Politics, military operations and humanitarian action: an uneasy alliance
31-12-1998 by Christophe Girod, Angelo Gnaedinger
Taking Bosnia-Herzegovina as a prime example, this booklet demonstrates that steps taken by the international community in situations of armed conflict are less effective when the political, military and humanitarian players involved fail to keep to their own specific mandates. This restricts the scope for action of each international agency and the means to achieve the objectives of the UN Charter. On the other hand, the impact the international community can have on a conflict is increased when each player acts within the framework of a clear and specific mandate, while respecting the spheres of competence of the other players involved.
What is "humanitarian action"?
The weakening of the natural (State) protector
During the Cold War, the key words governing Western thinking were Marxism v. market economy, popular democracy v. liberal democracy, wars of national liberation v. colonialism, development v. economic imperialism, etc., reflecting a world where geopolitical bipolarity served as the framework for intellectual dialectics.
Today it is the word " destructurization " that hovers on all lips, a word that is hardly adequate to disguise the absence of an analytical concept capable of apprehending the reality of international relations; an admission of impotence. There are no longer any poles, or fixed points of reference: national and local economies are disintegrating, State structures are crumbling or simply collapse. The developing countries are obviously the ideal arena for observing these phenomena: Somalia, Liberia and so many others.
The disappearance of the bipolar system of international relations indeed affected developing countries, but its passing also brought chaos to the very heart of Eur ope. The issue of nationality, and therefore of identity, which everyone believed to lie buried beneath the strata of civilization, suddenly reared its head once more. Endowed with obsolete political systems and economies too weak to accommodate this sudden change, the countries of Eastern Europe had to start on the difficult path towards the Western model. Some, perhaps more fragile than others, such as Yugoslavia, disintegrated into violence.
Whether in situations characterized by bipolarity or by chaos, when conflict erupts there is a pressing need for intervention by an external, neutral and independent player. Any armed conflict brings in its wake a degree of structural collapse: the State, concentrating all its resources on the war effort, becomes weaker; it may lose control of parts of its territory to rebel or foreign forces; the safety of the population is no longer assured, not only on account of the war but also because in such circumstances State or para-State institutions can no longer function and assume their protective role. Safety and dignity go by the board. The result is the long and all too often silent stream of victims seeking food and shelter, trying to protect themselves from the abuse of which they are the targets: theft, rape, arrest, execution.
Humanitarian action draws the strength of its commitment to work for these victims from the compassion that everyone feels at the sight or the idea of the misfortunes suffered by fellow human beings. The aim of humanitarian action is to provide conflict victims with a measure of protection, to bring them aid if they are in need, and to initiate a dialogue with the belligerents so as to persuade them to show due respect for all those who no longer have the minimum degree of freedom to which every individual is entitled in order to live with dignity.
This is why, at the end of the last century, States adopted a body of law - international humanitarian law - which aims to protect all those who are not or no longer taking part in hostilities: civilians, the wounded and sick, prisoners. This set of rules has been revised several times and today comprises the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their two Additional Protocols of 1977, with more than 185 States Parties. But this prescriptive law is of no value unless it is complied with by the members of the international community, that is, the States themselves, in the absence of any international police force responsible for bringing violators to justice. States also wished to give an independent organization the dual role of guardian of this law and of protector of the victims of armed conflict. That organization is the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), a private, neutral and impartial institution which has taken a very active part in the development of international humanitarian law and which sends delegates to the scene of hostilities in order to bring protection and assistance to the people affected by such situations.
The conflict in the former Yugoslavia
Since the founding of Yugoslavia after the First World War, its various peoples have constantly pondered the question of their respective identities and asked themselves how they could possibly live together. The Slavs who emigrated to the Balkans centuries ago were invaded and occupied either by the Austro-Hungarians (Croatia and Slovenia) or by the Ottomans (Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia). Bosnia-Herzegovina was invaded and occupied by both in succession. The Croats and Slovenes converted to Catholicism; the Serbs, Montenegrins and Macedonians adhered to the Orthodox patriarchate; while those Bosnians who did not remain either Catholic or Orthodox converted to Islam. Royalist between the two World Wars then socialist after the Second, Yugoslavia began to disintegrate in violence in 1991.
Thus, beyond the declarations of independence made by one side or the other, the fighting between these different peoples was marked by the extreme ferocity and hatred too often seen in civil wars. The drive to eliminate " outsiders " from the land considered as one's own prompted the most atrocious behaviour. Their very presence on " one's " land served to define, in a negative way, one's own national identity. Consequently, the " outsiders " had to go so that the majority could live in complete safety. The nationalistic propaganda of the various warring parties harped on these notions in order to galvanize their troops. But such " cleansing " is necessarily violent because it is not easy to uproot from the patch of land they have occupied for centuries people who suddenly find themselves in the minority and outcasts from society: to leave is to lose everything.
Nearly three million people left their homes or were displaced by the fighting in the former Yugoslavia. Refugees or internally displaced, all these men and women now have to set about building a new life.
From the Serb Krajinas in Croatia to the ethnic and religious mosaic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, all possible means were employed to evict the " outsiders " . First of all came the force of arms. Everyone remembers the pictures of the shelling of Vukovar in 1991. And sooner or later armed confrontation leads to the creation of front lines, and undesirable minorities remain stranded behind them. The infamous detention camps in north-eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina in the summer of 1992 were not enough to make all Muslims and Croats leave the area. To finish off the job took three years of latent, low-level conflict during which the local forces used all the means at their disposal: violence against individuals, administrative harassment, iniquitous laws. With no protection, no dignity, no future, the Muslim and Croat minorities were driven to the wall, paying their tormentors to be allowed to leave, or forced out - a scenario that was repeated in various parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Already present during the short-lived hostilities in Slovenia in 1991, ICRC delegates went to Croatia as soon as the first clashes broke out between Croats and Serbs. They very soon realized that this interethnic violence was the very antithesis of the values that international humanitarian law sets out to defend and promote. Consequently, their efforts to protect minorities who were being imprisoned, deported or executed proved to be an almost impossible task. For the belligerents'strategy was precisely to deny the minorities whom they wanted to drive out any kind of dignified existence by means of terror, atrocities and refusal to recognize them as human beings.
The humanitarian action of the Red Cross
In order to be able to accomplish its task in behalf of all victims, the ICRC has adopted a rather special modus operandi. When an armed conflict breaks out, its delegates visit prisoners in their places of detention in order to check who is there, assess living conditions and arrange for the exchange of news between detainees and their families. They also exchange messages between dispersed family members, organize family reunifications, provide food and other assistance for civilians in need, distribute medical assistance to poorly supplied hospitals, and work to maintain a minimum of public hygiene. The ICRC endeavours to carry out all these activities by engaging in a permanent and sustained dialogue with the belligerent authorities, to whom its delegates report abuses brought to their attention in order to put a stop to such practices. This cooperation is the cornerstone of the ICRC's work in the field, and without it no humanitarian action worthy of the name is poss ible. Aid cannot be furnished by force, whose arbitrary effects humanitarian action is precisely designed to curb.
In addition, the ICRC takes care to remain independent because, in its opinion, this is the only way to give effect to the Red Cross ideal, which is to provide protection and assistance without any discrimination on grounds of race, sex, age, religion or nationality. By contrast, the international community has developed an increasing tendency to label the parties to each new conflict as good guys or bad guys, and to channel its aid exclusively to the " good " victims. However, as everyone knows, a conflict claims victims on both sides of the front lines. The neutrality and impartiality of the ICRC therefore bolster its independence and enable it to take action for everyone, on every side.
The ICRC is not the only humanitarian organization to display the emblem of the red cross. Henry Dunant, in the aftermath of his traumatic experience at the battle of Solferino in 1859, proposed that organizations should be set up to help armies bring aid to the wounded on the battlefield. This gave birth to the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which act as auxiliaries to their national armed forces in times of conflict but also provide a wide range of social services in their respective countries. At the end of the First World War, the National Societies formed a federation, then called the League of Red Cross Societies [1 ] , which is more specifically responsible for coordinating the activities of the National Societies in the event of natural disaster.
Founded in 1863 by Henry Dunant and four other eminent citizens of Geneva, the ICRC received the mandate to take action in conflict zones in behalf of people in need of protection or assistance. Since its origins, the activities of the ICRC have constantly expanded: today it has some 800 delegates working in more than 50 countries throughout the world, assisted by over 5,000 local employees, without taking into account the help provided by members of the National Societies. Its operational budget for 1995 amounted to approximately 600 million Swiss francs.
The Red Cross in the former Yugoslavia
In 1989 the ICRC was authorized by the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to visit people arrested following the violent incidents that had occurred in Kosovo, in southern Serbia, a few years before. When fighting broke out in Slovenia, which declared its independence in 1991, delegates were already on the spot. But the hostilities were short-lived and prisoners were promptly released. However, the conflict spread from Slovenia, thenceforth a sovereign State, to neighbouring Croatia. The crisis assumed new dimensions and the ICRC opened delegations in Zagreb and Belgrade.
Depending on whether a conflict is international, as the Croats claimed in this case, or internal, as affirmed by the Serbs [2 ] , different sets of rules of international humanitarian law apply. In order to circumvent this political obstacle, which can in some circumstances completely paralyse any action by the Red Cross, on two occasions in late 1991 the ICRC convened meetings in Geneva of plenipotentiaries of the parties to the conflict. The latter undertook to respect numerous provisions of humanitarian law, in particular those relating to the treatment of prisoners of war. Without defining the legal nature of the conflict, these agreements nevertheless provided a comprehensive f ramework within which humanitarian action could be carried out. As a result almost all prisoners, who had been visited on numerous occasions in 1991, were freed the following year under the auspices of the ICRC. On the other hand, and despite those same agreements, attempts by the ICRC to protect hospitals did not achieve the same success. Sadly, there were all too many instances of hospitals being bombed or shelled, and the wounded and sick ill-treated or killed.
The ordeal of the peoples of the former Yugoslavia was, however, by no means over. War broke out in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Faced with the same political dilemma as to the legal nature of the conflict and hence the question of which rules of international humanitarian law the belligerents had to apply, the ICRC again convened plenipotentiaries of the warring parties to a meeting in Geneva in May 1992. The agreements signed at that time reproduced whole sections of the Geneva Conventions which the belligerents undertook to respect.
In the summer of 1992, when thousands of Muslims and Croats were languishing in detention camps in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the ICRC, through its President, was among the first to condemn what was taking place. But the world was not yet ready to listen; it had not yet clearly made its choice between culprits and victims.
The authorities of the various belligerents, busy setting up a campaign of terror or organizing their own defence, channelled all their resources into the war effort. ICRC delegates visited and registered the names of thousands of detainees so as to be able to keep track of them individually until their release. The ICRC brought them food, water, blankets and clothes - the bare essentials for survival.
The majority of these prisoners - around 5,500 - were freed following the International Conference on the former Yugoslavia, held in London in August 1992, and pursuant to the agreements reached bet ween the parties to the conflict, who met in Geneva at the beginning of October under the auspices of the ICRC. Most of the prisoners chose to go into exile. The ICRC helped evacuate the camps and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) tried to arrange for resettlement in host countries.
On the political front, journalists had to go and see the camps for themselves before this tragic episode of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina placed the Serbs once and for all on the side of the bullies and the Muslims on that of the victims. But rather than taking the political measures needed to stop the atrocities it had now witnessed, the international community rushed to provide humanitarian aid. Instead of trying to put an end to the war, States sent in troops and volunteers to protect and assist the victims. An inexorable process was thus set in motion: it was to last three long years, during which the hordes of humiliated people swelled constantly, just like the volume of aid. In pursuing this policy, the international community never stopped vaunting the virtues of its humanitarian activity to mask its political impotence - to say nothing of the grave consequences of European and transatlantic disagreements. Political circles thus set about lavishing care and assistance, not only creating unhealthy and spendthrift humanitarian competition but also prolonging the conflict.
While the belligerents were intent on mobilizing their resources for the fighting, individuals were gradually becoming destitute. With the men at the front, factories closed or demolished, and financial and commercial embargoes in place, the countries of the former Yugoslavia disintegrated. Whole towns, often without gas, electricity or fuel, were plunged into war and suffering. Hospitals soon ran out of medicines while the numbers of wounded increased, and no maintenance work was carried out on water distribution networks, which were often cut off by the front l ines or by the authorities themselves. Telephone lines worked only spasmodically and postal services remained paralysed; entire regions found themselves isolated because roads were mined or closed and bridges destroyed. Cities like Sarajevo were encircled and began to run short of everything. From then on, it was civilians who paid the price, and a monstrous price it was: bereavements, families split up and without news of relatives, old people abandoned or sick, prisoners ill-treated, civilian communities expelled, held to ransom, or subjected to extortion.
From the very first days of the conflict, the ICRC endeavoured to deploy all the activities it traditionally conducts in such circumstances.
Protection of detainees
In nearly five years of conflict, the ICRC registered the names of over 44,000 detainees, both combatants captured during the fighting and civilians arrested because of their ethnic origins. The belligerents set up more than 500 places of detention, which the ICRC visited regularly so as to keep track of every individual detainee. The ICRC not only offers protection but also provides detainees with food and other aid (clothes, blankets, etc.), carries out sanitation work (installation of water-supply systems and sanitary facilities), and distributes personal hygiene products and medical assistance (the ICRC does not itself treat detainees but insists, when one of its doctors sees that a prisoner needs medical attention, that he receive the appropriate treatment). In addition, detainees are given the opportunity to write Red Cross messages to their families or friends which the ICRC delivers, with the help of National Red Cross Societies if the addressees are refugees in another country. The aim of this protection and assistance work is to make sure that prisoners have decent conditions of detention and can preserve a measure of dignity.
To this end the ICRC must work in close cooperation with all the belligerents, to ensure not only that its delegates have regular access to all places of detention but also that the detaining authorities show an accommodating attitude and take account of the delegates'observations regarding the treatment of detainees or their living conditions. This is a task which the ICRC usually carries out with discretion, preferring to maintain its access to prisons rather than to issue public denunciations. There are other organizations which look after that aspect and whose work, in this sense, can be regarded as complementary. It is only when the ICRC feels that the situation is intolerable that it speaks out publicly, as it did in the summer of 1992 for example.
In order to keep track of all the prisoners visited and ensure that none of them disappears, their names are entered in a data bank, making it possible to check their numbers regularly. When a detainee goes missing, the delegates keep asking the detaining authorities where he is until an answer is forthcoming.
In the former Yugoslavia, however, the parties to the conflict got into the habit of exchanging their detainees. When the detainees concerned were civilians belonging to one ethnic group arrested on the territory under the control of another, this amounted to ethnic cleansing. When they were captured combatants, a veritable poker game took place between the parties, who hid from each other - and also from the ICRC - large numbers of detainees in order to secure better terms for their exchange. Families frequently had to pay their own authorities to have their relatives included in exchange operations which, as well as detainees and money, often involved other " merchandise " such as fuel, ammunition, or even corpses.
The ICRC was thus very soon faced with a dilemma: should it or should it not take part in such exchanges? If it did, it would risk endorsing ethnic cleansing because civilians were included in these deals. If it did not, it would set little store by the protection it endeavours to afford every detainee. In the end, the ICRC decided to lay down conditions for its participation: it would not itself negotiate any exchanges and would continue to insist on unilateral and unconditional releases. On the other hand, once such an exchange was agreed between the parties, the ICRC wanted to be able to meet all detainees concerned at least 48 hours before their release in order to make sure that they would not be transferred against their will. Three choices were open to the prisoners: they could be freed locally (if, for example, their families still lived in the region), they could be transferred to the other side of the front line (captured soldiers rejoining their families), or they could be transferred to another country (an agreement to this effect was reached between the ICRC and UNHCR, the latter looking after arrangements for resettlement in a host country once the detainee had left Bosnia-Herzegovina with the help of the ICRC).
During the various conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, more than 21,000 prisoners were released under ICRC auspices. But many others were exchanged without the ICRC even being informed, and delegates subsequently had the utmost difficulty in obtaining information from the detaining authorities as to the whereabouts of detainees who had suddenly gone missing.
Under the Peace Agreement signed in Paris on 14 December 1995, the three parties to the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina undertook to release all their detainees within 30 days. Despite the fact that the parties had themselves negotiated this clause at Dayton in the United States, there was no change of mentality. The Bosniacs, in particular, did not want to free the some 500 detainees they were holding until the Serbs provided information on the fate of thousands of missing persons - including about 3,000 men whom witnesses had reported seeing arrested by Serb soldiers during the fall of the enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995. The Peace Agreement did not allow for such a linkage and the ICRC opposed it. However imperative it may be to shed light on the fate of all persons who disappeared during the conflict, making it a condition for the release of living detainees that information be provided about people of whom all trace has been lost means prolonging the agonizing wait of these hundreds of prisoners and their families.
In the end, practically all the 900 or so prisoners registered were freed by the parties under the auspices of the ICRC, although after the 30-day deadline.
Tracing missing persons
Relieving the anxiety of thousands of families long without news of their missing relatives is a major humanitarian challenge with which the ICRC is unfortunately confronted during every conflict, particularly in cases of civil war. In the context of the former Yugoslavia, with the help of the local Red Cross and of National Societies abroad, the ICRC arranged for the exchange of over 17 million messages between members of separated families or between families and detainees. It also reunited nearly 8,000 families. The Red Cross message network is an excellent means for displaced persons or refugees to restore contact with their relatives. It does, however, happen that letters do not reach their addressees - missing persons about whom it can take years to obtain any information. This task is of the utmost importance because it is only when the fate of a relative has been ascertained that a family can really start the mourning process and settle the administrative situation. In the conflict in Cyprus, for example, more than 20 years after the cease-fire practically no substantial information has yet been provided by the parties. This is why , in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the ICRC tried to tackle this question from the winter of 1994, convening several meetings of the three warring parties at Sarajevo airport. However, no tangible progress was made. The Peace Agreement provides for the exchange of information under ICRC auspices, but the success of such a process depends primarily on the political will of the parties to cooperate. In fact, information concerning missing persons is of a particularly sensitive nature, not least because it can point the finger at those responsible for atrocities.
Protection of the civilian population
In seeking to obtain " ethnically pure " territories, nationalists on every side implemented policies to drive out minorities; policies that were sometimes pursued with brute force but often by more insidious means: administrative harassment, discrimination and so on. The waves of violent expulsions seen in the regions of Banja Luka, Bijeljina and Mostar are still remembered by all, as is the vicious circle created when people displaced by the conflict hounded minorities from the territory where they found refuge and appropriated the minorities'homes.
In 1992, when Banja Luka area was the scene of unbridled violence, the ICRC, on the basis of the provisions of international humanitarian law, proposed the setting-up of " neutral zones " free of all combatants, where civilians could find refuge and protection. But at the time the international community had other ideas for halting the process of ethnic homogenization, notably that of " safe areas " . After several months of discussion, the United Nations Security Council opted for this second solution. In April 1993 General Morillon, Commander of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) in Bosnia-Herzegovina at the time, entered Srebrenica, a small town in the north-east where nearly 30,000 M uslims had taken refuge. He promised them that they would never be abandoned by the international community, and the Security Council voted a resolution proclaiming Srebrenica a " safe area " [3 ] . The assailants had to withdraw all weapons and combatants. An agreement concluded the next day between the parties to the conflict and UNPROFOR provided for the demilitarization of the enclave. The then President of the United Nations Security Council went on a mission to Srebrenica and the region, and subsequently recommended that Sarajevo, Tuzla, Zepa, Bihac and Gorazde, as well as Srebrenica, be declared " safe areas " . Security Council Resolution 824 [4 ] prohibited hostile acts against these areas, ordered Serb forces to withdraw to a distance where they were no longer militarily threatening and demanded free access for humanitarian convoys. We will come back to this subject later on.
The continual harassment of minority populations by the different belligerent authorities placed the international community before a dilemma that was impossible to resolve. Helping minorities to leave regions where they had always lived but where their safety and their future were no longer assured amounted to helping the belligerents achieve the main objective of their war effort. Merely denouncing these excesses in the name of respect for multi-ethnicity and the inviolability of borders would be to abandon these people to their fate, usually in conditions of utter poverty and despair. Apart from the releases of autumn 1992 - which included detainees from Prijedor, assembled on waste ground which the ICRC thought could be transformed into a " neutral zone " - the organization took another step forward in the summer of 1993: it began to evacuate from Bosnia-Herzegovina the most vulnerable members of minorities whose lives were directly threatened. Over 5,000 such persons were transferred, mostly from the region of Banja Luka to Croatia, where UNHCR took charge of them and tried to resettle them in other countries.
At Easter 1994, however, following a bloody skirmish on the nearby front line, more than 20 Muslims from the town of Prijedor were killed by way of reprisal in a single night. Terror gripped the minority population, whose only thought was to leave. The ICRC was prepared to evacuate all these people, numbering over 10,000, but the Pale authorities made their departure conditional on the transfer of Serbs from central Bosnia. In short, they proposed an exchange - on a massive scale - of civilian communities in pursuit of their own political ends. The ICRC refused and, by means of negotiations and public denunciations, succeeded in persuading the local authorities to restore order and public safety, which temporarily improved in the course of the following months.
After the attack on the Krajinas in Croatia by the troops of President Franjo Tudjman in May and August 1995, tens of thousands of Serb refugees fled towards Banja Luka. Consequently violence again flared up, this time mainly against the Croat minority. Nearly 10,000 people made their way towards Croatia and were resettled in Herzegovina, in villages recently taken by Bosnian Croat and Croatian troops. Then, while these troops continued their advance in the direction of Banja Luka, prompting thousands of Bosnian Serbs to gravitate towards the chief town in the region, it was the turn of the Muslim minority to pay the price of the infernal spiral of reprisals. Thousands of people were forced to leave and head for central Bosnia.
Alarmed by the desperate situation of these minorities, the ICRC decided to become more closely involved in the transfer of minority populations, seeking to ensure that their departure took place in decent conditions of safety and dignity. Moreover, the ICRC wanted to keep families together - these events took place just after the tragic incidents in Srebrenica - and to ensure that the wishes of the people concerned were respected. Although the Serb authorities accepted these proposals in principle, their disorganized state in a region through which 200,000 displaced people and refugees had streamed during the previous months made it impossible for things to proceed in this orderly manner. The minorities were obliged to leave as best they could.
All these events, made up of countless individual tragedies, nevertheless helped to complete ethnic homogenization in a country more fragmented than ever. In bringing the belligerents to the negotiating table two months later, the international community could only acknowledge this state of affairs.
Assistance: from emergency to rehabilitation
The ethnic cleansing of the territories of Bosnia-Herzegovina had taken place at the expense of the safety and dignity of minority communities. But the entire civilian population had paid a heavy price for the war, which caused the paralysis - or even total collapse - of State health services, the disruption of supply systems and a rapid deterioration in environmental hygiene. The ICRC, together with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement as a whole, did its utmost to meet the needs of civilians: food convoys were dispatched throughout the country, across front lines thanks to long and laborious negotiations with the different warring parties [5 ] ; surgical supplies and medicines were distributed to all hospitals admitting and treating the war-wounded. As the countries of the former Yugoslavia were under a commercial embargo, the ICRC also provided the region's medical facilities with medicines for the treatment of chronic conditions. In order to prevent the outbreak of epidemics due to the breakdown of public sanitation services, the ICRC delivered thousands of tonnes of chlorine to purify drinking water. A programme for the maintenance of water-supply systems was a lso set up. Since water supplies were often cut off - either because of the fighting or by the authorities themselves - Red Cross sanitation engineers repaired distribution systems, diverted them, tapped new sources, installed hand pumps, and so on.
All these material assistance programmes were primarily intended as a response to the emergency situation resulting from the conflict. But at the same time they prevented the country's water-supply systems, already badly disrupted, from becoming paralysed or collapsing completely. The implementation of these projects, which required the cooperation of numerous local partners - Red Cross organizations, municipal authorities and water-board officials - made it easier to bring the various networks and utilities back into operation and to embark on reconstruction of the country once calm was restored.
In addition to its own programmes, the ICRC supervised many projects carried out by the National Red Cross Societies of various countries. The projects covered such widely diverse fields as nutritional assistance (food for the most needy), medical aid (dialysis programmes, repairs on equipment), public utilities (water, gas), personal hygiene (articles for infants, toiletries), and also rehabilitation work (repairs on hospital buildings, old people's or children's homes, social welfare institutions, etc.) The French Red Cross, for example, was involved in a project aimed at rehabilitating the hospital in Tuzla. The Swiss Red Cross distributed food rations to the most vulnerable social welfare cases in the same town. Under a food distribution programme run on both sides of Sarajevo by the German Red Cross, soup kitchens were set up in the poorest districts and vitamin-enriched snacks were handed out in primary schools. The Netherlands National Society restored the gas distribution network in Sarajevo so that individual houses could be heated, while the British Red Cross worked on various projects for th e maintenance and restoration of water-supply systems in Serb territories. The British, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Belgian, Italian and American National Societies were involved in about 30 projects implemented under ICRC coordination in the former Yugoslavia.
In the non-conflict zones (Croatia apart from the Serb Sectors, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), where hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced persons ended up, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies set up assistance programmes that complemented those of UNHCR, in cooperation with the Croatian and Yugoslav Red Cross Societies.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
The magnitude of the needs was, however, such that the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement could not cope on its own. The United Nations, not very often on the scene in the former Yugoslavia during the early months of the conflict, was later to arrive in force. During the London Conference of August 1992, UNHCR was appointed lead agency of the United Nations for assistance to the civilian population.
Traditionally, according to the 1951 Refugees Convention, the task of UNHCR is to protect refugees. In the context of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, the international community substantially extended the mandate of this United Nations agency. Thenceforth, UNHCR was present on all fronts.
UNHCR resettled refugees in ot her countries, where it had to negotiate reception centres and foster the idea of hospitality in public opinion. Following consultations with the ICRC, which was already involved in assistance activities in Bosnia-Herzegovina but could not hope to meet all needs, UNHCR launched a vast programme for the distribution of food and other supplies in the former Yugoslavia, covering refugees, displaced persons and the most vulnerable members of society. As soon as Sarajevo airport was reopened by UNPROFOR [6 ] , UNHCR set up a humanitarian airlift of unprecedented scale. Its convoys travelled the length and breadth of the former Yugoslavia. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the United Nations agency supplied the Muslim enclaves. When this was not possible and the ICRC was also powerless to act, aid was dropped at night by parachute from Western military aircraft.
The assistance distributed by UNHCR - bulk foodstuffs supplied by the World Food Programme (WFP) - prompted the ICRC to review the content of its own distributions, which then became complementary to those of UNHCR.
The International Conference on the former Yugoslavia also entrusted UNHCR with responsibility for the Humanitarian Issues Working Group. More regularly UNHCR brought together, either in Geneva or in the field, representatives of donor countries in order to strengthen coordination and ensure a steady flow of information on the humanitarian situation in the region.
Other humanitarian organizations of the United Nations system were also working in behalf of the victims. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights appointed a Special Rapporteur for the former Yugoslavia in 1992. Tadeusz Mazowiecki, the former Polish Prime Minister, accepted the post. He regularly drew up reports describing the human rights situation in the different countries of the former Yugoslavia until the fall of the enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa in July 1995 [7 ] . At the same time, the United Natio ns Human Rights Centre became operational. Finally, following the appointment of a High Commissioner for Human Rights by the Secretary-General, additional observers were sent into the field.
The difficulties encountered by relief convoys in getting through the numerous road blocks set up by the various belligerents provoked a reaction on the part of the international community. The Somali experience was still fresh in everyone's mind; at that time, the United Nations Secretary-General had expressed the opinion that a large part of the aid furnished was misappropriated by the factions for their own ends.
At the beginning of 1992, the United Nations Security Council voted to send troops to Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the Croatian Krajinas, then under Serb control, successive cease-fires had failed to hold despite acceptance of the Vance plan [8 ] by Zagreb, Knin and Belgrade. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, except for a few brief lulls due as much to the winter conditions as to diplomatic efforts, fighting continued to rage until autumn 1995.
From the start, the mandates given to UNPROFOR by the Security Council [9 ] turned out to be almost impossible to fulfil because of the mingling of different types of action. Once again, troops were sent into a theatre of hostilities to simultaneously keep the peace, take military action and help the humanitarian organizations. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, there was not even a cease-fire to maintain. And how can humanitarian convoys be protected when the protectors may not open fire except in self-defence? Humanitarian action, which must be impartial and respond in an even-handed manner to the needs observed, cannot be carried out by force. Using weapons to force one's way through to the victims is not a humanitarian but a military measure. It is a rescue operation resulting fro m a political decision because, in order to embark on such a course, a decision must be made to employ force and to take the risk of siding with one belligerent against another. It is not our intention to say that this must not be done but to point out that it is a warlike act, even if its aim is to save civilians in danger.
Once a " humanitarian " agency has antagonized one of the belligerents, it becomes incapable of carrying out all the tasks required of an impartial humanitarian operation. We shall return to this subject later on. In order to implement its huge assistance programme, UNHCR relied heavily on UNPROFOR logistics and escorts. But the United Nations forces, which had not received authorization from Pale to deploy fully in territories under Serb control, could offer their armed protection only in central Bosnia. And how on earth, from Belgrade or Pale, could UNHCR staff be distinguished from UNPROFOR personnel when they both flew the same flag and both depended ultimately on the same Secretary-General? Moreover, since most of the United Nations manpower was deployed in central Bosnia and in the Muslim enclaves, then encircled by the Serbs and/or the Croats, how was it possible to distribute humanitarian assistance in a truly equitable manner, even though these regions undeniably had the most crying needs?
Once again, it is not our intention to quibble about the scale of suffering on one side as compared with the other, but to pose the question of balance. Far be it from us to belittle the extreme suffering of the Muslim population, but their plight - constantly under the spotlight - and the response of the international community tended to obscure the fact that other civilian populations in Bosnia-Herzegovina also had grave problems. It was to avoid falling into the trap of partiality - in other words, the danger of being perceived as biased by one or several parties to the conflict - that the ICRC refused UNPROFOR armed escorts. Its convoys continued to cross front lines with the red cross emblem as their sole protection and negotiation their only weapon. The ICRC has always considered that truly comprehensive humanitarian work cannot be carried out without the cooperation of all the belligerents. Forcing one's way through never leads to desirable or satisfactory results in the long run. It is not naive to think in this way; a basic principle of humanitarian action is that only impartiality makes it possible to help all victims without discrimination. And impartiality is not something that is noisily asserted; it is quietly demonstrated in practice by preserving independence from all political power - State or supra-State - and maintaining regular contacts with all belligerents in order to have access to all victims.
The non-governmental organizations
The activities of the vast majority of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) bear out the opinions expressed above. As lead agency, UNHCR coordinated the work of the NGOs in the former Yugoslavia within the framework of a programme called PARINAC (Partnership in Action).
The European and American people and governments, the main sources of NGO financing, were reluctant, for essentially political reasons, to pay for aid projects in Serb zones. Consequently, the NGOs, whose convoys moreover always had to bear UNHCR number plates and be escorted by UNPROFOR, distributed the bulk of their aid in central Bosnia alone, with the notable exception of Médecins sans frontières (MSF) and one or two other organizations.
Unfortunately for Red Cross ethics, the same aberrations were evident in projects carried out by various National Red Cross Societies in the former Yugoslavia. Most of these National Societies, on account of internal policies in their countries of ori gin, and hence for reasons of financing, also worked only in central Bosnia.
UNHCR, a member of the United Nations system, remained a United Nations agency, in the eyes of the belligerents. As soon as the United Nations was taken to task - for example when UNPROFOR called in NATO aircraft or when the Security Council adopted a resolution condemning one of the parties to the conflict - UNHCR was dragged, willy-nilly, into the fray. On several occasions it had to withdraw some of its staff from territories controlled by the Bosnian Serbs while ICRC delegates remained in place. When, in May 1995, the Serbs took UNPROFOR soldiers hostage in order to stop NATO bombing raids, the ICRC found itself virtually alone in the Serb Republic. A few months later, while tens of thousands of Serbs fled from the Croatian Krajinas or from the advancing Croat troops in Bosnia, the ICRC was the only organization, with MSF, to be able to take rapid and effective action. Fortunately, UNHCR very soon resumed its activities in those regions.
The "safe areas"
As has been seen, discussions between the ICRC and the international community regarding the notions of " neutral zones " and " safe areas " were in full swing in 1992. In the opinion of most people, and particularly Lord Owen, who was appointed co-Chairman of the International Conference on the former Yugoslavia following the London meeting, " neutral zones " as provided for in international humanitarian law were not an option because it was felt that the consensus needed to set them up was impossible to obtain. It was when General Morillon entered Srebrenica that the United Nations Security Council decided to grant it the status of " safe area " .
Thus, while " neutral zones " have to be set up on a consensual basis, the " safe areas " were the result of a unilateral decision on which the belligerents were not consulted. In such circumstances, who would enforce compliance with a decision of the highest international political body? What army would impose on the belligerents a concept in which they had had no say? Was there not too great a risk of seeing this decision flouted by the warring parties and the international community humiliated by such a display of its impotence? One of the mandates of UNPROFOR was to protect these " safe areas " [10 ] . But the areas were never completely disarmed; at the very most the attackers were supposed to withdraw their arms to a distance from where they ceased to be a menace. The Serb forces always held the Muslim enclaves within range of their guns and Bosniac soldiers were always active there (Bihac, Gorazde, Srebrenica, etc.). The concept was too vague, its implementation shaky, and the warring parties made of it what they would.
The failure of the " safe areas " concept became blatantly obvious with the fall of the enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa in July 1995. The Bosnian Serb forces needed only a few days to seize these two pockets, which had been formally designated " safe areas " by the Security Council in 1993 and where United Nations soldiers were deployed. Neither the strength of the concept nor the mandate of the international forces prevented what followed. NATO, called in to help, bombed - rather feebly - several Serb targets before stopping in its tracks, fearful for the safety of the peace-keeping forces, which w ere being held hostage. On top of this resounding failure came a monstrous crime: there can be little doubt that thousands of people were slaughtered and buried in mass graves. A few weeks after the fall of Srebrenica, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for human rights in the former Yugoslavia, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, concluded a report that was damning to the international community and resigned from his post with a great to-do. This same international community, because it had set up a system which could guarantee nothing and which at the same time tied its own hands, stood by powerless during the fall of the two enclaves and the horrors that ensued.
But, to tell the truth, neither had the ICRC been able to do anything to prevent these tragic events. Its delegates were not permanently present in the two enclaves and were not there when they fell. The ICRC was only a spectator, condemned to a passive role. It would be inappropriate today for it to denounce other players or their ideas. The best that the international community can do is to make an admission of failure and draw lessons from it. Nor can the ICRC guarantee that the concept of " neutral zones " would have been any more successful in changing the dramatic course of events.
The blurring of roles
Humanitarian convoys accompanied by armed escorts, " safe areas " : two means the international community wanted to use in order to carry out humanitarian operations. As ha s been seen, both options entail numerous drawbacks in practice, mainly because of the military or coercive element involved. The military, although it can certainly render invaluable humanitarian services - in such fields as civil engineering and logistics - cannot, by definition and by its very nature, transform itself into a humanitarian enterprise.
Indeed, an army, even when it is sent to a theatre of operations with the best intentions in the world, remains branded by politics. It displays its national flag, sometimes also that of the United Nations. In the political hierarchy, it remains answerable to its capital or to New York. But the work of diplomatic circles is precisely to adopt positions and take political decisions which will inevitably have an impact on this army, or at least on the way it is perceived by the warring factions among which it is supposed to remain neutral. The United Nations Security Council adopts resolutions of a political nature; often, when a conflict breaks out, it designates the aggressor, pointing out the bully and the victim. United Nations forces, subordinate to the Secretary-General, cannot avoid paying the price for such an approach, at least in terms of the way they are perceived. And it is precisely this perception that determines the ability of a humanitarian worker to carry out his tasks in behalf of all victims, on all sides of the front lines. Without independence vis-à-vis political power, impartiality becomes a principle impossible to put into practice. The United Nations cannot at one and the same time act as a judge (the Security Council) and remain neutral: its military forces and its humanitarian organizations become parties because they are perceived as being on the side of the " good " belligerent.
But that is not all. A soldier, whether or not wearing a blue helmet, by the very fact that he carries a gun cannot be neutral in the eyes of the parties to the conflict. But often it is when the fighting is fiercest that humanitarian needs are most pressing. If the international community sends troops to support the humanitarian organizations, the respective roles of the players are bound to become blurred. If, in addition, those troops receive a mandate to keep the peace where no cease-fire worthy of the name even exists, they are pushed into negotiating truces and trying to step in between the belligerents to uphold those truces, thus running the risk of sliding into peace-making operations. The blurring of roles becomes sheer confusion. In fact such truces are not necessarily in the combatants'interests: freezing a conflict on humanitarian grounds solves nothing. It is only by tackling the underlying causes of a war - a highly political area - that the international community can hope to put an end to it. There are only two ways of doing this: to embark on political negotiations or to impose peace by declaring war on war.
Humanitarian action cannot be manipulated to influence the course of a conflict. If it is diverted from its true purpose by political interest (preventing people who are fleeing the fighting from pouring into a neighbouring country, concealing political impotence while showing that " something " is nevertheless being done, etc.), it can even prolong the conflict.
The Bosnian trap
Designated as the victims of Serb aggression by the international community, throughout the conflict the Bosniac authorities constantly urged it to side with them. The international force, which was initially deployed in the field to help the humanitarian organizations, gradually saw a shift in its tasks. Following the adoption of the Security Council resolutions setting up " safe areas " , the United Nations forces were given the mandate to protect those areas, still without firing a shot. Since this mission proved impossible with out involving the soldiers deployed on the spot in the fighting, NATO was called in to help. The latter was already charged with ensuring that Bosnian airspace was not used by the belligerents. It was now assigned the task of protecting the safe areas by bombing their assailants.
However, as the Secretary-General's Special Representative in the former Yugoslavia was responsible both for organizing the United Nations forces on the ground and for summoning NATO aircraft to the rescue, confusion was inevitable. The Serb authorities could henceforth scarcely do otherwise than view the international troops as potential enemies. Entangled in the ambiguity of their mandate and the complexity of the situation, the United Nations forces felt ill at ease and in an invidious position. In the summer of 1995, the UNPROFOR commanders placed the dilemma fair and square before the international community: either UNPROFOR pursued the course it was following and waged war alongside the Bosnian government, or it withdrew.
At that time, Srebrenica had fallen into Serb hands without NATO being able to do anything to prevent it, the United Nations forces on the ground being too vulnerable to reprisals. Zepa was also sacrificed on the altar of realpolitik, to give the international community time to introduce a system that would enable it to take proper action.
The London Conference at the end of July 1995 brought a change in policy and advocated confrontation. The Serbs were told in clear terms that the enclave of Gorazde was inviolable. The international community envisaged a sustained aerial campaign - as opposed to the sporadic raids carried out until then - in order to demonstrate its determination. At the same time, United Nations troops were to be withdrawn from exposed areas where they were potential targets for acts of reprisal.
At the end of August, the shelling of the market in Sarajevo precipitated the start of this campaign. NATO proceeded to bomb several Bosnian Serb positions heavily and forced the Serbs to raise the siege of the capital. In the meantime, the American administration took over the task of negotiating with the parties, putting pressure on them to work out a peace agreement, which was initialled at Dayton in the United States three months later.
From then on, foreign ministries engaged in politics, armies carried out the orders of politicians with military means, and the humanitarian agencies were left to get on with their work. A welcome situation of complementarity which was indeed reflected in the peace agreement. NATO was dispatched to Bosnia-Herzegovina to ensure, by military means if necessary, that the guns remained silent, while humanitarian matters were delegated to the competent organizations: the return of refugees and displaced persons to UNHCR, the release of detainees and the tracing of missing persons to the ICRC. When the mandate of each agency is clearly defined according to its own specific functions, the international community gains in efficiency. It can then do what it is supposed to do: look after political matters.
A necessary clarification
The road was long from the Gulf war to Srebrenica. At the end of 1991, after the coalition forces had landed in northern Iraq to protect and assist the Kurds, the new United Nations Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, published his Agenda for Peace. The United Nations, as a world body, would henceforth take an " integrated approach " to conflicts. While the Security Council adopted resolutions of a political nature, designating the bullies and the victims, the United Nations sent in troops to keep the peace and facilitate the distribution of aid. But all the ingredients of confusion were present in this recipe. Ever yone remembers the ill-fated operation launched by American troops in Somalia, the political rather than humanitarian intervention of French troops in Rwanda and, finally, the impossible mandate of UNPROFOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Semi-failures that add up to so many humiliations for the international community. The Secretary-General revised his Agenda for Peace in 1995 and remodelled the " integrated approach " . The various means of dealing with a conflict - political, military, and humanitarian - are certainly interdependent, but their implementation involves approaches and imperatives that are quite different.
The international community should draw lessons from the experiences of these last few years. It is not through creating additional organizations and multiplying mandates - which often overlap, giving rise to unhealthy competition for prestige and funding - that it will be able to achieve the goals of the United Nations Charter. Nor is it through devoting all its energies and resources to conflict resolution: there is a great deal to be done in the realm of preventive action, which also means economic development, the levelling of glaring inequalities, and social justice.
In over four years of conflict, nearly three million people fled the fighting in the former Yugoslavia, either becoming displaced within the country or taking refuge abroad. The question of their return to their homes has always been a painful one. With the return of peace, it has become all the more pertinent.
By pouring thousands of tonnes of aid into Bosnia-Herzegovina, mainly through UNHCR but also through the ICRC and numerous NGOs, the international community, incapable of putting an end to the fighting, set up a vast mechanism aimed at containing the conflict within the geographic limits of the former Yugoslavia. The dispatch of tens of thousands of United Nations forces indirectly served the same purpose. In this way, it hoped to forestall the exodus of hundreds of thousands of people seeking refuge in the countries of Western Europe, wealthy but shut in on themselves. Governments preferred to send in aid, at the same time showing their own populations, horrified by the tragedies unfolding every evening on their television screens, that they were not standing idly by. Humanitarian aid became a fig-leaf, a pretext, a substitute for a policy.
The victory of the nationalists
Having unsuccessfully proposed peace plans to the three Bosnian parties, the international community, now spurred into action by American diplomacy, acknowledged the victory of the nationalists on every side, from Belgrade to Zagreb but also in Sarajevo, Pale and Mostar, and ratified the partition and ethnic homogenization of Bosnia in a peace agreement negotiated under its auspices. A true act of realpolitik which dealt a severe blow to the previously advocated concept of multi-ethnicity. Talking of an end to the war in the former Yugoslavia meant acknowledging what had gone before.
So what is to become of the millions of refugees and displaced persons? As the nationalists are still in power, their return home seems doubtful. The peace agreement certainly restores freedom of movement and provides for the return of refugees and displaced persons, but these clauses scarcely disguise the harsh reality. In Bosnia-Herzegovina today, no-one is ready to cross the former front lines, elevated to the status of intercommunity " borders " , and rare are those who, having lost everything, realistically think of going back to their homes, now situated in " foreign " territory. The Serbs are in the Serb Republic, and the Muslims and Croats are grouped together within a fragile Federation which has hardly any reality other than its name: one could say that the Muslims are in central Bosnia and the Croats in Herzegovina. The impossible task of managing the town of Mostar, undertaken by a mayor appointed by the European Union, is an eloquent illustration of this state of affairs. The return of refugees will follow the same pattern. Recognizing this, the peace agreement also provides for the setting up of a Commission responsible for compensating individuals who are unable to recover their property. This Commission undoubtedly has its work cut out for a very long time to come.
The example of Lebanon, a country ravaged by 15 years of conflict during which the different communities separated and took refuge in ethnically (or religiously) pure " cantons " , shows how illusory it is to found peace on a hypothetical reconciliation of populations whereby people return to their homes and live in harmony, mingled with other communities.
In Bosnia-Herzegovina, feelings of hate and fear and, for some, the desire for revenge are still too fresh. The first stage of peace will involve coming to terms with these sentiments, unless the new generation of nationalists stirs them up again by dwelling on the wounds of the past so as to galvanize their populations for future combat.
UNHCR is entrusted by the peace agreement with drawing up a plan for return and repatriation. But beforehand, several questions have to be answered. Are conditions sufficiently safe for entire families to return and start a new life? If they do not return to their regions of origin, will they at least be allowed to ch oose where they want to live? Will there be any social welfare services? Will there be an embryonic economy enabling people to take care of themselves so that they are no longer dependent on humanitarian aid?
The nationalists have won. Regrettable perhaps, but there it is. During the conflict, displaced persons fleeing the fighting drove away minorities whose homes they wanted to take over; those minorities evicted others in their turn, and so on: a vicious circle that suited the authorities who wanted to rid themselves of these minority elements. But merely silencing the guns cannot put an end to the manipulation of the different communities. On the territories granted to them by the peace agreement, the various authorities are populating towns and villages with displaced persons of their own ethnic groups. Serbs are settling in Srebrenica and Zepa, Croats in Glamoc and Bosniacs in Sanski Most; a real feat of -ethnic engineering+, an indisputable occupation of regions aimed at perpetuating the " cantonalization " of communities which had been achieved by force of arms.
A new beginning?
For new countries, new identities. Founding and building peace starts with the positive recognition of new national and cultural identities in the Balkans. There is a Serb, a Croat, and a Bosniac people. The rifts created by the war have helped to shape those identities. It is undoubtedly the end of the dream of a multi-ethnic Balkan nation State. To each people its own land, ethnic identity and cultural identity. A country has disintegrated. What has to be done now is to incorporate several countries and territories - in a region to start with, then in Europe.
This is the only way to overcome the tendency to withdraw from the outside world that the peoples of this region have shown in recent years. Now they have what they wanted: a lan d, a region of their own. If they are to transcend local divisions they must become integrated in a Europe that respects cultural diversity.
The countries of the former Yugoslavia have not yet risen to this challenge. The authorities now in power are all relics of the old Tito system of State-run, centralized economies and single-party government. Profound political and economic reforms are needed to prepare these new States to take their place among the European nations. Peace will only endure with the building and proper functioning of democratic State institutions which take into account the cultural identities and political entities that emerged from the conflict.
Will the return of the refugees take place first? Initially, the UNHCR plan provided for a return in several phases: first people displaced within Bosnia-Herzegovina, then those who had taken refuge in neighbouring countries of the former Yugoslavia (mainly Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), and lastly, refugees in other countries. This sequential approach did not really meet with the approval of all countries which had taken in Bosnian refugees, their governments wishing to see them leave sooner than was anticipated by the plan. The governments concerned originally agreed to delay the mass return of refugees until the summer of 1996, the winter conditions at the end of the hostilities being too severe. However, they are not prepared to extend the time limit indefinitely. For xenophobia and racism, which give rise to violent incidents more and more frequently across Europe, leave host governments little room for manoeuvre. True integration of Bosnian refugees in the countries that have taken them in appears extremely difficult and their repatriation to a region ravaged by war seems inevitable.
There will thus be no reversion to the status quo ante. Above and beyond the return of the refugees, but taking this aspect fully into account since the lives and destiny of so many individuals and families are at stake, there is the challenge of establishing a democratic, civil and political society so as to consolidate - or to build - peace, and hence a stable Europe.
The new multi-ethnic society will be shaped by today+s reality and by what both the peoples of the former Yugoslavia and the international community make of it tomorrow.
* This text was published in: Dernière guerre balkanique? Ex-Yougoslavie: témoignages, analyses, perspectives. L'Harmattan, Paris, 1996.
** This text was also published by the ICRC : ICRC, Geneva, 1998, 29 pp., 16 x 23 cm, (French and English out of print), ref. 0709
1. Today the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
2. At that time, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
3. S/RES/819 of 16 April 1993.
4. S/RES/824 of 6 May 1993.
5. An ICRC delegate was killed in May 1992 when the convoy in which he was travelling was caught in sniper fire as it entered Sarajevo.
6. Following the mission by French President François Mitterrand to Sarajevo in mid-1992.
7. He was replaced by the former Finnish Minister of Defence, Elisabeth Rehn.
8. In October 1991, former American Secretary of State Cyrus Vance was appointed Special Envoy for Yugoslavia of the United Nations Secretary-General.
9. Protection of humanitarian convoys at the request of UNHCR and of convoys of released prisoners at the request of the ICRC, with the rules of engagement traditional ly given to peace-keeping forces (self-defence only, including cases in which armed elements try to prevent the discharge of their mandate) - S/RES/776 of 14 September 1992. Monitoring compliance with the ban on belligerents flying in Bosnian airspace - S/RES/781 of 9 October 1992. Broader mandate with authorization granted to member States to take, on an individual or collective basis, " all necessary measures " to enforce this ban - S/RES/816 of 31 March 1993. (Thenceforth, NATO helped UNPROFOR with this task.) Finally, the protection of " safe areas " (NATO also provided the peace-keeping forces with support for this mission) - S/RES/836 of 4 June 1993.
10. S/RES/836 of 4 June 1993.