Press Releases

    SG/SM/8557
    SC/7597
    13 December 2002

    SECRETARY-GENERAL HAILS SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION
    OF UNITED NATIONS MISSIONS IN BOSNIA
    AND HERZEGOVINA, PREVLAKA

    NEW YORK, 12 December (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the statement by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Security Council meeting on the conclusion of the United Nations missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Prevlaka, New York, 12 December 2002:

    It is a great pleasure to be here at this Security Council meeting on the conclusion of the United Nations missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Prevlaka. Both these missions have successfully completed their mandates.

    My report on the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) describes in detail what the mission has achieved and how it was done. It has completed successfully the most extensive police reform and restructuring project ever undertaken by the United Nations. In doing so, it broke new ground in the techniques of United Nations civilian police operations. Bosnia and Herzegovina has now a police "fit for Europe", and this is the orientation that the country’s leaders will continue to pursue. The presence of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina at today’s session is a demonstration of their common determination to assume full responsibility for meeting the challenges ahead.

    The United Nations Mission of Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP) had a more modest objective. By monitoring the demilitarization of the Prevlaka peninsula, it helped to shield this strategically important area from the fighting and tensions in the vicinity. In this way, it maintained a favourable situation for an eventual negotiated settlement. I am encouraged by the signing, on 10 December, of a protocol between Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on an interim agreement along their southern border. While this protocol does not prejudge the terms of the final settlement, it is a tangible expression of willingness, on both sides, to settle the dispute in a good-neighbourly manner.

    Our mission continues in Kosovo. But with the end of these two missions – both, in their way, successors to the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) -- an era of United Nations involvement in the former Yugoslavia comes to an end. This era has seen some of peacekeeping’s bitterest moments, which have left a lasting impression on the Organization and on all of us who were personally involved.

    I believe that -- over time -- we have drawn important conclusions about the nature, scope and role of United Nations peacekeeping, and have made it a better instrument for the international community. UNMIBH and UNMOP have shown that with the right mandate, the cooperation of the parties and the strong support of the Security Council and United Nations Member States in general, United Nations peacekeeping operations can make an important difference.

    The United Nations will, of course, stay engaged in the Balkans. The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is carrying out a complex mandate, together with our partners: the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). In doing so, it makes use of many of the lessons learnt from Bosnia and Herzegovina. And in Bosnia and Herzegovina itself, the United Nations family will continue to support the Government and the people.

    In conclusion, I want to thank Jacques Paul Klein and Rodolfo Sergio Mujica for the leadership they have provided; the men and women of the two missions for their devoted service; the contributing governments, for making their personnel available; the leaders of the host countries for their cooperation; and, finally, this Council itself, for the steadfast support it has given.

    Without all of you, the good work would not have been possible.

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