Partners for Stability: NATO Support for UN Peace Missions
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Hampton Roads International Security Quarterly
As an Alliance of 26 democracies, NATO Allies are bound together by common values as well a commitment to common defense. In the past decade, NATO nations have expanded the geographic scope of Alliance operations and activities and transformed their nature, all without forgetting our core task of collective defense.
Each operation requires a political decision by Allied nations to commit their young men and women to a potentially hazardous mission. Such a grave step is never taken without extensive consultations among Allies. In response to a series of new strategic challenges, the Alliance has decided to go "out of area" to build stability in a number of regions that have an impact on the security of the Euro- Atlantic area.
The United Nations has also faced a multiplication of its activities and tasks in this fluid strategic environment. It is therefore not surprising that NATO and the United Nations, each within their specific roles, have found an increasing scope for cooperation, especially in peace operations.
This brings me to Bosnia and Herzegovina, because in a real sense, the Alliance's transformation began in the Balkans. The Bosnia mission was undertaken in close cooperation with, and under a mandate from, the United Nations.
This decision to go "out of area" in the Balkans was a historical decision for the Alliance. It was NATO's first peacekeeping operation. But just as importantly, it represented the birth of UN- NATO cooperation.
Since 1992, NATO has provided continuous support to the United Nations in the Balkans. In 1995, some 65,000 troops deployed to Bosnia and Herzegovina, under a United Nations' mandate, to implement the military aspects of the Dayton Peace Agreement. United Nations and NATO cooperation has resulted in a safe and secure environment. State institutions have been established, human rights are now respected, and the country has been set on the path to integration into Euro-Atlantic and European structures. Today only 7,000 troops remain in the country -- a clear indication of the considerable progress that has been made. Progress which is also to a very large extent due to the relentless efforts and very hard work of the successive High Representatives for Bosnia Herzegovina, from Carl Bildt to Lord Ashdown.
Given our joint success in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is not surprising that NATO support to the United Nations there has been viewed as a template to be applied to other demanding crises. This template involves close cooperation with other major international players, including the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
In a cooperative international effort, NATO contributed to successfully defusing the crisis in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, paving the way for a lasting political settlement, in the framework of the Ohrid Agreement. And since 1999, under a United Nations' mandate, NATO has been involved in stabilising the situation in Kosovo. In October 2004, NATO-led troops provided security for the Parliamentary Assembly elections there. The good cooperation between KFOR and UNMIK [United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] on the ground continues to be crucial for the stability of the province.
While there has been real progress, work remains to be done and the closely coordinated international effort must continue across the wider region. The termination of the Stabilisation Force mission and the handover of peacekeeping responsibilities to the European Union on 2 December 2004 does not mean that NATO's long-term commitment to the country has changed. NATO will retain a military presence in the country and has established a new headquarters in Sarajevo which will provide advice on defence reform and will remain engaged in bringing indicted war criminals to justice. Co-operation with the ICTY [International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia] is a key conditionality for further progress in NATO/ BiH relations, starting with membership of the PfP [Partnership for Peace] programme. …