Peace Operations:

Update on the Situation in the Former Yugoslavia

NSIAD-95-148BR: Published: May 8, 1995. Publicly Released: May 8, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the situation in the former Yugoslavia, focusing on: (1) progress in resolving the conflict in Croatia and Bosnia; and (2) the United Nations' effectiveness in carrying out Security Council mandates in these countries.

GAO found that: (1) little progress has been made in resolving the major issues of conflict in Croatia and Bosnia, and fundamental differences divide the warring parties; (2) Croatian Serbs demand an independent state within Croatia, and the recognized Croatian government demands control of its occupied territory; (3) in Bosnia, the Bosnian Serbs control 70 percent of the territory, none has been returned to the Bosnian government as proposed, thousands of Bosnians have been killed since the conflict began, widespread human rights violations have been committed, guilty parties have not answered for their crimes, and fighting continues; (4) the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) has been ineffective in carrying out mandates leading to lasting peace; (5) in Croatia, UNPROFOR was unable to demilitarize the territory controlled by the Croatian Serbs, return displaced persons to their homes, or prevent the use of Croatian territory for attacks on Bosnia; (6) in Bosnia, UNPROFOR made an assertive stand against NATO to protect Sarajevo in February 1994 but lost credibility as a peacekeeping force when it (a) requested little NATO air support after Gorazde was attacked in April 1994, Bosnian Serbs killed civilians, shelled the hospital, and took peacekeepers hostage, and (b) failed to deter attacks on the Bihac area in December 1994 when Bosnian and Croatian Serbs launched air and missile attacks on the area; (7) as a result of UNPROFOR's ineffectiveness, Croatia announced in January 1995 that it would not agree to a renewal of UNPROFOR's mandate, and only recently agreed to a new U.N. mandate authorizing peacekeepers to monitor its borders and internal confrontation lines; (8) UNPROFOR's limited effectiveness to deter attacks and provide protection stems from an approach to peacekeeping dependent on the consent and cooperation of the warring parties where, although it has authority to use force, it tries to negotiate when attacked, and has called sparingly for NATO air support; (9) the effectiveness of this approach has been minimal and the lack of consistent assertive response to aggression has left UNPROFOR little credibility; (10) in some areas, U.N. actions have been more effective, for example, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in coordination with others, has provided food for thousands living in the region over the past several winters; (11) UNPROFOR monitors the situation on the ground, maintains roads, escorts convoys to safe areas, operates the Sarajevo airport, and undertakes confidence-building measures, such as joint patrols and monitoring of cease-fires; and (12) if UNPROFOR withdraws, UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations plan to continue providing aid but believe some activities will be curtailed if not halted.

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