- United Nations Protection Force
The United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), was the first
UN peacekeepingforce in Croatiaand in Bosnia and Herzegovinaduring the Yugoslav wars. It existed between the beginning of UN involvement in February 1992, and its restructuring into other forces in March 1995. In French, its name was FORPRONU ("Force de Protection des Nations Unies").
The UNPROFOR was composed of nearly 39,000 personnel, 320 of whom were killed on duty. It was composed of troops from
Argentina, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, United Statesand Venezuela.
The commanders of the UNPROFOR were:
Satish Nambiar(India), from March 1992 to March 1993
Lars-Eric Wahlgren(Sweden), from March 1993 to June 1993
Jean Cot(France), from June 1993 to March 1994cite web |date=2007 |url = http://www.seanmmaloney.com/i0006.html|title = Chances for Peace: Canadian Soldiers in the Balkans 1992-1995|format = HTML |publisher = seanmmaloney| accessdate = 2008-03-26 | last= |quote=General Jean Cot was UNPROFOR commander in July 1993. Secretary General Boutros-Ghali recalled General Cot to France in March 1994. He resigned in June. He was named Grand Officer de la legion d’Honneur with five citations, was awared the Commander’s Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Legion of Merit (United States]
Bertrand de Sauville de La Presle(France), from March 1994 to March 1995
Bernard Janvier(France), from March 1995 to January 1996
Prominent officers :
Lewis MacKenzie(Canada) Sector Sarajevo 1992
Philippe Morillon(France) from October 1992 to July 1993
Francis Briquemont(Belgium) ? to 17 January 1994
*Lieutenant-General Sir Michael Rose (Great Britain) from
17 January 1994to 25 February 1995
Rupert Smith(Great Britain) from 25 February 1995
UNPROFOR was created by the
UN Security CouncilUN document |docid=S-RES-743(1992) |type=Resolution |body=Security Council |year=1992 |resolution_number=743 |accessdate=2008-04-10|date= 21 February 1992]
The initial mandate of the UNPROFOR was to ensure conditions for peace talks, and security in three demilitarised "safe-haven" enclaves designated as United Nations Protected Areas (UNPAs) located in the former Yugoslav republic of Croatia: Eastern Slavonia, Western Slavonia and Krajina. They were places with strong Serb populations that had organised into the self-styled
Republic of Serbian Krajina, which had led to tensions and fighting.
In 1992, the mandate was extended to so-called "pink zones" controlling access to the UNPAs,UN document |docid=S-RES-762(1992) |type=Resolution |body=Security Council |year=1992 |resolution_number=762 |accessdate=2008-04-10|date=
30 June 1992] some border control and monitoring of civilian access to the Pink ZonesUN document |docid=S-RES-769(1992) |type=Resolution |body=Security Council |year=1992 |resolution_number=769 |accessdate=2008-04-10|date= 7 August 1992] , and control of the demilitarisation of the Prevlakapeninsula near Dubrovnik.UN document |docid=S-RES-779(1992) |type=Resolution |body=Security Council |year=1992 |resolution_number=779 |accessdate=2008-04-10|date= 6 October 1992]
Other extensions of the mandate included protection for
Sarajevoairport from June 1992 (Resolution 758 [http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/RESOLUTION/GEN/NR0/011/17/IMG/NR001117.pdf] ), and, from September 1992, protection for humanitarian aid in the whole Bosnia and Herzegovina, and protection of civilian refugees when required by the ICRC (Resolution 770 [http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N92/379/66/IMG/N9237966.pdf] ).
UNPROFOR was in charge of air interdiction for military aircraft in the Bosnia and Herzegovina airspace (as ordered by the UN Security Council), in coordination with
NATOforces (air interdiction missions were the first use of force by NATO).
It also monitored
Bihać, Sarajevo, Goražde, Žepa, Srebrenicaand Tuzla, which were defined as "security zones" by the UN Security Council. UNPROFOR was authorised to use force to protect these zones if necessary, in coordination with NATO air forces. This was later extended to parts of Croat territories.
Eventually, UNPROFOR monitored cease-fires in Bosnia in February 1994 and January 1995.
31 March 1995, UNPROFOR was restructured into three coordinated peace operations.
20 December 1995the forces of the UNPROFOR were reflagged under the NATO led Implementation Force ( IFOR) whose task was to implement the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (GFAP — otherwise known as the Dayton Accords or Dayton Agreement).
February 1992 – March 1993
The first mandate of the UNPROFOR was twelve months long. At the end of the first mandate, the UNPROFOR had had some success in restoring peace in Croatia, notably obtaining a removal of the
Yugoslav People's Army(JNA) in May 1992. However, civil unrest was such that terror, discrimination and " ethnic cleansing" were still present. Local Serb forces managed to complete their cleansing of the UNPA areas, started in 1991, that left only 279 Croats there out of a pre-war population of 102,000. [Jerry Blaskovich, "Anatomy of Deceit": An American Physician's First-hand Encounter With The Realities Of The War In Croatia]
The situation was problematic mostly because of the non-cooperation of local Serb authorities, and because of later major Croat military offensives. Additionally, the situation for which the UNPROFOR had been designed had significantly changed. The Croat part now refused to negotiate its sovereignty on the UNPAs and Pink Zones, which the Serb part would not accept. Apparition of the so-called "
Republic of Serbian Krajina" further complicated the situation.
The Opening of the Sarajevo Airport was conducted by the Canadian Operational Force, which moved within the Theater of Operations from Croatia (Surac) to the combat zone of Sarajevo. The Canadian Force included the French-speaking Royal 22e Régiment, with the attachment of N Company of the English-speaking 3rd Battalion,
The Royal Canadian Regiment. The Canadian Contingent was deployed by train from Canadian Forces Base Baden-Soellingenand CFB Lahr, Germany.
In spite of hostile actions,
Sarajevointernational airport had successfully been maintained open. In the period from 3 July 1992to 31 January 1993, the humanitarian airlift organised by UNHCRunder UNPROFOR protection brought in 2,476 aircraft carrying 27,460 tons of food, medicines and other relief goods.
Distribution of humanitarian aid was disrupted due to non-cooperation and even hostile actions (mines, small arms fire, RPG) of the parties on the field, especially from the Bosnian Serb forces. Nonetheless, from November 1992 to January 1993, a total of some 34,600 tons of relief supplies had been delivered to an estimated 800,000 beneficiaries in 110 locations throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina.
March 1993 – February 1994
6 July 1993, new tensions arose following the Croatian government's decision to re-open the strategic Maslenicabridge on 18 July- Croatia was cut in half while the bridge was in Serb hands. The UNPROFOR mandated to monitor the withdrawal of Croatian forces from the area had been able to deploy, due to the refusal of access by Croat authorities. The Serbs shelled the bridge which was partially destroyed on 2 August. On 12 August, negotiations for a cease-fire began in Geneva, but were unsuccessful. Eventually, Croat forces retreated to their positions of before the incursion.
Operation "Deny Flight"
In mid-March, unidentified airplanes dropped bombs onto villages in the vicinity of Srebrenica violating the "No-Flight zones" for the first time. The Bosnian Serbs were blamed for the bombing but denied it. On
31 March, a resolution was voted authorising the nations contributing to the UNPROFOR to take "all necessary measures" to prevent military flights from the belligerents in the no-flight zones (" Operation Deny Flight"). French, Dutch and American airplanes were deployed to enforce the resolution. In total, until 1 December 1994, 3317 violations were observed. On the 28 February 1994, four military aircraft were shot down by NATO fighters over Bosnia and Herzegovina.
From March 1993, Serb para-military units on a systematic campaign of terror killed a great number of civilians, destroyed habitations, prevented the UNHCR from delivering humanitarian aid, and forced thousands of Bosniak refugees to flee to Srebrenica. 30 or 40 persons were dying daily from military action, starvation, exposure to cold or lack of medical treatment. Resolution 819 attempted to address this issue by declaring Srebrenica a "Safe Area" which should be free from any armed attack or any other hostile act. Resolution 836 expanded the mandate to the UNPROFOR to defending the Safe Area if necessary. To implement the deterrence, around 7600 reinforcements were sent and air support was organised in coordination with NATO.
Unfortunately, the UN force were so poorly equipped and restrictively mandated that they could not even deter Bosnian forces within the "Safe Areas" themselves. Bosnian forces increasingly used the Safe Areas as bases to launch attacks against the Serbs, which infuriated the Serbs, and explains the obstruction by General Mladić against protective measures for the "Safe Areas" [http://www.reseauvoltaire.net/article9988.html] .
War in Bosnia
In May 1993, intense fighting broke out in Central Bosnia between Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats. Croat para-military forces, whose tie to the authorities was unclear, committed exactions against Serbs and Bosniaks. The massacre in the village of
Ahmići, on 16 April 1993, is an example of the savagery of the terror [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/603420.stm] [http://www.un.org/icty/transe14/971110ed.htm] . Tihomir Blaškićwas the officer of the Croat HVO army formation who was tried and convicted at the ICTYover his responsibility for this massacre. Blaškić served almost nine years in prison before the appeals panel acquitted him of most of the charges in July 2004, as the defence proved that he did not command all the HVO units in the area or any paramilitary units [http://www.un.org/icty/glance/blaskic.htm] .
24 September, the Security Council was informed by the Croatian Government that if the mandate of UNPROFOR was not amended to promote energetic implementation of the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, Croatia would be forced to request UNPROFOR to leave the country not later than 30 November 1993. Subsequent redefinition of the mandate occurred.
Bv206light tracked "softskin" (unarmoured) vehicles in Sarajevo.] At the end of the year, the warring parties attempted to come to a cease-fire. The truce was implemented between Croat and Serb forces, but fighting went on in Bosnia between Bosniaks and Croats, and the humanitarian situations continued to deteriorate. Notably, Sarajevo continued to be bombarded by Bosnian Serb forces. It was also reported that units of the regular Croat army were supporting Bosnian Croat forces with heavy equipment and men, removing their insignias. This led to further protests from the UN. Use of force began to be discussed at a NATO summit held in Brussels on 10 and 11 January 1994. Following the elevation of tone of the UN, the Bosnian Serbs, following talks with high-ranking officials of the Russian Federation in Moscow, agreed to open the Tuzlaairport for humanitarian purposes. At the same time, the relieving of UN troops in Srebrenica was allowed and the Canadian contingent was replaced by a Dutch contingent.
The situation in Sarajevo, however, remained extremely tense, with Bosnian Serb sniper fire deliberately aimed at civilians, and artillery and heavy mortar fire aimed at population areas. This strongly shaped Western public opinion, since a number of journalists were operating in Sarajevo, and murdered civilians were seen in the evening news on a regular basis. On
4 February 1994, a mortar shell fired at a suburb of Sarajevo killed 10 people and wounded 18. The next day, a 120-mm mortar round fired at the central market killed at least 58 civilians and wounded 142 others in the worst single incident of the 22-month war. Exasperation at these provocations grew to the point where an ultimatum was sent, requiring the removal or surrender to the UNPROFOR of all heavy guns 20 km from Sarajevo (Bosnian and Bosnian Serb, with an exception for Pale) within 10 days. The ultimatum was satisfied on 17 February, with the heavy weapons not removed being regrouped in seven UNPROFOR-controlled spots.
In another positive development, on
23 February 1994, a cease-fire was decided between Croat and Bosnian forces - the Washington Agreement - which ended their one-year long war and united the sides as Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
March 1994 – November 1994
Positive developments and extension of mandate
24 March 1994, a plan for the re-opening of the Tuzlaairport, for UNPROFOR and humanitarian use only, was published.
29 March 1994, in Zagreb, representatives of the Government of Croatia and the local Serb authorities in UNPAs concluded a cease-fire agreement aiming to achieve a lasting cessation of hostilities.
Parallelly, the mandate of the UNPROFOR was extended for another six months, and reinforcements were sent, amounting to 10,000 troops and a few hundred policemen and observers.
During 1994, UNPROFOR troops in Bosnia came under increased military attacks, resulting in several battle engagements (
Operation Bøllebank, Operation Amanda), with Bosnian Serb forces.
Assault against safe areas
Shortly after the cease-fire between Croat and Serb forces, the Bosnian Serbs launched an assault against the Safe area of
Goražde, heavily shelling the town and surrounding villages. Protests and exhortations from the UN Security Council turned out to be ineffective, and on 10 and 11 April 1994, NATO launched air strikes against Bosnian Serb positions. In retaliation, Bosnian Serb forces captured many UN personnel, using them as human shields at sites expected to be bombed. The bombings turned out to be much less effective than the recent Gulf War, which had conditioned the public understanding of air strikes. In spite of the demonstration of power of the NATO, and protests of good faith from the Serbs, the shelling continued. In a similar situation as what had happened in Sarajevo, an ultimatum was issued, and by the 24th, most of the Serb troops had complied. These incidents led to another reflection about the status of the Safe Areas.
Attempts at designing a peace plan
Several Peace Plans had been rejected (the Carrington-Cutiliero plan, the Vance-Owen plan, the "HMS Invincible" package, the European Union Action Plan). At the end of July, a blueprint was designed by the Contact Group, which was accepted by the Croat, the Serb and the Bosnian parties. The Bosnian Serbs, however, refused the plan. In early August, in an attempt to coerce the Bosnian Serbs into accepting the plan, the Serbian government cut political and economic relationships with the Bosnian Serb leaders. This decision was welcomed by the UN Security Council. On
23 September, the UN Security Council officially welcomed the agreement of the warring parties to the peace plan, condemned the Bosnian Serb refusal, and strengthened the sanctions against the Bosnian Serb entity.
Bosnian Serb isolation
23 September 1994, in retaliation to the Bosnian Serb obstruction to the Peace Plan, the Security Council, by its resolution 942, basically severed all commercial and monetary links to the Bosnian Serb entity. Notably, this cut the flow of fuel to the Bosnian Serbs, a hard strategic blow.
Due to the extreme position taken by the Bosnian Serb government, the Yugoslav Federation (Serbia and Montenegro) itself had to take a strong stance against the Bosnian Serb entity. This led to the quasi-complete diplomatic isolation of the Bosnian Serb entity.
Deterioration in security
In August 1994, the situation deteriorated again, particularly due to sniper activity, and despite the anti-sniper agreements. In Sarajevo, the bloody "
Sniper Alley" became famous and infamous [http://www.friends-partners.org/bosnia/sniper.html] . Deliberate attacks against UNPROFOR personnel or aircraft became frequent.
In October, the Bosnian Muslim forces, trapped in the Bihać pocket, attacked the Bosnian Serb forces in an attempt to end the siege of the city. The attack and the ensuing counter-attack by the Bosnian Serbs induced terror in the local population and another massive exodus of refugees. In deliberate contradiction with the "Safe Area" status of Bihać and the "No-flight" zones, Bosnian Serb airplanes made repeated attacks in the Bihać area, using cluster bombs and napalm.
In reaction to this threat, on
21 November, NATO airplanes destroyed the Udbina airstrip, located in the UNPA Sector South in Croatia. The following days, NATO airplanes again had to intervene, against Bosnian Serb anti-air missiles sites which had opened fire upon British jets, and against artillery sites which shelled Bihać. Instead of lowering their profile, the Bosnian Serbs retaliated by taking UN personnel hostage and restraining humanitarian aid transit.
On the diplomatic scene, all efforts to come to a cease-fire turned out to be to no avail, here again mostly because of Bosnian Serb obstruction—Dr. Karadžić declined the invitation of the UN Secretary-General.
UN hostages and the Vrbanja bridge
26 May 1995following NATO air raids on Pale as the Bosnian Serbs defied another UN ultimatum on heavy weapons, around 400 Blue Helmets were taken hostage, brought to strategic points as human shields, and shown in chains on Serbian TV. [http://www.humanite.fr/journal/1995-05-30/1995-05-30-726395] .
27 May 1995, General Mladić launched an assault against the UN observation point of the Vrbanja bridge. At 5 in the morning, the French captain commanding the position lost contact with the 12 men and went to investigate. A Serb dressed with a blue helmet and French body armour and uniform attempted to take him hostage, but was deterred by the escort, and the officer managed to escape. In the following hours, after intense shelling by ERC 90 Sagaietanks, the French stormed the post, killing four people and capturing four others. Two French soldiers were killed [http://www.humanite.fr/journal/1995-05-29/1995-05-29-726311] .
At 12 o'clock, the Bosnian Serb radio broadcast that General Mladić had ordered to:"deploy the captured members of the UNPROFOR, and the other foreign citizens who had acted as enemies of the Serbian people, at command posts, depots and other important facilities."
:"The United Nations in this particular situation have decided to hire a murderer, it is called the NATO alliance. It is a hired killer. If NATO wishes to continue with its air strikes then it will have to kill the UN troops here on the ground, because we have positioned UN troops and observers around potential targets that NATO might decide to go for. The international community therefore will have to pay a very heavy price. And it will not stop at that. The Serbs are determined to make a point to the whole world." (Jovan Zametica, Karadžić's spokesman)
30 May, Ratko Mladić phoned Rupert Smithand agreed not to put hostage Blue Helmets in chains, but to merely "bring" them on strategic sites. He also demanded "excuses" for the death of the four Serbian soldiers killed by the French at Vrbanja bridge, threatening to "be unable to guarantee the safety" of the UN forces in Goražde. [http://www.humanite.fr/journal/1995-05-30/1995-05-30-726408]
The fall of Srebrenica (7 July 1995)
Srebrenica Massacrefor more details"
The United Nations failed to deter the Serb attack on Srebrenica and the appalling events that followed [http://pbpu.unlb.org/PBPU/Download.aspx?docid=339 Peacekeeping Best Practices Unit (PBPU) report]
The massacre was not followed by any particular military reaction from the UN force, which later led NATO to abandon dual-key arrangements and initiate "
Operation Deliberate Force" in response to further provocations by Serb forces.
In retaliation for the NATO bombings, the Serbs proceeded to retrieve their confiscated heavy weapons from the UN-controlled concentration points by force. The peace-keepers, massively out-numbered, had to surrender after brief symbolic fights. In several instances, Blue Helmets were surrounded in weapon storage areas by massively superior Serbian forces. General
Hervé Gobillard, commanding officer for UN troops in Sarajevo, stated that the peacekeepers were "merely limited in their movements, yet [had] arms, ammunition food for many days and strict orders to defend their positions", but in the light of the hostage-takings, concerns were raised and the UN-led bombing stopped. Also, Serbian retaliations against civilians because of the bombings caused 70 dead and 150 wounded in Tuzla, and 5 dead in Goražde.
Operation Storm and Dayton
The above actions and the operations by Croat Forces in the Krajinas in
Operation Stormin August 1995 altered the political geography of BiH. Collectively these ultimately led to the Dayton Agreementand the deployment of the NATO led IFOR on 20 December 1995to ensure the adherence of the Former Warring Factions (FWF) to the Military Annexes of The General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Perception in participating countries
The situation of the field was complex, notably due to the fact that there were three warring parties, and numerous para-military units, responsible for the most atrocious exations, and outside of the regular chain of command. Also, most of the parties would use ambiguous tactics. For instance (and not exhaustively) :
*the Bosnian Serbs would use massive shelling of villages for their "
ethnic cleansing", while alleging their good faith.
*General Mladić had ordered the shelling of a sector near the Sarajevo airport, while he was on official visit, on the express purpose of appearing heroic in front of the French Blue helmets and to cast doubts as to who was responsible for the bombardment.
*The Bosnian party would use the Safe Areas to the best of the tactical situation to storm Serb positions or villages.
*In numerous occasions, small groups of one of the warring parties would progress between enemy positions and UN positions and open fire on the Blue helmets in the hope of triggering a response from the UN troops.
*In the event of the
Srebrenica massacre, which triggered a number of investigations to determine the reasons for the failure of the UN to deter Serbian forces to storm the town, accusations have been made, notably by General Morillon, that the Serbs actually fell in a propaganda trap used by the Bosnians to reinforce their image of victims and blur their use of Safe Areas as bases. Morillon said that he thought the hatred of the Serbs toward the population of Srebrenica had been largely underestimated by all parties, and the massacre could be explained as a loss of control of the Serbian hierarchy upon some of its troops.
A great deal of resentment and frustration arose in the participating countries, especially in those whose troops had been in contact with the most outrageous situations; for instance (and not exclusively)
*The involvement of the British battalion, especially concerning the
Ahmićimassacre, has inspired the film "Warriors" by the BBC.
*The involvement of the Dutch battalion (DutchBat) in
Srebrenicainspired " The Enclave".
*The involvement of the Canadian battalian (CanBat) in
*The general situation in Sarajevo inspired the (somewhat Manichean and simplistic) comic "Sarajevo Tango", by Hermann. (See samples [http://www.hinternet.de/comic/s/sarajevo.php] [http://www.bedetheque.com/index.php?S=255] , [http://www.gallier.be/hermann.htm] )
*The attack against French Blue Helmets by Serb forces disguised as French UN Troops on the bridge of
*The taking of hostages amongst UN peace-keeping personnel when Bosnian Serb forces proceeded to retrieve their heavy weapons from UN controlled regroupement points by force.
*Particularly moving episodes, such as the "Sarajevo's Romeo and Juliet" [http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/Bosnia/updates/9604/10/] , inevitable in any conflict, but abundantly mediatised. The "Sarajevo's Romeo and Juliet" incident inspired the documentary "
Romeo and Juliet in Sarajevo".
*In French, the word "sniper" entered the common vocabulary after "Sniper Alley" became famous, and it quite supplanted the usual words "tireur d'élite", "tireur embusqué" or "franc-tireur".
* [http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/dpko/co_mission/unprofor.htm UNPROFOR official page]
* [http://www.unprofor.dk/ UNPROFOR Dane veterans page]
* [http://www.dutchbat1.nl Dutchbat 1 Netherlands]
* [http://www.un.org/icty/transe14/971110ed.htm Proceedings of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia] . Testimony by Lieutenant Colonel Bryan Watters
* [http://www.medals.org.uk/united-nations/united-nations024.htm UN Protection Force (Yugoslavia) Medal] awarded for 90 days' service in the Mission.
* [http://www.britains-smallwars.com/Bosnia/ Bosnia: a frustrating mission]
* [http://www.reseauvoltaire.net/article9988.html Audition du général Philippe MORILLON, commandant de la FORPRONU (octobre 1992-juillet 1993), commandant de la Force d'action rapide (1994–1996)]
* [http://www.reseauvoltaire.net/article9991.html Audition du général Jean COT, commandant de la FORPRONU]
*General Philippe Morillon, "Paroles de soldat", Balland, 1996
*General Philippe Morillon, "Croire et oser, chronique de Sarajevo", Grasset, 1993
*Chief Logistics Officer UNPROFOR 1995
Abbas Ali Khan
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