Monthly report to the United Nations Security Council
on SFOR operations
- Operation Joint Guard began on 20 December 1996, following the
termination of Operation Joint Endeavour and the consequent transition from
the Implementation Force (IFOR) to the Stabilization Force (SFOR). Under
the authority of Security Council resolution 1088 (1996), SFOR will
contribute to a secure environment necessary for the consolidation and
stabilization of peace by deterring or, if necessary, halting a resumption
of hostilities. It will also provide time for political reconciliation and
economic reconstruction to gain momentum.
- Currently, there are approximately 32,000 troops deployed in Bosnia and
Herzegovina with contributions from all the NATO nations and from the 18
non-NATO countries that participated in IFOR.Albania, Austria, Bulgaria,
the Czech Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Jordan, Latvia,
Lithuania, Malaysia, Morocco, Poland, Romania, the Russian Federation,
Sweden and Ukraine. The new force is expected to be fully established by 3
February 1997, when the next phase of Operation Joint Guard, the
stabilization phase, will begin.
- Over the past month, the situation in the theatre has been calm, in
part owing to the winter weather conditions. SFOR troops have conducted
area reconnaissance and surveillance operations and inspected the
authorized sites for heavy weapons and other forces.
- The next major milestone in implementation of the Peace Agreement that
may have an impact on SFOR operations will be the decision of the Brcko
Arbitration Tribunal, expected on 15 February.
Cooperation and compliance by the parties
- All parties remain in general compliance with the military provisions
of the Peace Agreement. Individual breaches continue to occur, however.
One cantonment violation was registered in early January, in a weapons site
east of Banja Luka, with the removal by Bosnian Serbs of 450 rounds of 7.62
mm ammunition. Unauthorized weapons, mainly small arms, continue to be
discovered and confiscated. In mid-January, SFOR troops disabled 11 multi-barrelled rocket launchers that had been confiscated from a Bosniac
Government ordnance factory in Novi Travnik in December; the weapons will
be destroyed shortly.
- With respect to freedom of movement and freedom of return, SFOR has
discovered and removed a small number of illegal checkpoints over the past
month. The risk remains of incidents associated with the return of
refugees and displaced persons into the zone of separation. SFOR will
continue to work closely with the Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees, the International Police Task Force (IPTF) and
the Office of the High Representative (OHR) to permit the organized and
safe return of refugees and displaced persons.
In addition, none of the parties is yet judged to be compliant with
respect to demining, and mines continue to pose the greatest threat to
civilians and troops alike. At a recent meeting of the Joint Military
Commission, therefore, to reflect the importance of the demining issue,
SFOR defined a reasonable rate of demining activity to be undertaken by the
parties. Should targets not be met, additional training and movement
restrictions will be imposed. To give impetus to this initiative,
arrangements will be made to provide significant training assistance to
each of the parties so as to enable them to establish a core of personnel
trained in demining procedures. At the same meeting, arrangements were
also set in motion for the consolidation of weapons in a reduced number of
- The Bosniac and Bosnian Serb parties are still non-compliant in the
mandatory return of prisoners of war (POWs). The International Committee
of the Red Cross (ICRC) records 13 POWs still held in Bosniac and Serb
prisons. It is also possible that there may be more POWs detained by the
Cooperation with international organizations
- SFOR support has been provided to IPTF in its inspection of civilian
police stations. All parties have been seeking to store inappropriate
weapons. To date, the joint inspections have resulted in the discovery and
subsequent destruction by SFOR of approximately 115 mines, 40 anti-tank
weapons, 100 machine-guns and over 350 rifles.
- SFOR has also worked with IPTF to maintain local security. For
example, in early January, following increased tension in the northeastern
town of Dugi Dio between Bosniacs and Bosnian Serb police, SFOR and IPTF
increased their presence in the area.
- With a view to promoting freedom of movement, and in line with
decisions taken at the December 1996 Peace Implementation Conference in
London, SFOR is participating in a Freedom of Movement Task Force, set up
with participants from OHR, IPTF and a number of countries. The Task Force
meets weekly in Sarajevo.
- SFOR continued to support OSCE in its role with respect to annex I B
of the Peace Agreement, including through the recent delivery to the
Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office of updated data on
the parties' weapons holdings in SFOR-authorized sites.
- SFOR contains a Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) Task Force of over
300 military personnel in theatre, which is providing selective support to
OHR and other organizations responsible for implementing the civil aspects
of the Peace Agreement. SFOR planners are now working closely with the
OSCE Mission to determine requirements for the preparation and conduct of
the municipal elections.