Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution 1.1 -- March 1998

The Development of the International Peacekeeping Regime and the Conflict in the Former Yugoslavia

by Derek Sweetman

written as an undergraduate at

Colorado State University

"If peacekeeping didn't exist, something very much like it would have to be invented. If we didn't do it imperfectly, somebody else would do it imperfectly."

-- Christopher Gunnes, U.N. Deputy Spokesman (quoted in Wren 1995)

The response to the conflict in the former Yugoslav republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereafter Bosnia) was not a success for United Nations (U.N.) peacekeeping. However, the conflict was the first major test of the U.N. after the euphoric predictions for peace following the end of the cold war. It is important to examine the course taken by the Security Council, the body of the U.N. charged with maintaining international peace and security, to find the best explanation for its behavior during the time the Council had the most authority over international response to the conflict. The Security Council's behavior in the realm of peacekeeping during the Bosnian war can best be understood as an explicit attempt to negotiate a new international peacekeeping regime in response to changes in the international community and specific requirements of the situation. In order to evaluate the Council's response, this paper will focus on the decisions made while the U.N. was the major party acting in the area. Before 8 June 1992, when the Security Council voted to expand the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) into Bosnia, it had not passed any resolutions involving peacekeeping in the former republic. On 15 December 1995, the Security Council officially transferred authority for peacekeeping operations to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and its Implementation Force (IFOR), ending the Council's active role in peacekeeping in the country, so decisions between these two events will be considered.

Regimes are social institutions governing the actions of the parties involved in a specific activity. They are recognizable patterns of behavior around which expectations arise (Feld and Jordan 1988, 36). Regimes consist of rules, decision-making procedures, principles and norms. Rules are specific prescriptions or proscriptions for action and decision-making procedures are the prevailing systems for making choices. Principles in regimes are beliefs of fact or causation and norms are standards of behavior in terms of rights and obligations of participants. Any change in norms or principles changes the regime itself. (Mares and Powell 1990, 65). Regimes can change due to internal contradictions, transformations in the power structure between participants or alterations in behavior rendering the regime unworkable (Young 1982, 292-4). Although it is often difficult to change existing regimes, in the event of the collapse of a pre-existing order, there will often be a conscious effort to restructure an existing regime (Young 1982, 281).

There are three types of regimes: spontaneous, imposed and negotiated. Spontaneous regimes rise, unplanned, out of common behavior and imposed regimes are determined by an authority. Negotiated regimes are characterized by "conscious efforts to agree on their major provisions, explicit consent on the part of individual participants, and the formal expression of the results" (Young 1982, 283). Such regimes often are inconsistent and will on experience to refine its responses to problems (Young 1982, 283). Negotiated orders will often reflect the power distribution within the organization in which the regime is bargained (Young 1982, 289).

Regime theory is not unproblematic. It has been criticized for being imprecise, value-based, overemphasizing the static, being narrowminded and being a "fad" (Strange, 1982:479). Imprecision can be countered with a specific definition, such as the one above. Strange argues that the use of the term "regime" implies a recognized locus of power over time and this is unrealistic in the international system (Strange, 1982: 487). As will be shown, at the beginning of the Bosnian crisis it was recognized that the Security Council had the authority (and responsibility) to deal with the problem. Therefore, the use of "regime" is justified.

Strange's final two criticisms are also inapplicable to this analysis. She argues regime theory overemphasizes the unchanging nature of regimes however, this paper concentrates on the change from one regime to another, avoiding this pitfall. Finally, Strange believes international regime analysis may be a passing fad, moreover an American fad (Strange, 1982: 480). There are two responses to this. First, regime analysis has remained useful since it was first developed. Secondly, being a "fad" would not discount the utility of the approach. If the theory is specifically applicable and something can be learned from its use, it should be included in any evaluation of international behavior.

Before examining the decisions of the Security Council directly, it is important to survey the background of the international situation at the time it became involved in the conflict in Bosnia. Before the end of the Cold War, there were informal guidelines which controlled the use of U.N. peacekeepers. These included the stipulations that the full support of the Security Council was required, all parties involved in the conflict must consent, the participating nations should represent a variety of regional interests, permanent members did not contribute forces other than in logistical support or to aid in troop movement, and the peacekeepers could only use force in events of self-defense (Mackinlay and Chopra 1992, 114). These behavioral constraints provided a system of expected behavior and met the criteria for being a regime, but by the end of the 1980s they were being dismantled. This occurred due to three major reasons: U.S. and U.S.S.R. proxy wars were ripe for resolution, the end of the Cold War led to the breakup of many countries and resulting violence, and the collapse of Communism and the end of the U.N.'s efforts at decolonialism led countries to focus on political and civil rights (Ratner 1995, 14-15). Due to this change in the principles and norms of the old peacekeeping regime, a new one was beginning to be formed.

It is within this context that the Security Council met, for the first time at the head of state level, in January 1991, "recogniz[ing] that a rethinking of the old rules and guidelines and the development of new approaches were needed to take full advantage of the opportunities for peace that a new era in international relations offered" (Sutterlin 1995, 8-9). The meeting resulted in a request for Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to make proposals for the reform of U.N. peacekeeping and the formation of a joint declaration on the issue. The Council's joint declaration reinforced the Council's belief that it was at a crossroads and there were "new favorable international circumstances under which the Security Council [had] begun to fulfill more effectively its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security" (Lewis 1992a). Clearly, the Security Council was aware of the necessity to reform the peacekeeping regime of the past.

It is against this background that the Security Council took action in the Bosnian war. The Security Council had been actively involved in the area since 29 June 1992 when, with its resolution 749 (1992) it created UNPROFOR to be deployed in Croatia. Originally, this force was mandated exclusively to function within Croatia and was controlled from Sarajevo. After failed attempts at negotiating a lasting cease-fire between the Bosnian Muslims and Croats and the Bosnian Serbs, however, most of the U.N. personnel in Sarajevo were withdrawn on 16 and 17 May 1992. The Security Council requested remaining UNPROFOR staff try to negotiate a cease fire to reopen the airport in Sarajevo and an agreement was drafted on 5 June. With its resolution 758 (1992), the Council expanded the strength and mandate of UNPROFOR to ensure the safety and functionability of the airport. By 3 July, the airport was reopened for a humanitarian airlift to aid the citizens of Sarajevo. Resolution 758 (1992) was passed unanimously, without debate, and world leaders quickly endorsed the measure (Prial 1992).

In July 1992, the Security Council became involved in a conflict with the Secretary-General over policy in Bosnia. The European Community's chief negotiator in Bosnia, Lord Carrington, had reached a settlement with Bosnian Serbs, Croats and Muslims for the surrender of large weapons around Sarajevo. In this agreement, these weapons would be overseen by UNPROFOR. Boutros-Ghali was upset because the British representative to the Security Council, Sir David Hannay, received the Council's endorsement for the plan before Boutros-Ghali was consulted (Faison 1992). This episode continued into August when the Secretary-General added complaints of Eurocentrism and accused the Council of avoiding problems in Somalia (Tyler 1992). Nevertheless, UNPROFOR participated in the Carrington plan.

By September 1992, the Security Council and Secretary-General appeared to be working together. After a report by the Secretary-General calling for an expansion of UNPROFOR's mandate to include the protection of support efforts by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Council voted to increase the strength and mandate of UNPROFOR for these functions. To this end, 5,000 NATO troops were added to UNPROFOR under U.N. command. The Security Council also created a separate Bosnia and Herzegovina command within UNPROFOR. Responding to domestic pressure, Britain, France, Canada and Spain agreed to send and completely fund infantry battalions (Lewis 1992b). In November, the Council expanded the UNPROFOR mandate again, in its resolution 781 (1992), by asking UNPROFOR to monitor compliance by both sides with a ban on military flights in Bosnia. There was no mention of enforcement in the resolution.

This enforcement was added to UNPROFOR's mandate after two villages east of Srebrenica were bombed on 13 March 1993. Although the Secretary-General could not determine to which side the bombs belonged, on 31 March the Security Council, with its resolution 816 (1993), extended its ban on flights to all aircraft and called on all member states to act nationally or through regional agreements to ensure compliance with the ban. This resolution was passed with a 14-0 vote, with China abstaining (Lewis 1993). NATO responded and sent a letter to the Secretary-General confirming the ability of the Council to use NATO aircraft beginning on 12 April. This power was used sparingly, but on 28 February 1994 NATO planes shot down four planes within Bosnian airspace.

After ensuring the ban on flights, the Security Council decided to extend UNPROFOR protection within Bosnia. On 16 April, it voted to treat Srebrenica as a "safe area" and extended this protection to Tuzla, Zepa, Gorazde and Bihac on 6 May. Both of these resolutions passed unanimously (Prial 1993). In an important mandate expansion on 4 June, the Council passed its resolution 836 (1993) which called upon UNPROFOR to deter attacks on the safe areas and use force in response to bombardment or attacks into the safe areas. It also authorized UNPROFOR to act against any deliberate obstruction of humanitarian convoys. It was clear that more troops would be needed and in early June, the Secretary-General reported 34,000 would be necessary to fully implement the expanded mandate. He also noted that 7,600 troops could be added to implement the mandate in a limited manner.

The Security Council broke with the Secretary-General's recommendation and added only 7,600 troops without limiting UNPROFOR's mandate. Other than these troops, the force remained unchanged until the Council voted to split UNPROFOR's command into three separate units in Croatia, Bosnia and Macedonia in early October 1993. Throughout the end of 1993, the situation in Bosnia, in both military and humanitarian terms, worsened.

On 10 and 11 January 1994, the heads of state of NATO met in Brussels where they called for the full implementation of the UNPROFOR mandate and the removal of obstacles to the force's success. Also in January, fighting around Sarajevo increased greatly and culminated on 5 February in a mortar attack into a central market which killed 58 civilians and wounded 142. After great international condemnation, NATO released a statement on 9 February calling for the surrender or withdrawal of all heavy weapons around Sarajevo. NATO set a ten-day limit on this surrender and all uncooperative forces were threatened with air strikes. On the same day, UNPROFOR announced it had achieved a negotiated cease-fire agreement dealing with the area around Sarajevo.

The Security Council met on 14 and 15 February to determine a course of action in the Sarajevo area. It heard from 58 speakers and determined there was general support for NATO action, but some member states were worried about retaliation against UNPROFOR. No resolutions were issued during the meeting. On 17 February, Bosnian Serbs agreed to pull back from Sarajevo and remove most heavy weapons. Those not removed would be put under the control of UNPROFOR. Although this agreement was similar to the Carrington plan, the Secretary-General did not voice opposition to the proposal. On 20 February, the Security Council met informally and determined Bosnian Serbs, Croats and Muslims to be in general accord with the NATO request. On 4 March, the Council called for the cooperation of all parties in the area of Sarajevo with its resolution 900 (1994).

On 31 March, the Security Council voted to add 3,500 troops to UNPROFOR and extend its mandate to include reopening the Tuzla airport for humanitarian and UNPROFOR use, responding to a report by the Secretary-General. The Council added another 6,550 on 27 April. Although, by this point, the situation around Sarajevo and Tuzla had calmed down, the safe area of Gorazde was the site of continuing attacks by Bosnian Serbs. On 18 April, the Secretary-General asked NATO to authorize air strikes against forces endangering Gorazde and, if necessary, to protect Tuzla, Zepa, Bihac and Srebrenica. NATO responded by authorizing the air strikes if the Bosnian Serbs did not pull back within 48 hours. The Security Council condemned the attacks and called for UNPROFOR to do whatever was necessary to ensure the area remained secure. The Bosnian Serbs complied with the ultimatum and in a report delivered 19 May, the Secretary-General claimed the cease fire had been largely followed.

Hostilities in Bosnia worsened in August and September 1994. Sniper attacks in Sarajevo increased and UNPROFOR called in NATO air strikes twice to enforce the safe area. Bosnian Serbs also closed one of the major humanitarian routes into Sarajevo, affecting much of northern and eastern Bosnia. With its resolution 941 (1994), the Security Council called for an end to forced migrations by Bosnian Serbs and called for UNPROFOR to move into Banja Luka, Bijeljina and other areas of concern to ensure compliance of both sides with international humanitarian law.

Fighting in the Bihac area also increased in November. On 18 November, aircraft supporting the Bosnian Serbs dropped napalm and cluster bombs into southwestern Bihac, violating the safe area. The planes flew from an airstrip in Croatia and the Council authorized member states to take any action to ensure the integrity of the safe areas, even if this required action outside the borders of Bosnia. On 21 November, NATO launched air strikes against the Croatian airfield. Four days later, Bosnian Serbs began shelling Bihac and NATO was called in again, but no action could be taken without endangering UNPROFOR personnel and civilians. Bosnian Serbs throughout the country harassed humanitarian convoys and detained U.N. personnel. On 26 November, the Security Council President called for UNPROFOR to implement its mandate to protect the safe areas and to aid in humanitarian relief.

On 31 December, following a visit to Sarajevo by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, a four month cease-fire agreement was signed. This agreement included provisions to turn over heavy weapons to UNPROFOR, ensure freedom of movement of UNPROFOR and humanitarian convoys, and to place UNPROFOR troops along lines of confrontation. The Security Council endorsed the agreement on 6 January 1995. During the first month of the cease-fire, hostilities around Bosnia lessened, except for the Bihac region. Although the cease-fire provision was moderately successful, humanitarian and separation aspects of the agreement were not followed.

The Secretary-General suggested to the Security Council in a report on 22 March 1995 that UNPROFOR be restructured. He called for three distinct forces operating in Croatia, Bosnia, and Macedonia. He also praised relations between UNPROFOR and NATO. On 31 March the Council approved the plan to split UNPROFOR and the Bosnian force retained the original name.

The December cease-fire fell apart as fighting resumed in Bosnia in April and May. On 12 May 1995, the Secretary-General called for a review of the entire UNPROFOR mission, feeling that the force may need to be pulled out (Cohen 1995, 10A). On the same day, forces in Sarajevo were ordered to shoot to kill if attacked. Earlier in May, a Bosnian Serb mortar round had killed 11 people in a suburb of Sarajevo and the military commander of UNPROFOR had called for NATO air strikes. He was overruled by the Secretary-General's representative in Sarajevo (Cohen 1995). In the Secretary-General's review, he asked the Security Council to make the mandate for UNPROFOR more definite. He also suggested reducing the number of troops defending the six safe areas. Security Council representatives responded by asserting the Council had the authority in peacekeeping issues and the Secretary-General's remarks would be considered (Crossette 1995a).

During late May and early June 1995, Bosnian Serbs retaliated against air strikes from NATO by taking hundreds of UNPROFOR personnel hostage. In response, the Secretary-General recommended 12,500 additional troops be sent to Bosnia. This additional force was offered by European countries, who also pushed its acceptance through the Security Council in an overnight session 16 June (Crosette 1995b). The resolution was delayed briefly due to a conflict over funding of the force. The funding provision was eventually put off until a future, unspecified date (Crosette 1995b, 11A). By 18 June, all of the UNPROFOR hostages were released. UNPROFOR managed to hold out until the Dayton Agreement on implementing the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the General Framework Agreement on Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina were signed on 10 November and 14 December, respectively.

In its resolution 1031 (1995) on 15 December, the Security Council voted to endorse both plans and officially called for the end of UNPROFOR's mandate upon notification by the Secretary-General that the transfer of authority to IFOR was complete. With this resolution, the Security Council ended its active role in peacekeeping in Bosnia.

As was shown above, when an existing regime collapses due to a change in its underlying principles or norms, another will usually be formed to take up the duties of the first. These regimes will usually change as new things are tried and fail. This was definitely the case in Bosnia. The Security Council was concerned with the precedent it was setting in Bosnia and strived for a workable solution (Dyke 1996, 312).

There were many innovations in the Council's response. The most important of these is the use of peacekeeping forces to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid. This had never been done and has since been used in Somalia (Gow 1994, 17). The invention of safe havens, while used by the U.S.-led coalition in the Gulf War, had never been tried by a U.N. peacekeeping force (Lewis 1993). Ultimately, this indicates a shift in the focus of the Security Council's view of what does or does not constitute a threat to international security. This shift may be a reflection of the turning point of public perception of what justifies intervention around the world (Sharpe 1994, 54). It appears the concept of peacekeeper-aidgiver is here to stay.

Another important innovation was the close relationship between the U.N. and NATO. Throughout the crisis, NATO was used to supplement peacekeepers when necessary and the Council made a clear statement about command. There is promise for this level of increased cooperation between the U.N. and regional organizations in the future. An change in the old peacekeeping regime which did not last very long was the concept that countries supplying the troops would also fund their deployment. This was done by Britain, France, Spain and Canada, but was changed before the year was finished (Gow 1994, 17-18). UNPROFOR was the largest U.N. peacekeeping effort ever and had the most complicated mandate. The attempt by the Security Council to keep a major international presence in the middle of an ongoing war with unresolved conflicts is unprecedented historically (Roberts 1995, 401). UNPROFOR, with Council approval, constituted a new interpretation of intervention in internal conflict under Article 2, Paragraph 7 of the U.N. Charter (Sutterlin 1995, 104).

Although there were many good innovations used in UNPROFOR, one particular change from the past is disconcerting. Over the course of the crisis, relations between the Security Council and the Secretariat have been strained. This has not been the case in the past and some representatives have accused the Secretariat of withholding information the Council needs to operate (Crossette 1994). Through the implementation of the Carrington plan to refusals to accept recommended troop deployments, the Council has reasserted its right to control peacekeeping operations.

It would be impossible to predict which of these innovations will be used regularly in future conflicts, but humanitarian support and greater cooperation with regional institutions, along with a reinterpretation of Article 2, Paragraph 7 would appear to give the Council more potency in these areas. In May of 1994, after many of the lessons of Bosnia had been learned, the President of the Security Council released a statement in which the council specified six guidelines for peacekeeping in the future. These were: "the existence of a threat to international peace and security, the readiness of regional bodies to assist, the existence of a cease fire, a clear political goal which can be reflected in the mandate, a precise mandate, and reasonable assurances on the safety of U.N. personnel" (quoted in Roberts 1995, 406). These are the beginning guidelines for the new regime, but they are not complete. At least two other standards must be added. First, the U.N. shall have utmost authority over regional organizations in any action involving U.N. peacekeepers and, second, that the Secretary-General should answer to the Council when dealing with peacekeeping. These appear to be two conditions the Council will insist in the future.

Regimes will change over time. They will change more quickly (and haphazardly) when pushed by outside necessity. Events in the Balkans, coupled with events in the entire world, forced the Security Council to create a new set of rules for U.N. peacekeeping. As can be expected, these guidelines were not entirely consistent and as some were added, others were disregarded. In the end, the Council has a better idea of the constraints it would like to put on operations in the post cold war world. Some of these principles were used in Somalia and will assuredly be used again. Over time, the international peacekeeping regime will become more refined and useful, until the circumstances change again.

Reference List

Cohen, Roger. 1995. U.N. Chief Orders Review of Peacekeeping Mission in Bosnia. New York Times, 13 May.

Crossette, Barbara. 1994. At U.N. Thoughts About Bosnia but No Action. New York Times, 9 December.

_______. 1995a. New Role Sought for U.N. Bosnia Force. New York Times, 17 May.

_______. 1995b. Security Council Approves Additional Troops for Bosnia. New York Times, 16 June.

Dyke, Nancy Bearg. 1996. The United States, International Organizations, and the Yugoslav Crisis. In The South Slav Conflict: History, Religion, Ethnicity, and Nationalism, Ed. Raju G.C. Thomas and H. Richard Friman. New York: Garland Publishing.

Faison, Seth. 1992. U.N. Chief Mired in Dispute With Security Council. New York Times, 24 July.

Feld, Werner J., and Robert S. Jordan. 1988. International Organizations: a Comparative Approach. New York: Praeger Publishers.

Gow, James. 1994. Nervous Bunnies: The International Community and the Yugoslav War of Dissolution, the Politics of Military Intervention in a Time of Change. In Military Intervention in European Conflicts, Ed. Lawrence Freedman. Cambridge, Mass: Blackwell Publishers for the Political Quarterly Publishing Co.

Lewis, Paul. 1992a. World Leaders, at the U.N., Pledge to Expand its Role to Achieve a Lasting Peace. New York Times, 1 February.

_______. 1992b. U.N. Will Add NATO Troops to Bosnia Force. New York Times, 11 September.

_______. 1993a. U.N. Approves Plan to Enforce Bosnia Flight Ban. New York Times, 1 April.

_______. 1993b. U.N. Agrees to Declare Bosnian Town a Safe Haven. New York Times, 17 April.

Mackinlay, John, and Jarat Chopra. 1992. Second Generation Multinational Operations. The Washington Quarterly. (Summer): 113-131.

Mares, David R., and Walter W. Powell. 1990. Cooperative Security Regimes: Preventing International Conflicts. In Organizations and Nation-States: New Perspectives on Conflict and Cooperation, ed. Robert L. Kahn and Mayer N. Zald, 55-94. San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass.

Prial, Frank J. 1992. U.N. Council Acts on Bosnia Airport. New York Times, 9 June.

_______. 1993. Resolution Establishes Safe Areas But Lacks Enforcement Provision. New York Times, 7 May.

Ratner, Steven R. 1995. The New UN Peacekeeping: Building Peace in Lands of Conflict after the Cold War. New York: St. Martin's Press for the Council on Foreign Relations.

Roberts, Adam. 1995. Communal Conflict as a Challenge to International Organization: the Case of the Former Yugoslavia. Review of International Studies 21: 389-410.

Sharpe, Jane M.O. 1994. Appeasement, Intervention and the Future of Europe. In Military Intervention in European Conflicts, Ed. Lawrence Freedman. Cambridge, Mass: Blackwell Publishers for the Political Quarterly Publishing Co.

Strange, Susan. 1982. Cave! Hic Dragones: a Critique of Regime Analysis. International  Organization 36 (Spring 1982): 479-96.

Sutterlin, James S. 1995. The United Nations and the Maintence of International Security: a Challenge to be Met. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers.

Tyler, Patrick E. 1992. U.N. Chief's Dispute With Council Boils Over. New York Times, 3 August.

United Nations. Security Council. 1992. Security Council Resolution 749.

________. 1992. Security Council Resolution 758.

________. 1992. Security Council Resolution 781.

________. 1993. Security Council Resolution 816.

________. 1993. Security Council Resolution 836.

________. 1994. Security Council Resolution 900.

________. 1994. Security Council Resolution 941.

________. 1995. Security Council Resolution 1031.

Wren, Christopher S. 1995. The U.N. Trap: No Peace to Be Kept. New York Times, 14 June.

Young, Oran R. 1982. Regime Dynamics: the Rise and Fall of International Regimes. International Organization 36 (Spring 1982): 277-97.

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