Updated: 12-Nov-2004 NATO Speeches

New York

11 Nov. 2004


by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
at the meeting of the United Nations Security Council

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United Nations
Mr President, Secretary General,
Your Excellencies,

It is a real pleasure for me to be in New York, and an honour to have been invited to address you this afternoon. My remarks will focus on NATO’s support to the United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but I should like to start with a couple of observations about our respective organisations.

As an Alliance of 26 democracies, NATO Allies are bound together by common values as well a commitment to common defense. In the past decade, NATO nations have expanded the geographic scope of Alliance operations and activities and transformed their nature, all without forgetting our core task of collective defense.

Each operation requires a political decision by Allied nations to commit their young men and women to a potentially hazardous mission. Such a grave step is never taken without extensive consultations among Allies. In response to a series of new strategic challenges, the Alliance has decided to go “out of area” to build stability in a number of regions that have an impact on the security of the Euro-Atlantic area.

The United Nations has also faced a multiplication of its activities and tasks in this fluid strategic environment. It is therefore not surprising that NATO and the United Nations, each within their specific roles, have found an increasing scope for cooperation, especially in peace operations.

This brings me back to Bosnia and Herzegovina, because in a real sense, the Alliance’s transformation began in the Balkans. The Bosnia mission was undertaken in close cooperation with, and under a mandate from, the United Nations.

This decision to go “out of area” in the Balkans was a historical decision for the Alliance. It was NATO’s first peacekeeping operation. But just as importantly, it represented the birth of UN-NATO cooperation.

Since 1992, NATO has provided continuous support to the United Nations in the Balkans. In 1995, some 65,000 troops deployed to Bosnia and Herzegovina, under a United Nations’ mandate, to implement the military aspects of the Dayton Peace Agreement. United Nations and NATO cooperation has resulted in a safe and secure environment. State institutions have been established, human rights are now respected, and the country has been set on the path to integration into Euro-Atlantic and European structures. Today only 7,000 troops remain in the country – a clear indication of the considerable progress that has been made. Progress which is also to a very large extent due to the relentless efforts and very hard work of the successive High Representatives for Bosnia Herzegovina, from Carl Bildt to Lord Ashdown.

Given our joint success in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is not surprising that NATO support to the United Nations there has been viewed as a template to be applied to other demanding crises. This template involves close cooperation with other major international players, including the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

In a cooperative international effort, NATO contributed to successfully defusing the crisis in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia(1) , paving the way for a lasting political settlement, in the framework of the Ohrid Agreement. And since 1999, under a United Nations’ mandate, NATO has been involved in stabilising the situation in Kosovo. Last month, NATO-led troops provided security for the Parliamentary Assembly elections there. The good cooperation between KFOR and UNMIK on the ground continues to be crucial for the stability of the province. This was also underlined by the Special Representative of the UN SG for Kosovo Soeren Jessen-Petersen, when he addressed the North Atlantic Council of NATO yesterday.

While there has been real progress, work remains to be done and the closely coordinated international effort must continue across the wider region. But given the improved state of security in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is the right time to terminate the Stabilisation Force mission. As you heard from Lord Ashdown this morning, NATO is now working to hand over peacekeeping responsibilities to the European Union next month. I therefore look forward to your Resolution authorising this handover of responsibility.

But this does not mean that NATO’s long-term commitment to the country has changed. NATO will retain a military presence in the country and has already established a new headquarters in Sarajevo which will provide advice on defence reform and will remain engaged in bringing indicted war criminals to justice. Co-operation with the ICTY is a key conditionality for further progress in NATO/BiH relations. I would like to underscore the words spoken this morning by Lord Ashdown on the position of the Republica Sprska in this respect. Co-operation with the ICTY is crucial for any further development of the relations with NATO, starting with membership of the PfP programme.

With the imminent termination of the Stabilisation Force mission, it is timely to review all that has been achieved there. I would draw attention to some of the lessons that I believe to be key.

The first is anticipate spill-over. As we have seen in the Balkans, when states fail they tend to threaten security and stability not just in their own region, but well beyond. This does not mean that NATO must intervene in each and every instance. But we should always be aware that indifference might be more costly, over time, than timely engagement.

Second. Success in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a clear demonstration of international institutions complementing each other, and reinforcing each other's efforts. A holistic approach calling on the relative strengths of the different international organisations is vital. And it is also valuable to involve as many individual states as practicable. NATO benefited greatly from the operational participation of non-NATO nations.

Finally, I would highlight the need for political dialogue to articulate a clear end-state, and determination to see the mission through until that end-state is achieved. These are essential for reasons of political legitimacy, for sustaining public support over the long term, and for political credibility.

These were, together with a robust military capability, the main ingredients for NATO’s success in Bosnia and Herzegovina. But I believe they will also be the key for NATO to deliver success in other operations.

NATO is now playing a major role, under a Security Council mandate, in Afghanistan. It leads the almost 10,000 strong International Security Assistance Force and is progressively expanding its presence throughout the country. Last month, it assisted the United Nations by supporting Afghan Government efforts to provide a secure environment for the presidential elections, as well as by directly supporting the electoral process. Also in Afghanistan NATO will continue to deliver on its commitments.

In Iraq, under the terms of the United Nations’ Security Council Resolution 1546, and at the specific request of the Interim Iraqi Government, NATO is providing assistance in training and equipping the Iraqi security forces. We are in the process of substantially enhancing this assistance.

I am aware that the Alliance’s involvement in these two countries has prompted some people to suggest that NATO is taking on the role of global policeman. I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. But the Alliance’s security interests are affected by events in these countries, and it is therefore logical for NATO to assist the United Nations’ and the international community’s efforts there.

As I mentioned earlier, every international institution has something to offer and its particular skills must be used to best effect. As far as NATO support is concerned, there are a number of benefits that I would wish to highlight.

First and foremost, I would emphasise NATO’s utility as a framework for political dialogue and action. It is an alliance of 26 sovereign and democratic nations and it binds together Europe and North America in a multi-lateral approach to security.

But it is also a framework which facilitates participation by other nations. During NATO-led operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, for example, the contributions from NATO’s partners were indispensable, as were the contributions from other nations. Overall, troops from all five continents, from more than 20 non-NATO nations, served effectively under NATO military command and alongside NATO troops. This framework for action is tried and tested, and it has accumulated a wealth of experience.

NATO also has a unique capacity to back up its political decisions with serious peacekeeping and peacemaking power. And that power is flexible and easily tailored to the different demands placed up on it. It encompasses training and advice to troops likely to be called upon to carry out peacekeeping duties, through activities such as participation in NATO-led exercises; advice on interoperability issues; and the sharing of doctrine and documentation.

It also includes operational planning, with the associated force generation, strategic movement and logistics support. And of course, it includes substantial military assets – land, air and maritime - that are in short supply elsewhere. These assets include the necessary mix of capabilities for both combat and post-conflict reconstruction, as well as the appropriate deployable command elements to ensure maximum operational effectiveness. And they now also include high readiness units, such as the NATO Response Force.

Finally, I would stress NATO’s proven determination to stay the course. Our 12 year commitment to support in Bosnia and Herzegovina is testimony to our resolve and ability to sustain our operations over lengthy periods when necessary.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is the most successful proof of the effectiveness and potential of the United Nations and NATO working together for peace and stability. We have developed an effective operational relationship between our two organisations there. And we have adopted the model of our cooperation to other operations.

Mr. President,

NATO nations are deeply committed to the United Nations. In the Treaty of Washington, which founded NATO, Allies reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and they acknowledge the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security.

In the field, NATO has broadened its scope for support to the United Nations since our original peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Our support now includes missions in other theatres and active cooperation on common challenges such as the fight against terrorism. The Alliance has already made a significant contribution to United Nations’ operations. NATO nations are always prepared to consider further requests for support. I fully expect this cooperation will continue.

Thank you.

1. Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.

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