5th Report of the High Representative for Implementation of the Bosnian Peace Agreement to the Secretary-General of the United Nations
- Pursuant to the Security Council Resolution 1031 of December 15, 1995, which endorsed my appointment as High Representative to "monitor the implementation of the Peace Agreement and mobilize and, as appropriate, give guidance to, and coordinate the activities of, the civilian organizations and agencies involved" in the implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina, I submit hereby my fifth report envisaged by Annex 10 of the Peace Agreement and the Conclusions of the
London Peace Implementation Conference of December 8-9, 1995.
- This report covers developments in the areas listed below during the period from the beginning of December 1996 to the end of March 1997.
- INSTITUTIONAL ASPECTS
Office of the High Representative
- My Headquarters in Sarajevo and the Secretariat in
Brussels have, in the period described, continued to maintain operational
coordination of civilian implementation activities inside Bosnia and
Herzegovina, as well as contacts with the Headquarters of the respective
implementation organizations and agencies, closely following, so far as
possible, the various international fora dealing with the Bosnian peace
- During the reporting period, the peace process in
Bosnia and Herzegovina, despite numerous difficulties, has been moving in a
defined direction and there have been a number of positive developments. The
emphasis has been placed on the implementation of the civilian aspects of
the operation, these being essential for the normalisation of life in Bosnia
and Herzegovina. Specific attention has been given to two priority tasks:
economic reconstruction on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the
establishment of functioning common institutions. It is vital that the
authorities start to assume joint responsibility for the implementation of
the peace process and I have proceeded on this assumption.
- The Award of the Arbitration Tribunal for Brcko on 14 February, regarding arrangements for the supervision of full implementation of the Peace Agreement in the Brcko area, represent a major challenge for my Office in 1997. A Deputy High Representative was appointed on 7 March at the Brcko implementation conference in Vienna, to serve as Supervisor for Brcko operating within the existing OHR structure in accordance with my mandate under Annex 10 of the Peace
Agreement. The period of supervision started in early April. Concrete
implementation measures will follow when the Supervisor decides that
essential elements of the supervision structure are in place.
- Regional coordination and monitoring the situation
on the ground, in parallel with supporting the new common institutions, has
been a priority. A regional Office in Mostar was established in early
January to cover southern Bosnia and Herzegovina following the end of the
mandate of the Special Envoy of the European Union. This will complement the
existing regional Office in Banja Luka. The regional reach provided by the
two Offices will be crucial during the consolidation period and will
compensate for the cessation of the regional Joint Civilian Commissions
whose mandates have been superseded by the new common institutions of Bosnia
and Herzegovina. These Offices will continue to facilitate contacts at a
local level, promoting inter-entity co-operation in a variety of fields.
- My office in Sarajevo has developed the capacity to conduct preventative, pro-active and follow-up action, and to structure diplomatic efforts in a concerted manner. As the peace implementation process moves into the consolidation period, these progressive achievements need to be both preserved and developed. Conditions for such continuity require countries that contribute personnel to maintain their current level of commitment. Many of the seconded staff who left at the end of 1996 have now been replaced; in response to the London Conference Conclusions I have received seconded staff from the European Commission and the World Bank. However, in light of the size of the tasks for 1997 and 1998, and the need to establish an effective office in Brcko, further secondments may be necessary.
Peace Implementation Council
- The Steering Board of the Peace Implementation
Council met monthly at the level of Political Directors.
- The discussion at the meeting in Brussels on 21
January focused on the preparations for municipal elections, with
representatives of the OSCE participating in the discussion. Financial
issues were also discussed and it was decided to extend the 1996 financial
period until the end of May 1997.
- The 19 February meeting in Brussels dealt primarily
with the implementation of the Brcko Arbitration and preparations for an
extraordinary Steering Board with the parties. The UN Mission in Bosnia,
including IPTF, was represented by the Special Representative of the
Secretary General. The Steering Board also discussed regional stabilisation
issues with the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman in Office.
- Following this meeting, a special Steering Board session took place in Vienna on the implementation of the Brcko Arbitration. Representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its Entities, of the Republic of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia also attended. United Nations and other Key Implementation Agencies or Organisations contributed to the Conference.
- COORDINATION OF CIVILIAN IMPLEMENTATION
- Regular meetings of the Key Implementation Agencies were held at my office in Brussels on January 23, February 20 and April 9, in order to assess the efforts undertaken by the different international agencies and organisations involved in the implementation of the Peace Agreement, and
inform them of the conclusions of the meetings of the Steering Board.
- I have continued extensive consultations with representatives of governments and organisations. Since the beginning of the year, I have met, inter alia, with the OSCE Chairman in Office and the authorities of NATO.
- In Sarajevo, I have continued to convene, on a regular basis, Principals' meetings with the participation of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, the UN IPTF Commissioner, the UNHCR Special Envoy,
COMSFOR and the OSCE Head of Mission. These meetings have proved helpful and
effective in co-ordinating efforts of the key implementation structures on
the ground, particularly in facilitating the work of the new common
institutions and in defusing potentially dangerous situations in the Zone of
Separation. I expect that this format will be maintained through the
- The Economic Task Force, which meets on a regular
basis in Sarajevo, is now operational and proves to be a useful tool to
ensure co-ordination of principles and priorities of international
- At the end of January, I initiated the establishment of the Reconstruction and Return Task Force (RRTF), composed of my Office, UNHCR, EC, World Bank, IMG and
the Property Rights Commission. After the first high-level session of the
RRTF in Geneva, a series of meetings have been held in Sarajevo with the aim
of presenting a policy paper to the international community by early April.
- The Freedom of Movement Task Force, mandated at the London Conference and consisting of representatives of OHR, UN IPTF and SFOR and interested countries, was established on 20 December. The Task Force has met a number of times since its establishment and is exploring various implementing mechanisms to promote Freedom of Movement for people, goods and mail.
Common Institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina
- The Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, provides for six common institutions in Annex 4 of the Peace Agreement: the Presidency; the Council of Ministers; the
Parliamentary Assembly; the Constitutional Court; the Central Bank and the
Standing Committee on Military Matters.
- Following my activities in late 1996 to implement
the results of the September elections, my Office worked hard to ensure that
the key bodies of the common institutions - the Council of Ministers and the
Parliamentary Assembly - were operational from the beginning of January.
Progress has been slow; they are functioning, but have yet to become truly
effective and self-sustaining.
- The Presidency held seven regular working sessions during the reporting period. The Presidency nominated the Co-Chairs of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, signed agreements with the EBRD, UNICEF and the World Bank and
agreed to establish a Standing Committee on Military Matters. The Presidency
also signed the Decisions on Interim Financing of the Presidency and its
Offices; on Interim Accommodation for the Members of the Presidency and
their Offices and on Establishment and Internal Organisation of the Offices.
The Presidency has also carried out some procedural tasks such as accepting
the accreditation of several Ambassadors to Bosnia and Herzegovina, forming
working groups and tasking the Council of Ministers.
- The Presidency has a number of important outstanding
issues on its current agenda. The establishment of the Central Bank of
Bosnia and Herzegovina, for example, could not be finalised by the Council
of Ministers. The Presidency has instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
to prepare a proposal for the division of posts of Ambassadors and other
international representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina abroad. This
proposal has not yet been submitted. The London Conference conclusions
refers to the responsibility of the Presidency for appointing Ambassadors,
and urges them to appoint any new or replacement Ambassadors by the end of
March 1997, however this has yet to happen.
- Given the crucial importance of international
assistance to the reconstruction of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the key role
of the Council of Ministers in helping to secure that assistance, my office
organized an Economic Policy Forum (EPF) on 12 January following the
appointment of the Council of Ministers. Organized in coordination with the
IMF, the World Bank, the European Commission and the US Treasury, the event
was used to clarify the necessary action for an agreement with the IMF, the
principle pre-condition for holding the next Donor Conference. A joint
short-term action plan and mid-term structural reform program were
presented. My Office's efforts in the subsequent months have been centered
on the passage of the emergency economic legislation within the Quick Start
Package (Foreign Trade, External Debt, Central Bank, Budget, Customs Policy
and Tariffs). This also enabled my Office to inject some substance into the
new institutions from their inception.
- The Council of Ministers met for its first session
on 3 January 1997 following its appointment at the inaugural meeting of the
Bosnia and Herzegovina House of Peoples. From January to the end of March
the Council met in formal session on fourteen occasions, and informally, or
for "extraordinary" sessions, three times. Despite an increasingly
cooperative atmosphere between the Council members, few decisions have been
forthcoming. However, its work is improving with each session and progress,
although slow, is evident.
- One of the more difficult issues in the first two
months was the adoption of the Council's provisional Rules of Procedure,
which were eventually signed on 20 February 1997. The main point of
contention concerned the role of the Deputy Ministers and whether they
should be full members of the Council, with the accompanying decision making
powers. A compromise was reached through provision for consensual
decision-making within each Ministry, with differences of opinion forwarded
to the full Council. While cumbersome, these procedures should assist in
overcoming residual mistrust and suspicion, and are designed to ensure fully
- The Quick Start Package was formally presented to
the Council on 16 January and working groups were established to study the
various laws. These working groups met at my office, assisted by my staff,
throughout the remainder of January, February and into March. Status
reports, and eventually the laws themselves, were brought to the Council at
the weekly sessions. Either I or my Principal Deputy have attended most of
the Council sessions, and we have often been able to assist in clarifying or
arbitrating in disputes, usually involving questions regarding the extent of
the state authority provided in the Constitution. Currently, the Council has
concluded work on two of the laws, and work continues on the remainder.
- Little has been accomplished with regard to the
common staff, structures, or organization of the Ministries. While each of
the Council members now have offices in their respective entities, and a few
personal assistants, neither the "services" envisioned in the Rules of
Procedure nor the individual Ministries have been established. The question
of a permanent location for the common institutions must also be resolved.
To address these issues, and in keeping with former practices, a "Law on the
Council of Ministers and Ministries", based on a draft produced by my
Office, will be presented. It will undoubtedly prove contentious, as it will
have to address issues regarding the competencies of the Ministries, their
location, and the status of the extant state structures of the Republic of
Bosnia and Herzegovina. These issues must take priority in the coming
months, concurrent with efforts to wean the common institutions from the
support provided by my Office.
- The House of Representatives held its constitutive
session in Sarajevo on 3 January. At this session the Verification Committee
verified the mandates of all Members elected in the September elections. The
House of Representatives also adopted its Provisional Rules of Procedure and
selected from its Members one Serb, one Bosniak and one Croat to serve as
its Chair and two Deputy-Chairs. According to the Rules and Regulations the
post of the Chair will rotate every eight months between them. At the same
session, the House of Representatives approved a nomination of two Co-Chairs
and the composition of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- The House of Peoples was constituted on January 3,
1997 in Sarajevo. At this first session, the Verification Committee verified
the mandates of all its Members. The House of Peoples has also adopted its
Provisional Rules of Procedure and selected from its Members the Chair and
two Co-Chairs of the House.
- As progress with the QSP has been slow, the Houses
have not met since their first session. My Office is currently facilitating
meetings between the Collegiums of Chair and Deputy-Chairs of both Houses to
prepare for the next session. Disagreements on the contents of the Agenda
have resulted in the session being postponed a number of times, at present
it is scheduled for 30 April 1997. The Agenda should include the formation
of the Committees of both Houses, the adoption of the QSP Draft Laws
submitted by the Council of Ministers and the ratification of International
Agreements signed by the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The
Collegiums are also discussing the organisation of a Secretariat for the
- All judges of the Constitutional Court have now been
appointed. The judges from Republika Srpska were appointed at the session of
the National Assembly of Republika Srpska on March 16. The House of
Representatives of the Federation elected two Bosniak judges on January 24
and two Croat judges on March 18.
- The Board of Governors of the Central Bank has been
appointed and is meeting regularly and frequently, chaired by the
international Governor, Mr. Serge Robert. The Board has worked intensively
on a draft law on the new Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina and has
resolved most technical problems related to the establishment of the Central
Bank. Disagreement still exists with respect to the number of branches, the
name of the currency, the design of the bank notes and the duration of the
interim period until a new currency can be established.
- The Presidency has taken the first step in establishing a Standing Committee for Military Matters, and endorsed its adoption at a recent Presidency session. Work must now proceed to ensure that the Committee meets and begins to function as a means of creating a confidence building mechanism that promotes stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in its relations with neighbouring countries. Initially, this should involve the exchange of information and strengthening of links between entity Defence and Military staffs. Thereafter, greater transparency will be needed to define the Committee's civilian command authority and its responsibilities within Bosnia and Herzegovina's constitutional framework, and to correlate this with the Entities Defence Laws. In due time, and before SFOR withdraws, the Committee should assume a number of the functions of the Joint Military Commission.
- Of the non-economic laws included in the Quick Start
Package, the Law on Citizenship of Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the most
sensitive. The Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina states that there is a
Citizenship of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to be regulated by the Parliamentary
Assembly, as well as a Citizenship of each of the Entities to be regulated
by each Entity, provided that all Citizens of either Entity are thereby
Citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is therefore essential that the
Entity laws are identical to the largest extent possible and are fully in
line with the Bosnia and Herzegovina Law on Citizenship.
- One of the working groups appointed by the Council
of Ministers has considered the draft in close co-operation with my Office.
At a recent meeting at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg the members of
the working group, representatives of the Legal Department of my Office and
the experts of the Council of Europe, were able to find some solutions
however a number of disputed issues remain. Of particular concern, is the
Republika Srpska's decision to extend citizenship of the Republika Srpska to
residents of the former Yugoslavia, provided they register residence by the
end of June 1998.
- Closely related to citizenship is the issuing of
passports and other travel documents. It is essential that all citizens of
Bosnia and Herzegovina, in both Entities, have access to internationally
recognised passports. The draft Law on Passports, which is included in the
Quick Start Package, regulates the form of the passports and the way they
are issued. The draft is currently being discussed by the working group.
- Included in the Quick Start Package is also a draft Law on Immunity. The draft has recently been agreed upon by the Council of Ministers and will shortly be submitted to the Parliamentary Assembly. Members of the Presidency, the Parliamentary Assembly, the Council of Ministers, the judges of the Constitutional Court, and the Governor and members of the Governing Board of the Central Bank are granted immunity for acts performed within the scope of their duties.
- Activities of the Provisional Election Commission
(Annex 3), chaired by the OSCE, are referred to in the elections section of
- The Commission on Human Rights (Annex 6), composed
of the Human Rights Chamber and the Ombudsperson, continued its work. To
date, the Ombudsperson's Office has opened approximately 1200 provisional
files, registered nearly 500 cases and referred 29 cases to the Human Rights
Chamber. More than 55 requests for interim measures (under which the
relevant Government is asked to refrain from taking certain actions pending
review by the Ombudsperson) have been issued. The Human Rights Chamber began
its first public hearing on 6 February 1997 and has now issued its Rules of
- The Human Rights Ombudsperson has recently issued
final reports in several cases, finding human rights violations by both the
Federation and the Republika Srpska, and has prepared a special report
relating to violations of freedom of expression within the Republika Srpska.
The authorities have been given until late April to respond to these
findings. My Office will monitor the response of the authorities closely,
and will intervene as necessary to support the findings of the Ombudsperson.
- The response of the authorities in Bosnia and
Herzegovina to these new institutions remains substantially inadequate.
Neither Entity has taken the concrete steps necessary to: establish the
Commission as an integral part of the legal framework of Bosnia and
Herzegovina; ensure full cooperation with the Ombudsperson and Human Rights
Chamber by authorities at all levels; establish procedures for assisting
with human rights investigations and responding to requests or reports from
the Ombudsperson and the Chamber, or adopt legislation providing for the
implementation and enforcement of their decisions.
- Both institutions require additional support from the international community. On 25 February, the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina expressed its support for the Commission and its commitment to fulfill its obligation under the Peace Agreement to provide sufficient funding. Given current economic
constraints, the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina has asked the
international community to support a funding appeal by the OSCE and the
Council of Europe on behalf of the Commission.
- Many victims of human rights violations in Bosnia
and Herzegovina remain unaware of either their legal rights or the possible
remedies available to them. Human rights organizations are encouraging the
referral of cases to domestic human rights institutions and are assisting in
publicising their work. It is essential that the Commission on Human Rights
have an impact throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. To that end, additional
steps should be taken to distribute information concerning the Commission
(particularly the Human Rights Chamber) beyond Sarajevo, especially in the
- The Commission to Preserve National Monuments (Annex 8), coordinated by UNESCO, has established its Working Secretariat in
Sarajevo as well as a back-up Secretariat in Paris. Both are currently
financed by UNESCO; proper funding through the Entities' budgets has yet to
be established. The Commission is studying the lists of national monuments
submitted by the parties, with the intention of producing a consolidated
list of designated national heritage sites. The Commission intends to
establish a mechanism for the preservation of the designated cultural
heritage of BiH and, ultimately, to hand-over to a state level institution.
The Commission held its third session on 31 January and intends to
re-convene in April.
- Despite numerous meetings and proposals from its international members on possible institutional structures for joint public facilities, the Commission on Public Corporations (Annex 9) has not reached any agreement. Moreover, the Commission has refused to give any guidance to the technical working groups which have been created to examine specific operational problems in some areas. The situation is particularly acute in the power and railway sectors and an agreement to establish a Transportation Corporation has remained a dead paper. I am, therefore, convening a meeting of the two Prime Ministers of the Entities to examine the overall problem of public corporations and try to resolve the evident political impasse.
- The municipal elections this year will be of
critical importance to the future development of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Their preparation must be closely correlated with the overall implementation
of the Peace Agreement. Considerable resources, both financial and in terms
of experienced elections personnel, will be required to supervise the
preparation and conduct of these elections and to ensure that the results
are fully implemented.
- The overall approach to the preparation of the
elections should continue to be as prescribed by the PIC Steering Board in
October 1996, namely: higher quality for the municipal elections than that
which prevailed for the General Elections in September 1996; complete
international supervision of all of the polling stations and of every stage
of the election process; and that the OSCE should have the structures for
the likely re-runs as well as for the installation of the elected officials.
- At the London Peace Implementation Conference in
December 1996 it was agreed that the elections would be held by the summer
of 1997. In its 21 January "Election Plan for Municipal Elections", the OSCE
Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina announced a target date of 12/13 July,
which proved to be untenable. Planning proceeded accordingly until the end
of February. On 6 March the OSCE Chairman-in-Office announced that, given
the need for high quality elections and firmness after these elections, he
had decided that the elections should take place on 13/14 September. The
decision to defer the municipal elections has provided a realistic
time-frame in which the elections can be thoroughly prepared.
- The Provisional Election Commission (PEC) began its
regulatory work in mid-January, somewhat later than had been anticipated. It
has adopted a number of significant Rules, particularly those which were
necessary to accommodate the November 1996 Memorandum of Understanding
between the OSCE and the Republika Srpska, in which it was agreed that
refugees may vote in an intended place of residence. Given the gross
manipulation which took place in the registration process for the 1996
General Elections, the PEC adopted specific rules stipulating the
requirements should refugees decide to vote in an intended place of
- A new affirmative voter registration has also been agreed by the PEC. If well prepared and properly executed under close international supervision, this registration should lead to a clearly defined electorate, thus avoiding the confusion and disputes which arose in September, 1996. But the challenges in registering voters remain considerable. For registration to succeed:
- the Local Election Commissions must be trained and
fully functioning well before the beginning of the registration process on
- all those who are eligible to register must be
able to do so in conveniently-located registration centres. The PEC's 11
February decision to ensure international supervision of all of these
centres is a significant measure by which the potential for fraud can be
- the number and location of the polling stations
must be carefully correlated with the specific requirements of each
municipality. There should also be confidence that the number of polling
stations currently envisaged, 2,300, is sufficient;
- a massive and effective voter education campaign will be required because an active voter registration process is not part of local political tradition.
- The PEC has also adopted a number of other Rules,
including those which provide for the participation of Political Parties in
the work of the Local Election Commissions. It has also strengthened its
provisions regarding the media. The PEC should complete its regulatory work
soon and try to avoid preparing Rules late in the electoral process, as
happened in 1996.
- The municipal basis for the elections in the
Federation needs to be resolved, both with regard to those municipalities
which were divided by the Inter-Entity Boundary Line (IEBL), and from the
perspective of the calls for the establishment of some new municipalities
within the Federation. An Advisory Commission, which worked under the
auspices of the Council of Europe, was established by the Federation Forum
on 3 February to examine these issues. Its opinion - in the form of a Draft
Law - prepared by my Legal Department and experts of the Council of Europe,
was communicated to the Federation Government on 3 March. The Federation
Ministries of Justice and Urban Planning are currently preparing a final
text which will be submitted shortly to the Federation Parliamentary
Assembly. An early decision is required to enable the OSCE to proceed in its
planning with a clear vision of the Federation's municipal structure.
- The London Conference Conclusions stressed the
importance of tackling the crucial post-elections issues. Recent events in
Serbia have underlined that the electoral process does not stop on polling
day; officials must be able to take office and perform their duties. As the
London Conference had requested close coordination on the planning of the
election process and the management of the post-elections period, my Office
prepared a preliminary paper on these issues for the 21 January meeting of
the Steering Board of the PIC. Considerable problems can be expected with
the implementation of the election results; the OSCE has, therefore,
recently established a Post-Elections Planning Group, in which the OHR,
IPTF, SFOR, UNHCR, ECMM and the Council of Europe participate.
- A sound electoral process is the essential ingredient in the peace implementation process in 1997. Quality, determination and complete implementation of the election results will be essential for the advancement of the democratic process in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- The implementation of the Federation remains one of
the major fields of activity of my Office. The first months of this year
were characterized by continuing mistrust between the Federation partners.
In January, the Prime Minister called publicly for the resignation of his
Deputy because of some alleged customs irregularities. At the end of the
same month, the HDZ froze its participation in the Federation Government and
the Federation Assembly until some unsettled issues were resolved, in
particular the formation of new municipalities.
- At a Federation Forum on 3 February, my Office, in
cooperation with the US Government, tried to bridge some of the most urgent
differences. Agreement was reached on the establishment of an Advisory
Commission, led by the European Council, to address the question of
municipalities. In addition, the next steps on organizational questions
regarding Sarajevo and Mostar, as well as the new dates for the formation of
the Federation police, were agreed.
- However, none of the deadlines could be kept due to
an eruption of violence in Mostar on 10 February, when West Mostar police
officers shot at the backs of Bosniak cemetery visitors. This was followed
by a series of assaults on travellers in the Mostar area and a wave of
evictions in West Mostar. In response, my Principal Deputy, together with
COMSFOR and the UN IPTF Commissioner, assembled Federation leaders on 12
February, and reached agreement on the 'Decisions on Mostar' in which the UN
IPTF was requested to submit a report on the 10 February events. In this
Report of 24 February, 3 police officers were clearly identified as
perpetrators of the shooting. The conclusions from the Report, in particular
the arrest and punishment of the perpetrators, were endorsed by the UN
Security Council on 11 March. As yet, there has not been compliance. On 25
March, the UN IPTF and my Office submitted a second Report on the situation
in Mostar, from 1 January to 15 February, which graphically illustrated that
neither the political authorities, nor the police of Mostar, have reacted
appropriately to the human rights and security situation in the city. It
further outlined the consistent police failure to respond to incidents
involving victims of an ethnicity other than their own.
- After international pressure and some intervention
from Zagreb, the situation in Mostar calmed down and the security
environment improved. In the aftermath of 10 February, some West Mostar gang
leaders were arrested, amongst them strongmen Mladen Tuta Naletelic and
Vinko Stela Martinovic, both of whom are being held in prison in Zagreb. In
the medium and long term, these arrests may add to the stabilization of the
situation in Mostar, but the crimes committed on 10 February remain
unpunished. On 4 April, the United Police Force of Mostar started to
function again, working in joint Cantonal police uniforms; an important step
towards the unification of the police in the whole of the Herzegovina
Neretva Canton, possibly in late April.
- In March, the HDZ returned to the Federation
Assembly and Government. On 18 March, both Federation Houses elected the new
Federation President, Vladimir Soljic, and his Deputy Ejup Ganic. On 20
March, the Government adopted a draft Law on the Federation Implementation
Council which will, if adopted by the Federation Assembly, facilitate the
removal from office of officials who obstruct the implementation of the
Federation. On the financial side, the customs system was put back on track
after some danger of falling apart in January and February. On 20 March, the
Government adopted the Federation budget which now awaits approval by the
Assembly, scheduled for 16 April.
- On 26 February, the Advisory Commission on
municipalities finished its work on split and the first group of new
municipalities, and submitted a draft law to the Government. Due to some of
the proposed new municipalities being contested, in particular the Croat
populated Usora, the Government has not yet agreed on the draft law, thus
posing a considerable problem to the OSCE which has to proceed with its
planning for the municipal elections.
- On 27 March, leaders of the parties represented in
the Sarajevo Canton Assembly signed a comprehensive agreement on the
implementation of the Sarajevo Protocol. Precise steps were outlined to
establish the City Council, elect a mayor of Sarajevo and his Deputies, and
to amend the Federation and Canton Constitutions. Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs
will have guaranteed rights in the governance of the city. If implemented,
this would constitute a significant step towards ensuring the multi-ethnic
character of Sarajevo, facilitating return, improving the climate in the
Federation and ultimately providing the possibility for all peoples and
citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina to identify with their capital.
- At the end of the reporting period, the recent crisis in the Federation appears to have been overcome, for the time being. It is clear that the implementation process needs further international attention and assistance, particularly regarding return of refugees and displaced persons. The relations within the Federation also depend, to a considerable degree, on the relations between the Entities and within the common institutions.
Republika Srpska issues
- The formation of the Entity structures, as well as
necessary legislative framework, has continued in the Republika Srpska. The
National Assembly of the Republika Srpska held three sessions during the
reporting period. The deputies to the National Assembly, elected on the
territory of the Federation, were allowed to participate fully in the work
of the National Assembly without taking an oath. In order to facilitate
their participation, the OHR and IPTF provides technical support.
- Since my last report, the reorganization of the
structure of the Government has been finalised. The National Assembly
adopted at the 7 February session, the Law on the Government of Republika
Srpska and the Law on the Ministries. These Laws rationalized the structure
of the Government and decreased the total number of Ministries. The main
pillars of the programme of the Government remain: defence of territorial
integrity; organized settlement of the population to areas close to IEBL;
economic reconstruction and social protection of the people.
- There are a number of issues, however, about which I
am concerned. The Republika Srpska continues the pretence of statehood; a
number of its laws are filled with references and terminology to this
effect. The continuation of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs is contrary to
the Peace Agreement, as is the reference to crucial issues of foreign
economic policy in the newly adopted Law on the Senate of the Republika
Srpska. A Law on Foreign Exchange, while short on specifics, gives wide
powers to the National Bank of Republika Srpska to legislate the operation
of the foreign exchange market and refers to "new dinars" as the domestic
currency. The recent amendments to the Law on Citizenship, will further
retard the process of agreeing on the Quick Start Package.
- An agreement between the Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia and Republika Srpska, establishing a "special parallel
relationship", was signed in Belgrade on 28 February 1997 and was
subsequently adopted by the Assemblies of the Republika Srpska and FRY. The
agreement contains similar elements as those included in the agreement
concluded between Croatia, the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the
Federation, in Paris on 15 December 1995. Though the Constitution of Bosnia
and Herzegovina allows for "special parallel relationships" (Article III, 2
a), my Office has considered the agreements and found that both suffer from
constitutional shortcomings. Negotiations are also proceeding on the
formation of a virtual customs union between the Republika Srpska and FRY
and I have warned that this would be contrary to the Peace Agreement. We
must insist that all agreements be reviewed by the Bosnia and Herzegovina
Parliamentary Assembly and brought into line with the Constitution.
- I am also concerned about the apparent disrespect
displayed by some leaders in the Republika Srpska for the provisions and
procedures of the Republika Srpska constitution. This was especially evident
during the conclusion of the above mentioned agreement on a "special
parallel relationship" with FRY, which was signed on behalf of the Republika
Srpska by Momcilo Krajisnik, the member from the territory of the Republika
Srpska in the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in violation of the
Republika Srpska constitution.
- While such legislative posturing continues, the
Republika Srpska economy is slipping further into decay. The initial boost
from the return to peace was short-lived and there is still large scale
unemployment, low income levels and a severely limited ability to care for
the elderly and poor. My Office has made strenuous efforts to redirect the
flow of international aid to the Republika Srpska in order to revitalise the
economy and prevent inevitable social tensions.
- At the same time, such aid must be conditioned to co-operation with the peace process. The authorities in the Republika Srpska must be convinced that their activities could lead to a severe reduction in planned economic aid and an increase in social turmoil which would, ultimately, be to their own disadvantage and that of the people they purport to represent.
- Events elsewhere in the region underline the vital
role of independent media in achieving democracy and stability. OHR is
giving high priority to entrenching and consolidating independent media in
all parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- The London Conference Conclusions gave a reinforced
role to OHR in co-ordinating international support to independent media
project; there are now regular media round-tables in Sarajevo with all major
donors. A detailed database of existing and proposed projects has been set
up, and an effective instrument now exists for avoiding overlap between
different donors and agencies, and promoting co-operation between them.
- My Office plays its most active role in assisting
the Open Broadcast Network (OBN), as Chair of the Governing Council and
its Steering Committee. The OBN is the only true cross-entity broadcaster in
Bosnia and Herzegovina. It carries the programming of TV-IN to most areas of
the Federation, and to much of the Republika Srpska in the area around Banja
Luka. The project has had to overcome a number of institutional and
technical problems. It has also had to endure much politically inspired
public criticism designed to undermine what remains a fledgling but maturing
TV Network. As such it continues to need the support, protection and nurture
of the international community. The network is now embarking on Stage Two of
its development, a $7.4 m programme which will roughly double the audience
for its programmes, set up a fully-fledged affiliate station in the
Republika Srpska with its own local identity, and expand substantially the
programming capacity both of the central hub in Sarajevo and of the
affiliates. Stage Two will aim to consolidate the network's operations over
a two-year period, after which it should be self-sustaining.
- The Republika Srpska is a crucial target in my
efforts to promote independent media. A proposal for an independent print
house in Banja Luka is being finalised in conjunction with the
democratisation working group in Banja Luka; funding is being made available
from EU sources. As Western Herzegovina is even more closed than the RS to
independent media, my Office is also seeking a pro-active strategy with
other international institutions and donors to promote the independent media
in that region of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- At present, there is no comprehensive framework for the legal regulation of media in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Federation does not even have a media law. My Office co-chairs with the US embassy the Federation Forum Special Group on media issues, and has given the Federation partners, as a possible basis for discussion, draft laws on broadcasting prepared by the European Institute for the Media. My Office is also in close touch with the Presidency working group preparing draft legislation on telecommunications, which has some limited implications for broadcasting. Our interest in the field of media law is in ensuring basic media freedoms and protecting independent media. It will be particularly important to ensure the position of cross-entity broadcasters within this framework.
Return of refugees and displaced persons
- The beginning of 1997 has signaled a major push to
repatriate refugees. Approximately 235.000 refugees and displaced persons
are believed to have returned to their homes during 1996, mainly on a
spontaneous and individual basis; the scene for 1997 promises to be more
complex. Some host countries in Europe have started to lift temporary
protection status and have begun large-scale organised repatriation. This is
likely to create further disruption; the influx of returnees in 1996 has
already used up much of the housing capacity in Bosnia and Herzegovina,
additionally, the homes of the refugees are, by and large, either destroyed
or occupied by internally displaced people. A possible influx of Serbs from
Eastern Slavonia into the Republika Srpska would merely exacerbate the
- Violent incidents such as the shootings in Mostar on
10 February and the deliberate destruction of houses and shelters in the
Zone of Separation, indicate the hostile environment minority returns can
encounter. Nonetheless, the process of normalisation has provided some
openings to individual and low-profile minority returns. UNHCR estimates the
number involved to be about 10,000, many more are signaling their wish to
return to their homes across the IEBL in both directions.
- Since my last report, my Office has concentrated its
efforts in three fields: the establishment of the Reconstruction and Return
Task Force; support for the Coalition for Return; the implementation of the
Procedure for return and reconstruction in the Zone of Separation.
Furthermore, my Office's overall efforts towards the economic reconstruction
of Bosnia and Herzegovina; functioning common institutions; the improvement
of the overall human rights, policing and judicial situation, can be
expected to have beneficial effects for the provision of durable solutions
for displaced persons and returning refugees.
- After consultations with UNHCR and other main actors
including the European Commission and the international financial
institutions, I called for the inaugural meeting of the Reconstruction and
Return Task Force on 4 February. The Task Force has sought to develop links
between economic reconstruction and the return of refugees to maximise the
impact of limited resources in supporting sustainable returns. Among the
conclusions of the Task Force have been the need to focus resources in areas
where there is both economic potential and expected refugee return, and the
need to identify loan mechanisms to overcome the major financing gap in the
housing and relevant infrastructure sectors. The Task Force will submit
recommendations to the donor community.
- The Coalition for Return, a movement of displaced
persons and refugees of all nationalities and from all parts of Bosnia and
Herzegovina, has continued to grow during the reporting period. A number of
refugee associations in third countries have also joined. By jointly
expressing their interests, those most affected by the war and manipulation
by the authorities are becoming a significant political force at the
grass-roots level. This was expressed by the gathering of 270 members of the
Coalition in Tuzla on 22-23 February. The Coalition has promoted the
creation of an information network between displaced persons by organising
visits to communities throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. Material support
has been received to establish regional offices that will further improve
contacts; the first is planned to open in April. My Office will continue to
give technical and political support to the Coalition until such support is
no longer required.
- Returns to the Zone of Separation, on the basis of
the Procedure established in October 1996, have met a mixed fate. Violence
directed against the labourers and the destruction of the pre-fabricated
provisional shelters in the hamlet of Gajevi has hit the headlines. However,
the successful administrative integration of returned villagers by Republika
Srpska authorities, and joint police patrolling of Republika Srpska police
and UN IPTF in the Sapna and Doboj areas, do indicate a changing attitude in
some areas. Likewise, the Federation authorities have recognised that
cross-IEBL returns into the Zone of Separation have to be conducted in a
civil and orderly manner.
- Returns to the Zone of Separation have also been
achieved in the Brcko municipality; reconstruction efforts have been ongoing
under the adopted Procedure for approximately nine months, with only some
initial incidents of destruction of property. Returns to contentious areas
and the endorsement of the Procedure by the President of the Republika
Srpska and the joint Bosnia and Herzegovina delegation to the UNHCR's
refugee ministers' meeting of 21-22 March, give rise to the expectation that
phased and orderly return to the Zone of Separation might become a more
common and less disputed element of the stabilisation process in 1997. A
focused international effort will be needed to bring about the
revitalisation and normalisation of this area through the return of its
- My Deputy in Brcko, acting as the Supervisor,
together with two deputies, to implement the arbitration award of 14
February 1997, will soon establish and oversee the realisation of a special
procedure to enable the return of original inhabitants to Brcko. Return is a
core element of the arbitration award.
- My Office will continue its task to co-ordinate the efforts of international actors to facilitate return and repatriation and to exercise contingency measures. After its recommendations to the Donor Conference, the Reconstruction and Return Task Force will remain engaged in efforts to harmonise economic reconstruction with return requirements. I will continue to press the governments in Bosnia and Herzegovina to fulfill their obligations to create conditions favourable to return, and will closely monitor other durable solutions offered to the community of displaced persons and refugees.
Freedom of Movement
- Improvements in freedom of movement have been
facilitated by the elimination of check-points and the establishment of
inter-entity bus-lines operated by UNHCR. Under the auspices of UNHCR and UN
IPTF visits to grave-yards or former homes in the other Entity have
increased. However, freedom of movement is severely restricted by
inappropriate policing practices and the lack of telecommunications and
- The Freedom of Movement Task Force (FMTF), mandated
at the London Conference and consisting of representatives of OHR, UN IPTF
and SFOR and interested countries, has met a number of times to explore
various implementing mechanisms to promote Freedom of Movement for people,
goods and mail.
- Police practices in both Entities are the single
greatest obstacle to freedom of movement. The police engage in conduct that
tends to make the IEBL a boundary, especially along the major cross-IEBL
arteries. Checkpoints, the confiscation of documents and arbitrary fines,
act as a deterrent to the movement of individuals. My Office fully supports
the work of the UN IPTF to restructure and retrain the local police forces
and I welcome the commitment to provide a further 186 UN IPTF monitors, and
11 civilians, for the Brcko region.
- Uniform driver documentation and vehicle number
plates would considerably facilitate freedom of movement. This issue has
been raised within the Council of Ministers, though at present it is only
being considered for those Ministers and bureaucrats who need to cross the
IEBL. The FMTF will also be considering alternative methods to resolve the
- The internal transit agreement signed earlier this
year, has contributed towards the free movement of foreign goods between the
two Entities. The flow of domestic goods has however encountered problems
similar to those experienced by private cars. Uniform number-plates and the
adoption of the Customs Laws in the Quick Start Package are essential if
there is to be real progress in this field.
- The cross-IEBL bus-lines, established by the UNHCR,
have become an effective tool in promoting freedom of movement between the
two Entities for displaced persons, returnees and the local population.
Under the auspices of the my Office, the Chambers of Commerce and bus
companies of the two Entities have been meeting to discuss the registration
of inter-entity bus-lines. UNHCR will be included in future talks. The
implementation of locally run inter-entity passenger traffic, will be a
vital step forward to the realisation of freedom of movement.
- Inter-entity railway traffic should be established.
In early February, the Commission for Public Corporations established a
Railways Commission and four Working Groups to address the different aspects
of the problem. Progress has however floundered on the differing concepts of
the railways structure.
- Exchange of information and regular contact between
the citizens of the two Entities would contribute toward a climate conducive
to movement. My Office is working with the European Commission to establish
inter-entity telecommunications, but has encountered considerable reluctance
from all sides to share exchanges or management. A new structural approach
may have to be adopted; it is also essential that frequency control,
management and telecommunications will be covered by just one of the Bosnia
and Herzegovina ministries.
- In the Brcko area, the Supervisor will promote a
series of steps to ensure freedom of movement of people, goods and commerce.
The announcement by Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia of their intention to
start immediate discussions on the rapid opening of their common border,
with customs procedures and controls consistent with European standards,
will be of particular importance for the Brcko area.
- As part of the economic rehabilitation of the Brcko area, the European Commission, the World Bank and US AID have agreed to make major investments to improve road and rail structures of the area. Measures are urgently needed to upgrade the East-West road through the area, as well as the key road and rail bridges over the River Sava both in the immediate Brcko area and further to the West at Orasje and Samac. This would improve North-South communications for the unhindered use of both Entities and all communities of Bosnia Herzegovina. The Supervisor will also study the river traffic in co-operation with the parties.
Missing persons, Mass graves
- The issue of missing persons remains highly volatile
after a year of halting and inadequate progress. The exact number of missing
persons is uncertain; the ICRC has received tracing requests for more than
19,000 persons; the Bosniak authorities estimate the number of missing to be
closer to 30,000. To date, the status of approximately 1,000 missing
individuals has been clarified. Due to the lack of progress, the ICRC is
currently looking at new ways to move its tracing process forward.
- Recognising that the missing are - with very few, if
any, exceptions - deceased, the local authorities, my Office and other
members of the international community, have focused efforts on the
exhumation of mass graves and the clearing of unburied mortal remains. After
the winter delay, the parties met on 31 March under the auspices of my
Office and agreed to resume inter-entity exhumations on 10 April. Work will
begin simultaneously at two sites on that date.
- While frustrating for the families of the missing,
the winter-imposed break in exhumations provided an opportunity for the
international community to organise resources and focus activities in order
to improve the conduct of joint exhumations during 1997. Under the auspices
of the Expert Group on Exhumations and Missing Persons, chaired by the OHR
and consisting of several international organisations, a number of efforts
are underway to assist the joint exhumation and identification process.
These include projects by Physicians for Human Rights to train Bosnian
scientists and technicians in exhumation techniques, to provide a
co-ordinator for international forensic monitoring of exhumations and to
establish an antemortem data base (in conjunction with the Association for
the Promotion of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights). Physicians
for Human Rights is also working on an identification project designed to
assist in scientifically verifiable identification of mortal remains.
- The International Commission on Missing Persons
announced at its meeting on 21 March that it had established a fund to aid
family associations of missing persons. The Commission has also indicated
its willingness to support aspects of the exhumation process such as the
de-mining of exhumation sites and the provision of equipment for exhumations
and identification. Other assistance provided by the international community
includes donations from the Swiss Government and the UN Trust Fund.
- Although beneficial, these projects cannot by themselves resolve the many issues relating to missing persons. Additional resources, security for exhumation sites, and substantial political will are required if this issue is to be addressed effectively.
- The Peace Agreement expects the authorities to
secure the highest level of internationally recognized human rights, however
there are many indications that the responsible authorities in Bosnia and
Herzegovina do not view this obligation as legally binding. The authorities
have yet to take a number of concrete steps to demonstrate their commitment
to protecting human rights. For example, both the Federation and the
Republika Srpska conceded in July 1996 that their laws relating to abandoned
property were contrary to basic human rights. Eight months later, neither
Entity has brought their laws into compliance with the Peace Agreement. The
Republika Srpska has still to amend its amnesty law to extend coverage to
persons who deserted or avoided military conscription. Such delays pose a
substantial obstacle to return of refugees and displaced people and
contribute to ethnic division.
- The authorities responsible for protecting human
rights, in particular the police, continue to account for a substantial
portion of reported abuses. Political leaders and police in both the
Federation and Republika Srpska have often implicitly condoned abuses by
failing to respond appropriately. A particularly egregious example, is the
failure of the Republika Srpska police to conduct proper investigations into
four separate cases in which Bosniaks were murdered in Teslic, Doboj,
Dubrave and Zvornik.
- In addition, the police themselves are directly
responsible for numerous abuses, most notably the 10 February incident in
Mostar in which uniformed and plain clothes police fired at the backs of
retreating civilians, killing one and injuring more than 20 people. Arrests
have still not been made in the case of a Bosniak man who was beaten to
death while in police custody in Banja Luka last summer; this month the
local police proposed to the RS Ministry of Internal Affairs that the
salaries of the five officers on duty be partially docked for one month. In
both Entities there have been numerous reports of beatings in detention.
- These problems graphically illustrate the need for
the restructuring and training of the Entities' police forces to be
accelerated. While the vetting of the Federation police forces is underway,
the Republika Srpska has yet to submit the lists of officers to be vetted.
The Republika Srpska must fully co-operate with the UN IPTF in the
restructuring and reduction of the RS police force.
- A precarious human rights situation, characterized
by widespread discrimination and abuse on ethnic grounds, continues to
reign. Harassment of minorities residing, visiting or travelling through
areas where another group is in the majority continues unabated. The most
severe abuses are occurring in the Republika Srpska and in Croat majority
areas in western Herzegovina. A worrying development during the reporting
period has been the tit-for-tat attacks on religious and cultural edifices,
such as churches, mosques and cemeteries, within the Federation.
- Inter-ethnic tensions within the Federation and
between the two Entities continues to prompt forced and illegal evictions of
minorities. Destruction of minority-owned homes in the zone of separation
and in other towns during this period, further polluted the human rights
environment in areas targeted for return of refugees and displaced persons.
Widespread discrimination against ethnic minorities and supporters of
opposition political parties, in the fields of employment, education and
access to services, continued particularly in the Republika Srpska.
- My Office is working with UNHCR and the Sarajevo
city authorities to ensure that housing reconstruction furthers the right of
return of pre-war occupants. Efforts continue to be directed at organizing
local community councils, in areas where tense relations are reported
between displaced Bosniaks and remaining Serbs. My Office has organized
meetings between local authorities from Sarajevo canton and adjoining areas
of Republika Srpska to: initiate police cooperation against crime; encourage
freedom of movement; and to discuss possibilities of inter-entity economic
cooperation in the wider Sarajevo region.
- At its final meeting of 1996, the Human Rights Task
Force (HRTF) set priorities for 1997 based on its assessment of the
accomplishments and shortcomings of the human rights community's efforts to
date. Priorities for this year include: human rights institution building,
involving both strengthening of human rights institutions and support for
NGOs; development of a human rights culture through public information,
education and democratisation initiatives; strengthening the rule of law
through projects including incorporation of human rights standards into law
and reform of legal, administrative and law enforcement institutions.
- Given the multiplicity of organizations involved in
the human rights field, the HRTF called for improved integration of
activities at an operational level, as well as better coordination of
responses to human rights abuses. To address these objectives, the Human
Rights Coordination Centre Steering Board was established on 8 January 1997.
The Steering Board, which is composed of the leading human
rights/democratisation officers of the major international implementing
organisations, has been working to restructure coordination efforts to
address both longer-term initiatives, as well as monitoring and response to
more immediate issues.
- Failure to implement the human rights provisions of the Peace Agreement should also be addressed by introducing new techniques to sanction non-compliance and by strengthening existing mechanisms. During 1996, the actions of some individuals hampered reconciliation and damaged the peace process. As agreed, an additional sanction which my Office will employ this year will be to request that persons who engage in substantial acts of non-compliance or human rights violations be denied visas allowing them to travel abroad. This sanction has now been applied for the first time on the three policemen identified as shooting at the retreating crowd in Mostar. Other strategies are being developed, including a more co-ordinated system for joint demarches to interested Governments and intergovernmental institutions, and methods to ensure effective and thorough incorporation of human rights considerations into decision-making relating to economic assistance and reconstruction.
Cooperation with ICTY and Strengthening the Rule of Law
- The failure of responsible authorities, particularly
in the Republika Srpska, to fulfill their legal obligation to cooperate with
ICTY, continues. The Republika Srpska has refused to arrest and surrender
persons indicted by the Tribunal, relying on a provision in their
Constitution which is clearly superseded by the Constitution of Bosnia and
Herzegovina and other Annexes of the Peace Agreement. Concurrently, Bosnian
Croat authorities have failed to arrest the numerous indicted persons who
reside in or visit areas of the Federation previously under the control of
the HVO. The presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina of people indicted by ICTY
is a continuing threat to the peace process and a serious impediment to
reconciliation. The responsible authorities must take immediate steps to
execute arrest warrants for persons indicted by the Tribunal, to submit all
cases involving suspected war crimes to the Tribunal for review prior to
arrest or prosecution by national courts, and to provide information to
assist in Tribunal investigations.
- The Steering Board has agreed, that my Office will
compile the necessary information to implement concrete measures against
municipalities, such as Prijedor and Bosanski Samac, in which indicted
persons hold public office.
- During the reporting period, the Federation has
taken some belated steps to implement the 'Rules of the Road' agreed in Rome
on 18 February 1996 by identifying cases submitted for review by the
Tribunal. The Republika Srpska has submitted virtually no cases for review,
and continues prosecutions in both of the cases submitted in violation of
the Rome agreement. In addition, both the Federation and the Republika
Srpska continue to detain persons suspected of war crimes in violation of
the Rome agreement.
- Both Entities should implement the "Rules of the
Road" without further delay by: submitting files on all persons suspected of
war crimes to the Hague; terminating all prosecutions of persons for whom
files have not been sent to the Tribunal; releasing immediately any person
detained on suspicion of war crimes should the Tribunal determine that the
evidence submitted is not sufficient to warrant further detention or
investigation. No arrests of war crimes suspects should occur prior to
review and approval of a case by the Tribunal. It is essential that the
international community provide ICTY with the resources it needs to fulfill
its commitment to implement the 'Rules of the Road' procedure and to monitor
prosecutions and trials by national courts.
- With regard to persons detained following the peace
agreement, substantial human rights violations continue. Arbitrary
detentions, including cases of tit-for-tat arrests, continue, as does the
war-time practice of detaining people for the purposes of exchange. In late
March the Federation authorities in Bihac failed to release a Serb detained
without sufficient evidence, until a Bosniak held in Banja Luka was
released. The risk of arrest, which is compounded by the lack of clarity on
who is being sought for war crimes, substantially impedes freedom of
- These problems demonstrate the importance of strengthening the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The extensive list of human rights obligations which form part of the Constitution, must be brought into law through adoption of implementing legislation and by review of existing laws to determine their compatibility with international human rights standards, in particular with the European Convention on Human Rights. The Federation has now formed an expert team to reform its criminal law and criminal procedure code; the Republika Srpska should begin this process with expedition and support from international institutions, including the Council of Europe. A greater effort is also required to inform the public both of their rights and of the legal framework which has been created to protect those rights. By monitoring sensitive trials and intervening to ensure that essential rights, such as the right to legal counsel, are protected, human rights organisations can play a vital role in deterring human rights abuses and building confidence in the legal system.
Economic reform and reconstruction
- I have intensified my coordination efforts with
major implementation agencies and international financing institutions,
namely the World Bank, the European Commission (EC), the European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development, the International Monetary Fund and the
International Management Group, by creating a Secretariat attached to the
Economic Task Force (ETF). This initiative has been supported by the recent
secondment of two additional economists from the World Bank and the EC.
- In the first quarter of 1997, with the exception of
the extension to the USAID program for 1997 (US$ 71 million), no other major
credit or grant agreements on reconstruction projects were signed with
Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities. Implementation of on-going projects has
continued however, and there is still a significant amount of project aid to
be disbursed from last year. In order to adjust the imbalance of last year,
when virtually all reconstruction projects were conducted in the Federation,
a project for critical imports and a transport sector programme for the
Republika Srpska have been prepared by the World Bank and are scheduled to
be presented to the World Bank Board in May. With respect to
telecommunications, the EC has recently signed a contract to finance the
repair of the Republika Srpska backbone system and it's eventual linkage to
- Significant, but slow, progress has been made with
respect to agreeing the minimum legal framework necessary for the
development of the macro-economy and for reaching an agreement with the IMF.
After the presentation of the Draft Laws in the Quick Start Package, which
were prepared by various international lead agencies in coordination with my
office, substantial time was absorbed in expert working groups created by
the Council of Ministers. Due to this delay, it has not yet been possible to
hold the planned Donors Conference. However, most laws have now reached the
stage where they can soon be presented to the Parliamentary Assembly, and my
office has been working with the Chairs of both Houses in order to
facilitate their swift passage.
- Within the framework of the transition to a market
economy, I have continued to stress priority sectors such as infrastructure,
employment generation and the restarting of production. The number of
contracts completed or signed has increased by more than 600 in the last
three months and, altogether, the total number of contracts related to civil
works, and the provision of goods and services now exceeds 1500. There
remain, however, significant financing gaps in all major sectors in spite of
my strong recommendations to the donor community in the past. Also, in
certain sectors such as railways or telecommunications, political
constraints on the spot still impede quick project implementation. At the
Donors Information Meeting, held in Brussels at the end of January, I
pointed out that unless viable sector policies are adopted in these areas,
no further financial commitments could be recommended. I will press to have
these issues addressed at the 1997 Donors Conference.
- The Implementation Conference on Brcko signaled the
commitment of the international community to devote significant financial
and material resources towards the sustainable development of
infrastructure, transportation links, repair and construction of housing,
social facilities and community and business structures in the Brcko area.
This targeted economic assistance will be provided only if the local
authorities demonstrate sustained co-operation with my Office in Brcko.
- A major challenge for 1997 is the expected mass return of refugees to Bosnia and Herzegovina from host countries in Western Europe. It is clear that this will place a large burden on the very fragile recovery process. The co-ordinating role of the Return and Reconstruction Task Force will be crucial to avoid the potential destabilising effect of mass return.
- There have been some positive developments in the
field of civil aviation. The number of civil carriers operating into
Sarajevo Airport has progressively increased, and the recent completion of
work to fit an instrument landing system should further enhance the flow of
civil traffic. But problems remain, not least the issue of a tunnel repair
under the runway. These will have to be resolved quickly if the airport is
to begin to operate to full capacity.
- On a wider front the picture is less encouraging.
Though the Parties agreed at the London Conference to work collectively and
on an equal basis in a Bosnia and Herzegovina Civil Aviation Authority, this
has yet to happen. Consequently, efforts to open the regional airports have
been unproductive. An ICAO team has recently completed a Civil Aviation
Master Plan dealing with the transition to civil control of all Bosnia and
Herzegovina's airports and airspace, but it remains to be seen whether this
will stimulate progress when it is presented to the Parties.
- There has been one significant breakthrough, brokered in an initiative by SFOR, resulting in an agreement between SFOR, Croatia and FRY to reopen airspace over Bosnia and Herzegovina above altitudes of 33,000 ft to transiting civil aviation traffic. I welcome this development, given that it will provide financial benefit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and FRY, but more importantly because it should encourage the Parties to begin working together with the international civil aviation authorities.
- Mine clearing has developed some momentum, but the
resources available for this urgent task remain scarce and the number of
mines being cleared is small. The efforts of the International Community,
working with the UN sponsored Mine Action Task Force and the UN Mine Action
Centre have been centered on a few well focused and effective projects
conducted by local companies, Norwegian Peoples Aid and US Government
sponsored teams. The UN Mine Action Centre has drawn up a comprehensive
organisational structure for mine clearing activities across BH, however a
Government structure has yet to be put fully in place and, until it is,
proper coordination related to associated funding will not take place.
- The key element is the establishment of a fully
representative Bosnia and Herzegovina Commission for Demining capable of
prioritising activities and processing projects. It must be clear that
funding will be utilised sensibly. The Commission has commenced work however
it has yet to function as a truly effective body. It is imperative that it
becomes operative soon as urgent work is needed to take over certain project
facilities and assume responsibility for the UN Mine Action Centre by the
end of the year.
- I welcome SFOR's new policy on mine-clearing by the Former Warring Factions (FWF). Linked to the US Department of State's initiative to train 450 FWF mine clearers, it will stimulate the Entities to accept greater responsibility for the long term task of demining. SFOR has been strict with the implementation, and the training should provide a sound basis for strengthening the FWF's mine-clearing capability. International supervision is likely to be required to ensure that the FWF sustain their efforts once this training is complete.
- Implementation of the Agreement on Confidence and
Security Building Measures in Bosnia and Hercegovina, pursuant to Article II
of Annex 1B of the Peace Agreement, continues to proceed satisfactorily.
Close cooperation between the Parties to the Agreement, the OSCE Mission and
SFOR should contribute to the climate of trust and confidence necessary to
lower military tensions over the longer term.
- Progress with the implementation of the Agreement on Sub-Regional Arms Control (the 'Article IV' Agreement) has benefited from the renewed emphasis placed upon it at the London Conference. The Parties have revised their declarations of the equipment regulated by the Agreement, with the effect of increasing the overall number of items to be destroyed and reducing the quantity to be exempted from the reduction process. Equipment declarations, however, could be improved and the Federation partners have yet to agree on the allocation of equipment within the terms of the Agreement. The Parties must now redouble their efforts. It is likely that the full support of the international community will continue to be required to ensure that the letter and spirit of the Agreement are met on schedule. This will be a essential precursor to embarking on the negotiations for Regional Arms Control under the Article V of Annex 1B the Peace Agreement.
- COOPERATION WITH SFOR
- The presence of a credible international military
force continues to ensure that the Parties pursue their goals through
peaceful, political means. I envisage the need for this to continue for some
considerable time to come.
- The transition from the NATO-led Implementation
Force (IFOR) to the significantly smaller Stabilisation Force (SFOR) has not
impinged pon the close cooperation established between the military and
civilian agencies during the course of 1996. I and my staff continue to
enjoy a close working relationship with Gen Crouch, and his staff in
theatre, and also with both SACEUR at SHAPE and NATO HQ in Brussels.
- As the smaller military force does not possess the same level of capability to support civilian tasks as its predecessor, it is more important than ever to ensure that there is common agreement on priorities and well-coordinated planning. I am confident that the arrangements are in place to maintain this over the coming year, as we tackle collectively some of the most important and difficult aspects of the Peace Agreement, including the local elections and the return of refugees and displaced people to their homes.
- LOOKING FORWARD
- In my last report of 1996, I noted that the first
year of peace implementation was, over-all, a year of success, although each
step forward has demonstrated how many more are needed for the peace process
to become self-sustaining and stable. The consolidation period of 1997 and
1998 should provide for this possibility.
- During the first months of 1997, the focus of my
Office's attention has been on constitutional implementation. It is, in my
opinion, only by establishing and making the common institutions of Bosnia
and Herzegovina operational, as is laid down in the constitution of the
Peace Agreement, that there is any possibility of taking the peace process
- With the common institutions functioning, there is
hope of overcoming the bitter division of the country and addressing the
pressing economic and social issues which are a legacy, not only of the war,
but also of the failed policies of the previous decades. Without these
institutions, there is a risk that the partition of Bosnia and Herzegovina
could become permanent, thus endangering peace and stability in the country
and in the region in the years ahead.
- As noted above, all the common institutions have
been established and, in most cases, have started to work. While my Office
had to negotiate more or less every detail of the first meetings, they are
now holding their sessions as a matter of routine and with only limited
logistical support from my Office.
- But in order to be more than empty shells of little
relevance, the common institutions must take decisions on the laws and other
issues which will turn the state into a functioning reality. With the
support of other members of the international community - most notably the
European Commission, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the
US Treasury - my office has presented the so-called Quick Start Package of
interim essential legislation to the Council of Ministers. These laws and
other measures constitute what we consider the minimum for the state to
start functioning in the key areas under its competence.
- Progress on these issues has been slow. There has
been controversy between those seeking to limit the functions of the state
to well below what has been agreed, and those seeking to expand state
functions in the direction of a unitary state. Nevertheless, the QSP has
been moving forward, and I am confident that we will have decisions on all
key issues in the near future.
- These issues are important, not only in the context
of building the common state, but also to pave the way for the economic
reforms essential for the future economic and social development of the
country. International reconstruction assistance will not continue on
present levels for long; it is vital that conditions are created for
self-sustained and rapid economic growth in the years ahead. This will
require fundamental reforms to liberalize the economy, to privatize assets
and to open the way for foreign trade and competition.
- If decisions are taken on the relevant parts of the
QSP, there will be the possibility for an agreement with the IMF, which will
pave the way for holding the next Donor's Conference. It is my hope that
this will be possible towards the end of May, although the absence of an
agreement with the IMF would seriously limit the possibilities of holding a
successful Donor's Conference. We would aim to mobilize funds, in the order
of $ 1.4 bn, for reconstruction in 1997.
- The economic and social issues are also important in
facilitating return, not least of refugees from other countries primarily in
Western Europe. We can not expect refugees to return easily if they see a
country in economic and social despair. In this context, it is naturally
worrying, that developments have lead to a situation in which the areas of
the country from which the largest numbers of refugees originate, have been
receiving the least economic assistance.
- During 1996, I reported on the disturbing trend
towards ethnic separation. I regret to say that I see no fundamental
improvement in the situation. We are beginning to see some individual and
discreet minority returns to certain areas but, as a rule, any attempt at
major minority return is meeting fierce resistance ranging from the violent
to the bureaucratic.
- Of particular concern, in this respect, is the state
of property legislation as it involves housing. Existing laws in both the
Federation and the Republika Srpska make return very difficult, if not
impossible. My Office has pointed out this situation repeatedly. In a recent
landmark decision the Human Rights Ombudsperson for Bosnia and Herzegovina
ruled that existing laws in the Federation fail to comply with the Peace
Agreement; the same is true for the Republika Srpska.
- Return is also hampered by the widely observed lack
of respect for human rights. Here, the presence of the UN-IPTF is of
essential importance, as is the programme to restructure and train the local
police forces in the Federation and the Republika Srpska. The funding of
these programmes is of great importance, and I am contemplating further
initiatives, in coordination with the UN SRSG and Commander UN-IPTF, in
order to ensure that these programmes can be carried forward as planned.
- I welcome the authorization by the Security Council
to lift the ceiling for UN-IPTF monitors, in order to be able to take part
in the full implementation of the Brcko supervision. I regret, however, that
it has taken so long to obtain approval for the UN-IPTF increases necessary
to reinforce human rights supervision procedures agreed at the London
- An issue of particular concern to me, is the
question of full co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for
Yugoslavia (ICTY). Neither the Federation nor the Republika Srpska
co-operates to the extent required, and I am particularly concerned with
situations where indicted persons hold public positions or exercise de facto
- According to my information, persons indicted by
ICTY hold public office or exercise public functions in the Republika Srpska
municipalities of Bosanska Samac and Foca. I will recommend to international
organizations that they cease all contacts with these municpalities, other
than those necessary for assembling information, organizing election matters
or for helping individuals in need. In the Federation, I am worried that a
number of indicted persons living and working in the municipality of Vitez,
- Of further concern, are the ongoing activities of
Mr. Karadzic in the Republika Srpska. In spite of his undertakings to the
contrary, and those of the Republika Srpska leadership, he seeks
consistently to influence the political process. He remains a force of evil
and intrigue which can only taint those personalities and institutions of
the Republika Srpska which continue to tolerate his activities. This
applies, in my judgment, to the member of the Presidency of Bosnia and
Herzegovina, Mr. Krajisnik. I would therefore recommend that contacts with
him are limited to essential business related to his function as a member of
- It remains my opinion that these issues must be
resolved if we are to carry the political part of the peace process forward
- Although we are only at the beginning of the
consolidation period, it is only natural that we should look ahead in order
to meet the different challenges.
- It will take time, even under the best of
circumstances, for the political institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
with the help of the international community, to implement all the civilian
and related provisions of the Peace Agreement. The rebuilding and
reintegration of Bosnia has progressed faster than any other comparable
post-war situation, but it still has a very long way to go. War is an evil
event in any society, the effects of which take years, decades and even
generations to overcome.
- Increasingly, we must concentrate on preventing the
political development of the country from moving in a direction contrary to
the Peace Agreement. In this regard, I am considering the need for us to
prevent three courses of action, which might otherwise be pursued by one or
the other of the political leaderships of the country or region.
- The first of these, which needs to be blocked, is
the military option. Until June 1998, the deterrent effect of the SFOR will
ensure this. But it is, in my opinion, important that the message is sent
that the international community will not tolerate any attempt to resort to
armed force in the period thereafter.
- It is only by removing the military option - the
temptation to use military force, or the fear that military force will be
used - that we can ensure the concentration, on the political, economic and
social issues and challenges, so desperately required.
- The second is the option of secession from Bosnia
and Herzegovina. I am far less concerned with the dangers of overt secession
- which will never be tolerated by the international community - than with
the evident risks of creeping secession concerning both the Croat and the
- In this context, I have called attention to the
nature of the concluded agreements on special and parallel relations with
the Republic of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It is, in my
view, necessary to bring these into line with the provisions of the
constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- The third of these options is that of domination of
the existing political institutions by one group, namely the Bosniaks, with
only lip-service being paid to the concept of power-sharing.
- Indeed, there are signs of old structures being kept
alive despite the fact that they should have been disbanded as the
structures of the Federation and the new common institutions of Bosnia and
Herzegovina are established. The fact that not one single ambassador has
been appointed or reconfirmed, regardless of the agreement that this should
have been carried out before March 31, points to a similar danger of
domination contrary to the spirit and letter of the Peace Agreement.
- The challenges ahead remain large. It is easy to see what needs to be done as well as the difficulties we face. Nevertheless, if there is the right international commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region in the years ahead, I remain convinced that peace in the country will strengthen, as the simultaneous forces of European integration and co-operation create an increasingly strong web of stability and security for the region as a whole.