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Updated: 08-Oct-2001 NATO Publications

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Chapter 5: The Alliance's Operational Role in Peacekeeping
The Process of Bringing Peace to the Former Yugoslavia
  The NATO-led Stabilisation Force (SFOR)
    SFOR's Role and Mandate

Under UN Security Council Resolution 1088 of 12 December 1996, the Stabilisation Force was authorised to implement the military aspects of the Peace Agreement as the legal successor to IFOR, operating under Chapter VII of the UN Charter (peace enforcement). Rules of engagement adopted for SFOR were the same as for IFOR, authorising the robust use of force if it should be necessary for SFOR to accomplish its mission and to protect itself.

The primary task given to SFOR was to contribute to the secure environment necessary for the consolidation of peace. Its specific tasks included:

  • deterring or preventing a resumption of hostilities or new threats to peace;
  • consolidating IFOR's achievements and promoting a climate in which the peace process could continue to move forward;
  • providing selective support to civilian organisations, within its capabilities.

It also stood ready to provide emergency support to UN forces in Eastern Slavonia.

SFOR's size, with around 31 000 troops in Bosnia, was about half that of IFOR. Building on general compliance with the terms of the Dayton Agreement achieved during the IFOR mission, the smaller-sized force was able to concentrate on the implementation of all the provisions of Annex 1A of the Peace Agreement. This involves:

  • stabilisation of the current secure environment in which local and national authorities and other international organisations can work; and
  • providing support to other agencies (on a selective and targeted basis because of the reduced size of the forces available).

NATO envisaged an 18-month mission for SFOR, reviewing force levels after six and 12 months to enable the focus to be moved from stabilisation to deterrence, with a view to completing the mission by June 1998. The six month review in June 1997 concluded that, with the exception of a force adjustment during the municipal elections in September, no other significant changes to the size and capabilities of SFOR would take place until the North Atlantic Council, in consultation with the non-NATO SFOR contributors, had undertaken a thorough assessment of the security situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina after the elections. Subsequent assessments reduced force levels to around 20 000 by mid 2001.

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