ICGAnnual Report1995-96


Up to 22 ICG staff members have been stationed in Bosnia since early 1996, their task to monitor and evaluate progress towards the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement. Working closely with international agencies, local groups and the media, the ICG team seeks to chart a course through the many hazards that obstruct the path to peace for Bosnia by identifying potential flash-points and advising on ways to defuse them.

Building peace in a country torn apart by the most brutal and bloody war in Europe for fifty years was bound to be a complex and painstaking task. The peace accords signed at Dayton in November 1995 succeeded in stopping the fighting but they left many of the fundamental causes of conflict unresolved. If peace is to take root and last in the longer-term, a number of major issues that still divide the various communities within Bosnia will have to be addressed. ICG has spoken out often during 1996 on a wide range of issues including security, war criminals, elections, repatriation and human rights. Some 25 analytical reports and papers on Bosnia were issued up to November 1996. ICG's findings and recommendations were brought to the attention of decision-takers both on the ground and in foreign capitals via members of the board, staff and the media.

The primary targets of ICG's advocacy included senior officials in the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Office of the UN High Representative, the governments of the Federation and Republika Srpska, the European Union and the US, UK and French governments.

ICG's achievements in Bosnia during 1996 included:

Vijesnica, Sarajevo
Sarajevo: Bosnia-Herzegovina's National Library was destroyed by a rocket-launched bomb at the start of the war in 1992

  • helping to focus international attention on the issue of war crimes and, in particular, the need to arrest and extradite all those indicted by the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague;

  • highlighting the deep flaws in conditions on the ground in the lead-up to Bosnia's September elections. ICG's assessment that conditions would not support free and fair elections led to the postponement of municipal elections originally scheduled to coincide with national elections in September 1996;

  • unveiling serious electoral irregularities in the conduct of the parliamentary and presidential elections held in September 1996. Evidence collected by ICG showed a 104 percent turnout that could only be explained by the widespread stuffing of ballot boxes with false ballot papers;

  • contributing to the resolution of contentious issues relating to the future of the northern Bosnian town of Brcko, a potential future flash-point between Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation; and

  • attracting international support for a number of local initiatives and organisations, including funding for a local project aimed at encouraging Sarajevan Serbs to remain in the city after the hand-over to Federation rule; funding for the commission on Displaced Persons and Refugees; equipment for independent media projects; and advice to refugee groups seeking a change in the law affecting the property rights of refugees returning to claim abandoned homes and possessions.

During 1997, ICG will retain a field team in Bosnia. The team will focus on the key issues of repatriation, reconciliation, war crimes and entrenching Bosnia's new democratic national institutions. In addition, ICG will embark on a major new regional assessment project aimed at identifying future potential sources of tension, crisis and conflict in the wider Balkan region (including Serbia, Croatia, Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia).

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