14 November 2000


Press Release
GA/9820



ADOPTING TWO DRAFT TEXTS, ASSEMBLY REAFFIRMS PRIMACY OF DAYTON ACCORDS, DECIDES TO OBSERVE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF DECOLONIZATION DECLARATION

20001114

Also Elects Malta to Economic and Social Council, 1 January 2001-31 December 2002

Expressing its full support for the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Assembly this morning adopted, without a vote, a resolution on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

By the terms of that resolution, the Assembly reaffirmed its support for the New York Declaration in which the Joint Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina agreed to important steps for moving forward the process of the Peace Agreement. The Assembly also stressed the importance for the peace process in the region as a whole of the activities related to the Stability Pact for South-eastern Europe.

It underlined the fact that the assistance provided by the international community remained strictly conditional upon compliance with the Peace Agreement and subsequent obligations, and insisted upon the need to surrender all indictees to the International Tribunal for trial.

Also by the terms of the resolution, the Assembly stressed the importance of establishing, strengthening and expanding free and pluralistic media throughout all of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In introducing the resolution, the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina said the wide support in its development was a far cry from some of the debates on the past. Unfortunately, many of the old issues still remained outstanding: the arrest of indicted criminals; the proper functioning of institutions; the return of refugees and displaced persons; and economic rejuvenation.

He said democratic change would have a most favourable impact on Bosnia and Herzegovina because it would discourage the forces of disintegration, which still existed. The main challenge in the next year was to review the efficacy of current international efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He hoped that these contributions would be rationalized and made more efficient. Bosnians must be treated more as a partner, with investment replacing aid and consultation taking precedence over dictates.

The United States representative said real progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina would not be made until more was done to strengthen that country’s central political structures. Overlapping authorities and jurisdictions had


General Assembly Plenary - 1a - Press Release GA/9820 61st Meeting (AM) 14 November 2000

complicated even the simplest governing decisions and allowed rejectionists, separatists and criminals to hold up progress. Progress in strengthening institutions and ensuring that extremists and obstructionists were not allowed to block Dayton’s implementation would help resolve continuing problems in several areas.

More transparency and accountability would address the problem of corruption and clear the way for progress in privatization and economic reform, he said. Furthermore, implementation of needed property legislation, and removal of local criminal leaders, would help accelerate refugee returns. There would be no lasting peace in the Balkans until all of the outstanding indictees of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia were brought to justice.

The representative of the Russian Federation said the Dayton Accords had lost none of their importance. In spite of the generally solid situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina it was too early for the international community to be complacent, and the multi-ethnic statehood of Bosnia and Herzegovina still required strengthening. In order for the peace to be durable, it must be strictly implemented in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions. Any arbitrary interpretation was inadmissible, and would only result in new tensions within Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region.

He welcomed the commitment on the part of the Bosnian leadership to strengthen military cooperation with the United Nations peacekeeping forces. However, promoting a national military entity might endanger fragile stability, he said. It was of particular importance that the International Tribunal separated its activities from present political circumstances, and that the practice of handing in indictees based on sealed indictments was ended, as that was not within the mandate of the Stabilization Force.

In other action this morning, the Assembly elected Malta as a member of the Economic and Social Council for a period from 1 January 2001 to 31 December 2002, as Greece relinquished its seat in favour of that State.

The Assembly also adopted a decision on the observance of the fortieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, by whose terms it would hold a plenary meeting during the main part of its fifty-fifth session in observance of that occasion.

The representatives of Croatia, Bangladesh, France (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Ukraine, Malaysia, Turkey, Egypt, Slovenia, Iran and Pakistan also spoke.

The Assembly will meet again tomorrow, Wednesday, 15 November, at 10 a.m. to take up consideration of crime prevention and criminal justice and the special session of the General Assembly in 2001 for follow-up to the World Summit for Children.

The Assembly’s General Committee will meet tomorrow, Wednesday, 15 November at 9:30 a.m. in Conference Room 1 to consider the request for the inclusion of an additional item submitted by Equatorial Guinea.



General Assembly Plenary - 3 - Press Release GA/9820 61st Meeting (AM) 14 November 2000

Assembly Work Programme

The Assembly met this morning to address the election of 18 members of the Economic and Social Council; implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples; and the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Before the Assembly was a letter (A/55/523) from the permanent representative of Greece to the United Nations, addressed to the President of the General Assembly, in which Greece relinquished its seat on the Economic and Social Council for the years 2001 and 2002, in favour of Malta.

The Assembly also had before it a draft decision on observance of the fortieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (document A/55/L.4), submitted by Papua New Guinea, by which the General Assembly would take note of the letter dated 28 August from the Chairman of the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples addressed to the Secretary-General. It would decide to hold a plenary meeting during the main part of its fifty-fifth session in observance of the fortieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration.

Also before the Assembly was draft resolution (A/55/L.31) on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, sponsored by Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kuwait, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, United Kingdom, and United States.

By the terms of the resolution, the Assembly would express its full support for the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina which constituted the key mechanism for the achievement of a durable and just peace, leading to stability and cooperation in the region and the reintegration of Bosnia and Herzegovina at all levels.

The Assembly would also reaffirm its support for the New York Declaration in which the Joint Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina agreed to important steps for moving forward the process of the Peace Agreement.

By the terms of the draft resolution, the Assembly would stress the importance for the peace process in the region as a whole of the activities related to the Stability Pact for South-eastern Europe and would urge the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to take concrete steps to play an active role in it. The Assembly would underline the fact that the assistance provided by the international community remained strictly conditional upon compliance with the Peace Agreement and subsequent obligations, and would insist upon the need to surrender all indictees to the International Tribunal for trial.

The Assembly would reaffirm once again the right of refugees and displaced persons to return voluntarily to their homes of origin in secure and dignified conditions in accordance with the Peace Agreement, and would call upon all parties to improve substantially their cooperation with the international community at the State, entity and local levels, in order to establish immediately the conditions necessary for the return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes and for the freedom of movement and communication of all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Assembly would also stress the importance of establishing, strengthening and expanding throughout all of Bosnia and Herzegovina free and pluralistic media, and would deplore any action that sought to intimidate or restrict the freedom of the media, and would condemn violent acts of intimidation against journalists.

It would stress the need for a more comprehensive approach to implementing economic reforms, and would underline that a self-sustainable, market-oriented economy operating in a single economic space, transparent privatization, improved banking, reformed financial systems and the provision of adequate social protection were crucial for achieving lasting peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Furthermore, the Assembly would stress the need for timely information about the level of cooperation and compliance with the International Tribunal and its orders, the status and programme for the return of refugees and displaced persons to and within Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the status and implementation of the Agreement on Subregional Arms Control.

Election of Member of Economic and Social Council

Informed that Greece sought to relinquish its seat on the Council for the years 2001 and 2002 in favour of Malta, and that as a result a vacancy would occur commencing 1 January 2001, the Assembly noted that the vacancy arose from among the Western European and other States. In accordance with paragraph 4 of Assembly resolution 2847 of 20 December 1971, the new member would therefore be elected from that region. The candidate who received a two-thirds majority of members present and voting would be declared elected.

The Assembly was also informed that the Western European and other States had endorsed Malta.

In accordance with rule 92 of the rules of procedure of the Assembly, the election would be held by secret ballot.

Voting results

Number of ballots 127 Number of invalid ballots 2 Number of valid ballots 125 Abstentions 0 Number of Members voting 125 Majority required (2/3) 84

Malta received 125 votes and was declared a member of the Economic and Social Council for a two-year term, commencing 1 January 2001.

Implementation of Declaration on Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples

PETER DONIGI (Papua New Guinea), Chairman of the Special Committee on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, introduced draft decision A/55/L.4 on “Observance of the fortieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples”.

The Assembly then adopted the draft decision without a vote.

Situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Introduction of Draft

MUHAMED SACIRBEY (Bosnia and Herzegovina) introduced the draft resolution entitled “The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina” (document A/55/L.31), and took note of the following additional co-sponsors: Denmark, Iran, Luxembourg, Oman, Senegal, Bulgaria, Morocco, and Egypt. He appreciated the fact that the draft resolution, which he expected to lead to consensus adoption, had enjoyed wide support in its development -- a far cry from some past debates on this resolution, which Bosnia and Herzegovina considered to have come full circle. But unfortunately, many of the old issues still remained outstanding -- from the arrest of indicted criminals and the proper functioning of institutions to the return of refugees and displaced persons and economic rejuvenation.

Democratic change would have a most favourable impact on Bosnia and Herzegovina, he went on, because it would discourage the forces of disintegration, which still existed. It was also clear that his country must take greater charge of its own future, which lay in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s acceptance as an equal partner in the Euro-Atlantic family. He was proud to highlight his Government’s contributions, particularly those in peacekeeping. As a consequence of the Srebrenica Report requested by the General Assembly, Bosnia and Herzegovina had helped initiate a constructive re-evaluation of peace building, peacekeeping and peace-making challenges in the Brahimi Report.

The main challenge in the next year was to review the efficacy of current international efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia and Herzegovina hoped that those contributions would be rationalized and made more efficient. Bosnians must be treated more as partners, with investment replacing aid and consultation taking precedence over dictates. In addition, the long-term sociological and psychological effects of the current situation must be acknowledged. It was also true that more elections could not substitute for the gradual process of establishing the environment for progressive economic and democratic political development.

WILLIAM WALKER (United States) said this was an especially propitious time to consider progress achieved and to review the tasks remaining, so that Dayton’s dream of a democratic, tolerant and multi-ethnic Bosnia and Herzegovina could be fully realized. The three original signers of that historic agreement were no longer in power: one had died; one had been overthrown in a peaceful revolution; and the other had retired from the Presidency. New democratic leaders had emerged, changing the regional dynamic and opening the door to more progress on refugee returns, succession issues, war crimes and other complicated matters. However, real progress would not be made until more was done to strengthen Bosnia and Herzegovina’s central political structures. Overlapping authorities and jurisdictions had complicated even the simplest governing decisions and allowed rejectionists, separatists and criminals to hold up progress, even when the people were yearning for reform.

A perfect example of that was the slow progress in implementing the New York Declaration, in which the three Presidents of Bosnia and Herzegovina agreed to a series of measures designed to strengthen the central Government. Unfortunately, only part of that declaration had been fulfilled. He applauded the High Representative for taking resolute action and using the full authority of his office. The United States would continue to continue to encourage him to deal with obstructionists in a similarly resolute manner.

Progress in strengthening institutions and ensuring that extremists and obstructionists were not allowed to block the Dayton Agreement’s implementation would help resolve continuing problems in several areas, he said. More transparency and accountability would help address the problem of corruption and clear the way for progress in privatization and economic reform. Implementation of needed property legislation, and removal of local criminal leaders, would help accelerate refugee returns. Strengthening the freedom of the press would help curtail and expose abuses. The United States continued to believe that there would be no lasting peace in the Balkans until all of the outstanding indictees of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia were brought to justice.

IVAN SIMONOVIC (Croatia) said three factors were crucial if Bosnia and Herzegovina was to function without the visible presence and influence of the international community: the arrest and trial of all indicted war criminals; the return of refugees and displaced persons; and economic revitalization. The Dayton Accords consisted of a set of interdependent and interrelated conditions. Without all of them being fully implemented, the goal of achieving a self- sustainable, democratic and prosperous Bosnia and Herzegovina would not be accomplished. The most acknowledged problem was definitely the lack of minority returns to all areas, especially to Republika Srpska. His country had implemented a bilateral agreement with the Republika Srpska, the other side had not.

Bringing to justice those indicted for war crimes would not only serve the noble purpose of making a moral and just remedy, it would also meet practical ends, he said. The most notorious war perpetrators were still at large. He said his country would continue to be of assistance to Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but in a transparent manner acceptable to both countries. He believed that the equality and sovereignty of all constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina had to become the norm throughout the whole territory of the State. That was important for the Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina, given that they were the smallest constituent nation.

He encouraged the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to persist in their attempt to establish good-neighbourly relations, and to give input into stabilizing the region. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia should recognize Bosnia and Herzegovina as a sovereign State and establish diplomatic relations, without preconditions. For Bosnia and Herzegovina, it was very important to swiftly join the Council of Europe and to continue on the path towards democratization, development, the rule of law and protection of human rights, as well as further integration into the political and economic mainstream of Europe.

ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that the Dayton Peace Agreement was the most practical basis for pursuing peace objectives and a return to normalcy. There was a long line of objectives that had not been met, and promises which had yet to be fulfilled. Many of those had been attributed to the leadership’s lack of commitment. Unfortunately, their party goals and national agendas had been given priority over the well-being of the citizens, and the principle State institutions were still dominated by ethnic rather than national interests. The political climate that had prevailed in the region for so long was often considered a chief obstacle. With a change in the political atmosphere, his country was cautiously optimistic that the implementation process would get a boost and a much faster pace of progress would be attainable.

A number of priorities must be vigorously pursued in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Those included economic reform and the creation of conditions for self-sustaining economic growth; the consolidation of institutions to ensure that they were functioning effectively and properly; the redirection of resource flows from the international community to the building of frameworks to allow for private investment; capacity-building and the return of refugees and internally displaced persons. A lot more needed to be done to restore confidence of refugees and internally displaced persons and encourage them to return to their pre-war homes. The international community should stand by and continue to provide necessary support, assistance and encouragement rather than being impatient at the perceived "slowness" of progress.

JEAN DAVID LEVITTE (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that five years after the Dayton Peace Accords, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region as a whole had covered a lot of ground. The reconstruction of the country had witnessed real progress and more people from minorities were returning home. Political pluralism, freedom and security were developing at a considerable pace, which was clearly manifested during the general elections of 11 November. All those developments demonstrated that the right route had been taken in the peace process and that Bosnia and Herzegovina had no choice but to continue implementing the provisions of the accord.

However, more work remained to be done, particularly in terms of institution building, economic reform and the return of refugees. Concerning the capacity-building of institutions, progress had been slow, he said. A stronger commitment to public institutions was required on the part of Bosnians. That would also enable Bosnians to take control over their common destiny. With regard to the economy, reform efforts needed be intensified. The political parties’ hold on commercial activities and financial institutions needed to be relaxed. The problem of corruption needed to be addressed. Privatization needed to be undertaken expediently and in a transparent manner.

The report of the High Commissioner on Refugees inspired some hope as to the return of refugees. Problems in the security situation were fading, he said. However, the economic situation must improve if the refugees were to rebuild their lives. Hopefully, the democratic changes in Southeast Europe would have positive repercussions on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Progress had already been recorded since the Croatian elections in January, and the recent visit of President Kostunica to Sarajevo might lead to a normalization of the region. The European Union supported cooperation initiatives, economic integration and the Stability Pact provisions.

YURI BOHAYEVSKIY (Ukraine) said the Dayton Peace Accords had been signed, and many hoped that domestic peace and stability would soon prevail in Bosnia and Herzegovina. There was reason to acknowledge that during the past period the country had been moving along the road of peace, with the significant help of the international community, including the United Nations.

One had to remember that Bosnia and Herzegovina had experienced the worst destruction in a war that took so many lives and forced so many people to leave their homes. Since the Foreign Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina had confirmed the commitment of his Government to peace and stabilization two months ago, positive changes had been recorded in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. These changes had created good grounds for further reconciliation between and among the former Yugoslav republics, and in the whole region.

It was essential, he said, to continue to support, both at a national and international level, these positive developments which could lead to the goal of achieving peace and stability in the Balkans. Last Sunday, 12 November, was the day of general elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina. For this nation, this day was yet another test of its aspirations for democratic change. He conveyed a message of encouragement to the representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina and assured them that Ukraine welcomed all positive developments taking place in their country today. Ukraine was ready to cooperate with Bosnia and Herzegovina in all areas of mutual interest. This had been recently confirmed during a visit to Sarajevo of a delegation of Ukrainian experts in the major fields of transportation.

MOHAMMAD YUSOF AHMAD (Malaysia) said that the success of the peace process in Bosnia and Herzegovina still depended at this stage on the continuing involvement of the international community. It was encouraging that some progress had been made in key strategic areas, including the recent reestablishment of the Council of Ministers and the appointments of its Chair. There had also been an increase in so-called minority returns, but further determined efforts were necessary to promote the return process. Equally important was the fostering of economic, educational and labour market opportunities for returnees. Economic reform was still lagging far behind. Further strenuous efforts on the part of the Bosnian leadership were therefore crucial.

Continued emphasis on reconciliation should remain one of the most important priorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The consequences of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity must be reversed and justice done -- and done quickly. He emphasized the importance of the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which the international community must continue to strongly support. His delegation commended the Bosnians and the international community for the successful holding of national elections on 11 November, and called upon the presumptive elected leaders to work together and with the international community to strengthen the political, economic and social foundations for reintegration and reconciliation. He expressed concern over the illegal referendum organized by the Croatian Democratic Union, which clearly went against the very spirit and intent of the Dayton agreements.

UMIT PAMIR (Turkey) said that his country had always been directly involved in the quest for a peaceful and stable Balkans. Given the strong bonds stemming from a common history, Bosnia and Herzegovina traditionally ranked as a priority in the pursuance of Turkey's foreign policy. Therefore, his country regarded the re-establishment of the multi-ethnic and multicultural status of Bosnia and Herzegovina, through the preservation of its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity with internationally recognized borders, as a paramount concern for securing peace and stability in the Balkans, and hence the continent.

Turkey, as a member of the steering board of the Peace Implementation Council, strongly believed that durable solutions depended on the achievement of clear targets, he said. The way to reach them was through full implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords. Meanwhile, mutual confidence among Bosnians, Croats and Serbs remained a key for lasting peace in the region. In this connection, Turkey believed that the aftermath of the recent general elections provided an opportunity.

It was now the duty of all leaders, representing their people, to work hard for political stability and economic development and to resist, at the same time, every attempt by any group or circle to derail the path to normalcy. He highlighted the need for the passing of a new electoral legislation that would pave the way for Bosnia's admission into the Council of Europe, and the need for the international community to support the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina as their country moved through a crucial stage to becoming a full member of the European family of nations.

AHMED H. DARWISH (Egypt) had closely observed the disintegration of the former Republic of Yugoslavia and the eruption of ethnic conflicts and ethnic cleansing that devastated the Balkans. Furthermore, he was aware of the failure of the international community to stop the violent conflict. United Nations peacekeeping had not achieved the goals it set. Since the United Nations had recently readmitted the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia into the Organization, it was necessary to support peace efforts throughout the region.

The Egyptian position, he said, focused on the importance of an independent Bosnia and Herzegovina, where human rights were respected; the return of refugees to their homeland was safeguarded; and those who had perpetrated war crimes were brought to trial. All of those elements would ensure the success of the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords. His Government needed to determine how far the peace process had gone. Without evidence, Egypt was skeptical that Bosnia and Herzegovina had progressed in unity and sovereignty.

He urged the international community to continue its support and to avoid complacency over the peace process. The territorial independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a multi-ethnic country must be consolidated. Egypt had contributed to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Bosnia through its contribution of police guard for refugees returning to their homeland. However, a lot remained to be done because the rate of refugee return was less than expected. It was important that the refugees come home voluntarily to ensure a stable and just peace for the peoples of the region. He concluded by saying that his Government favoured the draft resolution before the Assembly.

GENNADI M. GATILOV (Russian Federation) said it was roughly one month to the fifth anniversary of the Dayton Peace Accords. The Russian Federation had actively participated in the process and welcomed the achievements up to date. The Peace Accords had allowed for cooperation between groups whose interests sometimes conflicted. The Dayton agreement had lost none of its importance, he said. In spite of the generally solid situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina it was too early for the international community to be complacent, and the multi- ethnic statehood of Bosnia and Herzegovina still required strengthening. In order for the peace to be durable, it must be strictly implemented in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions. Any arbitrary interpretation was inadmissible and would only result in new tensions within Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region. Efforts undertaken so far proved that Bosnians themselves must assume special responsibility. All parties needed to demonstrate political will to implement the Dayton provisions and effective post-conflict reconstruction in the country.

He said it was high time that the New York Declaration was put into practice. In order to overcome remaining obstacles, ethnic diversity needed to be a priority. Multi-ethnic interaction would buttress the positive results of the November 11 general elections. High priority also needed to be given to the fight against corruption and the return of refugees. He welcomed the commitment on the part of the Bosnian leadership to strengthen military cooperation with the United Nations peacekeeping forces. However, he warned that promoting a national military entity might endanger fragile stability. The situation needed to be stabilized according to the peace agreements, with solutions acceptable to all parties. It was of particular importance that the International Tribunal separated its activities from present political circumstances, and that the practice of handing in indictees was ended, as that was not within the mandate of the Stabilization Force.

He welcomed the new developments in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and hoped that they would have a positive impact on Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region. President Kostunica’s statement when visiting Sarajevo demonstrated a readiness to cooperate and move forward as democratic States.

SAMUEL ZBOGAR (Slovenia) noted several encouraging developments in the neighbourhood of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They included normalization of relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, following elections in the latter almost a year ago; the recent change of regime in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The unconditional establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries was a priority, he added, and probably a starting point. Early conclusion of an agreement on the special relations between Republika Sprska and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was of prime importance as well. It would give the Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina the needed confidence and guarantees that were lacking during the years when the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had been isolated from the international community. Finally, the establishment of a democratic Government in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had made possible its integration into the international community and the region, thus setting the conditions for much needed peace and stability in the region as a whole.

The return of refugees remained one of the central issues for the normalization of the situation. There were still hundreds of thousands of people who remained either displaced or refugees. There would be no reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina until the work of the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia was done. It continued to be important that all those who had committed crimes against humanity or had participated in the genocide must be brought to justice. Slovenia commended the efforts of the Tribunal, but was concerned that its work could go on for another 16 years. Slovenia expected the Security Council to speedily consider several solutions proposed by the judges of the Tribunal so as to shorten the time frame for the conclusion of the Tribunal's work.

He also raised an unresolved issue: the succession of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which had ceased to exist. It was essential that the solution to the issue be based upon the respect of the principle of legal equality of all successor States as determined by the Badinter Arbitration Commission, in order to contribute to lasting peace and stability in the region. Slovenia was looking forward to an early conclusion of the issue.

Demining was another area that Slovenia considered important for the normalization of life in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Successful demining would not only encourage a higher rate of refugee return but would also help to restore economic activity in the country. That was the reason for Slovenia's continuing commitment to the International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance. He encouraged other countries to join in the efforts to rid Bosnia and Herzegovina of all mines.

HADI NEJAD HOSSEINIAN (Iran) said that progress towards implementation of the peace agreements had continued to face significant resistance over the past year. It was disappointing that lack of political will on the part of those who focused on ethnic issues threatened the effective functioning of the country’s institutions. Despite slow but steady progress with the implementation of the 1995 peace agreement, there were a number of underlying challenges yet to be overcome. They included short-sighted views still maintained by certain groups and parties, ethnic divisions, and delays in institution-building, judicial reform and economic regeneration.

The return of refugees and displaced persons (and, in particular, the return of people to areas in which they were in a minority), reconciliation among different ethnic communities, minority protection, and economic reforms and recovery were among the main outstanding issues that had to be comprehensively addressed to facilitate the establishment of a viable statehood for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Iran continued to attach great importance to the role of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in bringing justice to the region. Unfortunately, despite repeated calls by the international community and in contravention of the peace agreements, some notorious indicted war criminals remained free and were disrupting the political affairs of the country. The arrest and prosecution of those indicted war criminals would not only serve justice, but would also contribute to accomplishing the long-term goal of national reconciliation, which alone could guarantee Bosnia and Herzegovina freedom from the ghosts of its tragic past.

SHAMSHAD AHMAD (Pakistan) said the multi-ethnic society of Bosnia and Herzegovina needed to be protected from any recurrence of conflict. The basic requirement for that was an end to deep-seated hatred and re-establishment of mutual trust. The absence of sincere commitment, largely on the part of the Serbian community, made achievement of that goal a daunting task. It would not be possible to ensure reconciliation and strengthen national institutions in that country without mutual accommodation and acceptance. He urged all parties to make earnest and determined efforts to bring about peace for their peoples and for the sake of their children.

Faithful implementation of the Dayton Accords was central to durable peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a united, sovereign and independent State. In that regard, he was concerned about the lack of progress by Republika Srpska in the return of refugees and displaced persons and in cooperation with the International Tribunal for war crimes. The safe, voluntary and dignified return of refugees and displaced persons was essential to reverse the consequences of ethnic cleansing. He called on all parties, especially Republika Srpska, to cooperate with each other in that vital area of national reconstruction.

He said the international community must commit itself to the sustained revival of Bosnia’s economic and social structure. At the same time, the three communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina had to recognize that cooperation would benefit all sides and remove many of the obstacles to lasting peace. It was therefore essential for the peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina to make concerted efforts towards establishing a multi-ethnic society where respect for human rights and fundamental freedom enjoyed primacy. His country’s support for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina was a manifestation of “our conviction that no nation must be victimized because of its weakness and vulnerability, no people should be brutalized because of their ethno-religious origins, and no nation or

people should be denied their inherent right to self-determination and the right to wage a legitimate struggle for freedom”.

Action on Draft Resolution A/55/L.31

The Assembly was informed that Iceland, Liechtenstein and Tunisia had joined as co-sponsors of the draft resolution.

The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, the draft resolution on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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