Friday, June 15, 2007

How peacekeeping missions loose their focus

Peacekeepers have a lot in common with the police. Both maintain some written text: the peace agreement or the law. And both have the authority to use force, but are supposed also to use persuasion to achieve conformity to the peace agreement or law.

If one analyses the peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and Kosovo it is easy to see that something has gone wrong. They are not real peacekeeping operations but something somewhere between peacekeeping and a colonial occupation.

Take Bosnia. The Dayton Agreement was rather clear. But instead of just maintaining it the internationals let themselves be convinced that Dayton was not good enough and needed improvement. No wise cop will not allow himself to be drawn in a discussion about the validity of the laws. He may be flexible on details, but they will not allow you to undermine the core of their mission. Unfortunately what happened in Bosnia.

In my opinion the internationals (both EUFOR and the high representative) should restrict themself to maintaining Dayton. Any discussion about independence for the RS or abolition of the RS should be discarded with a simple "that is not in Dayton".

In Kosovo the situation was even more extreme. Resolution 1244 was clear about Serbia's territorial integrity. It foresaw negotiations to establish an interim government that respected the territorial integrity. After that final negotiations could be started. Serb diplomats were ready and started soon after the war to hint at several solutions including partition. But the internationals rejected this and instead kept Kosovo in limbo for 7 years - after which they started negotiations about a final solution chaperoned by a partial negotiator and handicapped by Contact Group principles that excluded the option of partition.

Resolution 1244 foresaw a short period of UN rule and as a consequence didn't give extensive instructions on how to rule the province. UNMIK was supposed just to keep things running. When the mission continued for years it got inevitably involved in legislation. This was something for which they had no clear mandate and as a consequence it handicapped them in their peace keeping mission.

The problem with changing your basis is that the mission gets off-balance. The discussion is no longer about how the mission can achieve its goals. Instead it becomes torn by conflicting demands from all sides. This undermines also the agreement that forms the basis of the peacekeeping mission. So instead of promoting peace the mission is undermining it. The effect can be clearly seen in Bosnia where the conflict about status of the RS has poisoned the relations between the ethnic groups and instead of returns has led to continuing departures of minorities.


Anonymous said...

"1244 was clear about Serbia's territorial integrity and autonomy as the desired solution."

Are you quoting Seselj anc CO. 1244 mentions Yugoslavia and DOES NOT mention autonomy.

What about the illegal parallel institutions? They are not legal according to 1244 but recieve millions of Euros from Serbian Government.

Wim Roffel said...

Hi Niki,
You are right: it mentions Yugoslavia. But Yugoslavia was at that time Serbia and Montenegro and Serbia is the legal successor to that state. Besides that the resolution mentions "territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia AND the other States of the region".

Also it talks about negotiations to establish an interim structure that respects the territorial integrity (point 10 and annex 1). So indeed there is no restriction on the final solution. But those negotiations have never been held and this negotiated interim structure has never been established.

But thanks for keeping me sharp. I will look at the main text to make it more clear.

As for the parallel institutions: I think they are neither legal nor illegal as the resolution is simply very unclear on this matter. For example: the resolution asks for withdrawal of Serb military and police forces but says nothing about civil officials. Also it is clear that KFOR does not adequately perform some of their tasks as formulated in the resolution (like refugee returns). So Serbia can claim that they perform functions that UNMIK/KFOR neglects to do.


Anonymous said...

You are wrong about parallel institutions. According to OSCE these institutions in Kosovo are ILLEGAL. OSCE forms a distinct component of the UNMIK and is mandated with institution- and democracy-building and promoting human rights and the rule of law.

In a report called "PARALLEL STRUCTURES IN KOSOVO" they say following:

"In this report, the general term parallel structures is used to define bodies and
institutions that have been or still are operational in Kosovo after 10 June 1999 and
that are not mandated for under the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244."

"Non-recognition of judgments and actions by parallel courts can be justified on the
ground that the parallel structures are illegal due to the UN Security Council
Resolution 1244 (1999), UNMIK Regulation No. 1 1999/1 (On the Authority of the
Interim Administration in Kosovo), and Art. 9(4) of UNMIK Regulation No. 2001/9
On the Constitutional Framework."

Even we disagree I am glad we have the possibility to discuss.

Wim Roffel said...

UNMIK/OSCE has interpreted their mission very wide. I doubt whether an independent judge would agree with them on all points.

The parallel structures perform a range of functions. Resolution 1244 does not explicitly state that Yugoslavia is not allowed to perform government tasks in Kosovo. If you would ask an independent judge he would probably rule that parallel structures are not allowed only in those cases where they hinder UNMIK to perform its job.