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Only So Far but No Further: Safe Areas in Bosnia

  • Carol McQueen
Part of the Rethinking Peace and Conflict Studies book series (RCS)

Abstract

With Srebrenica on the verge of capitulation after weeks of attack and siege by the Bosnian Serbs, the Security Council adopted resolution 819 on 16 April 1993, demanding that ‘all parties and others concerned treat Srebrenica and its surroundings as a safe area which should be free from any armed attack or any other hostile act’. Originally introduced by the non-aligned and intended as a temporary measure designed to protect one of the eastern enclaves assigned to the Bosnian government under the Vance Owen Peace Plan (VOPP), then still on the table as a comprehensive settlement to the conflict in Bosnia, the safe area idea was extended at the insistence of France to five other areas through Security Council Resolution 824 on 6 May. It also became a key component of the Joint Action Programme agreed to on 22 May by Britain, France, Spain, Russia and the United States as their common approach to the war in Bosnia following the demise of the VOPP.3 Clarification as to how the existing peacekeeping force on the ground in Bosnia, United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), would implement the safe area policy occurred during the following weeks, in relation both to the number of troops required for the task and to the changes needed in UNPROFOR’s mandate to accommodate the new policy.

Keywords

Security Council Safety Zone State Interest Safe Area Community Interest 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Reprinted from Ivo H. Daalder, Getting to Dayton: The Making of America’s Bosnia Policy (Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2000), p. 65.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Reprinted from Jan Willem Honig and Norbert Both, Srebrenica: Record of a War Crime (London: Penguin Books, 1996), p. xiv. Copyright © Jan Willem Honig and Norbert Both, 1996. Reproduced by permission of Penguin Books Ltd.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    See Noel Malcolm, Bosnia: A Short History (London: Papermac, 1996);Google Scholar
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  7. 16.
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  9. 22.
    The text of the Vance-Owen Peace Plan is annexed to the SG report, S/25479, 26 March 1993. See also Burg and Shoup, War in Bosnia-Herzegovina, pp. 215–262; and James Gow, Triumph of the Lack of Will: International Diplomacy and the Yugoslav War (London: Hurst & Company, 1997), pp. 223–253.Google Scholar
  10. 23.
    Its pre-war population was 9,000. David Rohde, Endgame: The Betrayal and Fall of Srebrenica: Europe’s Worst Massacre since World War II (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1998), p. 45. See also See Burg and Shoup, War in Bosnia-Herzegovina, p. 140.Google Scholar
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    On April 12, an intense artillery attack killed 56 people in less than an hour. See Laura Silber and Allan Little, The Death of Yugoslavia, rev. ed. (London: Penguin Books, 1996), p. 269.Google Scholar
  12. 41.
    Several prominent intellectuals in France, including Bernard-Henri Lévy (Le Monde, 5 January 1993), André Glucksmann (Figaro, 29 June 1992), and Bernard Kouchner had been pressing the French government to intervene in Bosnia for humanitarian reasons. See generally Jolyon Howorth, ‘The Debate in France over Military Intervention in Europe’, in Military Intervention in European Conflicts, ed. Lawrence Freedman (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1994), pp. 113–121.Google Scholar
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    UNHCR head Ogata was concerned enough about this dilemma that she began to refer to the principle of the ‘right to stay’ in her public speeches, which she interpreted as the ‘right to be allowed to remain in one’s home in safety and dignity, and not to be forced out by ethnic cleansing’. See Bill Frelick, ‘“Preventive Protection” and the Right to Seek Asylum: A Preliminary Look at Bosnia and Croatia’, International Journal of Refugee Law 4, 4 (1992), 447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  16. 53.
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    See Hubert Védrine, Les Mondes de François Mitterrand: À l’Élysée 1981–1995 (Paris: Fayard, 1996), p. 669. France had also issued a Livre blanc sur la défense in 1994, which reconfirmed its responsibilities at the international level with respect to peace and security, and emphasized the significance of being treated as an equal by the major powers.Google Scholar
  18. See Alex Macleod, ‘La France: à la recherche du leadership international’, Relations Internationales et Stratégiques 19 (Automne 1995), 76. France also believed initially that it would better preserve its ability to influence the Serbs if it did not support a too antagonistic use of force against them.Google Scholar
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    Elizabeth Drew, On the Edge: The Clinton Presidency (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994), p. 138.Google Scholar
  22. 62.
    See Warren Christopher, In the Stream of History: Shaping Foreign Policy for a New Era (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998), p. 344, note 1. See also Daalder, Getting to Dayton, p. 10; and Burg and Shoup, War in Bosnia-Herzegovina, p. 410.Google Scholar
  23. 68.
    For this same reason, the UN Secretary-General also opposed ‘lift and strike’. See Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Unvanquished: A U.S.-U.N. Saga (New York: I. B. Tauris, 1999), p. 90.Google Scholar
  24. 70.
    UNPROFOR peacekeepers referred to ‘lift and strike’ as ‘stay and pray’. See General Sir Michael Rose, Fighting for Peace: Bosnia 1994 (London: The Harvill Press, 1998), p. 9.Google Scholar
  25. 71.
    Polling data from the US suggests that there was consistently relatively strong public support for multilateral intervention in Bosnia, but little public willingness for the US to take unilateral action. See Richard Sobel, ‘Portraying American Public Opinion toward the Bosnia Crisis’, Harvard International Journal of Press Politics 3, 2 (1998), 19–24.Google Scholar
  26. 80.
    David Owen, Balkan Odyssey (London: Indigo, 1996), p. 175.Google Scholar
  27. 84.
    UNHCR estimated that as of the start of 1993 there were 581,425 refugees from the former Yugoslavia scattered throughout Europe. Most EU countries made visas mandatory in November 1992, putting a halt to the flow. See Michael Dewar, ‘Intervention in Bosnia — the case against’, The World Today 49, 2 (February 1993), 32–33.Google Scholar
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  29. 87.
    See Judge Ad Hoc Lauterpacht’s dissenting opinion in the case before the International Court of Justice, in which Bosnia charged Serbia with failing to prevent the crime of genocide: ‘[I]t is not to be contemplated that the Security Council would ever deliberately adopt a resolution clearly and deliberately flouting a rule of jus cogens or requiring a violation of human rights. But the possibility that a Security Council resolution might inadvertently or in an unforeseen manner lead to such a situation cannot be excluded…On this basis, the inability of Bosnia-Herzegovina sufficiently strongly to fight back against the Serbs and effectively to prevent the implementation of the Serbian policy of ethnic cleansing is at least in part directly attributable to the fact that Bosnia-Herzegovina’s access to weapons and equipment has been severely limited by the embargo. Viewed in this light, the Security Council resolution can be seen as having in effect called on Members of the United Nations, albeit unknowingly and assuredly unwillingly, to become in some degree supporters of the genocidal activity of the Serbs and in this manner and to that extent to act contrary to a rule of jus cogens.’ In Bosnia v. Serbia II, ICJ Reports 1993, at 436–41, quoted in Craig Scott et al., ‘A Memorial For Bosnia: Framework of Legal Arguments Concerning the Lawfulness of the Maintenance of the UN Security Council’s Arms Embargo on Bosnia and Herzegovina’, Michigan Journal of International Law 16, 1 (Fall 1994), 14–15.Google Scholar
  30. 104.
    It was never conclusively determined by UNPROFOR which side was responsible for the attack. The Americans and international public opinion blamed the Serbs, whereas UNPROFOR was more sceptical, believing that the Bosnian army might have attacked its own citizens in an attempt to trigger foreign intervention. See David Binder, ‘Anatomy of A Massacre’, Foreign Policy 97 (Winter 1994), 70–78; Rose, Fighting for Peace, pp. 43–44; and SG report, Fall of Srebrenica, par. 119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 150.
    The war in Bosnia was ‘framed’ in different ways, depending on whether or not more forceful action was sought at the time. Comparing the Serbs to the Nazis, for example, encouraged tougher action against them; whereas equating Bosnia to a Vietnam- or WWI-like morass discouraged involvement. See generally Kuusisto, ‘Framing the Wars in the Gulf and in Bosnia’, 603–620; and K. M. Fierke, ‘Multiple Identities, Interfacing Games: The Social Construction of Western Action in Bosnia’, European Journal of International Relations 2, 4 (1996), 467–477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Andrei Kozyrev, ‘The Lagging Partnership’, Foreign Affairs 73, 3 (1994), 66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 158.
    Richard Holbrooke, To End a War (New York: Random House, 1998), p. 104.Google Scholar
  34. 159.
    The Washington Post and the New York Times published 70 reports on Bosnia between them from 11–18 July 1995; and the CBS Evening News ran the fall of Srebrenica as its headline story from 11–14 July. See Piers Robinson, ‘The Policy-Media Interaction Model: Measuring Media Power During Humanitarian Crisis’, Journal of Peace Research 37, 5 (2000), 619.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 160.
    Bob Woodward, The Choice (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), p. 259. The moralistic tone and principled content of Chirac’s message to Clinton was confirmed by his advisor, Jean-David Levitte. See Rapport D’information (Srebrenica), Tome I, p. 107.Google Scholar
  36. 186.
    Thierry Tardy, ‘Le président Chirac et la Bosnie-Herzégovine: les limites d’une politique’, Relations Internationales et Stratégiques 25 (Printemps 1997), 145–146.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Carol McQueen 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carol McQueen
    • 1
  1. 1.United Nations Peacekeeping MissionDemocratic Republic of Congo

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