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Thursday, 4 July, 2002, 00:24 GMT 01:24 UK
UN Bosnia mission extended
US soldier in Bosnia
UN missions around the world are under threat
The UN Security Council has voted unanimously to extend the UN peacekeeping mission in Bosnia until 15 July.

The mission's mandate had been due to expire at 0400 GMT after the US refused to back a full renewal of the mission in a row over immunity for its peacekeepers.

No-one has slammed the door on our proposals

John Negroponte
US ambassador to UN
The US is demanding blanket immunity from prosecution in the newly formed International Criminal Court for its peacekeepers.

Earlier UN Secretary General Kofi Annan wrote to the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, saying the US action is putting the whole system of UN peacekeeping operations at risk.

The 12 day extension now gives diplomats time to hammer out a compromise deal.

Negotiations continue

Britain's ambassador to the UN, Jeremy Greenstock, said after the vote that the council would resume work on Washington's concerns about the court next week.

The US ambassador to the UN John Negroponte insists the US may still have its way.

"No-one has slammed the door on our proposals. It's been an uphill fight in gaining acceptance of positions we have been putting forward," he said.

The European Union has offered to bring forward its planned takeover of the Bosnia mission to end the dispute.

US fears

In his letter to Mr Powell, Mr Annan said he was "seriously concerned at the development in the Security Council" following the US decision to veto a six-month renewal of the mission's mandate.

International Criminal Court

  • Launched on 1 July and due to start work early in 2003
  • Aims to prosecute for atrocities committed anywhere in the world
  • Shunned by Washington but backed by most UN Security Council members

  • The US fears that its troops serving overseas could be vulnerable to unjustified accusations by America's enemies before the new court.

    Earlier in a bid to break the impasse the US has suggested that some nation's peacekeepers be given ICC immunity for a year.

    It also suggested that permanent members of the Security Council - including itself - should be given the right to veto any prosecution by the ICC.

    But the proposal was rejected by all but two or three of the 15-members of the Security Council.

    Credibility at risk

    Mr Annan said that the US proposal "flies in the face of treaty law", risks undermining the Rome Treaty setting up the court and could end up discrediting the council.

    The BBC's UN correspondent Greg Barrow says Mr Annan's letter was blunt and to the point.

    Kofi Annan
    Mr Annan wasn't pulling his punches

    The EU has offered to step into the breach to save the Bosnia mission if a deal is not worked out in time.

    The EU was not set to take over until January but the EU's foreign policy co-ordinator, Javier Solana, said the organisation could take over before then.

    He said: "I think we are in a position to accelerate the procedures if necessary.

    "I hope very much an agreement can be found... so that a vacuum is not created."

    EU offer

    Under current plans, the EU in January will send a 500-strong police force to take over from the UN mission which has been training a 14,000-strong Bosnian police force.

    But bringing that handover forward presents serious problems.

    Mr Solana said most of the EU's mission was already on the ground, and that the current Danish commander would continue to lead it.

    But financial arrangements would take longer.

    The EU has set aside $12m for next year's mission, but there is very little money left in the current EU budget.

    General elections are also planned for October, when the UN police are set to play a key role in monitoring the new Bosnian force.

    The BBC's Greg Barrow reports
    "Showdown at the UN Security council"

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