Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium
(Danube region of Croatia)
Vukovar (Police HQs)
Zagreb (United Nations Liaison Office [UNLO])
Authorized by the Security Council in resolution 1145(1997) on 19 December 1997, the United Nations Police Support Group (UNPSG) took over policing tasks on 16 January 1998 from the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium UNTAES after that mission's mandate expiration. The function of the Police Support Group was to continue monitoring the performance of the Croatian police in the Danube region, particularly with respect to the return of displaced persons, for a single nine-month period beginning on 16 January 1998 and ending on 15 October 1998.
| REPRESENTATIVE OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL; |
HEAD OF SUPPORT GROUP;
HEAD OF UN LIAISON OFFICE ZAGREB (UNLO)
Mr. Souren Seraydarian (Syrian Arab Republic)
| POLICE COMMISSIONER |
Chief Superintendant Halvor Hartz (Norway)
As of 30 September1998:
Mission total (uniformed personnel): 114 police, supported by international and local civilian staff, and headed by the Representative of the Secretary-General
| CONTRIBUTORS OF CIVILIAN|
As of 30 September 1998:
Argentina, Austria, Denmark, Egypt, Fiji, Finland, Indonesia, Ireland, Jordan, Kenya, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russian Federation, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United States
| FINANCIAL ASPECTS |
Method of mission financing: Assessments in respect of a Special Account
By adopting resolution 52/244 on 26 June 1998, the General Assembly decided to apportion $23 million gross ($21.66 net) for the liquidation of UNTAES and the maintenance of the Police Support Group for the period 16 January to 30 June 1998. To finance maintenance and liquidation of the Support Group covering the time period from 1 July through 30 November 1998, the Assembly apportioned by the same resolution $7.48 million gross ($6.99 net) . The approved amounts included personnel expenses covering the 180 civilian police, and their support by 53 international and 165 local civilian personnel. (see (Press Release GA/9425)
| BACKGROUND |
Adopting unanimously resolution 1145(1997) on 19 December 1997, the Security Council decided to establish a support group of 180 civilian police monitors to continue monitoring the performance of the Croatian police in the Danube region, particularly with respect to the return of displaced persons, for a single nine-month period beginning on 16 January 1998. The support group was to continue that aspect of the work of the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium UNTAES. The mandate of UNTAES expired on 15 January 1998. By that time, UNTAES had successfully accomplished its key objective under the November 1995 Basic Agreement for the region (S/1995/27, annex) and the preceding Dayton Accords on the former Yugoslavia of peacefully reintegrating that region into Croatia within the prescribed time frame of two years. Under the Basic Agreement reached in late 1995, the Governments of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and the region's local Serb authority, had accepted a plan for the peaceful reintegration of the ethnically mixed Danube region into Croatia. The two-year transitional period ended on 15 January 1998 with the expiration of the UNTAES mandate. (for an overview : UNTAES CHRONOLOGY ).
In resolution 1145(1997), the Council decided that the United Nations Civilian Police Support Group would assume responsibility for those former UNTAES personnel and United Nations-owned assets needed for the fulfilment of its mandate. It encouraged liaison between the Support Group and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to facilitate smooth transition of responsibility to that organization, and welcomed the OSCE's key role in the region. The Council reiterated its call to all regional States, including Croatia, to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and called on the Government of Croatia to implement fully and promptly all of its obligations and commitments, including those reached with UNTAES with regard to the region. Welcoming the fact that some progress had been made in the peaceful two-way return of displaced persons and the return of refugees in the region, the Council called on the Government of Croatia to remove legal obstacles and other impediments to two-way returns, including through such measures as the resolution of property issues, the establishment of straightforward procedures for returns, the adequate funding of the Joint Council and all relevant activities of municipalities, and the clarification and full implementation of the amnesty law.
The adoption of resolution 1145(1997) followed consideration by the Council of the 4 December 1997 report of the Secretary-General on UNTAES S/1997/953 , which recommended termination of UNTAES on 15 January 1998 and its replacement by a Police Support Group of 180 civilian police to continue monitoring the performance of the Croatian police in the Danube region, particularly in connection with the return of displaced persons. Until 15 January 1998, the UNTAES Transitional Administrator progressively turned over operational control of all remaining functions of UNTAES in the region to the Croatian Government, while retaining his authority to intervene and overrule. According to the Secretary-General's plan, the post-UNTAES civilian Police Support Group was to be stationed in the main Croatian police headquarters and at the 20 Croatian police stations throughout the Danube region. The Group was to be headquartered in Vukovar, operating under the overall responsibility of a Zagreb-based unit. Along with three mobile patrols, it's main task was maintaining 24-hour-a-day coverage of police activities in the Group's mandated area. The time limit was set to nine months with an option to terminate sooner, circumstances permitting. On 13 January 1998, the Secretary-General appointed Mr. Souren Seraydarian of the Syrian Arab Republic as his Representative and Head of the Support Group and the United Nations Liaison Office in Zagreb (S/1998/29).
| POLICE SUPPORT GROUP ACTIVITIES AND DEVELOPMENTS:|
JANUARY THROUGH OCTOBER 1998
10 February: first assessment from the field
On 10 February 1998, the Head of the Support Group reported that the transition from UNTAES to the civilian police support mission has been seamless and that the new mission was fully operational in accordance with its mandate. The mission closely cooperated with OSCE and maintained close contacts with other UN agencies in Croatia. Despite relative stability, a worrying trend of ethnic harassments and intimidations created a climate of fear and uncertainty amongst local Serbs and led to an elevated rate of "quiet" departures from the region. According to UNHCR only 12,900 displaced Serbs still resided in the region out of a previous total of 45,000. The performance of the Croatian police was generally accepted and its response to complaints speedy and effective.
13 February: Security Council stresses UN-OSCE cooperation
6 March: Security Council calls on Croatia to
30 March: Ethnic composition of police changes
11 June: Core issues to rebuild multi-ethnic communities remain unresolved
As of 7 June, 794 Croats, 673 Serbs and 49 persons of other ethnicity were serving in the police. Working conditions, salaries and welfare benefits within the local police force were now the same for all officers regardless of ethnicity, and no discriminatory practices were evident. Police response to ethnically related incidents, evictions and housing intimidation was often satisfactory; and seventy-five per cent of all incidents in the region related to property disputes between potential returnees and resident displaced persons. Public perception amounted to the opinion that harassment went unpunished, thus lessening local faith in the police and the judiciary. Meanwhile, UNHCR estimated that since 1996 about 42,500 Serb residents and displaced persons emigrated from Croatia - more than 2,200 requested asylum in Norway.
The Secretary-General observed that some core issues remained unresolved, including abolishment of discriminatory property laws and establishment of effective mechanisms allowing owners to recover their property. The Government had to adopt a comprehensive nationwide programme for returns and to develop a balanced reconstruction plan. A wide gap continued to exist between commitments reconfirmed repeatedly at the highest official level and implementation at lower levels. These factors combined to produce a perception among the local Serb population that they had no future in Croatia.
2 July: Croatia called upon to improve police response to ethnic incidents
23 September: As ethnic incidents, violence and vandalism increase in severity, Croatian police response meets international standards for law enforcement On 23 September, the Secretary-General reported to the Security Council S/1998/887 that contrary to improvements in the security situation, the severity of ethnically related incidents has increased, with more violent cases, increases in ethnically related shootings, explosions, assaults and vandalism have been recorded. On a positive note, the Croatian police performance and overall police response to criminal activity now met international standards for law enforcement agencies as described in the "United Nations Criminal Justice Standards for Peacekeeping Police "(2nd vol 1996). Some 120 officers from all ethnic groups attended training courses within the region sponsored by the Austrian Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution. Weekly instruction, supported by UNPSG, was provided at the station level for all police officers. in response to complaints, the police filed charges in more that 75 per cent of cases, but performance of the police was undermined by a yet inefficient judicial system. As of September, the local police force has a strength of 1,522 officers, including 801 Croats, 672 Serbs and 49 officers of other ethnicity. Full proportionality at all levels, including in senior and command positions, was respected.
On 26 June 1998, the Government of Croatia adopted a Programme for the Return and Accommodation of Displaced Persons, Refugees and Exiled Persons, which was developed in close cooperation with UNHCR, the United Nations, OSCE and the Article 11 Commission. The return programme committed the Government to legislative changes, including rescinding the law on the temporary takeover and administration of specified property and the law on the leasing of apartments in the liberated areas. A key factor in the implementation of the return programme was the establishment of housing commissions in all areas of return by 31 July 1998. Since the return programme was adopted, 10,411 requests for return to Croatia have been submitted by Croatian Serb refugees in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Republika Srpska) to the Croatian Government Office for Displaced Persons and Refugees (ODPR). All of these requests have been submitted with UNHCR assistance, which reported that 3,810 individuals have been cleared for return. According to the Office for Displaced Persons and Refugees, 22,501 Croatian citizens of Serb ethnicity have returned to Croatia from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and another 22,300 Croatian citizens of Serb ethnicity have returned to other parts of Croatia from the region.
The Support Group and OSCE established a Joint Steering Committee to oversee the transition process to hand over policiing tasks to OSCE by 16 October 1998. An operational concept, very similar to that used by the Support Group, has been developed for the ensuing OSCE mission, which already received many pledges from nations willing to contribute police monitors. Many them wer already serving with the Support Group and thus experienced in the tasks and familiar with the region. Gradual downsizing of the Support Group began in mid-August to ease the transition to the OSCE police monitoring mission, which was to deploy the first of its 120 police monitors in the region by mid-September.
It was the Secretary-General's observation that progress in building a functioning multi-ethnic police force was a noteworthy achievement for Croatia's Danube region. International monitoring and advice have been essential factors in securing improvements in police performance. The maintenance of an ethnic balance in the police force was foreseen as an essential element in preserving the prospects for multi-ethnicity in the region and in enhancing confidence in the police force - it should should thus remain a priority for the Government of Croatia. Overall, the Government of Croatia has taken a number of steps towards meeting its commitments to the international community. It has generally met its employment and other obligations concluded in various reintegration agreements with UNTAES. A comprehensive nationwide return programme has been introduced, and some discriminatory legislation has been repealed. On the other hand, the key-issue of two-way returns remained unresolved; some discriminatory legislation continued to be in force; implementation of the convalidation law remained incomplete; the Government's commitments to the Joint Council of Municipalities were not fulfilled; and the national reconciliation programme has not been vigorously pursued. The ultimate responsibility for these matters rested with the Government, but continued international support to facilitate two-way returns was necessary. Taking into account the overall stability of the security situation, the Secretary-General felt confident that the Support Group could continue with the drawdown of its personnel and terminate its operations as scheduled on 15 October 1998, with OSCE assuming responsibilities for international monitoring from that date on.
27 October: Secretary-General notes in final report seamless transition
The Secretary-General evaluated the overall security situation in the region as satisfactory, although a continuing and worrying trend of ethnically motivated incidents. Police performance has improved notably since the beginning of the Police Support Group's mandate and the Government has taken steps to ensure that continuity. The Secretary-General recommended measures to enhance public confidence in the police force through an active public information campaign, police preventive action and the institution of a community policing programme. Refugee returns to Croatia, under the auspices of the Programme for the Return and Accommodation of Displaced Persons, Refugees and Exiled Persons (S/1998/589) continued, albeit slowly. No progress, however, was achieved in the restitution of property to Croatian citizens of Serb ethnicity. The number of Croat displaced persons returning to the region was also below all expectations, despite a surplus of available reconstructed housing in the region. The main impediment to return stemmed from the lack of employment in the area. Thus, in addition to non-discrimanatory policies, economic revitalization and reconstruction in the region were important elements in creating an environment supportive of sustainable and durable returns. To that end, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), supported Government efforts to develop and implement a national reconstruction plan. At the same time, the Joint Council of Municipalities, established under the 1995 Basic Agreement , was on the brink of collapse and undermined local confidence in the continued implementation of the commitments made by the Government of Croatia. Complete liquidation of the Police Support Group was expected for 15 December 1998.
In his final observations, the Secretary-General stated that the conclusion of the Police Support Group's mandate marked the positive outcome of the use of civilian police personnel to ensure the consolidation of peace after the withdrawal of a much larger operation. In fulfilling its mandate, the Police Support Group helped to prevent the return of instability to the region. It proved to be a cost-effective instrument in helping to maintain conditions conducive to an orderly hand-over to OSCE pending the ultimate transfer of full responsibilities to the national Croatian authorities.
6 November: Security Council welcomes smooth
|Prepared by the United Nations Department of Public Information||Completed Missions Page||UN Home Page|