Bosnia and Herzegovina - UNMIBH - Background
   United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina
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Fighting in Bosnia and Herzegovina came to an end on 11 October 1995. From that date until 20 December 1995, forces of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) monitored a ceasefire put in place to allow for peace negotiations being launched in Dayton, Ohio. On 21 November 1995, in Dayton, the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina was initialled along with 11 associated annexes (together, the "Peace Agreement"). On 8 and 9 December 1995, the Peace Implementation Conference met in London, appointing the High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 14 December 1995, the Peace Agreement was signed in Paris by the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Croatia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as well as the other parties thereto.

In signing the Agreement, the three Balkan States undertook a broad Commitment to: conduct their relations in accordance with the United Nations Charter, fully respect the "sovereign equality of one another", settle disputes by peaceful means, and "refrain from any action against the territorial integrity or political independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina or any other State. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Bosnia and Herzegovina recognized each other as "sovereign, independent States within their international borders". On behalf of the Republika Srpska, the Bosnian Serb entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia signed those parts of the accords that concerned that party.

The agreement with its 11 annexes covered a broad range of issues including:

  • military aspects of the peace settlement;
  • regional stabilization;
  • delineation of an Inter-entity Boundary Line between the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska;
  • holding of democratic elections;
  • human rights;
  • assistance to refugees;
  • civilian implementation of the Peace Agreement;
  • an International Police Task Force.

The parties agreed to a ceasefire which had begun in October 1995, withdrawal of UNPROFOR and deployment of a NATO-led multinational Implementation Force, to be known as IFOR. All final decisions concerning military aspects of the implementation were to be made by the IFOR Commander. Full cooperation was pledged with "all entities involved in the implementation plan", including the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) located at The Hague.

The parties requested designation of a High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina, who was to mobilize and coordinate all civilian activities and be the final authority regarding civilian implementation of the peace settlement. They also called for the Security Council to create a United Nations International Police Task Force to monitor law enforcement activities and facilities, advise and train law enforcement personnel, and respond to requests for assistance.

On 15 December 1995, the Security Council, by its 1031(1995), endorsed the establishment of a High Representative to "mobilize and, as appropriate, give guidance to, and coordinate the activities of the civilian organizations and agencies" involved with the civilian aspects of the Peace Agreement. In the same resolution, the Council welcomed the deployment of IFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and noted the invitation of the parties for that force to remain for a period of approximately one year. [In December 1996, the Security Council authorized Member States to set up a multinational Stabilization Force (SFOR) to succeed IFOR.]

On 20 December 1995, IFOR took over from UNPROFOR whose mandate was thus terminated. On 21 December 1995, the Security Council, by its 1035 (1995), decided to establish the United Nations International Police Task Force (IPTF) and a United Nations civilian office, brought together as the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH).

Following the successful conclusion of its mandate, UNMIBH was terminated on 31 December 2002, in accordance with Security Council resolution 1423 (2002) of 12 July 2002. The European Union Police Mission (EUPM) took over from UNMIBH from 1 January 2003.


UNMIBH's mandate was to contribute to the establishment of the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina by assisting in reforming and restructuring the local police, assessing the functioning of the existing judicial system and monitoring and auditing the performance of the police and others involved in the maintenance of law and order.

UNMIBH was headed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and the Coordinator of United Nations Operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who exercised authority over the IPTF Police Commissioner and coordinated all other United Nations activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The main components of the Mission were: IPTF; the Criminal Justice Advisory Unit; the Civil Affairs Unit; the Human Rights Office; the Public Affairs Office; and the Administration, including the United Nations Trust Funds. [From 1998 to 2000, UNMIBH also included the Judicial System Assessment Programme (JSAP).] The Mission had a nation-wide presence with regional headquarters in Banja Luka, Bihac, Doboj, Mostar, Sarajevo, Tuzla and a district headquarter in Brcko.

International Police Task Force. IPTF was involved in changing the primary focus of the local police from the security of the state to the security of the individual. The police forces were largely downsized from their over-represented ethnic groups and war-time numbers to the cap set by restructuring agreements. IPTF helped to recreate multi-ethnic police forces to make sure that they were professional and effective. This restructuring and reform function expanded beyond the Ministry of Interior with IPTF being involved in the establishment and training of Court Police, the State Border Service and the Bosnia and Herzegovina police contingent selected for duty in UN peacekeeping missions outside the former Yugoslavia. IPTF was also closely involved in the recruitment, selection, training and deployment of police cadets from under-represented ethnic and gender groups at the two police academies, as well as in encouraging the return and transfer of experienced officers. IPTF was responsible for basic training courses in human dignity and transitional training and for advanced training courses for command and senior officers in both entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Under a specific training mandate, IPTF also provided specialized training in Organized Crime, Drugs and Crowd Control and Major Incident Management. In addition, IPTF supported local police through the co-location of its personnel at the Interior Ministries, Public Security Centres and Police Stations, and by providing expert support to investigation of special cases. Other IPTF tasks included weapons inspections, prison inspections and monitoring the enforcement of traffic and crime control.

Human Rights Office. Under the specific mandate of Security Council resolution 1088 (1996), the work of UNMIBH included "investigating or assisting with investigations into human rights abuses by law enforcement personnel." As the component tasked with implementing UNMIBH's human rights mandate, the Human Rights Office's primary objectives were to: (a) investigate human rights violations by law enforcement agents; (b) design remedial measures to correct such violations; and (c) monitor and ensure the implementation of the corrective measures. To implement those objectives, the Human Rights Office carried out investigations into serious incidents of police misconduct and conducted comprehensive inspections of law enforcement agencies to address persistent or endemic institutional deficiencies. In addition, the Office was tasked with ensuring that only those local police who met minimum eligibility requirements exercised police powers in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This was done by maintaining a registry of local police personnel; selecting and certifying police; conducting background checks on all police officers; maintaining a database of all law enforcement agents who acted in non-compliance with IPTF; and reviewing applications for new recruits, particularly those of minority ethnicities.

Judicial System Assessment Program. JSAP was established in accordance with Security Council resolution 1184 (1998) of 16 July 1998. The Programme was mandated to monitor and assess the court system in Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of an overall programme of legal reform under the overall coordination of the High Representative. Teams of international and national lawyers carried out assessments of the legal institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and made recommendations for action. At the end of 2000, this responsibility was transferred to the Independent Judicial Commission within the Office of the High Representative.

Criminal Justice Advisory Unit. To foster cooperation between the police and the criminal justice system, and to retain a support and advisory function, UNMIBH established the Criminal Justice Advisory Unit. This unit monitored key court cases, carried out liaison between police and the judiciary, advised IPTF on legal procedural matters and trained local police in the implementation of criminal procedures.

Civil Affairs. The role of the Civil Affairs Unit was to provide expert advice and assistance to all UNMIBH units on policy development, strategic analysis and programme implementation. In the field, the Civil Affairs Coordinators were the representatives of the SRSG. The Civil Affairs officers maintained liaison with local authorities and international organizations to advance mandate implementation. They sought to build confidence between all citizens and to ensure that the strategic vision, policy and priority guidelines for UNMIBH components were implemented effectively. At headquarters, the Civil Affairs was also responsible for comprehensive reporting and analysis of developments relevant to the UNMIBH mandate.

Public Affairs Office. The main function of the Public Affairs Office was to support the Mission by the development, management and implementation of a public information strategy. The Public Affairs Office was comprised of the Spokesman's Office, Radio, Television, Public Relations, Media Monitoring and Print Units.

Administration. The Administration managed the human resources and material assets of UNMIBH, the United Nations Mission of Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP), and United Nations liaison offices at Belgrade and Zagreb, and provided logistic, communication, transport and financial support.

Trust Funds. Two separate Trust Funds were established by the UN Secretary-General in March 1994 (Restoration of Essential Public Services in Sarajevo) and in 1996 (Police Assistance Programme). The Funds helped in the implementation of several important projects.

Coordination of the UN System. In his role as coordinator of the United Nations operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the SRSG focused on programmes which support the return of refugees and displaced persons; demining; the promotion of human rights; the welfare of children; education and culture; elections; and rehabilitation of infrastructure and economic reconstruction.

UNMIBH closely worked with the High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement, appointed by the London Peace Implementation Conference and approved by the Security Council, and whose task was to mobilize and coordinate the activities of organizations and agencies involved in civilian aspects of the peace settlement in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and monitor the implementation of that settlement.


On 2 December 2002, the Secretary-General submitted to the Security Council his final report (S/2002/1314) on UNMIBH in which he gave an overview of the activities of the Mission. Below is the summary of that report.


UNMIBH began its operations under inauspicious conditions. As a result of the conflict, over 200,000 people had died, 20,000 were missing and 1.2 million were internally displaced. The country was divided along ethnic lines. The fratricidal war, in which civilians were the principal target and victims, had left a legacy of hatred and widespread fear of retribution.

Numbering over 44,000 - three times peacetime strength - the local police forces were mono-ethnic paramilitary units, organized in three parallel structures, and entirely unsuited to civilian law enforcement. Instead of attempting to provide citizens of minority groups with some sense of security, police forces continued to discriminate against, harass and intimidate citizens who were not of their own ethnicity. Reinforcing the ethnic division, freedom of movement was non-existent, blocked by police checkpoints along the Inter-Entity Boundary Line and between communities in the Federation. Moreover, police forces were corrupt and politically dominated. Within this highly volatile setting, UNMIBH focused on civilian security. The presence and intensive patrolling of almost 2,000 IPTF monitors made a crucial contribution to creating a stable environment.

As the immediate post-conflict crisis began to subside, UNMIBH began addressing the broader issues of the mandate. Freedom of movement was significantly improved in 1998 through the introduction of uniform vehicle licence plates, a joint initiative by UNMIBH and the Office of the High Representative. The introduction of IPTF procedures for selection and recruitment, which included sanctioning police officers for non-compliance, alongside two major restructuring agreements (in 1996 for the Federation and in 1998 for the Republika Srpska), which set targets for the force numbers and minority representation, laid the foundations for police reform. Highly qualified personnel were increasingly deployed and IPTF advisers placed in the cantonal and entity interior ministries provided closer monitoring. Recognizing the inextricable link between policing and an effective judicial system towards establishing the rule of law, UNMIBH created the Judicial System Assessment Programme in 1998.

Mandate implementation: 2000-2002

By 1999, security had further stabilized and the first significant returns of displaced persons to their pre-war homes began. The Mission then concentrated on implementing the substantive aspects of its mandate. It was evident that sustainable police reform and restructuring could not be tackled through training and intensive co-location alone. A conceptual model constituting the baseline of concrete police reform and restructuring was drawn up. This formed the basis of a two-year mandate implementation plan comprising specific goals, projects, benchmarks and timelines. Three levels were addressed: (a) the individual police officer; (b) law enforcement institutions; and (c) the relationship between the police and the public. The plan was organized in six core programmes and its end goals were set out as follows: certification of individual officers; accreditation of police administrations; and the establishment of self-sustaining mechanisms for State and regional level inter-police force cooperation. The plan became the primary reference document for the Mission's activities, both with local interlocutors and the international community. It brought transparency to UNMIBH work, engendered ownership, transparency and accountability amongst law enforcement personnel and institutions, and provided a clear outline for the Mission's reporting mechanisms.

Core programme one: police reform

The main aim of core programme one: police reform was to ensure that individual police officers met international standards of professional and personal integrity to gain the respect and confidence of the general public. This required checking wartime backgrounds, professional performance, legality of housing, verification of educational credentials, completion of IPTF compulsory training, proof of citizenship and criminal records. A comprehensive data bank - the local police registry - was set up to store full background information on all law enforcement personnel. Full certification demanded a three-phase process: (a) registering serving police officers; (b) initial screening prior to awarding provisional authorization; and (c) a final in-depth check leading to full certification. Provisional authorization was removed from those law enforcement personnel who failed to comply with these policing standards. Local internal control units were established in all police administrations.

Of the 44,000 personnel, including administrative staff, 23,751 officers were registered. Of these, 16,803 were granted provisional authorization, of whom 15,786 were granted full certification (8,311 in the Federation, 5,692 in the Republika Srpska, 263 in Brcko District, 1,351 in the State Border Service and 169 in the Federation court police).

The second aim of the programme was to raise the professional skills of the police to internationally accepted standards, a task made more difficult by lack of funding and qualified instructors. UNMIBH provided over US$ 500,000 from its Trust Fund for the Police Assistance Programme and professional police training expertise for two police academies, which opened in Sarajevo in October 1998 and Banja Luka in July 1999. In April 2002, permanent training facilities were opened for officers serving with the State Border Service. All police officers, new recruits and returning former officers attended the Mission's mandatory training courses, which comprised a week-long human dignity course and a three-week transition course. Training in specialized areas such as riot control, traffic policing, firearms and management significantly expanded basic policing capacity. Aiming towards self-sustaining police reform, strong emphasis was placed on "training the trainers".

Core programme two: police restructuring

Core programme two: police restructuring sought to ensure that every police administration had adequate resources, had an efficient organizational structure, including external and internal redress mechanisms, was insulated from political interference and had appropriate multi-ethnic representation and gender balance. Comprehensive systems analyses of all law enforcement administrations began in 2002 and a package of reforms and recommendations was developed in cooperation with local authorities. This stage was completed in November and local change management teams in charge of implementing both the basic and longer-term recommendations were deployed in all police administrations.

To minimize political interference in police work, a two-year project was launched to establish independent police commissioners at the cantonal level and directors of police at the entity level. Independent police commissioners were appointed in all 10 Federation cantons. Directors of police were put in place in the Republika Srpska and in the Federation.

The deployment of minority police officers was one of the Mission's most labour-intensive tasks. To increase ethnic representation and address gender balance, four programmes were implemented: (a) voluntary redeployment for minority law enforcement personnel; (b) selection of minority cadets for the two police academies; (c) refresher training programmes for returning former police officers; and (d) recruitment campaigns to encourage female enrolment at the academies. As a further incentive to returning minority officers, UNMIBH also provided housing assistance in cooperation with government ministries and non-governmental organizations. Seventeen rounds of voluntary redeployment took place. A total of 935 cadets were trained through 10 classes at the academies, and at the time of Mission's withdrawal another four classes comprising 465 cadets were undergoing selection and field training. Twelve refresher courses were conducted. By the end of UNMIBH's mandate all police administrations had minority representation, averaging ten per cent throughout the police force. Recruited female police officers numbered 450 (representing almost 4 per cent of the police force in the Federation and over 2 per cent in Republika Srpska) and over 170 female cadets were in training. Brcko District, the State Border Service and the court police were fully multi-ethnic.

Core programme three: police/criminal justice system

Policing is only one component of the rule of law. If a police force is to be fully effective, it must operate within a coherent legal framework, and with an independent and accountable prosecutorial service and judiciary. The Mission's two-year Judicial System Assessment Programme successfully charted core weaknesses in the legal system. At the end of 2000, this responsibility was transferred to the Independent Judicial Commission within the Office of the High Representative. To foster cooperation between the police and the criminal justice system, and to retain a support and advisory function, UNMIBH established the Criminal Justice Advisory Unit. This unit monitored key court cases, carried out liaison between police and the judiciary, advised IPTF on legal procedural matters and trained local police in the implementation of criminal procedures. Specialized training courses to improve the quality of police crime reports was completed in all but one police administration (Canton 6 - Central Bosnia), where political obstruction remained. In July 2001, UNMIBH undertook to establish, train and deploy court police in both entities. A multi-ethnic court police force was deployed in the Federation in October 2002, and a similar force was to commence operations in the Republika Srpska on 1 January 2003.

Core programme four: institution building and inter-police force cooperation

Without effective State law enforcement institutions and inter-police cooperation mechanisms, the ability to combat national, regional and transnational crime is severely limited. The challenge for UNMIBH was to establish State-level institutions within a new and complex structure comprising two entities, 10 cantons and a separate district. The goal was to establish a State Border Service across the country's 1,550-kilometre border. By the end of Mission's mandate, the Service controlled 100 per cent of the land borders and three international airports. The fourth remaining airport was scheduled to open shortly. This was an important achievement. The number of illegal migrants decreased from 25,000 in 2000 to a few hundred in 2002. Effective border control by the Service generated over $1.2 million for the Treasury in the first nine months of 2002, of which almost $900,000 was in seized goods. To increase State-level central information gathering, analysis and data distribution, and to handle the physical security of VIPs and facilities, a law establishing the State Information and Protection Agency was passed in May 2002. Three directors were appointed to the agency and a working group was established towards full deployment.

Four separate forums were set up under the chairmanship of UNMIBH to promote statewide and regional police cooperation. The Ministerial Consultative Meeting on Police Matters and the Joint Task Force were established to encourage intra-State police cooperation. At the regional level, the Committee of Ministers, comprising representatives from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Croatia, and the Regional Task Force were established. In order to further strengthen local capacity to combat international crime, UNMIBH assisted with the establishment of a National Central Bureau of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) in Sarajevo. Both the State and regional level inter-police forums were handed over to local ownership.

To enhance police capacity to combat human trafficking, in July 2001 UNMIBH established the Special Trafficking Operations Programme (S.T.O.P.) for local police, monitored by IPTF officers. As of 23 November 2002, the Programme had carried out over 800 raids, identified 240 establishments suspected of activities involving trafficking, of which 151 were closed, and helped to repatriate 264 trafficked victims with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). In addition to country-wide access to NGO sponsored safe houses, three safe houses for trafficking victims were established in coordination with IOM.

Core programme five: public awareness

To create public trust and confidence in the police force, a series of national public awareness campaigns were conducted, emphasizing the core principles of democratic policing: police protection, accountability and impartiality. Police-sponsored community open days, school visits and demonstrations of law enforcement skills further increased public confidence.

Additional campaigns informed the public about the State Border Service and encouraged the recruitment of ethnic minority and female police officers. A bi-monthly newspaper on the State Border Service was published, radio news programming on UNMIBH activities sent to local stations, and a Mission web site was set up and updated daily.

Core programme six: participation in United Nations peacekeeping

UNMIBH considered Bosnia and Herzegovina's participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations as beneficial for harmonizing police and military cooperation in the country. The mission provided the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina with substantial support and advice on contribution to these operations. A multi-ethnic civilian police contingent from Bosnia and Herzegovina had served in East Timor (now Timor-Leste) since 2000, first with the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), then transferring to the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET). A multi-ethnic group of United Nations military observers had been deployed to the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) since January 2001. In November 2002, a second multi-ethnic group of military observers was deployed to the United Nations Organizational Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC). A composite unit for United Nations peacekeeping missions (an integrated 60 person, company-sized logistics light transport company) was established. A procedure for future contributions was developed and responsibility was transferred to local ownership.

Trust funds

Two trust funds provided essential resources to UNMIBH mandate implementation. The Trust Fund for the Restoration of Essential Public Services in and outside Sarajevo, which had been established in 1994, received contributions totalling almost $21 million. In addition, interest income of more than $3 million was utilized to finance projects. More than 540 projects were implemented in the fields of public health, shelter, water, energy, public transport, communications, education and sanitation. The Trust Fund for the Police Assistance Programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina received contributions of $16.3 million. These resources were used to implement core programmes aimed at assisting the local police and law enforcement institutions through the provision of uniforms and equipment, the financing of training courses and the restoration of police facilities.

Secretary-General's observations

Concluding his 2 December 2003 final report on the Mission, the Secretary-General observed that through UNMIBH, the United Nations had demonstrated its ability to complete a complex mandate in accordance with a strategic plan and within a realistic and finite time frame. UNMIBH completed the most extensive police reform and restructuring project ever undertaken by the United Nations. A high standard of security throughout the country was established. Bosnia and Herzegovina had now all the mechanisms and institutions to participate fully in the regional and international fight against organized crime and terrorism. The State Border Service dramatically reduced the flow of illegal migrants, helped deter narcotics and human trafficking and reduce smuggling. The handover of long-term police monitoring to EUPM was an excellent example of cooperation and smooth transition between the United Nations and a regional organization. Integral to all these achievements was the innovative mandate implementation plan, which was being emulated in other United Nations peacekeeping missions and the Office of the High Representative.

UNMIBH, the Secretary-General continued, was entrusted with the implementation of only one, but crucial aspect of the Dayton Peace Agreements, that was the reform and restructuring of law enforcement agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina and thus contributing to strengthening the rule of law. The Mission worked in close cooperation with other international organizations dealing with other civilian and military aspects of the Dayton Agreements, such as the Implementation Force, the Stabilization Force, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The overall coordination of the civilian international activities was carried out by the Office of the High Representative under the guidance of the Peace Implementation Council. The contribution of UNMIBH was thus a part of a broader effort by the international community aimed at strengthening the foundations of peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Secretary-General said that by improving public security and reforming and restructuring the police, UNMIBH helped lay the foundation for post-war recovery and development. The high standard of returnee security encouraged the return of over 250,000 refugees to their pre-war homes. Police reform and restructuring in accordance with international standards created in Bosnia and Herzegovina what was termed "a police fit for Europe". The two trust funds both assisted police reform and contributed to the country's wider post-conflict recovery.

Throughout its mandate, UNMIBH assisted, and was assisted by other members of the United Nations family: UNHCR, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Children's Fund, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations Population Fund and the World Bank. The Secretary-General said that they would continue to lend their full support to the recovery and development of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In close cooperation with UNMIBH, UNDP embarked in October 2002 on a three-year recovery programme for the Srebrenica region. The International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia provided invaluable support in screening suspected war criminals within the police force.

The Secretary-General thanked the Member States and police-contributing countries for their support of UNMIBH throughout its mandate. He expressed his deep appreciation to his Special Representative, Jacques Paul Klein, and the IPTF Commissioner, Sven Christian Frederiksen, for their strong leadership. He also paid tribute to their predecessors, who had laid the basis for the Mission's success. The Secretary-General offered his sincere gratitude to all the men and women of UNMIBH for "their tireless dedication and persistence to the promotion of peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina".


The European Union Police Mission took over from UNMIBH from 1 January 2003 and every effort was made to ensure a seamless transition. UNMIBH cooperated closely with the EUPM planning and advance teams. The IPTF Commissioner continued as the first EUPM Commissioner. To ensure continuity, 119 IPTF officers were retained in their positions, many of them in sensitive areas, and transferred to EUPM on 1 January.

The drawdown of the IPTF presence was completed at the end of December 2002 and a small liaison office was to remain in Sarajevo until June 2003 to ensure completion of the transition and deal with any residual issues that might arise.

Prepared by the Peace and Security Section of the Department of Public Information.
© United Nations 2003