The war in Bosnia, and in particular the failure of the international community to put an end to it for 3 long years, has represented a tough anticlimax for the post-Cold War euphoria, envisaging a smooth and peaceful transition towards a functioning collective security system. The gap between ends and means or expectations and capabilities were so wide that the international community undermined the possibility of successful intervention.
UNPROFOR was initially deployed in Croatia, with headquarters in Sarajevo which at the time, early 1992, was before the recognition of its independence. Subsequently, with the escalation of the civil war in Bosnia, it’s mandate extended to Bosnia and as preventative deployment to the FYROM. In addition, UNPROFOR had an operational mandate in Serbia and Montenegro and a liaison presence in Slovenia.
The purpose of this essay is to discuss UN peace keeping operations, specifically, it shall examine the case of UNPROFOR. It shall aim to provide valuable knowledge on the creation of the force, the functions of the force, organization of the force, financing of the force and a final evaluation of the force. In order to succeed in this analytical framework it is adherent to have a background knowledge on the nature of the conflict and how is transformed.
1.2 MAJOR ACTORS
It is the largest and most expensive PKO in UN history at estimated costs of 4.6 billion USD for which these 39 countries were involved. The major actors were Europe, the United States and eventually NATO as shall be discussed.
Before I discuss the structure and purpose of UNPROFOR it is crucial that we understand the complexity of the situation with particular sensitivities to the internal characteristics of the conflicted region:
The kingdoms of Serbia and Croatia split control of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 9th century. The 11th and 12th centuries saw the rule of the region by the kingdom of Hungary until it regained its independence. Also, Ottoman Turks conquered the region and established the Ottoman province of Bosnia. Bosnia was under Ottoman rule until 1878, when it became a colony under Austria-Hungary. The complex multiethnic composition of the Reupublic 44% muslim, 33% Serb and 17% Croat was bound to cause problems.
1.3 INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
The international response to the growing crisis was not uniform, the Germans and Austrians are closely connected to Yugoslav Croats and Slovenes, the Greeks and more loosely the Russians have close ties to Serb communities and Turkey has often been focused with Albanian and Bosnian Moslems.
Europe was not ready to be the leader in a collective security system, opinions on how to deal with the crisis were not uniform. The EU was still in its initial stages of establishing a CFSP. France and the U.K were well aware of the growing situation nearby and also wished to contain the conflict but avoiding a partisan ground combat role. France was delighted at the opportunity to play a leading role with NATO (Schulte, 1997).
During the early 1990’s the United States was preoccupied with the events in the gulf and argued that it was Europe’s war. Initially, the US wanted to stay out and cooperated with others to contain the violence and relieve human suffering, but only to the extent feasible without us combat troops on the ground.
As explained in the following sections, UNPROFOR was a significant PKO not only for its gruesome bloodshed but also because of it’s transformation from a strictly UN operation, to a NATO led operation and finally to a European led reconstruction effort.
PHASE I: THE VANCE PLAN FOR CROATIA (1991/1992)
UNPROFOR was originally established under chapter VI of the U.N. Charter to implement the Geneva Agreement between the parties to the war in Croatia and was conceived as a relatively standard peacekeeping operation.
In October 1992 the Security Council invoked chapter VII in resolution 781 to establish a "no–fly zone" over Bosnia and yet again to proclaim "safe havens" in Sarajevo and half a dozen Bosnian Muslim villages, an important innovation that significantly expanded the UNPROFOR mission.
U.N. S.C. Res. 770, August 13, 1992: The Security Council invoked its chapter VII powers for the first time in August, when it authorized "all measures necessary to facilitate...the delivery...of humanitarian assistance to Sarajevo and wherever needed in other parts of Yugoslavia."
U.N. S.C. Res. 776, September 14, 1992: The resolution was directed to member states, not the peacekeeping force, but in September the Council decided to turn over the job of protecting humanitarian assistance to UNPROFOR. The force was enlarged for this purpose, but the limits on its authority to use force were not expanded.
UNPROFOR was lightly armed and not large enough to undertake combat operations on any significant scale. Its rules of engagement confined it to the use of force only in "self–defense." In practice, the political and military leadership adopted a very narrow construction of self–defense, and although there seems to have been some variation among national contingents, for the most part, UNPROFOR troops did not fire even when fired upon. Indeed, in late 1994 and again in May–June 1995, hundreds of U.N. troops were taken hostage by the Bosnian Serbs without offering resistance (Durch/Schear, 1996).
2. THE UNPROFOR MISSION
UNPROFOR had a threefold purpose:
First, it sought to alleviate the humanitarian consequences of the war, notably through helping the provision of humanitarian aid.
Second, after it was extended to Bosnia-Herzegovina, it sought to contain the conflict and mitigate its consequences by imposing constraints on the belligerents through the establishment of such arrangement as a NO FLY ZONE, Safe Areas, and exclusion zones like the Total Exclusion Zone.
Third, UNPROFOR sought to promote the prospects for peace by negotiating local cease fires and other arrangements, maintaining these where possible and providing support for measures aimed at an overall political settlement.
Demilitarization was the key to many activities of UNPROFOR which included the following:
- The introduction of low level confidence building measures, this involved assisting in arranging contacts between authorities and non-governmental organizations and community meetings.
- Periodic meetings at the demarcation line, zones of separation, this included the reunion of family members
- Village visitation programme, displaced persons were allowed to visit the villages that were destroyed or deserted
- Economic Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, small scale project were set up through the UN, bilateral and multilateral financial arrangements were made
- Humanitarian assistance, which included the delivery of food packages and medical care
- Repair of physical infrastructure (H2O in serb areas and electicty in Croat regions)
PHASE II: STOLTENBERG/OWEN PLAN FOR BOSNIA-HEZERGOVINA (1993/1994)
On 4 June, the Security Council, by its resolution 836 (1993), acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, further expanded the mandate of UNPROFOR to enable it to protect the safe areas, including to deter attacks against them, to monitor the cease-fire, to promote the withdrawal of military or paramilitary units other than those of the Bosnian Government and to occupy some key points on the ground. The Council authorized UNPROFOR, acting in self-defence, to take necessary measures, including the use of force, in reply to bombardments against the safe areas or to armed incursion into them or in the event of any deliberate obstruction to the freedom of movement of UNPROFOR or of protected humanitarian convoys. The Council also decided that Member States, acting nationally or through regional arrangements, might take, under its authority, all necessary measures, through the use of air power, in and around the safe areas, to support UNPROFOR
By that time, the practice as to the use of force was already established and, in the absence of a specific decision by the Security Council, remained unchanged. It was contemplated that UNPROFOR might call on NATO air power to enforce these Security Council mandates, but although intimations and threats of air strikes were frequent, mostly from U.S. quarters, the attempts to enforce the Security Council decisions had little immediate effect. Until the large–scale air strikes in September 1995, more than two years after the resolutions were passed, they had been backed up by little more than symbolic action.
In January 1993, the chairmen of ICFY, Cyrus Vance and Lord Owen presented a draft agreement (Vance-Owen Plan) on cessation of hostilities, a constitution and a map dividing BH into ten provinces. It was signed by the leaders of the Bosnian Muslims and Croats in March 1993. After - under high international pressure - Karadzic signed the plan 2 May 1993 in Athens, the Bosnian Serbs who then controlled 70% of Bosnia, rejected it in a referendum. The Bosnian Serbs had at that time no motivation to accept an agreement based on the Vance-Owen Plan.
September 1993, a new peace agreement (Stoltenberg-Owen-Plan) was accepted by the leaders of each of the three Bosnian parties, but was a few days later rejected by the Bosnian Muslims parliament.
At the end of 1993, Croatia was stable. The Christmas truce in Croatia in 1993 lasted into 1994, and took also effect in parts of Bosnia. Cease-fire lines were more or less stable. All over the mission area there were weapon storage sites, signs of demilitarization, and military police replacing combat units.
In February 1994 the Total Exclusion Zone (TEZ) was established around Sarajevo, another one followed in Gorazde in April 1994. The Washington Framework Agreement of 1 March 1994 between Bosnian Croats and Moslems represented a breakthrough which created the Muslim/Croat Federation. This set the scene for a classic peacekeeping operation in which forces were to be separated and intense fighting brought to a conclusion.
Flash points were Sarajevo and the exclusion zone, Gorni Vakuf, Vares pocket, Brcko corridor, Bihac and Gorazde. Events in Gorazde in April 1994 represented a dress rehearsal for 1995. There was a cease-fire in Sarajevo monitored by UNPROFOR but no-man's land was dominated by Bosnian Government forces within two days of the cease-fire being announced.
PHASE III: THE HOLBROOKE PLAN, DAYTON & TRANSITION TO IFOR (1995/1996)
On November 21, 1995, in Dayton, Ohio, presidents of Bosnia and Herznegovina, Croatia and Serbia signed a peace agreement that brought a halt to the three years of war in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (the final agreement was signed in Paris on 14 December 1995). The Dayton Agreement succeeded in ending the bloodshed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and it institutionalized the division between the Bosnian-Herzegovinian Muslim(51%) and Croat entity (49%).
One of the main conditions of NATO involvement had been that there was a peace agreement. Prior to Dayton, it was debatable whether there had been a peace to keep much less one to enforce. For Dayton, it was important that the parties freely engaged in the terms and in the territorial settlement of the Peace Agreement. There was a sense in which the environment was 'ripe' for a peace agreement - not only for the international community but for the parties. The parties had to see themselves as gaining from the Agreement. This was a critical part of Mr. Holbrooke's and the Contact Group's concept. Based largely on the engagement and power of the US, the parties did sign. June 1995 saw the beginning of a process of change for UNPROFOR and NATO as a team. Military measures gave indirectly more authority to the Force Commander UNPROFOR.
With respect to the implementation of the Dayton Agreement and the transition from UNPROFOR to IFOR, NATO's consensus-building and consultation/decision-making processes had worked well, especially considering its lack of experience with peace operations. Large chunks of BH were now undergoing a transfer of authority agreed upon by the parties in Dayton.
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