Russia, China fail at U.N. in bid to shut down Bosnia peace envoy

Christian Schmidt Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture arrives for talks to discuss forming a government with the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Berlin, Germany, January 3, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo

NEW YORK, July 22 (Reuters) - Russia and China failed on Thursday in a bid to get the U.N. Security Council to strip some powers from an international envoy overseeing implementation of a 1995 Bosnia peace accord and shut down the envoy's office in one year.

Russia and China were the only two council members to vote for their draft resolution, while the remaining 13 council members abstained. A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by Russia, China, the United States, France or Britain.

Former German government minister Christian Schmidt is due to take over from Valentin Inzko of Austria on Aug. 1 as the High Representative in Bosnia. Schmidt was appointed in May by a Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council.

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The board is made up of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Britain, the United States, the European Union, European Commission, and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. Russia said it did not agree with the decision.

After the failure of their draft resolution on Thursday, Russia and China argued that Schmidt cannot take up his role because he has not been approved by the Security Council. Many other council members disagreed.

"There is no determinative role for the Secretary General, or the U.N. Security Council in the appointment process, and no requirement that the council take action to confirm Mr Schmidt's designation," deputy U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Mills told the council after the vote.

The Office of the High Representative was set up as part of the Dayton peace accords that ended Bosnia's 1992-95 war to supervise the reconstruction of a country torn apart by ethnic conflict in which 100,000 died.

Bosnia's autonomous nationalist Serb region, backed by Russia, has long requested the shutdown of the Office of the High Representative.

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Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Grant McCool

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