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Letter to Congressional Leaders on Protection of United Nations Personnel in Bosnia-Herzegovina

April 12, 1994

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

One year ago, I provided you with my initial report on the deployment of U.S. combat-equipped aircraft to support the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) enforcement of the no-fly zone in Bosnia-Herzegovina. I provided you with follow-on reports on October 13, 1993, February 17, 1994, and March 1, 1994. I am reporting today on the use of U.S. combat-equipped aircraft on April 10-11 to provide protection for U.N. personnel who came under attack in Gorazde, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Since the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 713 on September 25, 1991, the United Nations has actively sought solutions to the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Under Security Council Resolution 824 (May 6, 1993), certain parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina have been established as "safe areas." Gorazde is specifically included as a location that should be treated as a safe area "by all the parties concerned and should be free from armed attacks and from any other hostile acts." In addition, Security Council Resolutions 836 and 844 (June 4 and 18, 1993) authorize Member States, acting nationally or through regional organizations, to use air power in the safe areas to help protect the United Nations Protection Forces (UNPROFOR).

Recent heavy weapons (tank and artillery) fire in the Gorazde area has resulted in a serious threat to the citizens remaining in Gorazde and to UNPROFOR and U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) personnel operating there. On April 10, the city was subjected to sustained Bosnian-Serb tank and artillery fire. The UNPROFOR and UNHCR personnel in Gorazde were placed in great danger. Based on the threat to UNPROFOR, as reported by U.N. observers in the city, the UNPROFOR commander requested the U.N. Special Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina to authorize close air support (CAS) strikes on the Bosnian-Serb firing positions. The U.N. Special Representative approved the request. Consistent with approved procedures and rules of engagement, two U.S. aircraft from NATO Allied Force Southern Europe (AFSOUTH) engaged Bosnian-Serb targets after receiving targeting orders from the Commander in Chief, AFSOUTH.

On April 11, 1994, U.N. personnel in Gorazde requested NATO air support after again coming under attack by Bosnian-Serb gunners. United States F/A-18 aircraft from AFSOUTH were successful in neutralizing Bosnian-Serb targets that had been firing on the city.

There were no NATO or U.N. casualties as a result of the operations on April 10 and 11, 1994.

It is my hope that the clear resolve of the United Nations and NATO as shown by these actions will encourage the parties to the conflict in the former Yugoslavia to respect the decisions of the Security Council concerning the protection of U.N. personnel and of the declared safe areas. United States forces will continue to serve as part of this important NATO enforcement effort and will remain prepared to respond to U.N. and NATO requests for further action against those who violate these decisions.

These actions are being taken in Bosnia-Herzegovina in conjunction with our allies to implement the decision of the Security Council and the North Atlantic Council and to assist the parties to reach a negotiated settlement to the conflict. It is not now possible to determine the duration of this operation. I have directed the participation of U.S. Armed Forces in this effort pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief.

I am providing this report as part of my effort to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution. I remain grateful for the continuing support the Congress has provided and I look forward to continued cooperation with you in this endeavor. I shall communicate with you further regarding our efforts for peace and stability in the former Yugoslavia.



NOTE: Identical letters were sent to Thomas S. Foley, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Robert C. Byrd, President pro tempore of the Senate. This letter was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on April 13.

William J. Clinton, Letter to Congressional Leaders on Protection of United Nations Personnel in Bosnia-Herzegovina Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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