ASSEMBLY DEMANDS FULL IMPLEMENTATION OF BOSNIA PEACE AGREEMENT BY ALL PARTIES, INCLUDING COOPERATION WITH INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL FOR FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
ASSEMBLY DEMANDS FULL IMPLEMENTATION OF BOSNIA PEACE AGREEMENT BY ALL PARTIES, INCLUDING COOPERATION WITH INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL FOR FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
ASSEMBLY DEMANDS FULL IMPLEMENTATION OF BOSNIA PEACE AGREEMENT BY ALL PARTIES, INCLUDING COOPERATION WITH INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL FOR FORMER YUGOSLAVIA19981130 Russian Federation, While Urging Cooperation with Tribunal, Says Concept Does Not Include Planned Armed Actions to Capture Suspects
The General Assembly this morning again demanded the full and consistent implementation by all parties of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
By adopting, as orally amended and without a vote, a resolution on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina -- containing more than 30 operative paragraphs -- the Assembly demanded that all parties hand over to the Tribunal all indicted persons in territories under their control. Also, the Assembly encouraged the acceleration of the return of refugees and displaced persons, including to areas where they would be an ethnic minority.
Recognizing that the responsibility for consolidating the peace lies primarily with the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Assembly underlined that the assistance by the international community remained strictly conditional upon compliance with the Peace Agreement and subsequent obligations, including, in particular, cooperation with the International Tribunal and facilitation of the return of refugees and displaced persons.
The representative of Austria, speaking for the European Union and associated countries, noted that the Union was the largest donor to Bosnia and Herzegovina, having contributed about 1 billion European Currency Units for reconstruction and technical assistance, and another billion for humanitarian aid. However, he said the assistance that European Union offered to Bosnia and Herzegovina remained strictly conditional upon compliance with the Peace Agreement and subsequent obligations, as well as the criteria of respect of democratic principles, the rule of law and market economic reform. The European Union, which remained committed to a sovereign, united and independent Bosnia and Herzegovina, had adopted in June a declaration on the place of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Europe and the creation of a joint Bosnia and Herzegovina/European Union Consultative Task Force.
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The representative of the Russian Federation said all States must implement their respective international responsibilities in cooperation with the Tribunal. However, Russia could not agree with attempts to broaden the concept of such cooperation to include the conduct of previously planned actions directed at the armed capture of the suspects. The Peace Agreement and relevant Security Council resolutions, as well as the Tribunal's Statute, clearly stated that extradition to The Hague of individuals accused of military crimes should be carried out exclusively on the basis of cooperation of the parties with the Tribunal. Such an approach must be strictly implemented. Any deviations and, in particular, unjustified pressure on the parties, could only lead to a serious deterioration of the situation and hinder the peace process.
The representative of Croatia said the strengthening of two-way exchange between his country and Bosnia and Herzegovina would benefit both nations. A week ago, those states had signed two far-reaching agreements: one on the establishment of special relations with the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina; and another on transit to and from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The first agreement established the legal framework for cooperation between the executive, legislative and other governmental institutions and non- governmental organizations in Croatia and the Federation, at the entity level. The agreement on free transit gave Bosnia and Herzegovina free and unimpeded access to the sea at Ploce, and ensured free and unimpeded transit for Croatia through the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina near the Bosnian town of Neum.
The representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who introduced the draft, also proposed the oral amendments accepted by the Assembly.
Also this morning, the Assembly took note of chapters I, VIII (sections B and C) and X of the report of the Economic and Social Council. It took that action as it adopted a decision on the report, recommended by the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).
In adopting a resolution on the scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations, also recommended by the Fifth Committee, the Assembly requested the Committee on Contributions to hold a special session of one week's duration as early as possible in 1999 to consider representations from Member States with respect to the application of Article 19 of the Charter and to report thereon to the Assembly at its resumed fifty-third session pursuant to rule 160 of the Assembly's rules of procedure.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Bangladesh, Malaysia, Hungary, Indonesia, Ukraine, Jordan, Pakistan, Czech Republic, Iran, and Slovenia.
The Assembly will meet again this afternoon at 3 p.m. to take up the question of Palestine.
Assembly Work Programme
The General Assembly met this morning to discuss the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and consider a related draft resolution. It would also take up recommendations contained in reports of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) relating to the Economic and Social Council and the scale of assessments.
Situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The draft resolutions (document A/53/L.55) -- which contains 33 operative paragraphs -- would have the Assembly reiterate its demands for the full, comprehensive and consistent implementation of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. It would demand all parties hand over to the Tribunal all indicted persons in territories under their control and comply fully with the orders of the Tribunal.
The Assembly would encourage the acceleration of the peaceful, orderly and phased return of refugees and displaced persons, including to areas where they would be an ethnic minority, and strongly condemn all acts of intimidation, violence and killings, including acts designed to discourage the voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons. The Assembly would also demand that such acts be investigated and prosecuted.
Recognizing that the responsibility for consolidating the peace lies primarily with the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Assembly would also recognize that the role of the international community remains essential. At the same time, the Assembly would underline that assistance by the international community remains strictly conditional upon compliance with the Peace Agreement and subsequent obligations, including, in particular, cooperation with the International Tribunal and facilitation of the return of refugees and displaced persons.
Welcoming the vial contribution of the multinational Stabilization Force (SFOR), the Assembly would also welcome the extension of its mandate by the Security Council. It would express its full support for the efforts of the United Nations International Police Task Force in carrying out its mandate and call for the fullest cooperation by all parties in that regard. Expressing its full support for the efforts of the High Representative in implementing the peace process, the Assembly would call upon all parties to cooperate fully and in good faith with him.
The Assembly would reaffirm the right of refugees and displaced persons to return voluntarily to their homes, in cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and host countries. It
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would call upon all parties to substantially improve cooperation with the international community at the State, entity and local levels, in order to immediately establish the conditions necessary for the return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes and for the freedom of movement and communication of all the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
It would reaffirm its support for the principle that all statements and commitments made under duress are wholly null and void, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Peace Agreement, and would support the effective engagement of the Commission on Property Claims of Displaced Persons and Refugees.
By the text, the Assembly would also urge the adoption and effective implementation of new non-discriminatory property and housing legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to enable refugees and displaced persons to return to their pre-war homes. It would also stress the need for a more comprehensive approach to economic reform, which should contribute to the more homogenous development of economy and trade in the two entities and across the inter-entity boundary line.
In addition, the Assembly would call upon all parties to cooperate fully in ensuring substantial functioning of all of the common institutions of the country in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Peace Agreement. It would also urge the relevant international organizations to continue providing assistance to meet the infrastructural needs of the country's common institutions. The importance of establishing, strengthening and expanding free and pluralistic media throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina would be underlined.
The Assembly would stress the importance of establishing an economic programme which should include the creation of a framework for private-sector development, including privatization and improvement of foreign investment conditions, the restructuring of banking and capital markets, the reform of the financial system and adequate social protection. In addition, 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 Sub-regional Arms Control.
The co-sponsors of the draft are: Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Turkey and the United States.
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Fifth Committee Reports
By the terms of the draft decision on the report of the Economic and Social Council, contained in the first report of the Fifth Committee (document A/53/694), the Assembly would take note of chapters I, VIII (sections B and C) and X of the report of the Economic and Social Council.
By the terms of the draft resolution on scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations, contained in the second report (document A/53/464/Add.2), the Assembly would request the Committee on Contributions to hold a special session of one week's duration as early as possible in 1999 to consider representations from Member States with respect to the application of Article 19 of the Charter and to report thereon to the Assembly at its resumed fifty-third session pursuant to rule 160 of the Assembly's rules of procedure. It would reaffirm its role in accordance with the provisions of Article 19 of the Charter and the advisory role of the Committee on Contributions in accordance with rule 160. The Assembly would also decide to consider the Committee's report on the matter as soon as possible after the issuance of that report. Lastly, it would invite Member States to submit detailed information to the Committee in explanation of their requests as soon as possible so as to facilitate the Committee's work.
Statements on Bosnia
ERNST SUCHARIPA (Austria), speaking on behalf of the European Union and the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Iceland and Norway, said that there were no alternatives to the Dayton/Paris peace agreements for building the foundation of the political and economic development of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its two multi-ethnic entities. The assistance the European Union offered to Bosnia and Herzegovina remained strictly conditional upon compliance with the Peace Agreement and subsequent obligations, as well as the criteria of respect of democratic principles, the rule of law and market economic reform. The return of refugees and displaced persons remained a priority, and measures must be taken to put an immediate end to acts of intimidation and violence. Urgent administrative and legal measures must be taken by all parties to allow the voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons in accordance with the UNHCR regional strategy. Full respect for the human rights of persons belonging to minorities was a precondition for the restoration of a multi- ethnic Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The holding of free and fair elections was only an initial step in the construction of a democratic society, he continued. The implementation of the election results and strengthening of the central institutions depended on the sustained cooperation of all, whether Bosnian, Croat or Serb. The reform of the judicial system and the restructuring of the civilian police in Bosnia and
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Herzegovina were crucial objectives in the establishment of the rule of law. Free and independent media represented a cornerstone of democratic society, and there was also a need to develop a comprehensive approach to economic reform in order to create preconditions for a self-sustaining economy. Job creation and economic revitalization at the local level were important for the sustainable return of refugees and displaced persons.
The European Union was looking forward to the Peace Implementation Council meeting in Madrid, which would be held to outline the programme of action for the phase following the consolidation period, including outlining clear benchmarks and a timetable for the return of refugees and displaced persons to minority areas. The European Union remained committed to a sovereign, united and independent Bosnia and Herzegovina and, on 8 June, a declaration had been adopted on the place of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Europe and the creation of a joint Bosnia and Herzegovina/European Union Consultative Task Force. The European Union was also the largest donor to Bosnia and Herzegovina, having contributed about 1 billion European Currency Units (ECUs) for reconstruction and technical assistance, and another billion for humanitarian aid.
MUHAMED SACIRBEY (Bosnia and Herzegovina), introducing the draft, said the Netherlands and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had joined the list of co-sponsors. The return of refugees had not met expectations, especially in areas where displaced persons and refugees were an ethnic minority group, or when attempting to return to areas from which they had been ethnically cleansed. Without their return, the whole peace process would be seen as a mirage and evaporate. The greatest challenge to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia came from non-cooperation of certain States and parties. Compliance was mandatory and not optional. The work of United Nations related forces, as well as SFOR, had been crucial. The SFOR was increasingly assisting with implementation of civilian aspects of the peace accords.
The Organization's mandated agencies were playing an even greater and more decisive role, he continued. "We must continue to support the work of the International Police Task Force and the judicial reform process, especially where local authorities may be resistant to or not reflect the commitment to pluralism", he said. The emphasis today was on rebuilding and consolidating the peace. A new structural dimension had been introduced by a most promising cooperative relationship between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the European Union. There were several other promising bilateral and multilateral arrangements which ranged from mine-clearance to commerce.
"On the other hand, we must continue to express our dismay at the failure of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to establish diplomatic relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, without precondition", he went on to
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say. The long-delayed process of resolving the succession rights of the "old Yugoslavia" must move ahead, on the basis of the equal rights of all the successor States, rather than the dominance of one. "Srebenica is the criminal responsibility of the perpetrators", he stressed. It was the nightmare of the mothers, sisters and daughters that survived the male victims. "Srebenica is our common shame. With accountability, maybe we can also make Srebenica one of those lessons from which we all walk away with greater understanding as well as a sense of moral redemption."
MOHAMMAD SELIM (Bangladesh) said that despite repeated efforts by the international community and the Bosnian Government, refugees and displaced persons continued to face harassment and obstruction when attempting to return to their homes. The UNHCR had set a target of 50,000 minority returnees for the first half of 1998. The actual figure of return was about 15,000. Without addressing that question, achieving a long-term political solution to the Bosnia problem would not be possible.
Another regional development must not miss the international community's attention, he said. The situation in Kosovo had a direct impact on the peace implementation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Some 10,000 people from Kosovo had taken refuge in Bosnia and Herzegovina, sharing the country's meagre resources and causing further hardship there.
Bangladesh attached particular importance to the role of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in bringing justice to the region, he continued. To see that war criminals remained free, in contravention of the Peace Agreement, was disturbing. Intransigent behaviour had reached such a level that some parties did not even hesitate refusing access to a team of Tribunal investigators. It was a matter of real concern that the international community had done little to address the problem, which only encouraged offenders to deliberately ignore their international obligations. He called upon the international community to intensify collective measures in support of building a multi-ethnic, democratic and unified State in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
RASTAM MOHD. ISA (Malaysia) said despite achievements, much needed to be done to ensure peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The return of refugees and displaced persons, reconciliation among various ethnic groups, minority protection and economic recovery were among the main problems needing urgent and comprehensive address. The continuing involvement of the international community was essential. Malaysia commended the Bosnians and the international community for the successful holding of national elections. It hoped that the elected leaders would continue with the commitment to strengthen the political, economic and social foundations of the country.
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Malaysia was seriously concerned that despite efforts of the international community, the major indicted war criminals remained at large, he said. It hoped that more serious efforts would be taken, especially regarding getting the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to surrender, without delay, those criminals that were taking refuge in its territory. Regarding the safe return of refugees and displaced persons, Malaysia would support all necessary measures to ensure an early completion of the voluntary and organized process of refugee return to all parts of the country. Also, to contribute to the national reconciliation efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Malaysia had successfully organized a non-governmental forum in Kuala Lumpur from 23 to 26 August. The forum's objective was to expose participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina to the valuable experiences on national reconciliation in other countries.
IVAN SIMONOVIC (Croatia) said that despite some positive trends in the return process and the restructuring of the police and other joint institutions, many areas of social and economic life in Bosnia and Herzegovina were stagnating. For example, little economic opportunity was being created and foreign assistance remained focused on humanitarian aid. Given that without progress international assistance to Bosnia might eventually diminish, ignoring those problems could have disastrous effects on the country's future.
Croatia was very interested in fostering prosperity and sustainable development in Bosnia and Herzegovina, since the strengthening of two-way exchange could only benefit both countries, he said. A week ago, Croatia signed two far-reaching agreements: one on the establishment of special relations with the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina; another on transit to and from Ploce and Neum with Bosnia and Herzegovina. The first agreement established the legal framework for cooperation between the executive, legislative and other governmental institutions and non-governmental organizations in Croatia and the Federation, at the entity level, in line with their constitutions. The agreement on free transit gave Bosnia and Herzegovina free and unimpeded access to the sea at Ploce, and ensured free and unimpeded transit for Croatia through the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina near the Bosnian town of Neum.
Despite some positive developments over recent months, the plight of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina still had not received due consideration, he said. Croatia believed that the return of minority groups to both entities of Bosnia was crucial to post-war reconciliation and rebuilding. Also, concrete support from the international community to Bosnian Croats remained insufficient. Croatia was concerned by increased feelings of alienation among Bosnian Croats and believed that the Bosnian legislature had to protect the equality of its three constituent nations, in conformity with its Constitution. Such protection had to be reflected in the electoral law and the support of national cultural institutions.
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Croatia reiterated that cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia had to be unconditional, he said. Although the Republika Srpska recently displayed its first signs of cooperation, major perpetrators of war crimes, namely, Radovan Karadzic, former Bosnian Serb leader, and Ratko Mladic, former Bosnian Serb military commander, were still at large. Even though they had been the primary targets of war crimes, Croats and Muslims still made up the majority of people in the Tribunal's custody. Moreover, despite ample evidence and repeated calls by his Government, the Tribunal still had not brought a single indictment against persons responsible for crimes targeted against Bosnian Croats. Unless efficient action was taken with regard to the above-mentioned events, the objective dispensing of justice and a truthful historical account of events could not be achieved. Finally, the unresolved issue of succession continued to undermine prospects for the full and lasting normalization of relations in south-east Europe.
ANDRÉ ERDÖS (Hungary) said much remained to be done, including the return of refugees; the arrest of war criminals still at large; and economic recovery. Multifaceted assistance was necessary, including modalities and initiatives that would make unprecedented international cooperation effective. It was necessary to focus on the creation of an economy that could eventually function without foreign assistance. Cooperation in the country, between the two entities, the three ethnic communities and the concert of nations was vital to the success of reconciliation. He said the arrest and indictment of war criminals was fundamental to the success of the peace process. The draft resolution before the Assembly referred to that issue forcefully enough and explicitly indicted those who had failed in that regard. There were realities of the contemporary world that were harsh and cruel. Srebrenica was one such case. The history of United Nations safe areas made the draft particularly important in light of its call for a report that would shed light on what happened in Srebrenica and facilitate conclusions. He hoped the resolution would be adopted without a vote. Hungary, as a bordering State, was interested in seeing stability return to Bosnia and Herzegovina. It wanted strife and instability replaced by harmonious coexistence, functioning institutions, full equality of rights and the removal of discrimination because of ethnicity. The Acting President of the Assembly, WIN MRA (Myanmar), then informed delegations that the reports of the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) would be taken up on 3 December, in the afternoon. The reports of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) would be taken on 4 December, in the afternoon. The reports of the Sixth Committee (Legal) would be taken up on 8 December, in the afternoon. The reports of the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) would be taken up on 9 December, in the afternoon. He also informed members that agenda item 160, global implications of the year 2000 date conversion problem of computers, would be taken up on 4 December in the morning.
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ARIZAL EFFENDI (Indonesia) said that his delegation was still concerned about the pace and the inconsistencies in the implementation of the Peace Agreement, in particular, the key provisions which had never been fully implemented. Those related to the arrest and prosecution of indicted war criminals, the establishment of necessary conditions for the voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes and ensuring freedom of movement.
Lasting peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina depended on the effective functioning of the common State structures, reform of civilian police and continuation of efforts to strengthen the judicial system, as well as endeavours to enhance reconciliation and mutual respect among its multi-ethnic society, he said. It was imperative for the international community to reaffirm its full support for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and for their struggle to establish a just and stable State with durable peace, and sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Mr. SACIRBEY (Bosnia and Herzegovina) took the floor to present oral amendments to the draft, as follows: preambular paragraph 11 should be removed; preambular paragraph 12, which ended with "entities and States in the area", should have the following phrase added after the word "area": "and welcoming the efforts of the High Representative and the Commander of the Stabilization Force in implementing the provisions of the peace agreement"; and the first part of operative paragraph 18 should be amended to read: "Requests the Secretary-General to provide, by 1 September 1999, a comprehensive report, including an assessment, on the events dating from the establishment of the safe area of Srebrenica on 16 April 1993, which was followed by the establishment of other safe areas, ...".
VOLODYMYR YEL'CHENKO (Ukraine) said the present situation in Bosnia had transformed into one which required post-conflict peace-building remedies, rather than peace enforcement. The international pressure on the parties remained one of the decisive factors supporting the peace process. Since further progress in establishing a sustainable peace in Bosnia largely depended on the implementation of the civilian aspects of the Dayton agreement, the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) and the United Nations system continued to play an increasingly crucial role. With the evolution of the peace process, the mandate of the International Police Task Force (IPTF) had also evolved essentially from simply monitoring and ensuring that the local police acted in a professional way, to restructuring, training and guiding them.
The consolidation of Bosnia and Herzegovina could be achieved along with the economic reconstruction of the whole country, he said. Ukraine welcomed the diversified economic programmes financed and carried out in Bosnia by the World Bank and the international donors community. Ukraine stood ready to participate in them. It also intended to expand its bilateral economic cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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ZEID RA'AD ZEID AL-HUSSEIN (Jordan) said that the draft's authors had noted certain positive developments in the transformation of Bosnia and Herzegovina: the introduction of a new flag; common vehicle licence plates and a common currency; the mutual recognition by all successor States to the former Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia; and the successful conduct of municipal and general elections in 1997 and 1998.
Unfortunately, the transformation from a bitter war to a bitter peace, he said, was evident in the task of establishing federal institutions there. Many persons simply did not recognize the legitimacy of any institution or initiative confirming the unitary nature of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Furthermore, the Dayton agreement would never lead to real peace until its very heart -- that contained in annex 7 on return of refugees and the displaced -- was implemented. His Government appealed to all parties to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to facilitate that task. The continued refusal by one of the region's major actors to cooperate with the Tribunal was of deep concern. The accused war criminals must appear before the Tribunal in The Hague to answer the charges levelled against them.
In that context, his delegation very much regretted that the United Nations had never conducted an inquiry into exactly how its safe areas of Srebrenica and Zepa collapsed, leading to the disappearance of some 8,000 Bosnian men and their widely believed execution, he added. The fact that there was no comprehensive organizational account of the episodes prevented an evaluation of disturbing media allegations or revelations about the Organization's conduct.
BURHANUL ISLAM (Pakistan) said that the faithful implementation of the Dayton accords was central to any durable peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The solemn commitment made at Dayton to ensure proper war criminal proceedings was not being fulfilled by the Serbian entity or the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, noting that most of the indictees remained at large in those territories. That blatant violation of international law must not be allowed. His delegation deplored the fact that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had used domestic laws to justify its failure to perform binding obligations, despite a relevant Council resolution adopted in November. The international community must ensure full and timely implementation of all aspects of the arrangements agreed to by the parties.
Despite widespread concerns expressed over the heinous crimes committed in Srebrenica, no serious efforts had been made to unmask the truth, he said. His delegation expected the Secretary-General to submit a comprehensive report of events with a view to establishing the facts and bringing the perpetrators of crimes to justice. The findings would be a useful lesson for the international community towards preventing such a recurrence.
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Furthermore, the revival of Bosnia's economic and social structure needed priority attention, he continued, calling for a comprehensive approach to economic reform across the inter-entity boundary line. He welcomed establishing an economic programme for the area which focused on the private sector, improving the foreign investment climate, and restructuring the banking and financial systems. He urged all Member States to contribute generously towards the voluntary fund for the Yugoslav Tribunal, saying that perpetrators of mass killings must not go unpunished.
VLADIMIR GALUSKA (Czech Republic) said more rapid progress could have been made in the civilian reconstruction of Bosnia. The good results in the implementation of the military aspects of the Dayton peace accords constituted a positive trend. Also, thanks to the extended mandate of the High Representative, the last six months had seen progress on issues which had previously seemed hopelessly blocked, such as common State symbols, currency, car licence plates and passports.
However, the present system of common institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina was not sustainable, he said. A number of key problems were yet to be solved, and his delegation hoped that the trend towards national democracy and the development of good neighbourly relations would continue in all entities. Thus far, the relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its entities with many countries of the world were much better than those with their direct neighbours.
No substantial progress had been made in the repatriation of refugees and displaced persons, he continued. One of the main reasons for the small number of returnees was the ominous economic situation in the country. Therefore, economic restoration appeared to be one of the basic prerequisites for the future of the country. Economic growth could hardly be expected without fundamental economic reforms, including privatization and restructuring, and without active support by the population.
The Czech Republic fully endorsed Security Council resolution 1207 (1998) of 17 November, condemning the refusal by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to cooperate with the Tribunal. His country was actively involved in the process of post-war reconstruction and economic revitalization of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and it was also participating in funding of humanitarian projects and democratic institutions in that country.
YURIY V. FEDOTOV (Russian Federation) said that the current level of international support could not be maintained indefinitely. Additional steps on the part of all the parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina were required. They should confirm their will to implement the Dayton agreements, to achieve genuine inter-ethnic reconciliation and effective reconstruction of the country on the basis of democratic principles.
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He noted the clarification of some positions regarding the International Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia in the draft and said that his country would join the consensus on the text. All States must implement their respective international responsibilities to cooperate with the Tribunal. However, Russia could not agree with attempts to broaden the concept of such cooperation to the conduct of previously planned actions directed at armed capture of the suspects. The Peace Agreement and relevant resolutions of the Security Council, as well as the Statute of the Tribunal, clearly stated that extradition to The Hague of the individuals accused of military crimes should be carried out exclusively on the basis of cooperation of the parties with the Tribunal. Such an approach must be strictly implemented in practice. Any deviations from that approach and, in particular, unjustified pressure on the parties could only lead to a serious deterioration of the situation and hinder the peace process.
He said the Russian Federation agreed with the desire to clarify certain tragic events, which took place during the conflict in Bosnia, including those in the safe area of Srebrenica. Such inquiries should also be carried out in other areas of the country.
MEHDI DANESH-YAZDI (Iran) said contemporary thinking banked on the general growth of human society. It was thought that designing democratic institutions in multi-ethnic States was not only possible, but necessary, and that the magic word was "reconciliation". Such institution, however, could only be built in creative ways that reconciled the legitimate interests of different communities. A lot more needed to be done in Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly by the peoples of the different communities themselves. There was a limit to the help that the international community could offer in terms of institutionalizing democracy in any multi-ethnic States, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina. The country continued to suffer from the lack of ethnic security. That continued to be the underlying reason for conflict within the country and for the lack of trust between ethnic groups.
Ethnically based parties and groups represented the narrow interests, or what they deemed to be the interests, of that one ethnic group, he said. They felt no sympathy or obligation to the rest of Bosnia and Herzegovina's people. Rather than seeking accommodation, those parties viewed every political move as a "zero-sum" game in which a distinct line was drawn between the loser and the winner. Time might heal wounds inflicted along ethnic lines -- wounds as gross and as unconscionable as those inflicted primarily against Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina -- provided that justice prevailed and the wounded perceived it as such. In that context, the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was far-reaching. Unhindered prosecution of indicted individuals would help cool the effect of ethnic conflict and enhance prospects for reconciliation and integration in the region.
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DANILO TÜRK (Slovenia) said that the world was reminded again that genocide, or as called in Bosnia "ethnic cleansing", was a real possibility if the international community failed to help the weak and defenceless. The return rate of refugees, especially minorities, was particularly low, and common political institutions were still not functioning adequately. For those reasons, it would be much too soon for the international community to leave Bosnia and Herzegovina in its delicate phase of post-conflict peace-building.
Those who committed crimes against humanity must be brought to justice, he said. Until then, the reconciliation process would be significantly constrained. Also essential to the peace process was the need to clarify the fate of more than 19,000 missing persons, in particular more than 7,000 civilians from the United Nations-designated safe area of Srebrenica. Demining would also enable the return of refugees and help restore the economic activity in Bosnia and Herzegovina. To that end, Slovenia had established an international trust fund for demining in Bosnia and Herzegovina in March, to strengthen the post- conflict rehabilitation.
Resolving the issue of the succession of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which continued to be blocked by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, would support peace, he said. That issue had hampered the normalization of relations among the successor States of former Yugoslavia and had an adverse effect on the political and economic stability in the region. He hoped the forthcoming meeting of the Peace Implementation Council would contribute to finding an effective approach in resolving the succession issue.
Mr. SACIRBEY (Bosnia and Herzegovina) proposed another oral amendment to the draft by which, in operative paragraph 15, the words "Intermediate Media Standards and Licensing Commission" would be replaced by "Independent Media Commission", which should always be written in capitals letters.
Action on Draft
The Acting PRESIDENT of the Assembly then informed delegations that Bangladesh, Germany, Singapore and Tunisia had also become co-sponsors of the draft.
The Assembly then adopted draft resolution on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as orally amended, without a vote.
Recommendations of Fifth Committee
Acting, without a vote, on recommendations of its Fifth Committee, the Assembly took note of the report of the Economic and Social Council and requested the Committee on Contributions to hold a one-week special session relating to Article 19, on the Assembly allowing Member States in arrears to maintain voting rights under specific situations.
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