ICG in Action
ICG is grateful to the Open Society Institute, the US Department of State, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the Government of Ireland for their financial support for ICG's Bosnia Project during 1997.
ICG's Bosnia field team-currently six analysts plus local support staff-has been on the ground in Bosnia since February 1996. The team's primary task is to monitor the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement-identifying where progress has, and has not, been made, where the main obstructions lie and how best to move forward. ICG analysts track conditions across the country-reporting on a wide range of issues central to the peace implementation effort. Since the project began, ICG has produced over 100 reports and key statements on Bosnia-including almost 30 major policy reports. Among the most important broad areas of focus over the past 12 months have been justice and accountability; refugees and internally displaced persons; elections; and the media.
ICG's analysis of the peace process in Bosnia has had an impact at many levels. The organisation's findings have been reflected in the tone and balance of international news coverage. ICG's office in Sarajevo has become a first port-of-call for most journalists arriving in the country and a much-used resource for the entire Bosnian media. Without ICG's independent critique of the peace process in Bosnia, it is likely that media coverage would have been much more influenced by the "official line" promulgated by the main international organisations operating in the country-and as a consequence would have painted a more complacent picture. As a result of ICG's presence, the conduct of inter-governmental organisations (OSCE, OHR, NATO-SFOR) has come under an unprecedented degree of scrutiny, making them more accountable than would otherwise have been the case.
Despite, or perhaps because of, ICG's occasional criticism of international decisions, the organisation's reports have won an increasing audience among international officials in Bosnia and analysts in foreign ministries around the world. The broad dissemination of ICG material is backed by an ongoing effort by ICG staff in Sarajevo, Brussels and Washington DC to highlight the project's findings and build support for key policy recommendations. Members of the ICG Board are also closely involved in this process, petitioning the governments of their own countries and raising ICG's proposals in the press, parliaments and other forums.
ICG has also worked closely with the international institutions operating in Bosnia, in particular with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the office of the High Representative. Via a series of non-public papers and regular meetings with senior officials in both missions, ICG has helped influence policy on the ground, in particular concerning the conduct of elections and media. Many of ICG's recommendations have been accepted and incorporated into policy documents. This includes a series of ICG recommandations for the September 1997 municipal poll which culminated in the two-stage certification process for the election results.
ICG has maintained its campaign for the arrest of suspected war criminals indicted by the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. Many of those indicted remain at large and continue to exploit their influence to obstruct international efforts to implement the Dayton Peace Agreement. A snatch operation in Prijedor in July 1997, in which one leading indictee was arrested and another killed, and the surrender of 10 indicted Croats in October as a result of sustained and intense international pressure on Croatia, are manifestations of a welcome change in the international approach to the issue. Whether ICG played any role in the new policy should be left to others to decide. The night after the Prijedor action, however, Bosnian Serb television attributed the switch to ICG pressure.
ICG has continued to contribute analysis and ideas regarding the future of the contested town of Brcko-a potential future flash-point between Serbs, Bosniacs and Croats in the north of Bosnia. At the beginning of 1997, ICG published a detailed report on Brcko which was submitted to the international arbitration panel dealing with the matter. The report was widely read-including by the chief arbitrator-and a number of ICG's most important recommendations were adopted with some variations. For example, the decision to extend the jurisdiction of the arbitration panel for a further 12 months reflected ICG's proposal for an even longer extension as the best available means of maintaining international leverage over local nationalists. The panel also picked up on ICG's suggestion that, in the longer-term, Brcko might be awarded to Bosnia's state-level common institutions.
Bosnia Project Priorities for 1998
Key decisions will be made in the coming months on the shape of future international involvement in Bosnia. ICG is currently preparing a series of papers looking at critical issues where action is needed during 1998.
High on the list are the following issues:
- Military balance and the continuing need for a credible international force in Bosnia;
- The 1998 national elections and the need for an alternative electoral system to help the country out of the vicious cycle of ethnically-based politics;
- The impact of segregation in educational on long-term political reconciliation;
- The Brcko arbitration process;
- Accountability for war crimes-including arrests, support for the War Crimes Tribunal and the potential utility of alternative institutions to address war crimes, including domestic prosecution and truth and reconciliation commissions;
- A more comprehensive approach to the media in Bosnia, including the development of plans for a broadcasting authority, a code of professional conduct and a broadcasting law.
[A Moment in Bosnia]