Myth of the Month
by Noel Malcolm
Reports in the British media constantly refer to the 'international police force' which is being sent to Bosnia to ensure the safety of returning refugees. This is unfortunately, a myth. There is no such thing as an International police force under the Dayton agreement.
Dayton does indeed provide for the establishment of something called an 'International Police Task Force'. The 'task' of this force, however, is not policing but merely assisting and advising the local police forces of the two Bosnia 'entities'. The list of its responsibilities (in Annex 11 to the Dayton Agreement), when reduced to its key verbs, runs as follows: 'monitoring, observing and inspecting; advising, training facilitating, assessing, advising, assisting by accompanying.'
This task force has no powers of arrest or detention. If it seems a mugging in the street, it can do nothing about it except advise the local police force to run after the mugger. What it is meant to do if the mugger is himself a member of the local police force, the Dayton agreement does not say.