The situation in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina Letter dated 22 April 1994 from the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/1994/492)
|(The Presidency changes each month to the next member in alphabetical order)|
|Mr. Chen Jian
|Mr. Ahmed Ali
|Mr. Yañez Barnuevo
|Sir David Hannay
Expression of welcome
Adoption of the agenda
The situation in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Letter dated 22 April 1994 from the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/1994/492)
I should like to inform the Council that I have received letters from the representatives of Albania, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, Egypt, Greece, India, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Malaysia, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sudan, Sweden, Tunisia and Turkey, in which they request to be invited to participate in the discussion of the item on the Council’s agenda. In conformity with the usual practice, I propose, with the consent of the Council, to invite those representatives to participate in the discussion without the right to vote, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter and rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.
There being no objection, it is so decided.
On behalf of the Security Council, I welcome the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina and invite His Excellency to take a place at the Council table.
I should like to inform the Council that I have received a letter dated 27 April 1994 from the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, which reads as follows:
"In my capacity as the Chairman of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (ICFM) in New York, I have the honour to request you to permit Mr. Hamid Algabid, the Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, to participate, under rule 39 of the rules of procedure, in the Security Council debate being held on Wednesday, 27 April 1994, on ‘The situation in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina’."
That letter has been published as a document of the Security Council under symbol S/1994/507.
If I hear no objection, I shall take it that the Council agrees to extend an invitation under rule 39 to His Excellency Mr. Algabid.
There being no objection, it is so decided.
I have also received a request dated 26 April 1994 from Ambassador Dragomir Djokic’ to address the Council. With the consent of the Council, I would propose to invite him to address the Council in the course of the discussion of the item before it.
There being no objection, it is so decided.
The Security Council will now begin its consideration of the item on the agenda.
The Security Council is meeting in response to the request contained in a letter dated 22 April 1994 from the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council, document S/1994/492.
The first speaker is the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan.
"An event has happened, upon which it is difficult to speak, and impossible to be silent". These words by Edmund Burke capture our sentiments about the siege of Gorazde.
Pakistan has welcomed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ultimatum to the Serbs surrounding Gorazde. We had hoped that the Security Council would act well before the Serbs started the slaughter in Gorazde. It could have saved hundreds of lives and prevented much human suffering and tragedy.
Seventy thousand innocent men, women and children are crowded into a small part of the city. They remain virtually at the mercy of the brutal aggressor. It must be hoped that the Serbs will observe the cease-fire and that the troops once withdrawn from Gorazde will not be redeployed. But there is no certainty that they will continue to comply with NATO’s demands. As in the past, they may go back on their commitments. In this war, the Serbs have pursued their cruel objectives not only by aggression and genocide but also by deception and duplicity. Unfortunately, the United Nations has been as vulnerable to Serbian bullying as to Serbian duplicity. Therefore, let us not relapse into complacency about Gorazde, or about the future course of the brutal conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, we have witnessed a combination of aggression and atrocities that has few parallels in our blood-drenched twentieth century. In this vicious war, the Serbs have resorted to cold-blooded murder of men, women and children; the routine torture of thousands of innocent people; the systematic rape of thousands of Muslim women; the deliberate shelling of civilian and residential buildings, including hospitals; the wanton slaughter of helpless men, women and children by tanks and artillery; the blockade of humanitarian convoys; and, lastly, the destruction of mosques and other Islamic structures.
Who would have suspected that such inhuman behavior could take place in this day and age? Who would have believed that this could happen on the very continent which prides itself on its commitment to the values of human rights and the rule of law?
I have come before this Council to convey the deep sense of dismay and anguish felt by the people of Pakistan, and indeed by the entire Islamic world, over the tragedy of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Our people ask: how is it that we have allowed this genocide to be committed against defenseless Muslims? They ask: what are we doing to punish those responsible for the rape of 40,000 thousand Muslim women and young girls in Bosnia and – Herzegovina? Our people demand that we, their Governments, act to stop the Serbian aggression, halt the killing of the Bosnian Muslims.
The Islamic countries wish to respond to these legitimate expectations of their peoples. We want to do so in accordance with international legality. During this cruel conflict, Pakistan and other Muslim countries have sought redress through the Security Council. We have asked for action, consistent with the United Nations Charter; we have asked for sincere implementation of the Council’s resolutions. Unfortunately, in dealing with this war, the Security Council has not covered itself with glory.
The Security Council has been prevented from fulfilling its responsibilities under the Charter. It has failed to halt, much less reverse, the Serbian aggression. It has chosen, for many long months, to avoid enforcement action. It has acted in a piecemeal fashion. It has done too little, too late. The Council’s decisions, reached through a curious process of informal consultations, have played into the hands of the Serbian strategy of creeping territorial expansion. Its indecision has encouraged Serbian war criminals to persist in their campaign of grotesque atrocities.
What has happened over the past two years in Bosnia and Herzegovina will remain a dark chapter in the history of modern civilization. A small, peaceful State – a sovereign Member of the United Nations – has been physically torn apart by the use of force, genocide and ethnic cleansing.
The world has watched this tragedy unfold on television. And the world has failed to come to the help of a defenseless people.
Instead of upholding the values of human rights, democracy and self-determination – which triumphed in the Cold War – the Geneva negotiations advocated pragmatic solutions which compromised the basic principles of justice and humanity. The Co-Chairmen asked the Bosnian Government to accept and accommodate the consequences of aggression and genocide, to legitimate the Serbian use of force and ethnic cleansing. Quite rightly, the Bosnians chose to resist, to fight, rather than accept a process which would have meant their eventual obliteration as a people.
I believe that we are entitled to ask: why has the world’s conscience not become aroused by the horrors of Bosnia and Herzegovina? Why has the world not acted before now to stop the atrocities and crimes that we have all seen with our own eyes on television? Is it because the victims happened to be Muslims? Has the world reverted to this kind of tribalism? Do we feel hurt and pain only when the victims are our own kith and kin, of our own race or religion?
Many people in the Islamic countries see what is happening in Bosnia and Herzegovina not as an isolated instance but as part of a pattern. They see that in many regions of the world – in Kosovo, in Jammu and Kashmir, in Azerbaijan, in Palestine – Muslims are being subjected to aggression, repression and discrimination. They are seen as the targets of violence, even in some of the most enlightened societies. The consequences of allowing this perception to persist is self-evident.
The conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not merely a challenge that confronts Europe or the Islamic world. It is, first and foremost, a challenge to the principles and norms on which the present edifice of inter-State relations has been built. At the beginning of this Century, the world was engulfed in a bloody war sparked by a killing in Sarajevo. We must not allow history to repeat itself.
The ultimatum issued by NATO to the Serbs on 22 April is a first step in what we hope will be a fresh political process to promote peace with justice in Bosnia. We must ensure that the Serbs strictly observe a cease-fire in Gorazde and withdraw their troops from this safe area immediately, as stipulated in the ultimatum. The humanitarian convoys to Gorazde must get through; their obstruction should bring forth the air strikes threatened by NATO.
We urge the Secretary-General to take expeditious action to expand the deployment of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) in Gorazde, to ensure security and relief for its people. Pakistan offered 3,000 troops for UNPROFOR last July for the protection of the "safe areas". After considerable delay – for which we hold no one responsible – our troops will be ready for deployment within the next few weeks. We hope our contingent will be deployed for the effective protection of Gorazde and other "safe areas" in accordance with resolution 836 (1993) of the Council.
We are gratified that the NATO Council has also responded positively to the Secretary-General’s proposal to extend the authorization for air strikes and exclusion zones to the other United Nations declared "safe areas" – Tuzla, Zepa, Bihac and Srebrenica.
The threat to these "safe areas" will persist unless the Serbs are required to surrender their heavy weapons to United Nations control. Pakistan also feels that consideration should be given to authorizing air strikes not only against the offending Serbian artillery and tanks but also against the command and control centers from which the orders emanate to rain death and destruction on innocent people in the "safe areas". The best deterrence against further violence would be the threat of air strikes directly against Serbian war criminals who are conducting their vicious war from their headquarters in Pale.
The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina will remain vulnerable to Serbian attacks so long as they are denied the means of self-defence. The arms embargo imposed by resolution 713 (1991) is unjust. It has enabled the well-armed Serbs to prosecute their war of aggression against the defenceless Bosnian Muslims.
Why should the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina be denied arms for self-defence? When resolution 713 (1991) was adopted by the Council the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina did not exist. The embargo was designed to restrain the aggressive intentions of the army of the former Yugoslavia, which was about to launch an attack on Croatia. It is against that same army that Bosnia now requires the means for self-defence. It is a travesty that Bosnia and Herzegovina should be prevented from acquiring arms because of an embargo that was imposed to halt aggression by the very party it now confronts in combat.
There is no principle of law, no principle of justice, that can justify preventing the victim of blatant aggression from acquiring the means to defend itself. The right of individual and collective self-defence is enshrined in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. No resolution of the Security Council can abrogate or override that provision of the Charter. To those who oppose lifting this unjust arrns embargo against the Bosnians, we ask: If they had been subjected to the same atrocities as the Bosnian Muslims, if their women had been systematically gang-raped, if they had been ejected from their homes, villages and towns, would they not be entitled to fight the aggressor? Or is the right of self-defence available only to certain selected people?
On behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Pakistan will propose that the Security Council adopt a resolution declaring that the provisions of resolution 713 (1991) do not apply to the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We welcome the voices raised in the United States Congress and elsewhere calling for the unilateral provision of military help to the Bosnians.
The world should not reconcile itself to a "Greater Serbia". We must remember the consequences of Munich over half a century ago. Then too, appeasement did not prevent war. A durable political settlement in Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot be anchored to an acceptance of the consequences of aggression. The argument that the "realities" created by the use of force should provide the framework for peace is morally flawed. It has also been proved to be politically unacceptable, because principles and truth cannot be applied selectively; much less are they divisible. A political solution to the crisis in the Balkans must preserve the sovereignty, the independence and the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It must be based on the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.
The recent agreement signed between the Bosnian Government and the Croats on the creation of a federation is a positive signal. It shows that peace may be possible despite the bitterness created by the bloodshed. This agreement offers a starting point for an overall peace settlement in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Security Council should use its authority and influence to persuade the Bosnian Serbs to accept this agreement on a federation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
A new political process enjoying the support of the Security Council could create a momentum towards a comprehensive peace agreement. This peace process must secure the full participation and support of the Islamic countries.
The failure of the world community to arrest and reverse the aggression in Bosnia and Herzegovina will have far-reaching consequences for the future of world peace and stability. If that aggression remains unchecked, smaller and weaker nations and States, all those which are militarily vulnerable, will lose their confidence in the ability of the United Nations collectively to safeguard their security, sovereignty and territorial integrity. Failure to reverse the Serbian aggression would encourage predatory Powers to defy the world community and to violate accepted international norms. Force could become the sole currency of international relations; chaos would be its companion.
The Foreign Ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference Contact Group on Bosnia and Herzegovina met this morning in an emergency session. The Ministers adopted a declaration which strongly condemns the brutal Serbian aggression against Gorazde, and expresses deep regret over the inability of the United Nations to preserve the inviolability of the safe areas. The Foreign Ministers declared that resolution 713 (1991) does not apply to the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and that the arms embargo against the Bosnian Government is unjust, illegal and in direct contradiction of Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. The Ministers also demanded full and complete withdrawal of Serbian heavy weapons from Gorazde, and called for the strengthening of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR). The Ministers expressed support for the convening of an international peace conference on former Yugoslavia and have determined that the Organization of the Islamic Conference Contact Group on Bosnia and Herzegovina should be invited to participate fully in that conference. They also decided to intensify efforts in the Security Council and with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) towards the fulfilment of these objectives.
Islamic Conference ambassadors in New York have been mandated to pursue the objectives of the declaration effectively, in particular with respect to the modification of resolution 713 (1991) to enable the Bosnian Government to exercise its right to self-defence.
In case these efforts fail to produce the desired results, we shall seek to convene an urgent session of the General Assembly with a view to seeking peace with justice in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for convening this meeting. We appreciate your decision to chair this meeting personally. We are conscious of your country’s strong advocacy of the application of principles of equity and justice in the resolution of conflicts. I conclude in the hope that under your wise leadership we shall move forward in finding a just and honourable solution to this tragic conflict and in ensuring permanent security for the besieged people of Gorazde.
I thank the Foreign Minister of Pakistan for the personal comments he addressed to me.
The next speaker is the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, His Excellency Mr. Hikmet Çetin. I welcome him, and invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
A Security Council debate on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is taking place, once again, in the wake of new developments and new expectations. However, we cannot harbour much optimism, for our hopes have been dashed many times by renewed Serbian aggression and unchecked genocide against the people of the multi-ethnic, multi-religious, pluralistic Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The latest round of atrocities in the United Nations-designated "safe area" of Gorazde was part of a systematic genocidal campaign pursued by the extremist Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina over the last two years. The terrorist aggression against Gorazde constituted yet another litmus test of United Nations effectiveness in shaping the future of the international system.
On several occasions we have tried to convince the Security Council to set a time limit for the Serbian side to comply with the Council’s resolutions. We have also underlined that the aggressors should be warned very clearly that if they fail to comply they will face the consequences of their defiance. Regrettably, all our calls and similar appeals have fallen on deaf ears for a long time.
After two years and over 200,000 lost lives, we have seen a modestly growing awareness that firm action and diplomacy backed by force are the only effective ways of stopping the aggressors. World public opinion believes more and more that lack of resolve and loss of credibility turn the United Nations into an accomplice to Serbian "ethnic cleansing", rather than an architect of a just and viable settlement.
It is such convictions that prompted us to welcome and actively participate in the formulation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) decisions of 9 February 1994 and 22 April 1994, taken upon the request of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Although these decisions were long overdue, we still consider them steps in the right direction.
In fact, the option of air strikes to stop the Serbian aggression has been favoured by my Government since the beginning of the tragedy in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In August 1992 we proposed a plan similar to the NATO decisions. Furthermore, when the first NATO decision was adopted, on 9 February 1994, we defended the view that it should be applicable not only to Sarajevo but to all six United Nations-designated "safe areas". Had our proposal been accepted at that time, it would have spared the lives of 715 people killed by Serbian aggressors in Gorazde.
Now we stand at a critical juncture of the crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina. At this crucial point, after two years of unspeakable horror, we hope that our deeds will finally match our words. The aggressor should heed the clear message that we are determined not to let the naked use of force be rewarded or the cruellest crimes committed against humanity in Bosnia go unpunished. If the Serbs do not comply with the terms set in the NATO decisions of 22 April 1994, they have to be aware of the fact that air strikes will be carried out to destroy their capacity to continue their brutal attacks and terrorist crimes against the defenceless people of Bosnia.
I must emphasize once again that Turkey is strongly in favour of a negotiated settlement. However, such a settlement should be just and viable. We have to keep in mind that never in history has peace prevailed where injustice, aggression and racism were rewarded. For a just and viable peaceful settlement, the consequences of "ethnic cleansing" and genocide should be reversed without further delay. Our view is that such a peace settlement cannot be negotiated in a credible manner if the extremist Serbs continue to receive more of the wrong signals that lead them to assume that they can still test the will of the international community. The sooner the aggressors give up their arms all over Bosnia and Herzegovina, the better the chances are for peace talks to proceed.
The Washington agreements between the Bosnians and the Croats laid the groundwork for a viable peace process. The momentum for peace gained by these agreements is aimed at preserving the integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a multicultural, multireligious and multi-ethnic society open to the participation of the Bosnian Serbs. Here we must draw the line between the extremist Serbs longing for an ethnically homogeneous greater Serbia and the moderate and democratic Serbs preferring to live in a multicultural, unified Bosnia and Herzegovina.
It should be clear that the war in Bosnia is not a religious war. Bosnia has been a haven for Christians, Jews and Muslims. For many centuries all these religious groups enjoyed a common life in Bosnia. The prolongation of aggression is giving way to the destruction of this spirit of living and working together, and it feeds the perception that religious discrimination is being pursued against the Bosnian Muslims. Even a former United States President, the late Richard Nixon, said that
"the siege of Sarajevo would not have lasted as long as it did had the victims been not Muslims but predominantly Christians and Jews."
Therefore, our aim should be the preservation of the multicultural, pluralistic character of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
At this stage the commencement of a quick prosecution process for war criminals is vitally important. The accountability of the perpetrators of war crimes constitutes one of the main pillars of credible deterrence against aggression.
Yet nothing is more important for deterrence than letting the Bosnians acquire the means to exercise the right to self-defence. We shall continue to insist that the Security Council should clarify the legal opinion that its resolution 713 (1991) does not and should not apply to the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Bosnians are asking for their inherent right to defend themselves and to defend democracy against tyranny. The continuing denial of this right is nothing but encouragement for Serbian aggression.
The international community must draw this lesson from the latest Serbian act of carnage in Gorazde: the aggressors understand only the language of firmness. How are we to create a credible atmosphere for peace negotiations if the Bosnians continue to remain defenceless?
We expect the immediate implementation of the NATO decisions for the protection of all "safe areas" in Bosnia and Herzegovina. But Bosnia and Herzegovina does not consist only of the United Nations-designated "safe areas", and these areas should not turn into open prisons under United Nations custody for their inhabitants.
The Security Council has reaffirmed in all relevant resolutions the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and rejected the acquisition of territory through use of force and the practice of "ethnic cleansing". The time has come for the Security Council to put these principles into practice. What it needs to do towards this goal is to ensure the full implementation of all its resolutions. Furthermore, the diplomatic isolation and economic embargo imposed on the aggressor must be tightened. This, in turn, will create conditions to build on the momentum for peace gained by the Washington agreements.
It is in line with this reasoning that we welcome the recent calls for the convening of a high-level meeting on Bosnia and Herzegovina. As was also stated by the Permanent Representative of Croatia on 21 April 1994 before this body, the Organization of the Islamic Conference has an important role to play in such a high-level meeting. We expect the Member States of the OIC Contact Group on Bosnia and Herzegovina to be invited to take part when and if such a high-level meeting is convened.
We strongly support the reinforcement of UNPROFOR by additional troops. In this respect, we welcome resolution 914 (1994), adopted this morning. Preparations are underway for the deployment of a Turkish contingent as part of UNPROFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It will spare no effort to contribute to the fulfillment of the United Nations commitments to peace.
The stakes in Bosnia and Herzegovina are profound: not just the restoration of legitimacy in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also the hope of heading off more ethnic and religious wars in other parts of the world. The betrayal of the multi-cultural and multi-ethnic Bosnia and Herzegovina has been and will be, above all, the betrayal of the founding principles of this Organization. If the United Nations fails in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Balkans, Europe and the whole world will suffer the bitter results of these mistakes.
The Member States have pinned their hopes for a better world on the United Nations. We are all responsible before future generations to restore its prestige and moral authority. Our Government and people will never stop supporting the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The motives behind that support are our commitment to moral principles and our sense of justice. Indeed, international law does not permit our remaining neutral between brutal aggressors and their victims. For the same reason we will continue to provide wholeheartedly all our assistance to the courageous people of Bosnia and Herzegovina in their just struggle.
The next speaker is the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malaysia. I welcome His Excellency and invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
I am happy to see you, Sir, presiding over our meeting here today. The Malaysian Government is aware of the active role played by the Government of New Zealand, and of your personal commitment and that of Ambassador Keating to finding a solution to the tragic situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
I have been sent by the Government of Malaysia, in response to the decision of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to come to New York with some of my OIC colleagues to express clearly how unhappy we are about the way the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina has unfolded. The people, Government and Parliament of Malaysia cannot understand at all how the United Nations and the Security Council, representing the international community, could be placed in such a helpless position, wherein virtually nothing has been done to stop the relentless and bloody activities of the Serbs. Two hundred thousand Bosnians have died, thousands of women have been raped and millions lost in the destruction of property since the Serbs went on the onslaught two years ago.
With particular reference to Gorazde, we find it beyond belief that the response of the United Nations and this Council has been so feeble. We are disturbed and appalled by their inability to take swift and effective action on the basis of effective collaboration between the Security Council, the Secretary-General and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). If Gorazde is an example of the fate of a "safe area", there is little comfort for others such as Brcko. Also in the case of Gorazde, the exclusion zone is less than that envisaged in resolution 913 (1994). How safe are these areas when Serbian heavy artillery has not been withdrawn to Serbia as demanded in resolution 752 (1992)?
In my country, people question the motivation of the major Powers as well as the actions of the Secretary-General and his officials. This collective disappointment is not felt just in Malaysia but everywhere. It is evident even in this country, where the media have highlighted the deep concerns of the people over the humiliation of the United Nations by the Serbs. Even confidence in the office of the Secretary-General has been affected.
The people of Malaysia recall, in contrast, the decisive collective action taken by the Security Council and the major Powers during the Gulf War. In that instance, the major Powers, driven by an early identification of their national interests, were prepared to rush pell-mell into action, even to the extent of going beyond mandates given by the Security Council. There was never the recourse to such cumbersome and confusing United Nations processes that we now see in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
After the slaughter in Sarajevo, there is now Gorazde. Seven hundred lives have been lost and over 2,000 people have been injured and 20,000 displaced. And yet nothing has been done to avert a repetition of the events. Have we not learnt anything from the Bosnian tragedy so far? In Cambodia, we were quick to accuse the Khmer Rouge of mass slaughter. Why are we silent with the Serb marauders? In the words of the late President Nixon, as recently reported and just now quoted by my friend, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, the killing in Bosnia and Herzegovina
"would not have lasted as long as it did had the victims been not Muslims but predominantly Christians or Jews".
The Gorazde events have placed the Security Council, the major Powers and the machinery of the United Nations, reposed in the Secretary-General, in an untenable position. They have, among other things, exposed the break-down in the chain-of-command and between principled stand, responsibility and the need for action. We can only conclude that, between the United Nations machinery, as reposed in the Secretary-General, the Security Council and NATO, there has been a clear deflection of responsibility. It has raised the question in many quarters as to who is actually in charge. When we talk to the United Nations the finger is pointed at NATO, and when we refer to the latter, we are told that the United Nations is responsible.
Despite clear violations of United Nations resolutions by the Serbs, no effective action has been taken against them. Indeed, on 23 April, after the NATO ultimatum was issued and following clear violations by the Serbs, the United Nations official on the ground arrogated to himself the right not to take the necessary action even as NATO was insisting on justified airstrikes. In fact, just weeks before the Serbian onslaught on Gorazde, United Nations officials downplayed the imminent attack, notwithstanding the early warnings of the Bosnians.
What is the role of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) as mandated by Security Council resolutions, in particular resolutions 824 (1993) and 836 (1993)? Is UNPROFOR there to protect itself or to protect the victims of Serb aggression, rape, genocide and "ethnic cleansing"? UNPROFOR is there as a peace-keeping operation but peace is neither kept nor enforced. UNPROFOR in practice has been reduced to protecting the food supply. Even that has often been disrupted with impunity by groups of Serbs. Surrendered weapons have been removed with ease by Serbs while UNPROFOR has literally stood helpless. It seems to me that UNPROFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina is like a policeman on the beat, armed with only a baton to protect a locality terrorized by thugs. No wonder he fails in his role.
Malaysia has to date sent 1,500 soldiers to Bosnia as part of UNPROFOR. We have to explain to our people why they are there. The answers are not easy, given the inability of UNPROFOR to keep or enforce the peace. We are prepared to lose lives if we must, but only in protecting the lives of others. We are aware, too, of dedicated United Nations officials thoroughly distressed and dispirited, who like us see the slaughter and cannot understand why the United Nations remains helpless.
Our meeting here coincides with the extension of the mandate of UNPROFOR. My Government would be deeply disappointed if we were to take only technical decisions. Extending the mandate of UNPROFOR by six months fails to address the need to review the mandate even over the objections of certain major countries.
We believe that UNPROFOR is clearly a United Nations peacekeeping operation which involves peace enforcement as well. UNPROFOR must be armed and equipped accordingly to enforce the peace and protect the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Enforcing the peace and protecting lives must mean for the United Nations that its mandate also includes preventive defence.
The Serb challenge in combining diplomacy and military strategy against the United Nations and NATO must be met, measure for measure. The limits and resolve of the United Nations and NATO have been tested by the Serbs and they know exactly how to avoid NATO fire power. Instead of the United Nations, it is the Serbs who have effectively taken advantage of the stick-and-carrot approach to serve their purpose. It is time, indeed, that the United Nations and NATO recognized this fact and acted accordingly.
UNPROFOR must be well-equipped and well-armed to serve as an effective deterrent to the Serbs, who have, it must be noted, continued to be well-armed. It is clear that the only message that the Serbs understand is the credible threat of force and enforcement. Serb supply lines and command centres must become targets of UNPROFOR, if the Serbs are to learn the heavy and high costs of aggression and terrorism.
At the same time, all offers to UNPROFOR, especially from the OIC members must be accepted. Muslim countries, such as Iran, have indicated readiness to contribute troops. We cannot accept the premise that certain offers cannot be accepted for historical reasons. If Russia’s offer, despite its historical support for the Serbs, can be accepted, there is no reason to reject offers from OIC members.
There is a false notion maintained by certain countries of not wanting to take sides. When 200,000 people have been killed and thousands of women raped, others terrorized to humiliate and break the human spirit, how can anyone with a conscience and a sense of morality not take sides? How can the United Nations not take sides to support the Bosnian victims? Should not the United Nations support the victims? Are we as members of the international community still not clear which side we are on? Do we need to hide or disguise our feebleness of action or our hidden motives by insisting that Bosnia and Herzegovina is undergoing a civil war? We feed the Serb war machine and contribute to its seeming invincibility as we stick our heads in the sand and fail to recognize evil actions as they happen before us.
In this regard, Malaysia attaches importance to the work of the international war crimes Tribunal, which has to determine the perpetrators of the crimes against humanity. There is enough evidence to put on trial, even now, Serbian leaders for their atrocities. We are disappointed that some countries have hindered the Tribunal from beginning its work early. These countries have been cynical about the work of the Tribunal and have cited scarcity of finances. May I state at this juncture that the Malaysian Government has decided to contribute $2 million towards defraying the cost of the Tribunal’s work.
Like my colleagues in the OIC, I wish to reiterate that resolution 713 (1991) does not apply to Bosnia and Herzegovina. We strongly maintain that the arms embargo against the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina is illegal and unjust, and undermines Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. We join in the increasing international calls, including calls in the United States, to allow the Bosnians their right to acquire arms in defence of the rights of the individual and collective self-defence, as provided for in Article 51 of the Charter.
The arms embargo must be lifted immediately to enable a sovereign Member State to defend itself from Serbian aggression. Bosnia and Herzegovina is more than just the six safe areas identified in resolutions 824 (1993) and 836 (1993). The territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina must be respected and maintained. Even if the Security Council and the major Powers fail to deter Serbian aggression, they must not handicap Bosnia and Herzegovina’s ability to defend itself.
Malaysia welcomes the proposal for an international conference to find a comprehensive solution to the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is necessary, however, that the fundamental premises remain right and valid. In order to achieve peace, the international community must contribute to the peace process by setting in place the structures as well as the necessary conditions.
The United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) succeeded because there was a comprehensive peace plan. The plan itself was adopted following an international conference which involved all relevant and interested parties. In the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the proposed international conference must involve the parties to the conflict, the major Powers, the United Nations and others, such as the OIC and UNPROFOR troop-contributing countries. The conference could be preceded by informal consultations between and among the interested and concerned parties. In this regard, we welcome the recent Washington initiative forging agreements between and among the Bosnians and between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia.
We have also noted the recent initiative of some countries to move the peace process forward through the establishment of a Contact Group. We have many questions over this initiative. There have been a number of efforts which have brought no results except to increase the pressure on the Bosnians to accept so-called realities on the ground, which means territories acquired through Serbian aggression. Is the new Contact Group of the same type? What is the position of the United Nations in a Contact Group which is constituted on an exclusive basis? If a Contact Group is to be formed, let us consult the Bosnians, the aggrieved party. Also as an OIC grouping, we would need to insist that we also be part of any grouping to be constituted by the United Nations.
The peace conference should not be allowed to be manipulated by the Serbs in pursuit of their Greater Serbia. The Serbs must be made to understand that their military acquisitions cannot be countenanced by the world at large. We must seriously caution against any simplistic solutions based on territorial division. We cannot ignore the fact that the Bosnians have owned for centuries the land and property taken away by force in the last two years. No international conference can serve to legitimize the Serbian acquisition of territory by force. And no Government of Bosnia-Herzegovina can accept such a proposal. There must be peace with honour and justice.
Any comprehensive peace settlement must reflect the multi-ethnic and heterogenous composition of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia and Herzegovina should not be carved out along ethnic lines, as demanded by the Serbian aggressor. The Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina enjoys the support of all Bosnians, and not the Bosnian Muslims alone. Many people of Serbian origin support the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its struggle to preserve the independence and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its policy of multi-ethnicity. This is a struggle the United Nations must support.
The world, as we see it, is moving towards pluralism. The United Nations cannot be party to a strategy that would dismember Bosnia and Herzegovina into ethnic parts and entities, mostly in the possession of the Serbs in the pursuit of a Greater Serbia.
It is equally important that so long as the Serbs do not heed the call of the international community, nor adhere to United Nations resolutions, the existing sanctions on Serbia and Montenegro must be tightened and not relaxed or removed, as proposed by some. Relaxation will contribute to the appeasement of the Serbian aggressors. United Nations resolutions must be complied with and a comprehensive peace settlement achieved before consideration can be given to lifting these sanctions.
On 10 December 1988, when the then United Nations Secretary-General, Javier Perez de Cuellar, received the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of United Nations peacekeeping operations, he stated:
"We are now at a time of extraordinary hope and promise for the United Nations. After a long period when the spectre, and too often the grim reality of war has darkened our planet, there is a new mood of understanding and common sense, a new determination to move away from international conflict and devote ourselves instead to the immense task of building a better world."
Six years later that hope and optimism are in tatters, epitomized by the continuing atrocities in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
I thank the Foreign Minister of Malaysia for the kind words he addressed to me.
The next speaker is the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mr Ali Akbar Velayati. I welcome His Excellency and invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
At the outset, I would like to congratulate you, Sir, on assuming the presidency of the Security Council for this important meeting. Let me also express the hope that under your able leadership the Council will take serious and constructive steps to mitigate the grave suffering of innocent human beings in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has continued for too long on the Council’s watch.
The tragic events of the past two years, particularly the last two episodes around Sarajevo and Gorazde, have made the underlying flaw in the Security Council’s treatment of this crisis abundantly clear. That fundamental problem is the inability or unwillingness of the Security Council, for whatever reason, to come to terms with the real cause of the tragedy, which is the first step in addressing and settling the crisis.
Whether some in the Council like it or not, the fact is that we are not facing a civil war; we have never faced a civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It has been a blatant act of aggression, which continues to be perpetrated against a Member of the United Nations. This Member State has been arbitrarily deprived of its inherent right of self-defence.
The world has come to recognize the Serbian army as a calculating, well-organized and externally supported military force, which is engaged in a classic campaign of aggression, genocide, extermination and destruction. The burned houses and the destroyed water-treatment facility of Gorazde stand as the latest example of this strategy in a tactical retreat. It is time for the Security Council to catch up with the rest of humanity, to recognize the obvious and act accordingly.
The question is not whether the Security Council has fulfilled its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. The answer to that is obvious and negative. The question is whether the Security Council has even moved in that direction. To answer that, we need to examine the situation on the ground and the actions of the Security Council.
Since the Council became seized of the matter the Serbs have gained more territory, slaughtered more innocent human beings, "ethnically cleansed" more towns and villages and intensified their campaign of genocide. Meanwhile, they have sat at the negotiating table with the United Nations only in order to stall and buy time to make more of the same atrocities possible.
While all this is common knowledge, the Council is sitting on its hands. And not only that: its only implemented resolution is the one that has helped the Serbs maintain their totally disproportionate superiority in this one-sided slaughter. And, ironically, it is a resolution that did not apply, by any extension of law or logic, to the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Worse yet, in places such as Srebrenica, the United Nations supervised the disarming of the Muslim victims, while the Serbian aggressors remained heavily armed on the outskirts of the city.
Other resolutions of the Security Council, particularly those regarding safe areas, have remained dead letters. The "heavy option", which had been recommended by the United Nations military experts as the only meaningful approach, was abandoned for a "light option". The justification offered was lack of manpower and resources. However, offers by a number of Muslim countries to provide peace-keepers were brushed aside. The justification here was that these troops were not sufficiently neutral, yet troops from a well-known supporter of the Serbs were deployed in a most critical area around Sarajevo.
All of this has created the impression, particularly in public opinion throughout the Muslim world, that a strong bias against Muslims is prevalent in the Security Council; that in the heart of Europe, people are being slaughtered, and no one, not even the European claimants to be human rights supporters, is reacting in any meaningful fashion, just because the victims are Muslims. This frustration has obvious consequences: people are losing confidence in the United Nations, in the Security Council and in the office of the Secretary-General. And the responsibility will be borne by those who have so blatantly applied double standards and put their perceived strategic interests before the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings, calling it a balanced approach.
Dealing with the victim and the aggressor on the same footing is not a balanced approach. Such an approach would be most desirable for aggressors and an encouragement for them and future aggressors.
The situation in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina has gone far beyond any classic interpretation of the right of self-defence, recognized by Article 51 of the Charter, which can be invoked following a simple armed attack. But the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not simply a case of one’s territory being attacked or even partially occupied. It is a campaign against the total being of a State, aimed at its complete removal from the face of the Earth as a sovereign, viable entity, a campaign marked by genocide against its entire population. Here, self-preservation against total annihilation – and not simply self-defence against armed attack – would apply. This right is synonymous with sovereignty and inherent in all States, a right that cannot be denied by any organ.
Resolution 713 (1991), adopted under totally different circumstances and before the existence of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, cannot be interpreted now in a manner that would run counter to the Charter of the United Nations or to the principles of jus cogens. Such an interpretation would obviously render the resolution itself invalid and illegal.
It is our contention that the arms embargo against Bosnia and Herzegovina is non-applicable, illegal, immoral and impractical.
It is non-applicable because resolution 713 (1991) was adopted before the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina came into being, before it was recognized by the United Nations as a sovereign independent State, and before a war of aggression started to be waged against it.
It is illegal because it deprives a Member of the United Nations of its right not only to self-defence against armed attack but also to self-preservation in the face of total annihilation.
It is immoral because it has further aggravated the military balance in favor of the aggressors, allowing them to conduct genocide and ethnic cleansing with impunity and without any resistance.
It is also impractical, because it has failed to achieve the stated objectives. These objectives were the prevention of further escalation of the conflict, the preservation of the lives of United Nations personnel, and the establishment of an atmosphere conducive to peaceful negotiations and settlement. None of these has been achieved, not to mention the fact that the embargo has been broken time and again, unfortunately by the wrong side.
It is thus time for the Security Council to bring its interpretation of resolution 713 (1991) into line with logic, law and reality, and once and for all clarify that the arms embargo does not apply to the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
We have tried the prescription of those in the Council who, resisting the expressed will of the overwhelming majority of the United Nations membership as indicated in General Assembly resolutions 46/242, 47/121 and 48/88, insisted on depriving the Bosnians of their minimum right to self-defence. But the patient is near death. The international community is outraged. The Muslim world is frustrated.
Why not try now to respect the will of the majority in this age of democracy by choosing the legal, moral and practical interpretation of resolution 713 (1991) and lifting the unjust arms embargo against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina? This would constitute the first step required for the discharge of the Security Council’s responsibilities.
Under the Charter, the Council has had the clear obligation, in this blatant case of aggression and war crime, to invoke Article 42 and take collective measures to restore Bosnia’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. It should at least recognize explicitly, as it has done in another case, the right of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and of those willing to provide military assistance to it to collective self-defense. Simultaneously, it should take every measure to ensure that war crimes not remain unpunished and that those responsible be held individually accountable for their atrocities.
It is our contention that such an approach will provide the necessary incentives and inducements for all to return to the negotiating table to find a peaceful, just and lasting settlement based on the United Nations Charter and international law. These negotiations should be transparent and governed by international law, and should provide for the participation of all concerned, particularly the Islamic Countries. Arbitrarily excluding certain countries, which has been the practice in this case in the past, will add further obstacles to a just settlement.
The next speaker is the Minister for Foreign Affairs for Senegal. I welcome His Excellency and invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
On behalf of the Senegalese delegation, I wish to say how pleased we are to see you presiding over the Security Council for the month of April and discharging your responsibilities, to our great satisfaction, with skill and devotion.
I therefore wish to congratulate you most sincerely, while reaffirming our full support for your efforts to find an acceptable solution to the important issues before the Security Council.
Our sincere congratulations also extend to your predecessor, Mr. Jean-Bernard Mérimée, the permanent representative of France, for the remarkable work that he accomplished in steering the Council’s affairs during the month of March.
We welcome this meeting of the Council. For almost two years now to the day, a State Member of this organization, the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, has been subjected to brutal aggression, part of a plan according to which the perpetrators, arrogant in their military superiority, are relentlessly pursuing their objectives, massacre by massacre, using to their advantage the impunity that they have demonstrated since the beginning of the conflict.
Less than a week ago, last Thursday, 22 April 1994, in this very forum, the delegation of Senegal, together with more than 40 delegations of Member States, again voiced the indignation and bitterness felt by the international community at the savage assault on the safe area of Gorazde, an act which once again challenged the legal and moral authority of the United Nations. This act took place despite the great efforts of the Security Council itself, and despite the renewed appeals by the Secretary-General, Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, to put an end to this conflict. It should be emphasized that these efforts must be continued, acknowledged and encouraged. I would also add that these efforts must be augmented; they must be maintained and the Senegalese delegation supports them.
Our presence today in New York unquestionably reflects the renewed resolve of the 51 member countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to reaffirm once again their confidence in the United Nations –
in particular in the United Nations ability to see to it that right prevails over might – and their desire to cooperate with the United Nations in achieving this goal.
It also reflects the resolve of Mr. Adbou Diouf, the President of the Republic of Senegal and Chairman of the sixth OIC summit, to make a positive contribution to the restoration of peace in that troubled region of the world. It in this spirit that he has repeatedly approached the members of the Security Council, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and other partners.
In addressing the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Security Council, in numerous resolutions, and in particular in resolution 913 (1994) of 22 April 1994, supplemented by resolution 914 (1994) this morning, has stressed fundamental principles, namely the respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, and above all the condemnation of the practice of "ethnic cleansing".
Unfortunately, it is to be noted that further initiatives must be taken to give effect to those principles in the context of the search for a peaceful solution to the conflict. There have been positive developments in that direction, to which the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has made a forceful contribution: the air strikes; the now-renewed idea of the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia; and the Security Council’s continued active, positive consideration of the issue.
At the London, Geneva and Washington Conferences, the courageous people of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its Government have consistently demonstrated their good will and their readiness to contribute, alongside the activities of the international community, to peace, often at the cost of tremendous concessions and sacrifices.
Convinced that the only viable solution is a negotiated, peaceful one, Senegal has joined all the other countries members of the OIC in supporting unreservedly all the efforts in this direction made by the international community to date.
We consider, on the basis of past experience, that for credible negotiations to begin, what is required, first and foremost, is the establishment of a military balance aimed at making the aggressor accept a complete cessation of hostilities and seek an acceptable settlement, agreed in good faith. That is why we believe that as it defends the safe areas the international community must continue to show the firmness and determination it has shown with respect to Goradze in recent days.
Through its President, Mr. Abdou Diouf, Senegal joins the other countries members of the OIC – which are ready to contribute to the strict implementation of the will of the international community as expressed through the decisions of the Security Council – in reaffirming its unreserved support for resolution 914 (1994), which the Security Council adopted this morning. We hope the adoption of that resolution will enhance UNPROFOR’s ability to carry out its mandate despite the difficult conditions we know to exist on the ground – for international law must prevail.
If it proves impossible to maintain this needed firmness, the delegation of Senegal considers that the United Nations is morally and legally bound without delay to authorize the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina to exercise its right to individual or collective self-defence, a right that Article 51 of the Charter confers on all States Members of this Organization.
Nowhere in the world, and never in the history of nations, has violence ever led to a positive solution to flashpoints of tension. It is through respect for international law and through the firmness we display on this complex issue that the rights of the Bosnian people will be safeguarded.
Mankind can find salvation only through respect for the universal values of peace, solidarity and cooperation. Without that respect, mankind is doomed to perish. In the face of the spectre of the destruction of those values, it is our duty to avert the crisis at any cost.
I thank the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Senegal for the complimentary words he addressed to me.
The next speaker is the Minister of State and member of the Council of Ministers of Saudi Arabia, His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed I. Massoud. I welcome His Excellency, and invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
It gives me great pleasure, on behalf of the country honoured by Almighty God as the place of revelation, the cradle of religion, and the site to which Muslims turn as they pray, to convey to you, Mr. President, the greetings of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, and his wish that the Council’s meetings may achieve their purposes.
The Contact Group established by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has been following and analyzing developments in the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It has launched a cooperative effort to achieve a just, peaceful settlement of that question, in coordination with the Security Council and the European Union.
This meeting is taking place as the plight of our brethren in Bosnia and Herzegovina is growing more critical. They are the victims of a war of liquidation and repugnant "ethnic cleansing", waged by the Serbs for more than two years now. Tens of thousands of our Bosnian brothers and sisters have been martyred and hundreds of thousands have been wounded or have gone missing. A similar number have been criminally displaced or have been the victims of genocidal crimes, including rape, perpetrated before the very eyes of your "civilized" world and of the Security Council.
Had the Security Council taken firm action against the aggressor, the destruction, flames and inhuman acts in Gorazde might not have taken place, as indicated by the commander of UNPROFOR, Lieutenant-General Sir Michael Rose, who has said that Gorazde was at the brink of a human tragedy, with more than 700 dead and more than 2,000 wounded. The hospital in that city has been destroyed, and the greater part of the city is in ruins. The war has impeded the delivery of humanitarian relief assistance to the city’s needy. That is the effect of the Serb aggression against the people and the territorial integrity of Bosnia.
Despite all that suffering, the people of Bosnia has persisted in its legitimate struggle against the loathsome Serb aggression, exercising its right of self-defence – a right of all people on Earth, whoever and wherever they are. We view their heroic struggle with high esteem and respect, and we pray for the Muslim martyrs of Bosnia who have fallen on the field of honour in defence of their country and their nation. They provide a most noble example of sacrifice for the sake of preserving the dignity of their fatherland.
Saudi Arabia has spared no effort in support of the cause of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since the beginning of the crisis, the Government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques has continued political, moral and material support for Bosnia in fulfilment of its religious and historical responsibility. Since the independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Saudi Arabia has provided assistance in cash and in kind, along with food, relief supplies and medicine. Among its people it has set up committees to raise contributions, which have amounted to over 500 million rials. Many of the sick and wounded have been admitted to the hospitals of the Kingdom.
At the political level, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques has worked with friends in all international and regional forums to ensure that the international community takes effective and speedy steps to maintain the integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, first of all through resolution 1 of the sixth extraordinary meeting of Foreign Ministers of the OIC, which was held at Jedda in December 1993.
However, as a result of the intransigence of the Serb leadership in its disregard of these calls, along with its flouting of the will of the international community and its threats to provoke a world war, the Security Council, which has adopted a number of resolutions on this tragedy, should take decisive action to deal with the Serb arrogance and deceit, which they display whenever they are not opposed firmly. The international community is called upon to discharge fully its responsibility to stop the bloodbath perpetrated by the Serbs against the Bosnians and to preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia, in accordance with the Charter, so that it may recover its usurped land.
The question of Bosnia and Herzegovina has become an international issue despite its European character. The European countries and the United States should cooperate with the United Nations – the Security Council in particular – and should strive seriously to stop the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina so as to safeguard the security and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. For this, the international community must cooperate and stand together in its actions, including the implementation of sanctions imposed on the Serbs because of their violation of the truce, stopping of the delivery of humanitarian relief and the destruction of human life. Force should therefore be used in order to reinforce sanctions and attain our legitimate, peaceful objectives.
Because of their belief in the need to establish international peace and security, and because of the deteriorating situation in Bosnia, the member States of the OIC have held extraordinary meetings to discuss this issue. In all their resolutions they reaffirmed the independence and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina and called upon the United Nations, especially the Security Council, to discharge its responsibility in this respect. Security Council resolution 913 (1994), which is in conformity with these calls of the OIC, reaffirms the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina and refers to the responsibility of the Security Council in this regard. It also condemns the Bosnian Serb forces in the strongest terms for their continued offensive against the safe area of Gorazde, which led to a massacre of military personnel and civilians alike. The Security Council also determined that the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina continued to constitute a threat to international peace and security. In this respect, the representative of the United States called in the Security Council for lifting the arms embargo against the Bosnian party. The United States also resorted to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in order to take steps to enable the Bosnian people to exercise its legitimate right to self-defence.
Despite the fact that the Serbs have pledged to stop military operations, to respect the truce and to reach a political settlement of this issue, we still find that the Serbian side flouts its international commitments and has again waged savage campaigns against the peaceful people of Bosnia. This requires a firm stand by the international community. The international community should stand up to the adventurists and aggressors in order to deter them and to prevent the logic of force from reigning supreme. Then, it should resort to constructive dialogue in order to recover the usurped rights of the Bosnians.
We therefore call upon the Security Council to play its full role in order to restore normality to Bosnia and Herzegovina in such a way as to safeguard its territorial integrity and sovereignty and to bring stability to all its territory, under its historic identity. In this connection, we call for decisive steps, including, under Chapter VII of the Charter, the use of force. The United Nations is called upon to preserve the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 47/121. If the Security Council is unable to discharge its responsibilities under Article 24 of the Charter, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in order to enable it to exercise its legitimate right to self-defence in accordance with Article 51, should be exempted from the arms embargo now imposed on it, as part of the former Yugoslavia, under Security Council resolution 713 (1991).
I am confident that the Security Council will not hesitate to establish the principle of international legitimacy and that it will strive to discharge its full responsibilities under the provisions of the United Nations Charter in order to maintain the credibility of this international Organization and to attain its universal goals of peace and stability. May God lead our gathering to what is right and good.
I thank the Minister of State and Member of the Council of Ministers of Saudi Arabia for his kind words.
The next speaker is the representative of Tunisia. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
Allow me, Sir, to say how much we appreciate your readiness to preside over this important Security Council meeting, in which eminent Ministers for Foreign Affairs are participating on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). We should also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute once again to the Ambassador of New Zealand for the way in which he has been guiding the work of the Security Council.
The tragedy of Gorazde should prompt us to ponder deeply the present and future of international action, which so sorely needs the resolute political will of all Member States when it comes to the maintenance of international peace and security.
While an assessment of our Organization over the last few years shows on the positive side a renewal of interest in peace-keeping, following publication of the Secretary-General’s "An Agenda for Peace", it remains true that the peacemaking role of the United Nations would benefit by being reinvigorated so that the Organization can immediately, without hesitation, respond to threats to international peace and security.
The principles of the Charter that bring us all here together in this universal body must take precedence over any other consideration likely to jeopardize the realization of its noble objectives.
The tragedy of Gorazde and of all of Bosnia and Herzegovina cries out today to the world’s conscience. It is a clear case of aggression against a Member State and against the existence of an entire people.
Beyond this tragedy, the future and the credibility of our Organization are also at stake in these particularly stirring times, when hotbeds of tension are proliferating throughout the world.
After its recognition by the community of nations as a full Member State of our Organization, having solemnly accepted its duties and obligations as a Member State, the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina did not even have time to enjoy that status. To the contrary, it has endured two years of savage and systematic aggression, with thousands of victims, rapes, displaced persons and refugees. An entire infrastructure has been destroyed: whole cities have been demolished, historic monuments burned and religious sites desecrated. All this has created apocalyptic scenes and images unworthy of the new order that we wish to build on the threshold of the twenty-first century.
Apart from the dismal plight of this young Republic, the United Nations itself is likely to become a victim. Some 50 resolutions adopted by the Security Council – the great majority under Chapter VII – intense diplomatic activity, an international force on the ground, prompt air cover provided by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the deployment of thousands of humanitarian and charity organizations have not been able to overcome the Serbs’ fanaticism.
The United Nations and the Security Council have never in their 50 years’ existence been so humiliated or held hostage by outlaw militiamen. It would be unfortunate if this image were to be engraved in the minds of so many peoples that continue to rely on the ideal represented by our Organization. To preserve that ideal, a determined will must guide our actions in confronting the Serbian challenge, for, in the words of Stendhal, "to allow oneself to be offended with impunity is to lose all".
Tunisia, a peace-loving country devoted to international legitimacy, has often warned against the dangers to international peace and security represented by the Serbian aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has made continuous appeals to the international community to impose a settlement in accordance with law and equity. Tunisia welcomed the Washington agreement of 18 March between the Muslims and Croatians of Bosnia, and expressed the hope that it would permit the re-establishment of peace and harmony between all the elements of Bosnian society.
Given the tragic developments in the situation, the Security Council can end the aggression and bloodshed only by enforcing the unconditional implementation of all its resolutions, since today, after so many broken promises, no benefit of the doubt can be accorded to the aggressors concerning their diabolical plan to annihilate Bosnia and Herzegovina.
We have the right to ask whether the tragedy we are witnessing in Gorazde will be repeated. Did not Mr. Vitaly Churkin, the special envoy of the Russian Federation to the former Yugoslavia, himself denounce the bad faith of the Serbs? Did not those very Serbs give false hope to the United Nations negotiators while their war machine was ruthlessly devastating territory and decimating civilian populations?
The Security Council must today guarantee the security and integrity of all Bosnia and Herzegovina – that is, an entire recognized terrritory and not solely six safe areas. This duty of the United Nations under the Charter cannot be shirked in any way, and it permits no bargaining over territory illegally conquered by force. If this condition is not met, the Security Council will have to review the provisions of resolution 713 (1991) and their applicability to Bosnia in order to allow it to ensure its own security and territorial integrity and the survival of its people.
The need to lift the arms embargo for reasons of self-defence falls under the provisions of Article 51 of the Charter. Moreover, the embargo is called into question by the fact that the aggressor has never suffered as a result of it. The irony is that resolution 713 (1991) has been applied exclusively against the victim of aggression, while the aggressor has an arsenal of sophisticated weapons with which it threatens even the forces of the United Nations and NATO. This is a question of defending Bosnia or allowing it to defend itself. It is unfair to refuse it both options, as President Izetbegovic has told the Council.
My delegation welcomes any serious initiative aimed at re-establishing law in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and places great hope in the decisions taken by the Atlantic Alliance to preserve the security at least of those in the safe areas – all the safe areas. We hope that the Contact Group that has just been established by the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations will act by implementing the resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly.
We very much hope that the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) will participate in the planned international conference on the former Yugoslavia within the framework of Chapter VIII of the Charter. The OIC is ready to lend its full support and to join the efforts of the United Nations and interested Powers to promote a peaceful settlement of this issue, with respect for law and international legitimacy, and on the basis of the principles of the Charter.
My country believes that any settlement must take into account the legitimate aspirations of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. If it is to be just, viable and lasting, any settlement process must guarantee the realization of the following goals: the independence, territorial integrity, sovereignty and unity of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina; the restitution by the Serbs of all territory taken by force; a guarantee to the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina of its sovereign access to the Adriatic Sea and the River Sava; the unicity of the city of Sarajevo; the return to their homes of refugees and persons displaced by force; the reconstruction of the entire destroyed infrastructure and compensation of the population; and, lastly, the establishment of binding international guarantees concerning the implementation of the peace agreement and the future security of the Bosnian State.
The United Nations must now demonstrate unswerving determination to win back respect and credibility in the eyes of the international community.
I thank the representative of Tunisia for the compliments he addressed to me.
The next speaker is the representative of Egypt. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
Allow me first of all to thank you, Sir, for New Zealand’s remarkable efforts and the outstanding job your country has done in presiding over the Security Council. I am certain that your sincere efforts will enable the Council to be productive in achieving results as it addresses this very sensitive issue now before it. Allow me also to recall the statement made to the Council by my delegation a few days ago on the same question and to stress the tone adopted in that statement.
The people and Government of Egypt are following the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina with great anxiety. Egypt stresses the need to comply with the principles of the United Nations Charter as well as its full solidarity with the people and Government of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Egypt will be unstinting in its efforts to contribute as far as possible to finding a lasting and fair solution to the situation in that country.
Two days ago, Egypt celebrated the anniversary of the liberation of Sinai and the end of the Israeli occupation. That celebration confirms the inadmissability of the acquisition of territory by force, as well as the fact that that the end of occupation throughout the world gives rise to a new dimension and lends new universality to this important legal principle. It also underscores the need for the international community to abide by that principle all around the world and to preserve international law, because the age of the law of the jungle is over.
The rapid succession of events and the worsening situation in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina have jeopardized international peace and security. These are no longer simply under threat. We are faced with a very grave international problem, for an independent State Member of the United Nations has fallen victim to blatant military aggression, in the course of which most of its territory has been conquered on an odious racist pretext called "ethnic cleansing". This is in fact a flagrant manifestation of genocide, undertaken by the aggressor State – which enjoys significant military superiority over its neighbour – in order to clear the territories thus acquired of their populations and to annex them by force.
The Security Council has adopted a number of resolutions under Chapter VII of the Charter. But today the problem has reached a climax, for what is at stake here is the credibility of the Council. That credibility has been tarnished in the eyes of the international community. The aggressor is now no longer content with pursuing his aggression. He is defying the United Nations itself. At the same time, the Council is impotent and incapable of giving effect to its resolutions.
This critical international situation surprises us and compels us to ask whether there are any unified criteria employed by the Council in the implementation of international law in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Charter, or whether there is a double standard. Does the policy vary depending on the volume and strength of forces? When do you apply the Charter and when do you ignore it? Who decides to ignore the tragedy engulfing a whole people, and who has the right to choose the States which the Council must protect? My delegation wonders how long we must wait when the situation is already so critical and the Serbian challenge has reached a climax.
The majority of Member States are somewhat perplexed when they look at the methods used by the Council in addressing this problem. Certain States might deduce from a close examination of the situation that the continuation of the policy of appeasement might encourage countries with aggressive designs in other regions of the world to take advantage of the situation and try to carry out their designs by using exactly the same methods without any fear of the international community. Consequently, if the Council recoils before the problem and refuses to act there will be grave repercussions that will be felt throughout the world.
The bulk of the territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been absorbed. Numerous civilians have been driven from their homes and their lands and the safe areas designated by the Council itself are no longer safe. They have in fact been violated. The Serb aggression has beset Gorazde, destroyed buildings and infrastructure, not even sparing hospitals and their patients. The whole level of the threat has risen. The Serbian leaders have said that they also envisage attacking United Nations forces if measures are taken against them.
We have no more time to lose. The half measures and intermittent reactions of the Council often come too late and have no effect. On the contrary, they simply serve to complicate the situation further. As a result, it is high time today for the Council to take charge and to decide on the following.
Firstly, it is necessary to change totally the concept of a solution. This requires that the Council face up to the prevarications and the challenges of the Serbs.
Secondly, it requires collective security action against the Serbs, including air strikes, to oblige them to comply with previous resolutions and to ensure compliance with international law.
Thirdly, the Council must decide to lift the unjust arms embargo, imposed by resolution 713 (1991) even before the State of Bosnia had been created and before it became a Member of the United Nations.
Allow me in this regard briefly to review some of the legal aspects relating to the illegality of this continued military embargo on the Bosnian Government.
Firstly, the Security Council does not act in a vacuum. It does not act in a discretionary fashion. It acts in accordance with the Charter. Furthermore, Article 51 provides that
"Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence".
This very clearly implies that no international body or authority, including the Council itself, shall undermine this natural or inherent right of all States, which is inalienable.
Secondly, the arms embargo imposed on the Bosnian Government has for a long time proved to be contrary to this natural right. Moreover, this right to self-defence applies and is applied, as provided by Article 51,
"until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security."
It is clear that, as long as fighting, acts of aggression and the savage brutality of the Serbs continue, all the resolutions that may have been adopted by the Security Council over the last two years will be far from adequate to preserve international security. Furthermore, this is what the Charter envisaged; therefore it cannot use those resolutions as a pretext for not lifting the embargo.
Thirdly, the Council is placing the aggressor and the victim on an equal footing. This contravenes the provisions of the Charter and the most fundamental principles of justice. We must also keep in mind that the legality of the measures taken by the Council depends on the degree to which they conform to the provisions of the Charter. The decisions of the Council do not prevail over the Charter. Furthermore, as stated in Article 103:
"In the event of a conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail."
Thus, it is manifest that the last word on this matter lies with the Charter. As a result, the continued imposition of the military embargo on the Bosnian Government is ignoble and unjust, because it is totally contrary to the inherent right provided for in the Charter. The Egyptian Government therefore calls for that embargo to be lifted immediately to permit States, individually or collectively, to provide support and assistance to the Bosnian Government.
The Egyptian delegation supports the approach mentioned here by certain Ministers aimed at lifting the embargo through a proposal to be brought before the Council. It is to be hoped that the Council will fully shoulder its responsibilities in accordance with the provisions of the Charter and will adopt a resolution to support this Member State, which is the victim of aggression, and that it will decide to lift the embargo against Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to permit it to exercise its legitimate right to self-defence. Otherwise, the only alternative would be to have recourse to a special emergency session of the General Assembly so that a decision can be taken on this very important issue.
The Egyptian delegation welcomes the decision taken by NATO, as a regional organization under Chapter VIII of the Charter, in carrying out air strikes against Serb military positions from which attacks stemmed. This decision also envisages deterrence strikes in order to prevent expansion of aggression. This will send a clear message to the Serbs to the effect that the international community will confront aggression and restore normality.
The Egyptian delegation also supports the work of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), to which my country is making an effective contribution. Egypt intends to increase its contingent in UNPROFOR, as soon as expansion is decided upon with a change in the mandate of the force, in order to allow it to do its proper job: to protect civilians in Bosnia and Herzegovina – not simply to provide for the access of humanitarian assistance.
Egypt has all along supported every effort aimed at finding a just and peaceful settlement. Egypt is also considering with interest the idea of holding a new international conference, provided that we bear in mind that the world will never tolerate a repetition of the errors of the past. We must not let things degenerate into a disaster such as a new Munich. Consequently, we must take into account the following points when it comes to the holding of an international peace conference.
First, the criteria for the selection of participants and the terms of reference must be in conformity with the provisions of the Charter and the rules of international law. This should include the non-acquisition of territory by force and the non-recognition of any such acquisition stemming from aggression. This is an established principle – the Stimson Principle – which has now become part of the vocabulary of international politics since the 1930s, when it was declared by the then American Secretary of State.
Secondly, there needs to be a proposed peaceful settlement plan in the context of the conference which would be in accordance with the Charter and the resolutions of the Council following the activities of the London Conference, in order to protect the independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and also dispel any doubt concerning the principles stemming from the Geneva negotiations and the drafts presented for negotiation.
Furthermore, the settlement plan should not acknowledge the acquisitions made by the Serbs through armed force.
Thirdly, the work of the conference should concentrate on settling the problem of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this respect, we would draw your attention to the pitfalls and risks involved in ramifying the fundamental question into a number of secondary issues concerning the former Yugoslavia. This might divert international attention from the essential point, which is to put an end to aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and to re-establish its sovereignty, its territorial integrity and its unity as a Member of the United Nations, with a view to ensuring the return of displaced persons and refugees.
Fourthly, the international community must ensure that the plan is put into effect through binding international measures. It is essential that the Islamic countries’ contact group take part in the conference, as must all countries participating in UNPROFOR, the successor countries of the former Yugoslavia and other Powers.
Fifthly, we need to support the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991. So far, the Tribunal has been marking time and has not reacted actively enough. We must provide it with the necessary resources, because a hamstrung Tribunal will imply that the international community is impassive in the face of crimes against mankind and impotent to counteract their negative consequences.
The eyes of the whole world are today on the Council, which is the key to the problem – provided, of course, the goodwill exists. The Council must assume its role as prescribed in the Charter and demonstrate its resolve by adopting resolutions that will not disappoint the legitimate expectations of the people that are the victims of aggression. Time will tell, and we cannot escape tomorrow.
I thank the representative of Egypt for the kind words he addressed to me.
The next speaker is Mr. Hamid Algabid, Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, to whom the Council has extended an invitation under rule 39 of its provisional rules of procedure. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
I am grateful for this opportunity to address the Security Council, on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Let me at the outset emphasize the importance we attach to the Council’s efforts to deter and end the Serbian aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I also wish to tell the Council that the OIC States remain ready to contribute substantially and constructively to the Council’s endeavours to bring peace and justice to that war-torn land.
The OIC has consistently urged the Security Council to use the full range of options available to it under the United Nations Charter, including the use of force, under Article 42, to stop the destructive warfare unleashed by the Belgrade regime and its allies in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Today we deeply regret that most United Nations resolutions pertaining to Bosnia and Herzegovina, including those concerning the creation of safe areas, remain dead letters.
The need for strong action against the aggressors is underscored by the barbaric Serb assault on the town of Gorazde, which has been marked by the savage massacre of innocent civilians; the inability of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) to ensure the inviolability of the safe areas; the attacks against UNPROFOR personnel; the seizing of heavy weapons; the holding of United Nations personnel as hostages; in short, a consistent pattern of flagrant violations of international humanitarian law and relevant Security Council resolutions. However, we are still convinced that massive air strikes to deter aggression and as punitive measures will bring an end to this conflict and prevent it from spreading to other areas in the event of Serbian refusal to comply with the provisions of international law. In this context, we note with satisfaction the recent decisions taken by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) within the context of implementing Security Council resolutions. The Council should authorize air strikes on Serbian command and communication centres, ammunition dumps and other military facilities and infrastructure immediately.
We remain of the view that resolution 713 (1991) does not apply to the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and that the arms embargo being maintained against its Government is contrary to the provisions of Article 51 of the United Nations Charter and the relevant General Assembly resolutions.
We urge the Security Council to restore the inherent and inalienable right of the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to individual and collective self-defence and ask the international community to extend its fullest cooperation and support to that Government in the exercise of its rights under Article 51.
The fact that the United Nations found itself helpless to prevent the Serb attacks against Gorazde raises questions which must be addressed if we are to maintain the confidence of the peoples of the world in the concept of collective security, the cornerstone of the United Nations Charter.
The Security Council must evaluate the real reasons for the failure of its peace-keeping machinery, particularly in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The time has come for the United Nations to reflect seriously and deeply in order to identify the problems and to adopt the measures necessary to restore the credibility of its resolutions.
The OIC member States are certainly always ready to contribute to efforts by the international community to check all forms of hegemonistic tendencies, and to work with all other States for a better world for future generations, based on the principles of the United Nations Charter and in conformity with international law.
I would like to take this opportunity to repeat the offer made by several OIC States to put troops at UNPROFOR’s disposal. Their arrival and rapid deployment could go a long way to restoring balance and credibility in UNPROFOR operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which in any case should be further strengthened.
We are in favour of a peaceful settlement of the Bosnian crisis, and believe that for any attempt at mediation to succeed it must be based on an objective approach and the imperatives of international legitimacy.
That is why we find it difficult to accept the depiction of the blatant Serbian aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina as an intractable civil war. Regrettably, there have been attempts at mediation apparently based on the premise that Bosnia and Herzegovina had been defeated and should therefore accept the fait accompli. Instead of opposing aggression, some have sought to back it and to legitimize the acquisition of territory by force.
As the decisions of the London Conference and the relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions continued to be flouted, a new approach was being actively sought to restore peace.
We welcomed the Washington Agreement, concluded last month between the Bosnian Government and the Croats, and the confederal arrangements with the Republic of Croatia, which undoubtedly constitute a positive step towards an overall political settlement. The OIC stands ready to participate in and constructively contribute to the reaching of such a political settlement.
The plight of the people of Sandjak and Kosova also calls for immediate international attention. The Security Council should immediately devise practical measures to give international protection to their inhabitants before it is too late.
The international humanitarian relief efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina also need to be intensified. The OIC States members continue to make a significant contribution to the Bosnian people.
In conclusion, I repeat the readiness of the OIC to extend its fullest cooperation and support to the efforts of the Security Council to end the Serbian aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The entire Islamic World is deeply concerned and indignant over the blatant genocide perpetrated by the Serbian war machine against the Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It will continue to follow with keen interest the measures the Security Council takes to stop this abomination, which weighs heavily on the conscience of the civilized world.
I thank His Excellency Mr. Algabid for the kind words he addressed to me.
The next speaker is the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, His Excellency Mr. Irfan Ljubljankic, on whom I now call.
I thank you, Mr. President, for taking your post of leadership for this important meeting, and for exhibiting your nation’s concern on this matter. We also thank the caucus of the Non-Aligned Movement for all its efforts and contributions.
The blood-soiled curtain of current events in Bosnia and Herzegovina has very often covered up the essence of the conflict in Bosnia and Helzegovina. Allow me to remind the Council of that essence.
The formation of quisling para-States within the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a State Member of the United Nations, is the first tactical step towards the annexation of territories of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Serbia. Similar quisling para-States were created by Hitler in various countries of Europe during the Second World War. If the French resistance to one such quisling State could be described as a civil war, we could also name the war in Bosnia a civil war. Fortunately, that is not the case. The case in Bosnia is a case of Serbian aggression against a sovereign State, in which specific fascist methods have been applied: concentration camps, "ethnic cleansing" and genocide.
The international community is obliged to respond to this nazism. Unfortunately, due to the ill-conceived perception that this is a civil war, peace efforts undertaken thus far have been unable to achieve peace. The lack of resolve of the international community has taken a death toll of more than 200,000 civilians.
I would like to recall two basic principles of modern Europe: respect for human rights, and the immunity of borders. These principles have been violated in the most brutal fashion for the past two years in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Whenever Europe has violated its own principles, the world has witnessed catastrophe. It was neutrality on the eve of the Second World War that took the lives of millions of innocent civilians.
We therefore call for a decisive approach by the United Nations towards the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The recent ultimatum issued by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United Nations has shown what can be achieved when the international community shows resolve and will for action. Therefore, we want to stress the following points.
First, the withdrawal of the Serbian war machine from the safe areas and their surroundings is of the highest priority. No less important is the question of what to do with the heavy weapons employed by that war machine. We demand that they be withdrawn to Serbia. The concept of Serb weaponry moving from one target to another is totally unacceptable. Effective withdrawal of Serbian weaponry is required under the terms of resolution 752 (1992). If that weaponry is not withdrawn, it will remain as a destabilizing factor for any future peace process.
Furthermore, we request that the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s right to self-defence in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter be reinstated. Thus, we call for the lifting of the de facto illegal arms embargo imposed against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We in Bosnia are defending the universal principles of human rights, the immunity of borders and the right to live in a multicultural society. To be prevented from defending such values is unjustifiable.
The destruction or withdrawal of the Serbian war machine is a sine qua non condition for peace in Bosnia. NATO had an opportunity to destroy it. Regrettably, Mr. Akashi did not authorize the air strikes, although all the conditions were met for their application. He therefore carries the full moral responsibility for all the lives that could have been saved had he consented to the NATO request.
Secondly, a process of the neutralization of weaponry, as we have seen in Sarajevo, might be workable. In the nine opstinas of Sarajevo, "demilitarization" is seemingly workable since it lays the ground for a full reintegration of the city, and the lifting of the two-year-long siege of Sarajevo. But by freezing the situation of safe areas we must not allow the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina to be effectively consigned to ghettos, where the United Nations would unwittingly guarantee not the protection of civilians, but, rather, the territorial conquests of the fascist Serbian regime.
One such ghetto has already been created in Gorazde.
If Bosnians are required to demilitarize in other safe areas, that will lead to further ghettoization and to the concentration of the defenceless population in a small area. That would be nothing other than a modified concentration camp.
Under the present circumstances, of such a gross military imbalance between the aggressor and the victim, peace negotiations are nothing other but diktat by the aggressor.
Thirdly, the peace process must be based on two important principles: respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the reversal of "ethnic cleansing" – that is, the return of territories seized by force. Recent developments in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina lead us to believe that the peace process could and should take that direction. The recent agreement on a federation of Bosnians and Croats reaffirms the validity of that direction.
Fourthly, we welcome the letter of the Secretary-General addressed to NATO, and the decisions that the North Atlantic Council has taken recently. Yet we have to point out that resolution 913 (1994) calls for the withdrawal of Serbian forces from the safe area of Gorazde and its surroundings, as specified under the terms of resolution 824 (1993), by which Gorazde was declared a safe area. Therefore, it is not a question of either a three-kilometre or a 20-kilometre exclusion zone. The withdrawal of the Serbian forces has to be carried out in terms of Gorazde’s boundaries as a safe area according to resolution 824 (1993). The United Nations has an obligation to ensure that resolution 913 (1994) is implemented based upon resolution 824 (1993) and that the boundaries of the safe area existing prior to the Serbian offensive are restored pending the final outcome of the negotiations. Remnants of the Serbian forces within the boundaries of the safe area are a threat to the safety and well-being of civilians in that area.
Fifthly, the newly formed Contact Group on Bosnia formed by the United States, the Russian Federation, the United Nations and the European Union should include a representative of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The OIC has shown genuine interest in the developments in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and it could positively influence the peace process.
The Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina remains committed to a multicultural and multireligious Bosnia. We welcome any positive initiatives that are based on existing Security Council resolutions and that are in compliance with that basic principle.
Finally, I should like to emphasize that Bosnia is a small paradigm of the global village, and the international community has an obligation to save it.
I thank the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina for his kind words addressed to me.
The next speaker is the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece, His Excellency Mr. Karolos Papoulias. I welcome him and invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. In our statement to the Council six days ago we strongly condemned the Bosnian Serb attacks against the civilian population, the humanitarian relief workers and United Nations personnel in Gorazde, which were in blatant violation of international humanitarian law and all relevant Security Council resolutions. We also expressed our concern for the consequences of this situation for the peace process and called for the immediate and effective implementation of a cease-fire agreement.
We welcome the fact that, after the North Atlantic Council’s decisions, the situation in Gorazde has improved and the Bosnian Serbs have now withdrawn their forces and weapons, in accordance with the agreement concluded with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Akashi.
We call on all parties to exercise maximum restraint and to respect fully the status of the safe areas. In particular we call on the Bosnian Serbs not to redeploy and use their heavy weapons withdrawn from Gorazde. The continuation of hostilities will not lead the parties anywhere. It will only render the reaching of an agreement more difficult and the suffering of the innocent civilian population more acute.
We have called for an intensified diplomatic effort by the international community, involving the United Nations, the European Union, the United States of America and the Russian Federation to ensure the convergence of their initiatives. Particularly at this critical juncture, the goal is to establish conditions which would lead to a comprehensive cessation of hostilities and a peace settlement. It is now more important than ever that the parties engage in meaningful negotiations.
In this context, the position of the European Union on the question of the arms embargo is well known. The European Union Action Plan provides the only appropriate basis for a negotiated settlement and a lasting peace.
Any progress in the peace process will be absolutely meaningless if the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) is not provided with the necessary means to carry out its mandate. UNPROFOR now has a multiplicity of roles to play in Bosnia. Monitoring cease-fire arrangements, including around Sarajevo and in central and southern Bosnia, has imposed on it a considerable burden in addition to its original humanitarian role.
In this regard, we welcome the adoption today of resolution 914 (1994) on the strengthening of UNPROFOR. The United Nations Force must now be given the troops to perform its task, and we call on Member States to respond to this need without further delay.
We should like to take this opportunity to express once again our support for the Secretary-General, his Special Representative, the two Co-Chairmen and the men and women of UNPROFOR and other organizations committed to bringing humanitarian relief to the civilian population.
From the beginning of the crisis in the former Yugoslavia, the European Union has been at the forefront in promoting peace and alleviating the suffering of the civilian population. European Union members have provided the bulk of UNPROFOR troops, whose role is invaluable. We have taken the lead in the delivery of humanitarian assistance, which is essential to the refugees and the civilian population. We are determined to continue to help the parties find a solution to the present crisis. We can only reiterate our call to them not to waste yet another opportunity and to build on the present momentum for the sake of peace.
Allow me at the outset to convey to you, Sir, on behalf of my delegation, sincere thanks and congratulations on your assumption of the presidency of the Council at this meeting to discuss the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are confident that your renowned diplomatic skills and competence will enrich this debate and bring our deliberations to a successful conclusion.
We would also like to take this opportunity to extend a warm and cordial welcome to the Foreign Ministers of the Contact Group on Bosnia and Herzegovina of the Organization of the Islamic Conference for their participation and efforts in today’s debate. There is absolutely no doubt that the presence of such high-level representation is in itself a clear manifestation of the priority accorded to the item under discussion. Moreover, it constitutes proof positive of the eagerness of their countries and the other members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to contribute to efforts aimed at finding an expeditious and peaceful settlement to the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
For more than two years now, the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a member of the international community that enjoys membership in the United Nations, has been the target of unprecedented Serbian aggression – aggression on a scale rarely witnessed since the Second World War. The Serbs have defiantly launched continuous attacks and committed numerous atrocities, including the gruesome murder and detention of civilian populations. Their crimes range from the systematic use of "ethnic cleansing", mass rape, the siege of towns and cities, the strangulation of safe areas and the impeding of humanitarian relief convoys to the flagrant flouting of United Nations authority in the area. The latter has resulted in the killing or detention of some United Nations personnel.
We fully believe that the use of force and the occupation of another’s land are not the best way to settle conflicts. True peace can only be achieved through the peaceful means of constructive dialogue based on mutual respect in accordance with international law. We are also convinced that such efforts constitute the basis for laying the foundations of peace anywhere in the world and particularly in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
On this basis, my country has welcomed all efforts and initiatives aimed at establishing peace, from the London Conference of 1992 and the initiatives taken at the International Conference on the former Yugoslavia to the Washington agreement signed on 18 March 1994. My country also wholeheartedly supports the efforts made by the Governments of the European countries, the United States of America, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. We hope that these efforts will be crowned with success in the near future.
Despite these efforts and the desire for peace of some of the parties in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, we must conclude that the Serbs are still reluctant to consider any peaceful solution and are resorting to procrastination. We therefore reiterate our appeal to the international community that it reject the Serbs’ continued policy of aggression and de facto annexation of land by force. We agree with those who argue that peace negotiations should be pursued primarily as tools for peace and not for genocide and procrastination. We also hope that the Serbs will eventually come to see that accepting the peace initiatives is the only way they will be accepted and welcomed back into the international community.
During the open debate held by the Security Council to discuss the Serbian siege of Sarajevo in the aftermath of the massacre in the Sarajevo market, my delegation expressed its concern over the ultimatum extended to the Serbs to withdraw their heavy weapons 20 kilometres from the city centre. We pointed out that the mere withdrawal of such weapons might allow the Serbs to use those weapons in an attack on innocent civilians in other safe areas throughout the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Regrettably, recent events in Gorazde have proved those concerns to be legitimate. We believe that, in the light of the current Serbian intransigence, extending the Sarajevo model to other safe areas might have a similar effect unless Serbian heavy weapons are placed under strict United Nations supervision and NATO is permitted to fulfill its obligations whenever United Nations resolutions are violated.
While welcoming the role of the United Nations and NATO in creating suitable conditions for peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, my Government, after witnessing the latest developments in the area and particularly in Gorazde, has come to the conclusion that the United Nations capacity to protect the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina and their sovereignty and territorial integrity is deficient. In such untenable circumstances, my country reaffirms its position in favour of lifting the arms embargo imposed on the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina prior to its independence and accession to membership of the United Nations.
In conclusion, my delegation stresses the importance of the international community’s responsibility to protect the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina and to allow them to defend themselves through the lifting of the embargo on defensive weapons. We are optimistic that the consensus reached on this matter will enjoy international support which will eventually compel the Serbs to adhere to all international resolutions. In this regard, we welcome any initiative to convene an international peace conference aimed at achieving a just and equitable peace in the area.
Mr. President, we are pleased to see you, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand, guiding the Council’s deliberations today. Our delegation also welcomes the other Ministers of Foreign Affairs who are participating in this meeting.
The delegation of the Russian Federation is pleased to note that the normalization of the situation around Gorazde and the fulfilment by the Bosnian Serb party of its obligations are creating positive opportunities for moving the focus of affairs now towards political efforts for a swift settlement in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The initiative of President Yeltsin for the holding of a summit meeting between Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations is aimed at achieving such a settlement.
Despite all the complexities of the current situation, we feel that the most important point is that military measures should not overshadow the main orientation, which is towards a political settlement. We expect that the Bosnian parties and our partners in the quest for a settlement will actively join in this process and concentrate their efforts now on the following principal tasks:
– Firstly, the strengthening of the system of safe areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina in accordance with Security Council decisions – a matter which I shall spell out later;
– Secondly, the signing as soon as possible of an unconditional agreement between the Serbs and the Muslims on a general and permanent cease-fire and a halt to all hostilities. In this matter, it should be clear to all parties to the conflict that the international community will no longer countenance either provocations or barbaric retaliations in response, since both would constitute a challenge to the United Nations;
– Thirdly, the achievement of a comprehensive political settlement in Bosnia and Herzegovina that takes into account the legitimate interests and equal status of all the inhabitants of that territory. We feel that the establishment of a Muslim-Croat federation does not prejudge decisions concerning the future of the Bosnian Serbs. Questions relating to territorial demarcation should be resolved on the basis of the parameters previously spelled out, and only at the negotiating table. Of course, the political agreement should define fully all the humanitarian aspects of the Bosnian problem;
– Fourthly, real progress in restoring peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to be accompanied by an appropriate easing of sanctions imposed on the Federated Republic of Yugoslavia.
In our view, what is needed now is an active effort by both the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Former Yugoslavia and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Russia, the United States of America and the European Union, with the participation of the United Nations. The establishment of a Contact Group composed of such members is an important step in that direction. All this should create the basis for the holding of an early summit meeting on a settlement in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
We wish to state unambiguously that, in the present conditions, the demands for the lifting of the embargo on arms supplies to Bosnia and Herzegovina clearly run counter to the efforts aimed at a political settlement and could only open up the flood-gates to a sharp escalation of the war by provoking a chain reaction by all parties. Such a step would seriously exacerbate the situation and promote an intensification of hostilities, increased bloodshed, suffering and the loss of life among peaceful civilian inhabitants.
In addition, the chances of a wider conflict beyond the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, threatening the direct involvement of neighbouring countries, would significantly increase. The safety of the contingents of the member countries of the United Nations deployed in the area would also be jeopardized, not to mention the likely disruption of all United Nations operations. Such a turn of events would reverse the emerging trend towards the uniting of all diplomatic efforts in order to achieve a swift settlement.
Our delegation has already repeatedly drawn attention to the important ideas expressed by the Secretary-General in his reports (S/1994/291 and S/1994/300) with respect to the need for a revision of the concept of safe areas, whose status is frequently abused. Thus, in the opinion of the Secretary-General, as expressed in those reports, such a review would include a full demilitarization of the safe areas by both parties on the basis of conditions to which they must agree: guaranteed freedom of movement, the placing under control or the withdrawal of heavy weapons, and a broad deployment of United Nations forces.
In the present conditions and taking into account the experience acquired by the Security Council in the cases of Sarajevo and Gorazde, the Russian delegation feels that the question of determining the nature of the system of safe areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina takes on an extremely timely and urgent character.
In that connection, we believe that the United Nations forces, together with the parties concerned, should be entrusted with the task of defining a system and borders for each of the safe areas. There must be a halt to all hostilities, and the parties must agree to the prospective borders.
It is important to deploy United Nations forces in these areas and to ensure their unconditional safety and unfettered freedom of movement.
An important condition for respecting the status of the safe areas is their demilitarization. To carry out the tasks required to achieve this, tripartite working groups could be formed.
It is necessary to ensure that heavy weapons be placed under control or withdrawn from the demarcation line. The United Nations forces must also receive information on minefields; demining must be carried out within agreed time-frames under United Nations supervision.
Unimpeded humanitarian assistance in the safe areas must be guaranteed in accordance with an agreed schedule; the free and unobstructed movement of the civilian population must be ensured, and an exchange of prisoners must be carried out under the control of the International Commission of the Red Cross.
We feel it particularly important that the Security Council begin this work without delay and thus shoulder its responsibility for determining the system of safe areas.
It is clear that carrying out those tasks will require appropriate negotiations with the parties, supplemented by the efforts of the United Nations forces. In this context, the Russian delegation highly commends Security Council resolution 914 (1994), adopted this morning, approving an increase in the number of UNPROFOR personnel.
Russia is ready most actively to cooperate with all the parties concerned in order swiftly to reach a settlement and to establish a lasting peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and throughout the former Yugoslavia.
I thank the representative of the Russian Federation for the kind words he addressed to me.
My delegation would like to take this opportunity to warmly welcome you, Sir, to our deliberations and to express our appreciation at your participation. We also wish to warmly welcome the Ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Contact Group and the Secretary General of the OIC and to strongly endorse their laudable efforts in this grave matter regarding Bosnia. We believe they speak for more than the world’s Muslim community; they speak for all people of goodwill who are outraged at the continuation and extent of this evil conflict.
What we heard from representatives has been the expression of their profound and perfectly understandable frustrations over the pace and nature of developments in Bosnia. Now – with some 50 Security Council resolutions adopted since the commencement of the hostilities – we continue to witness scenes of naked aggression, "ethnic cleansing", open defiance of the United Nations and of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and gross violations of humanitarian rights.
Our basic concern, of course, lies with the overall situation in all of Bosnia, in which the issues of Gorazde and safe areas are but the latest and most prominent. In its creation under resolutions 824 (1993) and 836 (1993), the concept of safe areas was not meant to be a permanent feature. Given the inhuman level of crimes against defenceless and innocent civilian populations, the international community deemed it necessary to protect strategic enclaves from this terror in order to provide an outlet – a safe haven for fleeing populations.
One has only to imagine the spectacle of thousands of fleeing civilians wandering the countryside with nowhere to go to realize what Bosnia would have become without these transitory collection points. But that is all they were meant to be – temporary civilian population areas – while efforts were made to bring about an overall cease-fire and a fair political settlement of the whole conflict. They were not intended as a permanent feature, to be negotiated as separate entities in the settlement process. Therefore, any new initiatives to refocus on the safe areas for reasons other than those already contained in resolutions 824 (1993) and 836 (1993) must be considered in this light.
In truth, we cannot escape the fact that our primary concern is for a realistic, overall and fair distribution of Bosnia which allows all the parties to live in peace and security, with territorial continuity, freedom of movement and, certainly, economic productivity and potential. If this is to be realized, as the heads of two leading western States have said, it will be necessary for the Serbs to make territorial concessions. An arbitrary division of Bosnia which leaves any party in a weakened, unsupportable, indefensible position is merely a formula for disaster – a device to invite the resumption of hostilities in the near future.
Frustration is also the result of the overly cautious, deliberate pace of consultations between many parties to this conflict. Decisions are a long time in coming and even slower in their implementation. We believe this has become a decisive factor in transmitting the wrong signals to the Serbs, allowing them valuable additional time to step up their aggression in the belief that any settlement will accept the situation on the ground as a given. All that is required is a suitable pretext, such as the current "double-speak" of "Muslim provocation".
Not surprisingly, therefore, we are beginning to hear of Serb retaliation against expected "Muslim provocations" in other safe areas, so that it should come as no surprise if fighting erupts in another safe area very shortly. And if the "Gorazde model" is repeated by the Serbs, we will again witness the deliberate shellings of an essentially undefended city, its hospitals and refugee centres – all of which are straightforward war crimes. One would certainly hope that efforts to activate the work of the war crimes Tribunal will proceed with renewed vigour, thereby at least bringing a pause to the relentless genocide and bringing to book those responsible for the perpetration of these flagrant and reprehensible crimes.
There is a drastic need for an immediate cessation of hostilities and a return to the negotiating table, if it is the intention of all parties to reach a fair and lasting settlement. Until such time, the international community – specifically NATO and its air power – must firmly demonstrate to the Serbs that continued violations of humanitarian laws will not be tolerated, and, in fact, will draw retribution. As we said last week, we welcome NATO’s air participation in this conflict, which, if carried out with conviction, could influence the course of events. We had hoped, and continue to hope, that UNPROFOR will be as decisive in its use of this force as the Serbs have been in their defiance. Both the United Nations and NATO need to sustain a credible image if we are to be effective in our roles. UNPROFOR has made considerable strides in this direction through its selfless and continuous attempts to assist the besieged people of Gorazde and Bosnia, in the face of dangerous provocations and extreme conditions. We owe its members once again a debt of gratitude and our thanks.
Until such time as there is an effective cease-fire and concrete negotiations, my delegation feels it would be entirely inappropriate to reward Serbia, whose military participation cannot be doubted, with any thought of relaxation the economic embargo. If anything, a strong case exists for its strengthening.
Finally, my delegation feels that we are where we are in Bosnia because of the blatantly unjust arms embargo forced on its Government under resolution 713 (1991). Time and time again, we witness its totally selective impact: the Serbs have anti-aircraft missiles, tanks, aircraft, helicopters, heavy artillery and sophisticated communications equipment, which they brazenly parade for the world to see. Should there be, for any reason, any further weakness in the resolve of the international community to prevent Serb abuse of this unfair advantage, then it would be less than honourable for us to continue to force the Bosnian Government to defend itself with both hands tied behind its back. It must be exempted from resolution 713 (1991). Barring this, the conflict becomes, as it has become, a conflict with a large cast of participants, all of whom bear a great deal of responsibility for the fate of that nation and of its people.
I thank the representative of Djibouti for his compliments to me.
I shall now make a statement in my capacity as the New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
It is an honour for me to preside over this meeting of the Security Council and to hear statements from a number of my Ministerial colleagues, representing States members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). New Zealand acknowledges the particular interest that the OIC and its member States have in the situation in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We welcome that interest and we trust that a means will be found to ensure that the viewpoint represented by the Organization is taken fully into account in the international negotiating process.
Less than a week ago the Security Council had a lengthy debate on the situation in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the few days since then, we have once again seen that with sufficient resolve and authority the United Nations and the international community can bring about a change in what seemed only a week ago to be a desperate situation.
New Zealand has been amongst those members of the Security Council who, for over a year, have been arguing that the Bosnian Serb party would only negotiate seriously when the international community made it clear that force would be used in support of the negotiating process. That is why we so strongly supported resolution 836 (1993) and why, since that time, we have insisted that air strikes could play a positive role.
In February, in the face of the most appalling attacks on Sarajevo the members of the United Nations reached the point that they were ready to contemplate the use of force, under the authority of the Security Council, because those who were defying the Council’s resolutions had shown themselves impervious to any other form of inducement or pressure. Last week we saw another demonstration of the positive impact of forceful resolve. The response to the decisions taken by the North Atlantic Council at the request of the Secretary-General to deter the attacks on Gorazde demonstrated, as did events in Sarajevo in February, that the judgment underlying resolution 836 (1993) was correct.
The application of force has no merit on its own. It must be part of the foundation on which a durable peace settlement is constructed. Earlier today, we adopted a resolution which at last put on a credible basis the second part of the foundation for peace in Bosnia – the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) presence. By authorizing an increase in UNPROFOR personnel levels we not only provided the resources for the United Nations to do the job it had been given, but also sent a clear message to the Serbs about the political commitment to back up the words of resolutions.
The third critical element of the foundation for achieving peace in Bosnia is an acceleration of the comprehensive negotiations involving all interested parties. We welcome the steps that have been taken in recent days to give new energy to the negotiating process. It is crucial that the international community speak with a consistent and firm voice. Anything less is open to misunderstanding and, as we have seen, can be costly in lives.
Some speakers in this debate have referred to the arms embargo imposed on the former Yugoslavia by the Security Council in September 1991. My Government remains concerned that any decision to lift the embargo could have serious consequences and could indeed harm directly the interests of those such a step might be designed to assist. The Serbian Army is the largest and most powerful in the region. It is difficult to conceive that it would be benign in the face of such a decision by the Security Council. Nor could there be any guarantee that weapons would reach their appropriate destination. New Zealand does not believe that increasing the fire power of any of the protagonists is, of itself, conducive to a resolution of this bitter conflict. But most of all we believe that it could destroy, once and for all, any prospect of a negotiated comprehensive peace. The United Nations would in effect be abandoning the issue to be resolved by war.
As we said a year ago, at some point the Council may have to admit that a negotiated solution is unachievable and draw the appropriate consequences. But that would be a counsel of despair condemning even greater numbers of people to the carnage of war. NATO has at last begun to exhibit precisely the kind of resolve which the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, along with their friends, including the OIC countries and New Zealand, have long been demanding. We believe that now is not the time for such a choice.
I now resume my function as President of the Security Council.
The next speaker is the representative of Canada. I invite her to take a place at the Council table and to make her statement.
Allow me, Sir, to congratulate you on your assumption of the presidency of the Council for the month of April and to thank your predecessor, Ambassador Mérimée, for his solid leadership during the month of March. You have inherited the chair during a turbulent month, and we appreciate your efforts to inform and consult the Member States directly affected by the Council’s decisions. We are especially pleased with your initiative of holding a number of consultative meetings with troop contributing countries.
The tragic situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to be a source of great concern to the international community, as witnessed by this second Security Council debate on the issue just a few days after the last such meeting, this time in the presence of ministers from the contact group of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
Once again, we have witnessed an unjustifiable attack by the Bosnian Serb forces, this time against the people of Gorazde. The Canadian people has been shocked and outraged by these events. During an emergency debate in Parliament on 21 April, members of all political parties spoke in favour of vigorous action by the international community.
Canada, as a member of NATO, responded rapidly and positively to the Secretary-General’s call to enforce respect, by air strikes if necessary, of the safe areas established by the Security Council.
We are pleased that the Bosnian Serbs have complied with the NATO ultimatum to withdraw from Gorazde. There can be no doubt about the determination of the United Nations and NATO to enforce compliance with their decisions on Gorazde and the other safe areas. If the Bosnian Serbs renew their attacks against these areas, they will suffer the consequences. In this regard, we have noted with satisfaction that the procedures established to govern cooperation between the United Nations and NATO are working smoothly and efficiently.
My Government is concerned about the possibility of further fighting elsewhere in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We reiterate our call on all parties to abandon the military option and to seek a negotiated settlement that will bring lasting peace to the region.
The crimes committed in Gorazde and elsewhere in Bosnia must not go unpunished. Those responsible for deliberate attacks on civilian populations, hospitals and refugee centres, in violation of all the norms of international law, must be made to answer for their actions before the International Tribunal created for the purpose.
The momentum created by the cessation of hostilities around Sarajevo in February has produced tangible and significant results at the political level. We must build on this in the next phase of the negotiating process. In this regard, the establishment of the Croatian-Bosnian Federation and the cease-fire that remains in effect in Croatia between the Government and the Croatian Serbs are major achievements.
We are pleased that the Russian Federation and the United States, which have played a key role in recent months in advancing the negotiating process, are joining the European Union and the United Nations in a renewed, concerted effort to resume negotiations on a comprehensive settlement in Bosnia and Herzegovina and throughout all of the former Yugoslavia.
It is essential for the success of the international community’s common efforts that representatives of major troop contributing countries be part of the diplomatic efforts to help end the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.
Such a coordinated approach is crucial if we are to convince the parties of the futility of pursuing military objectives that would lead only to further loss of life and to a political stalemate. What is required above all is a firm political commitment by the parties themselves to re-establish peace in this troubled region. The goal of peace, which must be the driving force for all the parties, can only be achieved through a just and lasting agreement between them. This would finally allow civilians to resume their normal lives, and the economic reconstruction effort to begin.
We would like to congratulate the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Akashi, and General de Lapresle and General Rose for the remarkable work they are doing in the field. They have a difficult and delicate task, which they are carrying out in an exemplary manner, as are the thousands of men and women working for UNPROFOR and for humanitarian organizations deployed throughout the territory.
We must give UNPROFOR the resources and flexibility required to adapt to changing circumstances. We are therefore pleased that all members of the Council were able this morning, through the adoption of resolution 914 (1994), to authorize an increase in the level of UNPROFOR personnel. It is essential and urgent that UNPROFOR be able to carry out the increasingly weighty tasks that are given to it as the number of cease-fires in the field increases.
As members know, Canada decided in March to maintain its presence in UNPROFOR for another six months. A number of Member States recently provided UNPROFOR with reinforcements. We invite the other States Members of the United Nations to consider the possibility of doing the same.
The Government of Canada is also continuing its efforts in the humanitarian field, and will participate in reconstruction efforts in Bosnia when conditions permit.
Today we are at yet another crossroads. Let us take advantage of the events of the past few days to try to write the final chapter in this dreadful conflict.
I thank the representative of Canada for her kind words about me and New Zealand’s Permanent Representative.
The next speaker is the representative of India. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
Permit me, Sir, to begin by congratulating you on having personally assumed the presidential Chair for this very important meeting.
The Government of India is gravely concerned at the continuation of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The massacres of innocent civilians, the systematic use of rape and the practice of "ethnic cleansing" are reprehensible and unacceptable. They are abhorrent to the entire international community, and we condemn them unequivocally, regardless of which community is responsible. We are especially concerned over the armed aggression, genocide and "ethnic cleansing" directed against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Particularly reprehensible is the violation of the sanctity of the safe areas under the protection of the United Nations.
The conflict is continuing as a result of the consistent violation of Security Council decisions and the breach of agreements arrived at between the warring parties through the good offices of mediators, various countries and regional and international organizations, including the United Nations. Lack of good faith in implementing these decisions and agreements has been demonstrated time and again, and has nullified the continuous efforts of the international community over a three-year period to end the bloodshed and violence.
We reiterate that the pursuit of military solutions is futile and self-defeating. Gains made by aggression must not be allowed to stand. A political settlement acceptable to all parties must be arrived at through the process of negotiation. Any future settlement has to be patently reasonable and acceptable to all the three communities involved. This is the only practical way of ensuring a peace that will endure on the ground.
It is urgent and imperative to ensure that the process of dialogue and negotiation aimed at arriving at a political settlement acceptable to all parties be resumed forthwith. Such a political dialogue could be held under any auspices, including those of the International Conference, which may be given a new lease of life in the light of recent suggestions made by President Yeltsin and President Mitterrand, and by the European Union. We welcome all proposals that could facilitate the resumption of an irreversible political process in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Before concluding, let me say that my delegation noted with regret the unwarranted reference to my country by one delegation this afternoon.
I thank the representative of India for the kind words he addressed to me.
The next speaker is the representative of Sweden. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
I begin by thanking you, Sir, for chairing this meeting.
For the second time in a few days, Sweden is taking the floor during the Council’s deliberations on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This time, we are pleased that an urgently needed increase in troops for the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) has finally been decided upon. We are also relieved that the horrors in and around Gorazde now seem to be over. The coordinated and decisive action by the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has shown results.
We now urge Member States in a position to do so to provide UNPROFOR with the necessary troops and material support for the operation. We are at a critical juncture. It would be disastrous for Bosnia and Herzegovina and devastating for the international community if the momentum for peace were to be lost due to a lack of troops and other resources.
Allow me in this connection to pay a special tribute to the Force Commanders and personnel of UNPROFOR as well as to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for their tireless and dedicated efforts.
The firm stance of the United Nations, in cooperation with NATO, should be sustained. A coherent and effective strategy with regard to the protection of the remaining safe areas, including the possible use of air power, has to be developed. Such a strategy must be linked to an overall plan for the resolution of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the former Yugoslavia as a whole.
The plans related to the safe areas, the overall strategy for the future role of United Nations forces and the concerted international efforts for a resolution of the conflict: these are all areas of great concern and interest to Sweden, and the efforts to develop these aspects have our full support. Our presence in Tuzla, our considerable troop contribution to UNPROFOR and our substantial commitments in the humanitarian field should in our view be justification for our involvement in the planning of those endeavours.
In our statement last week, we stressed the need for unified political pressure on the parties by the international community, and we welcomed proposals for a high-level conference on Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since then a new coordinating mechanism has been set up to facilitate the negotiations. We welcome this development.
The sanctions imposed against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) must not be lifted until conditions for their removal have been met.
Furthermore, a partial lifting of the arms embargo would, in our view, not contribute to a solution to the conflict. Rather, we would run the risk of escalating a conflict which cannot be solved on the battlefield.
In accordance with the decision taken earlier in the meeting, I now invite Ambassador Dragomir Djokic to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
Less than a week ago I had the opportunity to address the Security Council and put forward the views of the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia concerning the situation in former Bosnia and Herzegovina. At the time it was said that the Security Council once again found itself at a crucial juncture in addressing the very tragic situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It can either pursue the path of peace and work towards a comprehensive negotiated settlement or it can opt for the escalation of the war, with unforeseeable consequences.
In this critical phase it is indeed imperative that the international community and the Security Council do everything in their power to facilitate a negotiated settlement of the tragic and complex civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. To succumb to any temptation to try to resolve the conflict by resorting to foreign military intervention, punitive air strikes or lifting of the arms embargo can only lead to an uncontrollable escalation of the war.
It has been said on many occasions in the Security Council that the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot be resolved by military means. It is therefore surprising that in today’s debate there are still those who keep alive the illusion that a solution can be achieved in this way. There can be no winners in a civil war, and no party can possibly hope to impose its will on the others. The pursuit of such goals can only result in further pain and suffering. As the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has stated since the beginning of the conflict, peace can be achieved only through a negotiated, comprehensive solution which takes into account the vital interests of the three constituent peoples on a basis of equality.
At this very delicate and volatile stage, the Security Council should resist the attempts by some delegations to use it as a springboard for propaganda purposes intended to satisfy domestic political needs. This type of exercise will not contribute to an urgent cessation of the hostilities.
All efforts must now be concerted to establish a comprehensive cease-fire throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. Only the urgent and unconditional cessation of all hostilities, without prejudice to the final political solution, can pave the way for the resumption of the peace process and the renewal of the negotiations.
The Bosnian Serbs have throughout shown a willingness to negotiate seriously and accept painful compromises so that a fair and lasting political solution can be reached. In order to reach such a result, it is necessary that the other sides approach the negotiations in the same manner.
At the end of 1993 and at the beginning of this year the Bosnian Serb leadership accepted the European Union plan of action as a basis for the resolution of the conflict. Unfortunately, encouraged by the biased stand of some influential members of the international community, the Bosnian Muslims rejected this opportunity for peace and chose to pursue their war option. By constant provocations designed to entice a Bosnian Serb retaliation, they sought to provoke a foreign military intervention.
The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia will continue to do its utmost to contribute to a peaceful and just solution to the crisis and to bring about an end to this tragic war. The leadership of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and its two Republics has, throughout the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, invested efforts towards finding a peaceful solution, and, within their powers, towards influencing the Bosnian Serbs to make bitter compromises and concessions.
Yugoslavia welcomes the renewed efforts at the beginning of this week directed towards the resumption of the peace process and the active participation of the United Nations, the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United States in the search for a lasting and just solution. The activities of the newly created Contact Group could be a step in the right direction. However, the reservations of some countries regarding the initiatives for resolving the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina by peaceful means and the persistence of threats and punitive measures against the Bosnian Serbs give rise to major concerns.
It would be illusory to presume that a resolution of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina can be reached by exposing one side to relentless pressures, threats and ultimatums while there is a tolerant attitude towards the resistance of the other sides, particularly the Bosnian Muslims, to start negotiating seriously and come out with their bottom-line positions. Negotiations cannot be successful unless the parties are treated on a footing of equality.
The frantic calls for the lifting of the arms embargo on the Bosnian Muslim side and for air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs, calls which have, unfortunately, been repeated in today’s debate, give rise to overwhelming concerns. As the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has stated on many occasions, Bosnia is replete with arms, and more weapons can only fuel the conflict and incite an arms race leading to even greater sacrifice and destruction. The supposition that the lifting of the arms embargo on one of the warring parties can lead to a cessation of hostilities is absurd. More weapons always mean more war and more victims.
As is well known, despite the arms embargo, both the Bosnian Muslims and the Bosnian Croats have been supplied with offensive weapons on a regular basis and have been aided by mercenary forces. This has not contributed to a peaceful settlement. Bringing even more weapons into former Bosnia and Herzegovina would only ignite the Balkan powder keg and would certainly spread the flames of war throughout the region, and probably beyond.
The complex nature of the civil, inter-ethnic and religious conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina and its deep historical roots and underlying causes make it necessary that no former occupying Power of the territories of the former Yugoslavia or any neighbouring States should be involved with their forces in peacekeeping efforts.
Though it is commendable that the United Nations has so far respected the historical sensitivities on the ground, it is indeed disturbing that these basic principles of peace– keeping have now been disregarded and that the United Nations has succumbed to pressure to engage a Turkish force within UNPROFOR. The decision to send Turkish troops to Bosnia and Herzegovina is not only against the interests of easing the situation in the region, but can also have a direct bearing on the escalation of the conflict, contrary to all the efforts made towards achieving lasting peace and ending the conflict.
Those who base their positions and take stands on the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina exclusively on religious and highly biased and partisan grounds cannot make a meaningful contribution to the peace process. Instead of making efforts to help calm the conflict and end the hostilities, the Organization of the Islamic Conference has, by its one-sided and unobjective position, excluded itself as a potential honest broker and participant in any forum set up with a view to accelerating the peace negotiations.
The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia categorically rejects the uncorroborated allegations and charges directed against it in today’s debate. It is particularly disturbing that a number of non-aligned countries have drastically departed from the fundamental principles of the policy of non-alignment. Instead of urging the use of peaceful means to resolve the conflict, which is what non-alignment stands for, they openly call for the military intervention of the strongest military alliance against a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement.
The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia bears no responsibility either for the outbreak or for the continuation of the war in the former Yugoslavia. The responsibility lies with those countries which encouraged and recognized the unconstitutional secession of the breakaway republics and supported the pursuance of a military option.
The next speaker is the representative of Norway. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
I am very pleased to see you, Sir, presiding over this important meeting. I also wish to acknowledge and welcome the presence earlier this afternoon of Foreign Ministers and representatives of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and to assure them that the deeply-felt concern they have voiced here today is a shared concern.
My Government supports resolution 914 (1994) adopted today on the strengthening of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR). Norway is already a large troop contributor to UNPROFOR. In response to the request for additional personnel for its operations in the former Yugoslavia, Norway is now considering an increased Norwegian contribution in the Tuzla area. The aim of my Government is, subject to parliamentary approval, to provide a logistics batallion consisting of 370 personnel by 1 August this year.
Given its present participation in UNPROFOR in the Tuzla area, Norway is concerned about the situation at and around Tuzla airport, which remains closed due to shelling by Bosnian Serb forces. This shelling represents a constant threat to the civilian population of the safe area of Tuzla and to the United Nations forces in the area. The continuing attacks also obstruct the provision of humanitarian aid and supplies to United Nations personnel through Tuzla airport. This cannot continue with impunity. Tuzla airport must be reopened and its safe operation must be ensured. Norway therefore fully supports the determination of the Security Council to ensure the security of UNPROFOR and its freedom of movement throughout the area of operation.
My Government was deeply disturbed by the development of the situation in and around the safe area of Gorazde, where Bosnian Serb forces carried out impudent attacks against civilian targets, in blatant disregard of international efforts to bring about a cease-fire and of their own assurances that the offensive would be halted. Such actions constitute clear violations of international humanitarian law and represent yet another breach of basic norms of civilized behaviour. Such breaches have come to characterize the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The situation in Gorazde attracted broad attention in Norway, as Norwegian medical teams, participating in the UNPROFOR evacuation operations in Gorazde, witnessed the horrible pain and suffering inflicted upon the innocent civilian population. The attacks against civilian and United Nations targets in Gorazde are completely unacceptable.
We are associated with the decision of the North Atlantic Council to respond positively to the request from the United Nations Secretary-General regarding Gorazde and the other safe areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina. As a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Norway is of course fully committed to the NATO decisions of 22 April, and there should be no doubt that the decisions will be implemented if it is deemed necessary.
The joint political efforts of the international community to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in the former Yugoslavia are of vital importance. Norway therefore welcomes the establishment of the Contact Group in London, with the participation of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and the Russian Federation. My Government believes that the creation of this Group can enhance the coherence of the international efforts to obtain peace and hence improve the possibility of working out a political settlement to the conflict, to which there is no alternative.
Indeed, Norway continues to believe that a lasting peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina can be obtained only with political, rather than military, means. This is also why we remain opposed to lifting the arms embargo against the former Yugoslavia. An escalation of the fighting can only mean further suffering and loss of human life. It would have dire consequences for the United Nations forces in the area, for the negotiating process and for the humanitarian relief operations, upon which so many people depend entirely for their survival. We urge all parties to refrain from further military action and to return to the negotiating table.
In the continued efforts of the international community, it remains essential to support the United Nations, the Secretary-General, his Special Representative, Mr. Yasushi Akashi, and the two Co-Chairmen, Mr. Stoltenberg and Lord Owen. It is by extending full support also to their actions that we can hope to maximize the chances for a cessation of hostilities and to arrive at a just, negotiated settlement.
I thank the representative of Norway for his kind words addressed to me.
The next speaker is the representative of Croatia. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
My delegation is extremely pleased that this issue is being debated by the Security Council today. Some will argue that there have already been too many words in this regard. This is the case only because there has so far not been sufficient action in reversing Serbian aggression and its unacceptable consequences.
We are especially pleased to have the Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Conference member States and Foreign Ministers of other United Nations Member States with us. We commend the Foreign Minister of New Zealand, His Excellency Mr. Don McKinnon, for his commitment, which is also evident by his presiding over the Council today, to finding a just solution to the conflict in the area. The appreciation of my delegation also goes to you, Sir, Ambassador Colin Keating, and the members of your delegation.
The presence of high representatives of the Governments of so many Member States indicates on the one hand the urgency of the situation in the region and, on the other hand, gives hope that their commitment will bring this crisis to a fair conclusion as is necessary. In this regard, we must emphasize the importance of the views of the Organization of the Islamic Conference member States at this critical stage in the conflict and in the peace process. This is why my delegation, in the Security Council debate on Thursday, called for the inclusion of a high-ranking representative of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in the process of finding a political solution to the conflict in the region.
The Croatian Government has consistently pursued a political settlement to the conflict in the region. It is not by happenstance that we have supported all fair international intermediation for my country and, for that matter, for the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was, and remains, our sincere belief that war and violence cannot be the solution to the crisis in the area of the former Yugoslavia.
International mediation can have its limits, however. It has merely achieved a fragile peace in Croatia. The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is still far from the result which was intended. The lack of desired progress in the region has been a function of the inability of the international community to find the appropriate balance of power to match its attempts at political mediation.
As long as this imbalance continues, my Government will support the lifting of the arms embargo as it would apply to the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is presently being formed within the framework of the federation agreement, and the Republic of Croatia, because the desired balance can only be achieved with the participation of both. It may not be possible for the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina alone to achieve the desired balance. We must recall that the Bosnian Serb army, together with the Yugoslav army, is the consolidated remnants of the fourth largest army in Europe, and a limited adjustment in balance may only trigger more war – primarily against one of the weaker parties. Lifting the arms embargo, however, should not follow the logic of war.
We must emphasize in this regard that the lifting of the arms embargo does not necessarily promote war in all cases, as some would argue. Specifically, in cases where violence erupts because there is overwhelming firepower on one side, as was the case in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the lifting of the arms embargo would serve to end the war. The balance that would be created would promote non-violent options for finding a fair and sustainable political settlement.
Conversely, the arms embargo imposed by resolution 713 (1991) has not brought us the desired political results in Croatia nor in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and has not decreased the fighting by any degree in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the contrary, the Serbian side continues to use its overwhelming firepower to seize as much territory as possible while dictating unfair and unsustainable political solutions.
The level of fighting has decreased only in those areas where the Serbian insurgents have been faced with firm resistance – be it in Croatia or in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the areas where Serbian power in arms remains unchallenged, aggression continues. Gorazde was a telling example. The Usora region has been in a similar situation since January, and the whole Posavina corridor in northern Bosnia is once again becoming a focus of intensive Serbian offensive actions.
Serbian militant policy, with the clear goal of creating greater Serbia at the expense of its neighbours, can only be stopped once a credible balance of power in the region has been established. This can be accomplished in two ways. Either the international community must disengage Serbian war capacity, using all necessary means, or the arms embargo must be lifted, thus creating for the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Croatia a defence capacity to compel the Serbian side to accept and implement the results of international mediation and the relevant Security Council resolutions.
If the first alternative, which may be the most effective, is not within the framework of the international community’s options, my Government must insist that the second-best alternative be seriously considered. Otherwise, the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina will continue, and the political solution in Croatia may be jeopardized to the point of renewed fighting.
With regard to the situation in Croatia, I must draw the Council’s attention to the developments related to the 29 March 1994 cease-fire agreement between my Government and the rebel Serb authorities. The rebel Serb side has not fully complied with any point of the agreement, and has refused to resume talks by entering the second round. My Government must express to the Council its serious concerns in this regard, and advise the Council that the Secretary-General’s special envoy for the former Yugoslavia, Yasushi Akashi, was officially informed specifically of them yesterday.
My Government hopes that this development in Croatia will also result in close consideration from the Council and from the Contact Group which began its work yesterday. Croatia fully supports the Contact Group’s discussions at the highest level, because our experience from the Washington talks tells us that political agreements are much more easily accomplished with mediation by high-level representatives, and we hope that the parties involved will be able to partake in those discussions shortly. Similarly, my Government must commend the recent effectiveness of NATO in its attempts to secure compliance with the Security Council resolutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and would urge the international community to consider how this resolve might be expanded and utilized in respect of the Security Council resolutions in Croatia as well.
In conclusion, I should like to point out that there may be temporary lulls in the fighting in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as there are in Croatia, as a result of on-again, off-again diplomatic initiatives, which some may choose to call peace. But these are nothing more than mirages of peace, created by an overwhelming war machine in the hands of extremist Serbian leaders. The members of the Council will remain actors in a scenario which follows the logic of war that might is right, and not the logic of peace, as a mirage would lead us to believe.
There must be a way to achieve peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. If the Security Council is not able to achieve that peace after three years of horrible suffering, the Council must consider other options, including the right of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia to defend themselves, in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations.
I thank the representative of Croatia for the kind words he addressed to me and my delegation.
The next speaker is the representative of Sudan. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
Please allow me at the outset to thank you, Sir, for giving me this opportunity to address the Council, which is honoured today by your Foreign Minister’s presence as President, together with a number of Foreign Ministers of countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference Contact Group, as well as the Foreign Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Foreign Minister of Greece, speaking on behalf of the European Union. The activities of the Contact Group and the presence of these Ministers testify to the importance of the issue before the Council today, the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
This is a decisive turning point for Bosnia and a grave responsibility for the Council and for the international community, which must seek the ways and means to put an end to this indifference and these inadequate solutions, with a view to adopting positions and resolutions that could restore to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina their usurped rights and end their lengthy suffering, which is due to a failing in world conscience and to the application of a double standard.
I had the honour to make a statement before the Council less than a week ago on the same question we are considering today. At that time, I expressed some optimism at the fact that NATO had accepted the Secretary-General’s request to intervene and carry out an air strike against the Serb aggressors, with a view to putting an end to their aggression, forcing them to give up their expansionist aims and stopping them from flagrantly violating the principles of international law and human rights against a State Member of the United Nations. The fact that the Serbian aggressors bowed to that ultimatum confirms the need to ensure the vigorous and comprehensive implementation of Council resolutions, particularly if the party concerned understands only force and defies international law and the Charter and resolutions of our Organization.
These latest developments are further proof of what we have already stressed: that the Council’s reluctance to face the aggressors has played a negative role in the tragedy of the Muslim people of Bosnia. The Council must therefore assume its responsibility in the face of this continuing tragedy, of the deaths of thousands of martyrs and the wounding of hundreds of thousands of people, and of the fact that thousands of Muslims are homeless and facing ethnic eradication in Bosnia because of this very reluctance to face the Serbian aggression against them.
The Council’s policy of double standards has encouraged the Serb aggressors to impose their logic of acquiring land by force and "ethnic cleansing" and to carry out their expansionist plans while ignoring the resolutions of the London Conference. The Council has even made their work easier by denying the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina its inherent right, in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter, to defend itself, to exercise its sovereignty and to safeguard its territorial integrity. By implementing resolution 713 (1991) imposing the arms embargo on Bosnia while negotiations allowed the aggressor to gain time and make military gains, and, by encouraging the division of Bosnia in favour of the Serb aggressor, the United Nations now finds itself in an indefensible position.
The United Nations consideration of the Bosnian tragedy as a civil war between different ethnic groups greatly diminishes the key role that the Republic of Serbia and Montenegro has played in and in support of the aggression against the independent Republic of Bosnia. The application of resolution 713 (1991) to Bosnia is in flagrant violation of Article 51 of the Charter and is thus illegal, because it deprives a Member State of its inherent right to self-defence.
My delegation, in reiterating its demand for the immediate lifting of the embargo, welcomes with satisfaction the statements by the Permanent Representative of the United States, as well as other members of the Council, on the adoption of a resolution along those lines. At the same time, we invite friendly States that have expressed certain reservations with respect to this question to reconsider their positions in such a way as to affirm their support for the principles of justice and equality and for the right of peoples to self-defence in the face of foreign aggression.
The credibility of the Security Council and of the United Nations in general is now facing a serious challenge in Bosnia, as the Council appears unable to defend the safe areas it established under resolution 824 (1993). The Muslims in the region are at the mercy of the aggressor, which has tightened its grip on those "safe areas" in order to empty them of their inhabitants. It has done so in pursuit of the policy of "ethnic cleansing" which it has been carrying out for two years in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The incompetence of the United Nations has exposed its representatives and forces to violent acts of harassment and to arrests, which pose a challenge to the Organization’s credibility and prestige. In order for UNPROFOR to assume its responsibility in those regions, my country is ready and willing – despite the difficulties we are facing because of the foreign invasion of our country, which has been going on for three decades – to send contingents to help to protect the safe areas and to participate in the provision of humanitarian assistance. This derives from our participation in the United Nations and our commitment to respect the tenets of humanitarian and international law.
In conclusion, I would reiterate what I said at the last Council meeting: that the Muslims of Bosnia have earned the respect of people the world over thanks to their courage and resistance in the face of aggression. They will be able to defend themselves with that same courage if right prevails in the world and if the unjust imposition of resolution 713 (1991) is lifted, thereby making it possible for them to safeguard their sovereignty and their inherent right to self-defence, in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter.
The next speaker is the representative of Bangladesh. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
Let me first pay a warm tribute, Sir, to the devoted and dedicated manner in which your country’s representative has conducted the affairs of this Council in this difficult month of April. We have been privileged to have the Foreign Minister of New Zealand preside over our affairs today.
This Council Meeting is important, not only because of the serious deterioration of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole, sparked by events in Gorazde, but also because of the presence in this debate of the Secretary-General, of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), and of the eight Islamic Foreign Ministers gathered here in New York to attend an emergency meeting of the OIC contact group on Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bangladesh fully endorses the Declaration adopted by that ministerial meeting.
In reviewing the current situation obtaining in Bosnia and Herzegovina we would like to underscore certain essential points. First and foremost, what is at stake in dealing with this issue is not only the fate of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but that of all weaker and smaller States that belong to this Organization. At issue here is the credibility of the United Nations, especially that of the Security Council, in upholding the immutable principles of the Charter – the sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity of all States, and particularly the non-acquisition of territory by force. As the Foreign Minister of Bosnia has underscored, respect for human rights and the sanctity of borders are integral elements to these principles and to the search for any viable political solution.
Secondly, the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina can in no way be categorized as a civil war. It is pure and simple aggression, the consistent, unflagging pursuit by the Serbs of a single objective – the dismemberment of a country to create a Greater Serbia. This has been accompanied by genocidal conflict which has taken a colossal toll of 200,000 civilian lives and the brutalization of hundreds of thousands of others.
The Council’s response to this situation has often been too little and too late. It has been characterized by post-facto rationalization, hesitation, piecemeal and ad hoc responses, lack of anticipation and lack of political will to implement decisions taken. Delay accompanied by dilatory measures has been tantamount to appeasement; it has not in any way deterred, but indeed encouraged the Serbs in their continued encroachment of territory and calculated violation of all agreements. Gorazde remains a tragic symbol of this off-again, on-again policy of delay in implementing decisions already taken.
What is important today is for the Council to reinforce its will to take purposeful remedial action. This should encompass political, military, legal, economic and humanitarian measures in a concerted package.
On the political front we welcome the Council’s decision in resolution 913 (1994) to intensify efforts towards an overall political settlement that includes close consultations between the United States, the Russian Federation, the United Nations and the European Union. We believe that any such peace initiative must have representation from the Organization of the Islamic Conference. To help maintain pressure upon the Serbs by the entire world society we also support the convening of a special session of the United Nations General Assembly at an appropriate time, to supplement and legitimize decisions of the Security Council. We have welcomed the conclusion of the Washington Agreement among the Bosnians and Croats as a vital first step toward an overall political settlement and believe that momentum in this regard must be regenerated.
On the military and indeed legal front a crucial priority is to lift the arms embargo enjoined by Security Council resolution 713 (1991) on the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the light of the unfolding series of events it is now increasingly evident that the de facto arms embargo not only is unjust and discriminatory and an open invitation to the aggressor to continue its depredations but also directly contradicts Article 51 of the United Nations Charter and the inherent right of all nations for individual and collective self-defence. Any political solution, under these circumstances, can only be an imposition. The Serbs have hardly demonstrated their bona fides in seeking a political solution.
The pursuit of its mandate by the War Crimes Tribunal must also be intensified and adequately funded. Accountability must be established. While we welcome NATO’s ultimatum and its decision to extend the Sarajevo exclusion zone model to other United Nations declared "safe areas" in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the need to coordinate and swiftly execute deterrence measures through air strikes must be made manifest to the Serbs. Utmost vigilance must also be exercised in containing the spread of violence and aggression to other areas, especially Sandjak and Kosova.
We fully support the strengthening of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) in Bosnia and – Herzegovina and in this regard welcome resolution 914 adopted this morning. I would like to reiterate Bangladesh’s commitment and readiness to contribute one mechanized infantry battalion for immediate deployment.
On the economic front and in the light of the Serbs’ blatant aggression we fully support the strengthening and tightening of existing sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro).
On the humanitarian front, efforts need to be intensified to bring relief and medical assistance to the beleaguered people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially through the reopening of Tuzla airport. Longer term-rehabilitation and reconstruction measures need to be anticipated as of now, and efforts coordinated towards this end.
In conclusion, the response of this Council on how to remedy the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina remains for all of us an acid test of the credibility of the United Nations and the faith that we have reposed in it.
When realpolitik and the so-called realities on the ground are argued to be "fait-accomplis" which cannot be reversed, when "safe areas" are euphemisms for concentration camps whose continued protection becomes an exercise in futility, when aggression is permitted to be justified on the grounds that it would be too difficult to reverse it, then a very dangerous message is being sent out to the international community. It would mean a return to the law of the jungle. In this day and age and after all the lessons of the past, it would mean that the United Nations has surrendered all of its principles on the door step of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
I thank the representative of Bangladesh for his kind words addressed to me.
The next speaker is the representative of Azerbaijan. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
Over the last two years, the Security Council has, again and again, focused its attention on the situation in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Future historians researching the documents of the General Assembly and the Security Council regarding the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina will have a difficult task when faced with so many resolutions, statements and other decisions.
Unfortunately, however, there is still no basis to conclude that United Nations decisions have had any serious or substantive influence on the continuing ruthless, deliberate slaughter of the Bosnian Muslims.
Once again the world community has become witness to a bloody massacre, now in Gorazde – which, along with Sarajevo, Tuzla, Zepa, Bihac and Srebrenica and their surroundings, had been declared in resolution 824 (1993) as a safe area. Moreover, resolution 836 (1993) expanded the mandate of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) to enable it to protect the safe areas using all necessary measures, including air power. But despite this and other resolutions of the Council regarding the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Gorazde over 700 innocent civilians were killed and more than 2,000 crippled, and 20,000 people were forcibly displaced.
This act of barbarism committed against a safe area once again testifies to the total disregard by well-armed Serb nationalists for the implementation of the decisions of our Organization. The impunity enjoyed by the armed units of Bosnian Serbs undermines the fundamental principles of the contemporary system of collective international security.
Once again we would like to draw attention to the urgent need to revise and strengthen in a practical way the traditional concepts and machinery for peace-keeping and peacemaking activity, particularly that undertaken with respect to the Bosnian conflict within the framework of various international organizations, including the United Nations and its Security Council.
The ongoing situation in some parts of the world can create the impression that extremist, chauvinist and nationalist movements, as well as the political leaders of those "brown" movements, seriously believe in the hypothetical possibility of the reconfiguration by force of internationally recognized borders, thus undermining the authority of the Security Council and faith in its ability to react in a timely and adequate way to acts of aggression wherever and under whatever circumstances they are committed.
The position of the Azerbaijani Republic has been expressed at various meetings and forums in which the situation in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been discussed. On the basis of fundamental principles of international relations – respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the inviolability of international borders and the inadmissibility of the use of force for the acquisition of territory – Azerbaijan strongly condemns the actions of the Serb separatists who are citizens of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, given its understanding that the world community will never resign itself to the policy of fait accompli, to the dismemberment of the country, or to any attempts to change its internationally recognized borders by force.
In conclusion, the Azerbaijani delegation strongly believes that, considering the gravity of the tragic situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Security Council will act decisively and resolutely without waiting for new massacres to occur in other safe areas.
The next speaker is the representative of Albania. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
I wish first of all to congratulate you, Sir, on the able and successful way in which you have guided the work of the Security Council this month. I also congratulate your predecessor, Ambassador Mérimée, who led the work of the Council last month with such professionalism. I wish also to thank the Foreign Minister of New Zealand, who presided over most of this evening’s meeting.
My delegation understands the importance of the fact that statements have been made here by the Foreign Ministers of various countries on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On behalf of my Government, I sincerely thank those Foreign Ministers for their efforts to bring peace to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Serb withdrawal from the Gorazde exclusion zone resulted from the clear signal sent by the United Nations, along with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Albania unreservedly supports all NATO decisions regarding the use of air strikes to protect the safe areas. They should guarantee that the Sarajevo and Gorazde massacres will never recur elsewhere in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The calm situation in Gorazde and the presence of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) constitute an opportunity not to be wasted. Now is the time to renew the international community’s efforts to secure peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
My Government’s position on the conflict in the former Yugoslavia has been outlined several times, most recently in the annex to my letter of 22 April 1994 addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/1994/493). We reiterate that intensive diplomatic action, along with other measures, which could include the use of force, would be the most suitable means to bring peace to the former Yugoslavia. We welcome the recent initiative regarding the convening of a high-level conference. The conference should work to find an overall solution to the conflict. In this connection, Albania wishes to draw attention to the serious situation in Kosova, and to state its view that dealing with the crisis in Kosova should be an integral element in the peace process.
We urge that the many legitimate international diplomatic efforts should not be limited; they are aimed at a long-term solution to the entire conflict in the former Yugoslavia.
I take this opportunity to reiterate the view of the Albanian Government that the sanctions imposed on Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) are an important part of what the international community has done to bring peace to the region. We are pleased that during the recent Security Council debate many countries spoke of the need to keep the sanctions in place.
We must not forget that the initial Serb aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina is what caused the present disaster in a State Member of the United Nations. The weakening of the Belgrade military machine is a principal condition for ensuring lasting stability in the Balkans. Albania is experiencing enormous difficulties because of the sanctions, but the importance of these sanctions in the cause of peace is paramount.
Let me conclude by reaffirming that the measures my country views as essential are all set out in my letter to the President of the Security Council, to which I referred a moment ago.
I thank the representative of Albania for the kind words he addressed to me and to my Foreign Minister.
I now call on the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who has asked to make a statement.
It is most unfortunate that I am compelled to invoke the right of reply with respect to the statements of both the Russian Federation and Ambassador Djokic.
With regard to the statement of the representative of the Russian Federation, I wish only to remind all that the defence forces protecting the "safe areas", and all of our Republic, are, in fact, the defence forces of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They are entitled and obligated to do so by our status as a sovereign State, and they are explicitly recognized in this capacity in resolutions 824 (1993) and 836 (1993).
Moreover, any reference to our Government or defence forces as "Muslim" is inaccurate, delegitimizing and biased. We represent and incorporate all ethnicities.
Ambassador Djokic’s representation, presumably on behalf of the so-called Bosnian Serbs, that the Bosnian Serbs are exhibiting a willingness to negotiate and make painful compromises is most welcome. Still, this representation begs two questions.
First, does Ambassador Djokic also mean good-faith negotiations? One need only be reminded of lies told and promises broken over the past three weeks by the so-called Bosnian Serbs at the expense of various United Nations representatives and the representative of the Russian Federation and, most painfully, at the direct cost of Bosnian lives.
Secondly, Ambassador Djokic seems to be equally and as comfortably able to speak on behalf of Serbia and Montenegro as he is on behalf of the so-called Bosnian Serbs. Therefore, we must reasonably conclude that the Government of Serbia and Montenegro is the same as that of the so-called Bosnian Serbs. So much for the false allegations and theories of a civil war.
Finally, those who continue to deny the right of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina to self-defence through de facto arms embargo should feel uncomfortable that Ambassador Djokic invokes the same arguments as many of them do.
There are no further speakers. The Security Council has thus concluded the present stage of its consideration of the item on the agenda.
The Security Council will remain seized of the matter.