service of all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It represents a major stride forward towards European integration.

The foundations for a secure and stable environment have been laid. We can share pride in our joint achievements.

The sustainability of our common objectives and goals now rests with the leadership of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The greatest challenges that lie ahead for Bosnia and Herzegovina are the further strengthening of the rule of law through judicial reforms, creation of employment opportunities and the rationalization and modernization of the education sector.

UNMIBH is grateful to our local and international partners in Bosnia and Herzegovina and also Member States of the United Nations for their contributions, support and cooperation.