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EUPM in BiH
Upon a formal request by the authorities ofBiH, the EU launched EUPM on 1 January 2003 and, after four renewals of mandate, drew it to a close on 30 June 2012. EUPM replaced the UN-mandated International Police
Task Force (IPTF) which, having stepped in BiH, in late December 1995, did its share on the ground in securing post-conflict stability, law enforcement, and compliance with the Dayton Peace accords (Aitchison 2007, pp. 328, 331-334).
EUPM was initially intended to operate until the end of 2005. Starting out from premise that “the future of BiH lying in integration into the European structures,” it was assigned to address “the whole range of Rule of Law aspects, including institution building programs and police activities,” with a view to contributing “to the overall peace implementation [...] as well as to the achievement of the EU’s overall policy in the region” (Council of the European Union 2002a, p. 16). This mandate was rather general than precise and focused. The EUPM strategic goals were set to provide high-quality advisory and inspection services; assist local police authorities to revamp institutional structures and streamline operational processes; and “monitor the exercise of appropriate political control over the police” (Council of the European Union 2002b, p. 5). EUPM was essentially directed to strengthen professionalism, efficiency, and accountability of the BiH police, and make the local authorities able to uphold the rule of law, fight corruption and organized crime, and safeguard public order (Council of the European Union 2002b, p. 5). In truth, EUPM aimed to help stabilizing BiH by supervising the reform of a critical constituent of its rule of law sector that is, policing arrangements.
In addition to its wide scope of mandate, however, the problem was that EUPM was not entrusted with “executive powers” or the authority to deploy “an armed component” (Council of the European Union 2002b, p. 5). The practice, as aptly pointed out, resulted in a considerable “confusion regarding what was supposed to be the role of EUPM on the ground and an outstanding tendency to conceive police operations in an executive way” (Juncos 2007, p. 53). This was exacerbated by the “diversity of the legal and operational traditions and structures governing policing within the EU,” which posed serious hurdles in the efforts of EUPM to standardize law enforcement process and institutionalize common policing practices and norms (Flessenkemper 2013a, p. 28). What is more, in December 2004 the start of EUFOR Althea, the EU’s military mission in BiH, complicated the division of tasks; as, on the one hand, EUPM had no right to push through compliance measures and, on the other, EUFOR Althea was also commanded to counter illegal and criminal activities. This led to a perplexing duplication of roles with regard to the political oversight of the fight against organized crime, which affected negatively the coordination of the civilian and military actions at the operational level (Kirchner 2013, p. 41; Dari et al. 2012, p. 36, 48; Gross 2012, p. 3; Juncos 2007, pp. 58-59).
In 2005, EUPM’s presence in BiH was extended up to the end of 2007 “in full complementarity with other components of the EU’s engagement” in the country (Council of the European Union 2005a, p. 9,2005b, pp. 55, 58). This time the mandate, while standing firm on its wide scope, was better framed. One critical aspect was that it was upgraded to the effect that the EU credited EUPM with a “unified chain of command as a crisis management operation”; thereby giving the power to the mission to “take the lead” in concerting the policing and law-enforcement actions of EU bodies against organized crime (Council of the European Union 2005b, pp. 56-57). The result was that though still lacking executive competencies, EUPM was wholly empowered to authorize EUFOR Althea to go to the assistance of BiH agencies (Ioannides 2013, p. 58). The other crucial aspect was that EUPM was specifically refocused on, first, setting up a professional police service in which all three ethnic communities would be represented; and, second, supporting local authorities in organized crime investigations (Council of the European Union 2005b, pp. 55-56).
In 2007, the mandate of EUPM was once again renewed until end- December 2009. In the context of the same wide scope and strategic goals as in the two previous mandates, EUPM was additionally tasked with helping the BiH agencies run more efficiently their criminal justice system and improve their police prosecution capabilities (Council of the European Union 2007, pp. 40-41,44). Afterward, in 2009, the mission’s engagement in the country was agreed to continue for an additional 2-year period. Yet, holding firm to the same tasks as previously and, in particular, to police reform and police accountability enhancement, the fourth mandate was slightly modified to center its attention more closely on assisting the “BiH relevant law enforcement agencies in the fight against organized crime and corruption” (Council of the European Union 2009, pp. 22, 25). Following a positive assessment review of its work, in late 2011 the EU decided to direct for fifth time EUPM to get through a 6-month phase of exit and wrap- up the mission in mid-2012 (European Union External Action 2012, p. 2).
In principle, encapsulating a widely held view, the command of EUPM was to conduct MMA activities (Kammel 2015, 107; Garcia-Perez and Glume, 2015, pp. 162-163). The lexicon of the EUPM mandates persistently exemplified a broad policy perspective. In terms of textual discourse,
EUPM was directed to carry out “crisis management” operations within a “broader rule of law approach” (Council of the European Union 2002b, p. 2, 2005b, pp. 55, 57, 2007, pp. 40, 42, 2009, pp. 22, 24). But in practice, during its lifespan, EUPM appeared to have gradually adapted its ways of acting from generally helping reform the policing constituent of the rule of law sector to specifically helping re-establish police institutions, develop managerial capacities, and fight organized crime and corruption. That EUPM’s mandate was extended four consecutive times might be taken as a measure of success in one respect; in that, however fragile, the progress was each time achieved toward police reform needed to further consolidate and carry on. Indeed, the more the enhancement of the policing capacity in BiH appeared to take shape and substance, the more the mission demonstrated that it had been able to accomplish the task; and, therefore, the more it was assigned to keep contributing to building local capabilities to improve police provision and tackle serious crime.
As EUPM was the first ever EU cross-border civilian operation, its preparation took almost a year. In this time span, a planning team was deployed for 8 months on the spot to concert the transfer of the command from IPTF and prepare the ground for the inception of the mission (Matthiessen 2013, pp. 16-17). After EUPM was deployed, it was sustained by sufficient financing. Over the entire period of its operation, the mission’s budget was set to amount to €110 million. To this sum allocated by the EU budget should be added the funds that were provided by the contributing countries to bear all seconded personnel-related costs (Flessenkemper and Helly 2013, p. 81). On the whole, EUPM evolved into an “adequately financed” operation (Flessenkemper 2013b, p. 65).
However, EUPM met serious human resources constraints. To begin with, the planning team - consisting of 17 police officers, six civilian experts, and five local people - lacked qualified and experienced people in finance and procurement management and capacity building with good knowledge of the local situation (Council of the European Union 2003, pp. 9-10). During the first stages of deployment in the field, EUPM was fortunate enough to recruit seconded personnel who had served in the IPTF and had acquired much-needed skills and experience (Flessenkemper 2013b, p. 59; Juncos 2007, pp. 52-53). By then, the mission had staff strength in between 750 and 900 people of whom less than two-thirds were police officers seconded by the contributing states (Flessenkemper and Helly 2013, p. 82; European Union External Action 2012, p. 2). Over the years, all in all, EUPM employed a workforce of some 2300 persons of whom 1786 were police officers, 154 were civilians with diverse educational background and expertise, and 487 local practitioners (EU Press Release 2012, p. 2).
Paradoxically, the quality of the EUPM personnel started deteriorating once mission mandate became more specific, coincided as it was with its transformation from a “traditional police peacekeeping operation” to a “rule of law mission” (Flessenkemper 2013a, pp. 30-31, 2013b, pp. 5960). After the mission modified its focus on law enforcement and criminal justice system restructuring, several rule of law professionals were hired (Dari et al. 2012, p. 36). But as competent and experienced experts were required to provide consultancy in areas related to the investigation of organized crime and corruption and the operation of penitentiary institutions, recruitment procedures became more demanding. This development inevitably complicated force generation, which was further affected negatively by the practice of contributing states to reserve skillful senior functionaries for their home services. This also gave birth to a phased shortage of qualified specialists (Flessenkemper 2013b, pp. 60-61, 64-65; Dari et al. 2012, p. 36; Juncos 2007, pp. 55-56, 72). It is no coincidence that during the mid and last stages ofdeployment, EUPM was staffed with seconded and contracted advisors whose number ranged between 430 and 75 (Flessenkemper and Helly 2013, p. 82; European Union External Action 2012, p. 2).
From this angle, that the majority of EUPM personnel were seconded by the contributing states was a constraining fact in point. One important dimension is that recruiting and deploying experts from the government sector of various countries is a complex challenge hardly easy to get through (Antolovic-Tovornik 2015, pp. 241-242; Rehrl 2014, p. 71). Not rarely did strained relations occur between the EUPM qualified staff members because of the fact that they had similar job skills and experience but differing national origin and ensuing policing standards, norms, and rules of engagement. Another key dimension is that it is the EU’s greatest countries, which are most likely to determine, in accordance with their national interests and “on a case by case basis,” whether the EU can initiate a CSDP mission and if they can commit skillful personnel to it (Asseburg and Kempin 2011, p. 182; Malesic 2011, pp. 169-171). Yet, another critical dimension was that EUPM had been provided with insufficient human resources to fight organized crime until the third renewal of its mandate because EU member states believed that this “hands-off approach” was the most effective way to force the BiH authorities to become more responsible and build local ownership competencies (Tolksdorf 2014, pp. 61-62).
In principle, the operational capabilities reserved for a CSDP civilian mission should be matched to the mandate it is ordered to pursue. In practice, EUPM, on the one hand, was supplied with adequate financing facilities to support the restructuring of the BiH police institutions. Personnel capabilities, on the other, have been quite limited; in the sense that little emphasis was placed on employing civilian specialists with knowledge and experience in building local capacities, leveraging the fight against organized crime, and managing politics at all levels of mission engagement. Like in other CSDP civilian missions, the EUPM international officers were probably appropriate for police activities, but they lacked the political awareness and flexibility to advise and instruct government bodies at all levels (central state, entity, local) to reconstruct obsolete policing arrangements and establish the rule of law. This explains in part why, in general, the EU has started placing much emphasis on the recruitment and training of the CSDP’s civilian staff throughout the phase of planning (Antolovic-Tovornik 2015, pp. 242-243); and, in particular, the EUPM efforts to deal with organized forms of criminal activities met fierce resistance among the BiH policy-makers and functionaries, especially at the entity and local levels, who extensively used the police to their partial benefit as an institutional instrument for political manipulation, economic appropriation, and even ethnic cleansing during the civil war (Berenskoetter 2008, pp. 186-194). Scarcely surprising, for instance, in 2010 only two of 215 charges of money laundering were not ultimately filed by the relevant police offices (Berenschot 2013, p. 49).
To come full circle, the strengthening of BiH police and its functioning performance were closely interrelated to the specific capabilities committed by EUPM. What is more, the latter’s resources were provided in the name of a police operation that gradually evolved into a rule of law mission. But the decisive aspect that should not be overlooked is that EUPM’s rule of law experts had no executive mandate and, thereby, had no explicit jurisdiction over the BiH authorities. This meant that EUPM was not vested with the power to ensure law enforcement, let alone mobilize its assigned capabilities on its own for the consolidation of the rule of law.
It was not before, as already discussed, EUPM’s mandate was renewed for first time, and it was entrusted, in addition to assisting local authorities in reforming police services, with the power to coordinate initiatives of all EU agencies engaged in BiH against organized crime and corruption that results started looking promising and encouraging. Indeed, as the mission’s efforts to synchronize activities intensified in parallel to recurring extensions of its enhanced presence in the country, so the situation on the ground showed increasing signs ofimprovement, and so EUPM proved all the more capable of taking on tasks.
EUPM, for instance, made good progress in strengthening the capacities of relevant BiH authorities to harmonize regulations of organization and functioning between police services at the state and local levels, pass legislation relating to recruitment, career advancement and disciplinary issues, and inspect and enforce their implementation even though this compliance was dependent on whether it encroached on political interference and local interests (Frejabue 2013, pp. 39-41). Also, EUPM delivered some satisfactory results in reinforcing police accountability, training senior officers, and establishing or rebuilding domestic security- and border-related institutions at the state level, among others the Ministry of Security, the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA), and the State Border Service (SBS) (Tolksdorf 2014, pp. 64-66; Moore 2014, pp. 288-290; Juncos 2007, pp. 62-63). But despite the steps forward, today the BiH police bodies are reported to be transparent and carrying out their work well and independently, mostly unless public figures in the high echelons of the country’s political, economic, and social life are implicated in cases of organized crime and corruption (Kovacevic and Visca 2015).
In addition, EUPM was instrumental in underpinning attempts at harmonizing BiH’s policing mentalities, procedures, management, and practices with best European standards and norms (Merlingen 2009, pp. 162, 169). Indeed, local police agencies were aided to streamline administrative processes, improve coordination and chain of command, and enhance operational efficiency. But while the institution building of police services appeared to have largely been successful at the entity and local levels, the restructuring and centralization ofpolice institutions at the central state level failed to secure substantial advances. BiH’s police system remained fragmented, with weak central state-level bodies and structures that were unable to combat organized crime, deal with corruption, and uphold the rule of law (Tolksdorf 2014, pp. 65-68; Flessenkemper 2013a, pp. 30-33; Frejabue 2013, p. 42; Kirchner 2013, p. 45; Gross 2012, p. 3). This could be argued to result in part from the fact that the EUPM staff avoided both getting engaged with local stakeholders and facilitating local and junior police officers to take ownership not only of the reform design and implementation efforts but also of a variety of inspection and enforcement activities (Moore 2014, pp. 296-300). However, to be fair, the failure of the centralization of police institutions (a reform that was fervently advanced by Paddy Ashdown, the UN High Representative in BiH although it, admittedly, lay beyond the limits of the acquis commu- nautaire) should not be attributed to EUPM predominantly (Tzifakis 2012, p. 137). Rather, it should be related to its politicization as a symbol of external “authoritative state-building” within the framework of a policy that has firmly placed the protection of each ethnic community’s rights and interests ahead of governance efficiency (Hayden 2005, pp. 253-254; Knaus and Cox 2005, pp. 48-49).
Not accidentally, EUPM ended its operations shortly after it faced the denial of the BiH authorities at the entity level to adopt a law that would eliminate political interference in police work (Bassuener and Weber 2013, p. 4). This development, nonetheless, by no means cancels out the fact that EUPM made headway in transferring legal consultancy, technological knowledge, and capacity-building experience which enabled state functionaries and local-level police forces to lay the foundations for rule of law structures (Penksa 2013, pp. 69-71; Becirevic and Cehajic 2013, p. 49). After all, EUPM played its part in enabling the BiH leadership to complete the Stabilization and Association Agreement in early 2008, even though the latter eventually entered into force in June 2015. In addition, at the time that EUPM was closed down, such constituent parts of the rule of law sector as the judicial system and the fight against organized crime and corruption had been “at an early stage” of reform having achieved limited progress. And three years later, they are reported to have reached “some level of preparation” (European Commission 2013a, pp. 12-15, 2014, pp. 12-16, 2015a, pp. 12-20).
Streamlining commands in BiH’s police services, as well as enhancing their professionalism, transparency, and accountability, is still reported to be a key policy issue that needs further, urgent reform (Marijan and Guzina 2014, pp. 2-3, 8). Yet, the transformation of the police and criminal justice system was an enormous challenge that lied outside the mandate and competence of EUPM (Penksa 2013, p. 70; Kirchner 2013, p. 45). This required a more comprehensive action on the part of the EU who did not realize that resetting up the police in an ethnically split society was a highly sensitive and complex issue (Gross 2012, p. 3). Likewise, the fight against organized crime and corruption was such a great problem that exceeded EUPM’s “problem-solving capacity” (Merlingen 2009,
If anything, as mentioned before, EUPM was a police mission assigned to MMA. It was directed to assist and support, not to act and run law- enforcement operations on its own. It was not executively mandated to restructure BiH’s police system and root out criminal and corruptive networks. Neither was it authorized, nor provided the expertise, to take the lead in enlisting the support of the BiH elites and people to the cause. The gist of the matter is that this was undeniably beyond its mission horizons, whether it was the crux of the problem or not. Still, one cannot ignore the fact that EUPM was not depicted by its creators, and contributing states as an operation aimed at taking full ownership of state building and ruling in BiH. In this respect, taking the slow pace of reforms as a measure of lack of progress toward mandate implementation would do little justice to a thorough assessment of the mission’s contribution. Despite deficiencies and shortfalls, EUPM did its share in improving policing services and the rule of law in BiH.