The Security Council this morning rejected a demand for the immediate cessation of the use of force against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the urgent resumption of negotiations.
Acting on a draft resolution submitted by Belarus, Russian Federation and India, the Council failed to adopt it by a vote of 3 in favour (China, Namibia, Russian Federation) to 12 against, with no abstentions.
According to Article 27 (3) of the United Nations Charter, decisions of the Security Council should be made by an affirmative vote of nine members, including the concurring votes of the permanent members.
Speaking before action on the text, the representative of the Russian Federation said that attempts to justify the military action under the pretext of preventing a humanitarian catastrophe bordered on blackmail, and those who would vote against the text would place themselves in a situation of lawlessness. Indeed, the aggressive military action unleashed by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) against a sovereign State was a real threat to international peace and security, and grossly violated the key provisions of the United Nations Charter.
The United States representative, also speaking before the vote, said the allegation contained in the draft resolution that NATO was acting in violation of the United Nations Charter had turned the truth on its head. The Charter did not sanction armed assaults on ethnic groups or imply that the world should turn a blind eye to a growing humanitarian disaster. By rejecting the resolution before it today, the Council would reaffirm the requirements it had put to the Government in Belgrade to cease their brutal attacks against the people of Kosovo and move towards peace.
Speaking after action on the text, the representative of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia said NATO had turned a sovereign and peaceful country
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and its proud people into "a killing field and a testing ground" for its most sophisticated weaponry, trampling upon international relations and defying the authority of the Security Council and its resolutions. His country had been given two alternatives: to give up part of its territory, or have it taken away by force -- that was the essence of the "solution" offered at the "negotiations" in France. By attacking Yugoslavia, NATO had not solved the alleged humanitarian catastrophe, but had created one for all citizens of Yugoslavia and for peace and security in the region and beyond.
Did anyone remember the ethnic cleansing and the genocide committed against Bosnians? that country's representative asked. He asked whether the supporters of the draft resolution believed that an end to NATO's action would produce anything positive for Kosovo, or Bosnia and Herzegovina, or for the region as a whole. The world community's response to Bosnia was late, but it was welcome. He did not now wish to see a response come too late for the Kosovars.
War was no humanitarian solution, the Cuban representative stated. The ridiculous claim of using force to coerce a government into fulfilling its obligations ran counter to international law. Never before had the unipolar order imposed by the United States been so obvious. The Council's defeat of the draft resolution meant that it was going along with actions of international delinquency of the United States and its allies.
Indeed, the Council's authority had been an early victim of NATO's bombing campaign, the Indian representative said, as he called for an immediate end to the senseless violence. Unfortunately, NATO seemed to have taken on the persona and the methods of operation of those whose activities it wanted to curb.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Canada, Slovenia, Netherlands, United Kingdom, France, Argentina, Malaysia, Bahrain, China, Ukraine and Belarus.
The meeting, which began at 11:19 a.m., adjourned at 12:59 p.m.
Council Work Programme
The Security Council met this morning following a request by the Russian Federation contained in a letter dated 24 March addressed to the Council President (document S/1999/320). The letter requests an urgent meeting of the Council to consider "an extremely dangerous situation caused by the unilateral military action of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia". The letter was first before the Council on 24 March, when a debate on the matter was held.
Before the Council was a draft resolution sponsored by Belarus, India and the Russian Federation (document S/1999/328), which reads as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Recalling its primary responsibility under the United Nations Charter for the maintenance of international peace and security,
"Deeply concerned that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) used military force against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia without the authorization by the Council,
"Affirming that such unilateral use of force constitutes a flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter, in particular Articles 2 (4), 24 and 53,
"Recognizing that the ban by NATO of civil flights in the airspace of a number of countries in the region constitutes a flagrant violation of the principle of complete and exclusive sovereignty of every State over the airspace above its territory in accordance with article 1 of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation,
"Recalling all its relevant resolutions and decisions, in particular the statement of its President of 29 January 1999 (S/PRST/1999/5), in which it, inter alia, expressed the intention to be informed by members of the Contact Group about the progress reached in the negotiations on a political settlement of the situation in Kosovo, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and awaiting such a report,
"Reaffirming its commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia,
"Determining that the use of force by NATO against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia constitutes a threat to international peace and security,
"Acting under Chapters VII and VIII of the Charter,
"1. Demands an immediate cessation of the use of force against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and urgent resumption of negotiations;
"2. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."
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The Council President, QIN HUASUN (China), put the draft resolution to a vote.
Speaking before action, ROBERT FOWLER (Canada) said that the present resolution demanded an immediate cessation of the use of force and a return to the negotiating table. He asked what the entire international community had been doing since the entire crisis had begun. It had dispatched many missions, made bilateral initiatives to convince President Milosevic how serious the international community's intentions were. The Security Council had adopted a number of resolutions and presidential statements, asking President Milosevic to put an end to the brutal repression perpetrated against his citizens. He had used the good intentions of the international community to continue and intensify his repression in Kosovo, even during the negotiations. All of that was done in obvious violation of Council resolutions.
Those who would support the resolution had placed themselves outside of the international consensus which held that the time had come to stop the continuing violence perpetrated by the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia against its own people, he said. Rather than bringing forward that unproductive resolution, in an attempt to divert attention from the fundamental humanitarian issue, those countries might more usefully had directed their energies towards convincing the leaders in Belgrade to stop the violence against their people and to accept the Rambouillet peace agreement. As proposed, the resolution would only serve to grant President Milosevic free rein to finish the brutal job he started last year, and had since continued to such deadly effect, most prominently at Racak. For those reasons, Canada would vote against the resolution.
DANILO TÜRK (Slovenia) said he would vote against the draft, which represented an inadequate attempt to address the situation in Kosovo. It took a selective political view of the situation and lacked the objectivity necessary for Security Council resolutions. It ignored the fact that several months ago, the Council had declared the situation in Kosovo as constituting a threat to regional peace and security. The current text ignored the fact that the Council already spelled out the requirements for removing that threat, as well as the fact that those requirements had been flagrantly violated, including by the ongoing massive defence by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia military forces affecting the civilian population in Kosovo. All of those reasons were ignored in the draft.
He said it seemed that the text was intended to redefine Security Council resolutions. Proceeding from a fundamentally flawed factual assessment, the text tried to invoke some basic norms of the United Nations Charter, but it failed to address the relevant circumstances and ignored the events which had led to the current military action. Moreover, it did not state the reasons for the military action or present any reason to oppose them. The political jargon of flagrant violations could not conceal the lack of a convincing argument.
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The text failed also to address that the Council had chosen to remain silent at times when regional organizations sought to remove regional threats to peace and security, he said. While each case was unique, some consistency in adhering to the Charter was required. An explanation of the reasons for opposing the military action was sadly lacking in the text, and could not be replaced by the strong words which appeared in it. For those reasons, he would vote against the text.
Continuing, he said the use of force by the Belgrade Government against civilians had created a situation which made the current military action inevitable. He would have preferred the Council's authorization, but that was not possible for reasons he had explained in the Council during its discussion of the situation two days ago. According to the United Nations Charter, the Security Council had the primary, but not exclusive responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. At a moment like this, all Council members had to think hard about what needed to be done to ensure the Council's authority and make its primary responsibility as real as the Charter required.
PETER VAN WALSUM (Netherlands) said that resolution 1203 (1998) adopted by the Council five months ago, had clearly stated that the Council was acting under Chapter VII of the Charter. In it, the Council had expressed its deep alarm at the impending humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo, emphasizing the need to keep that from happening. It had endorsed and supported the agreements signed in Belgrade between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and between the Federal Republic and NATO respectively, and had demanded the full and prompt implementation of those agreements by Yugoslavia. Being aware of its strong commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yugoslavia, the Council had been grateful to Russia for having contributed to that pressure being brought to bear on the Yugoslav leadership.
Since then, however, at every critical juncture Russia had somehow succeeded in making the pressure less credible, so that in the end NATO had no choice but to make good on its threat, which had initially meant to bring about a peaceful solution to the Kosovo crisis, he said. The NATO action followed directly from resolution 1203, in conjunction with the flagrant non-compliance on the part of Yugoslavia. Given its complex background, the action could not be allowed to be described as unilateral use of force. If the Council now demanded an immediate cessation of the NATO action, it would once again -- and once again at the initiative of Russia -- give the wrong signal to President Milosevic, leading to a further prolongation of the bloodshed in Kosovo. For that reason, the Netherlands would vote against the draft resolution.
A. PETER BURLEIGH (United States) said that his country greatly appreciated the broad support for NATO that had been shown in the Council on Wednesday. The United States and its allies had begun the military action only with the greatest reluctance, after all peaceful options had been thoroughly exhausted. By rejecting a peace settlement and escalating its assault on the people of Kosovo -- in violation of numerous Security Council
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resolutions -- Belgrade had chosen the path of war. It had continued to attack innocent Kosovars. Disturbing reports had been received that Serb forces were using human shields, that non-combatants were being rounded up in large groups, and that some were being summarily executed. Attempts to verify those reports had been obstructed by the Belgrade Government, which had cracked down on independent journalists in Yugoslavia, harassed and expelled international media, and clamped down on independent human rights groups.
Even today Serb forces were pressing their offensive against civilians, burning and looting, and attacking Kosovar Albanian political leaders, he continued. Some 60,000 people had been forced to flee their homes since the last round of peace talks began in France, and that number was increasing daily. It now stood at more than 250,000 displaced persons -- one in 10 of Kosovo's population. It was a humanitarian catastrophe. Large refugee flows out of Kosovo into neighbouring countries might have a serious and destabilizing effect. The stability of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and the rest of the region was at stake. Those developments justified sustained military action to limit Belgrade's ability to threaten and harm innocent civilians in Kosovo.
The United States appreciated the enormous contribution the Russian Federation had made to advance the cause of peace in Kosovo and in the Balkans, particularly in the context of the Contact Group, he said. The Group's efforts to uphold human rights and to negotiate an equitable settlement to the crisis had been endorsed on several occasions by the Council. The avenue to peace was clear. In resolutions 1199 (1998) and 1203 (1998), the Council had laid out the steps Belgrade had to take to resolve the crisis. Belgrade, however, had chosen to defy repeatedly the will of the international community.
The present resolution had alleged that NATO was acting in violation of the United Nations Charter, he said. That had turned the truth on its head. The Charter did not sanction armed assaults on ethnic groups, or implied that the international community should turn a blind eye to a growing humanitarian disaster. NATO's actions were completely justified. They were necessary to stop the violence and to prevent a further deterioration of peace and stability in the region. The Yugoslav authorities could quickly bring NATO's actions to a halt by ceasing their brutal attacks against the people of Kosovo and moving to a peace agreement. By rejecting the resolution before it today, the Council would reaffirm the requirements it had put to the Government in Belgrade.
He said that the resolution before the Council should be defeated, for it could only encourage President Milosevic to continue or even to intensify military repression of the civilian population of Kosovo. Further, if adopted, it would damage prospects for a negotiated settlement and make further bloodshed more likely. The resolution did nothing to advance the cause of peace in the Balkans -- a cause that the international community and the Council had worked long and hard to achieve.
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SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said the continuing military action undertaken under the pretext of preventing a humanitarian catastrophe had already caused consequences and done damage to the ability to find a political settlement. The attempts that had been made today to justify such lawlessness could not be taken seriously. Those statements bordered on blackmail, and those who would vote against the draft resolution would place themselves in a situation of lawlessness.
Today, it was precisely Russia which had favoured the convening of an urgent meeting of the Ministers of the Contact Group, if military action were to cease, he said. The aggressive military action unleashed by NATO against a sovereign State was a real threat to international peace and security, and grossly violated the key provisions of the United Nations Charter, in particular Articles 4 and 2. Article 24 entrusted the Council with the primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security; Article 53 concerned the indivisibility of any enforcement action by regional alliances without the Council's authority. The use of force not only destabilized the situation in the Balkans and the region as a whole, but undermined today's system of modern-day international relations.
One's worst fears were being fulfilled now, he went on. The virus of lawlessness was encompassing more and more spheres of international relations. The latest example was NATO's ban on any civilian aviation flights in the airspace over the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Croatia. That ban, with which it decided to control States, had violated the principle rights of States over airspace, as enshrined in article 1 of the Chicago Convention.
He said the Council should not and could not be passive in a situation which ran counter to the overwhelming majority of States. Russia, together with other countries, had submitted a demand for the immediate cessation of the use of force, and called for an urgent resumption of talks. A solution of that kind should be sought by the international community if it was really interested in preventing unilateral approaches to conflicts and the prevention of the use of force in world affairs.
Many Council members had doubts about that vote, he said. What was in the balance now was law and lawlessness; of either reaffirming the commitments of one's people to the United Nations Charter, or tolerating a situation where gross force was the norm. Council members bore the responsibility, not only to their peoples but to all members of the United Nations. Today's vote was not just on the problem of Kosovo, but went directly to the Council's authority, in the eyes of the world community. Council members could not ignore demands to stop the aggression and respect international law. Its capacity to defend the Charter was key for the future of the United Nations. If it could not do that, then no negotiations or talks about reforming the Council would help.
He said he would not ask for the floor after the vote; it was up to Council members to make their choice, and they would do so at this public
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meeting before the eyes of the international community under full transparency.
The draft resolution was rejected by a vote of 3 in favour (China, Namibia, Russian Federation) to 12 against, with no abstentions.
Speaking after the vote, STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom) said that every means short of force had been used to try to avert the current situation. Those efforts had failed because President Milosevic had flouted the demands of the international community, including successive Council resolutions, allowed his forces to continue their violent oppression of civilians in Kosovo, and ignored all appeals to negotiate a political statement. He had acted in defiance of the expressed will of the Council. It was Belgrade's policies with regard to Kosovo which had caused the threat to peace and security in the region, not the actions of NATO. In the current circumstances, military intervention was justified as an exceptional measure to prevent an overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe.
Adoption of the resolution today would have had simply signalled to President Milosevic that there was no check on his repressive action in Kosovo, he said. It would had done nothing to avert the imminent humanitarian catastrophe. That was why the United Kingdom had voted against it.
ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said that France had already previously expressed its reasons for its involvement. The Council had adopted three resolutions under Chapter VII on Kosovo. In resolution 1199, the Council had reaffirmed that the deterioration of the situation had posed a threat to peace and security in the region. It had also made a number of demands to the Yugoslav Government. In resolution 1203, the Council had approved and supported the agreements between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the OSCE, and between the Federal Republic and NATO. The Council had demanded that those agreements be implemented promptly and in their entirety. Yugoslavia had not fulfilled its obligations under those agreements. NATO's actions had responded to Yugoslavia's failure to fulfil its obligations. The draft resolution today ran counter to France's own judgement and that was why he voted against it.
FERNANDO PETRELLA (Argentina) said that his country's negative vote was based on the vital need to contribute to put an end to the extremely grave violations of human rights that had been occurring in Kosovo. Those violations had been clearly documented in many reports of the Secretary- General. That, along with the abundant reasonings, had led to the adoption by the Council in 1998 of resolutions 1160, 1199 and 1203. He underscored the need to fulfil the legal norms of international humanitarian law and human rights. The obligation to protect those rights was the obligation of all and must not be debated. That obligation was all the more urgent after what had been alleged, seen and proven in that region, where grave crimes had been committed in the past, even genocide.
Argentina had been and remained involved in the Balkans through peacekeeping since 1992, he said. His position now was based on Argentina's
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own direct experience in the field. That position, based on fundamental legal principles and practical experience, must not come as a surprise. Argentina could not accept a draft that failed to mention earlier resolutions on Kosovo, disregarded the grave humanitarian context, and did not take into account the precedents that had been set in that region. For those reasons, he urged all of those with the capacity to have an influence in the region, especially the Russian Federation, to continue efforts to put an end to the crisis and arrive at a comprehensive agreement that would lead to peace. He regretted that there had been victims in the situation. Argentina, according to its capacity, was prepared to alleviate their sufferings, especially those of the refugees and displaced persons.
RASTAM MOHD. ISA (Malaysia) said that force, if necessary, should be a recourse of last resort and it should be sanctioned by the Security Council. It was greatly disappointing that serious efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Kosovo conflict had failed, for which the Yugoslav leadership bore full responsibility, since it continued to reject the Rambouillet accords and chose to carry out massive military offensives against the Kosovo people, even at this very hour. Indeed, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had increased its military activities and had been using excessive and wholly disproportionate force, thereby creating a further humanitarian catastrophe. Unfortunately, the draft resolution had completely ignored that reality.
He said his country remained gravely concerned at the worsening situation on the ground in Kosovo. The violent repression by the Serbian and Yugoslav security forces against the Kosovo population had increased dramatically in the last few days. The current Serbian military offensive had resulted in further deaths and destruction. Large numbers of civilians, especially women and children, had been forcibly displaced from their homes and villages. The present action by Serb forces against the Kosovar Albanians was creating an immense humanitarian catastrophe. Such a tragic situation required an appropriate and prompt action by the world community. Unfortunately, the Yugoslav leadership not only had failed to comply with Council resolutions, but also continued to reject the Rambouillet accords and rebuff all efforts to finding a political solution to the conflict.
JASSIM MOHAMMED BUALLAY (Bahrain) said that one opportunity after another had been given to the Belgrade authorities to reach a peaceful settlement. The Kosovo authorities had agreed to that in Rambouillet, but the Serbian authorities had refused to do so. They had continued to use force in the region, causing thousands of casualties and displaced persons. Hence, the humanitarian disaster of tremendous proportion that could not be stopped without the intervention of Member States. He could not but oppose today's draft, without which he would have approved the ethnic cleansing, which could have led to greater massacres and more displacements of Albanian Kosovars.
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QIN HUASUN (China) said that the continued military strikes against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia by NATO, with the United States at the lead, had already caused severe casualties and damage. The situation in the Balkans had deteriorated. China strongly opposed such an act blatantly violating the principles of the Charter, as well as international law, and challenging the Council's authority. He repeated China's strong calls for an immediate cessation of that military action, so as to facilitate the restoration of peace in the Balkan region at an early date.
He said that China had always stood for peaceful settlement of disputes through negotiations. He opposed the use of or threat of use of force in international affairs, and interference in the internal affairs of other States under whatever pretext or in whatever form. The question of Kosovo, being an internal matter of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, should be solved by the parties concerned among themselves. Settlement of the issue should be based on the respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic and guarantee of the legitimate rights and interests of all the ethnic groups in the Kosovo area. It was based on the above principles that China had voted in favour of the draft. He deeply regretted that the Council had failed to adopt the draft, which was in conformity with the basic principles of the Charter and international law.
VOLODYMYR YEL'CHENKO (Ukraine) read out a statement issued by his country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 24 March. It said that Ukraine considered it inadmissible to use military force against a sovereign State without the Security Council's authorization. The Council was the only body entrusted to take such decisions in the maintenance of international peace and security. At the same time, Belgrade's refusal to sign the agreements formulated by the Contact Group had resulted in the breakdown of negotiations. Therefore, the provisions of the relevant Security Council resolutions had not been fully implemented, and had led to the use of force.
He said the Foreign Ministry urged the parties to the conflict, as well as the world community, to urgently exert additional efforts in order to stop the further escalation of the conflict. It was necessary to return, as soon as possible, to a peaceful political settlement on the basis of the preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and granting a wide autonomy to Kosovo. Ukraine reaffirmed its readiness to contribute to the efforts aimed at restoring peace and ensuring stability and respect for human rights, including the rights of national minorities on the territory of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
VLADISLAV JOVANOVIC (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) said his country had been a victim of brutal aggression by NATO forces, led by the United States, for the third straight day. Those forces had turned a sovereign and peaceful country and its proud people into "a killing field and a testing ground" for its most sophisticated weaponry, trampling upon international relations and defying the authority of the Security Council and its
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resolutions. It was outperforming even the Nazis, through its animosity and hatred against the Serbian and Montenegro people. The NATO, led by the United States, had engaged in an "orgy of destruction and havoc" against a peace- loving country. It was demonizing those people in a shameless attempt to provide a cover for its aggression.
He said the NATO aircraft had become allied with the terrorist activities of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Indeed, the NATO aggression had stepped up KLA terrorist activities against civilians, including Albanians. As a victim of that aggression, his country had no other choice but to defend itself and preserve its sacred land, which was the soul of the Serbian national being. Opposing the aggression, it had also upheld the basic principles of the United Nations Charter.
The massive and reckless bombing campaign was not limited to so-called military targets, but had brought death to hundreds of civilians and destroyed property, he said. The aggression had not even spared a memorial part in which tens of thousands of victims of the Nazi genocide of the Second World War had been buried, and another town which had no military significance at all. Two camps of Serbian refugees and two student hostels were also hit.
For the third time this century, the Serbian people had been presented with an ultimatum -- in 1914, and again in the 194Os. In each case, Serbians had refused to capitulate and had rejected the ultimatums. Now, Yugoslavia was faced with another ultimatum -- this time from NATO, from so-called democratic countries. It was given two alternatives: either give up a voluntary part of its territory, or have it taken away by force. That was the essence of the "solution" offered at the "negotiations" in France. The flagrant aggression by NATO countries, led by the United States, could not be justified on any grounds whatsoever. The fact that the Alliance changed positions and objectives daily was proof that even it did not believe on what it was saying.
If the aggression continued, he said his country would continue to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity on the basis of Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. Once the aggression was stopped, however, his country was ready to resume negotiations for a political solution on the basis of the 10 principles adopted by the Contact Group on 29 January 1998, and the document signed in Paris by a member of its delegation.
He said that by attacking Yugoslavia, NATO had not solved the alleged humanitarian catastrophe, which they so maliciously presented as a justification. On the contrary, those were creating a catastrophe themselves for all citizens of Yugoslavia and for peace and security in the region and beyond. The aggression was unjust, illegal, indecent and unscrupulous, and had displayed an arrogant attempt to defy the United Nations and its Charter. The Security Council was in position to reverse that course if it strongly condemned the aggression today, and requested NATO to stop it, immediately and
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unconditionally. If it failed to do so, it would be responsible for the breakdown of the present system of international relations.
Today, the Council was not only deciding the fate of his country, but its own future as well, he said. It was up to it to decide whether it would retain responsibility for maintaining international peace and security under the Charter, or whether it would cede that responsibility to NATO. Today, it made its choice; the right of might instead of might of right would be enthroned.
ALYAKSANDR SYCHOV (Belarus) said that he was extremely concerned over the illegal military actions launched by NATO against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Belarus had been one of the States that had called for an emergency meeting of the Council. The President and Government of Belarus had repeatedly proclaimed its commitment to a peaceful settlement. Even today the possibilities for a peaceful settlement could still be found. It was there that the key role of the Council could be found. He was profoundly concerned and disappointed that the resolution was not adopted. That had been counterproductive in view of the continued military strikes against a sovereign State and the destruction that it had caused. He was convinced that the use of force would not promote the establishment of stability or a cessation of confrontation between the parties. The decision to use force could only be taken by the Council in light of the views of Member States.
What had been witnessed today was the violation of the basic principles of international law, he said. Its consequences were unpredictable and threatened to undermine the United Nations and international law. He called on the Council to take all necessary steps to stop NATO's actions and the bloodshed, in the interest of the resumption of dialogue and the advancement of peace in the region.
BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARRILLA (Cuba) said that the Council had just lost, through the shameful vote, a historic opportunity. Its members, with their vote, had assumed an enormous responsibility. Following a series of painful events, prolonged armed clashes and hardly transparent negotiations, NATO had launched military actions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. That action was being conducted outside the Council, in which the United States, as the main promoter of the aggression, would have had to confront the opposition of some of its other members. He then read the statement issued by Cuba when the war had been launched by NATO. Cuba's Foreign Minister had condemned NATO's action and denounced the gross manoeuvres that had led to that action, which had been to satisfy the interests of those that wanted to impose their views on all others.
Cuba urged the international community to rally efforts to put an end to that unjustifiable action and make it possible for Yugoslavia to resume negotiations, he said. He was concerned that the aggression could spread the conflict to other States in the region. The ridiculous claim of fulfilling
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obligations by force ran counter to the principles of international law. Never before had the unipolar order imposed by the United States been so obvious. What had been witnessed was the Council going along with actions of international delinquency by the United States and its allies. When the Council did not yield to unipolar might, then what had been seen was that the super-Power acted on its own.
While there was talk of reform and transparency in the Council, it was painfully clear what the real position was of those who played with words for hegemonic interests, he said. The United Nations, instead of developing as a global democracy, would merely be a repressive instrument. In the current circumstances, the historic contributions of the Serbs in the Second World War could not be forgotten. During that time they had fought against Fascism and Nazism. The recent actions were the bitter fruits of a conspiracy to destroy Yugoslavia. Some of those, who today were brutally bombing, had in the past fought to dismantle that country. War was no humanitarian solution. Cuba hoped that an end would be put to the aggression without delay.
MUHAMED SACIRBEY (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said that he had addressed the Council two days ago to emphasize that resorting to the use of the military alternative was never welcome. He would not further herald that view. Unfortunately, based on events in Kosovo over the last couple of days, he had concluded further that military force sometimes was the only alternative left.
He said he joined all who believed that the prompt cessation of all military action was desirable, but the demands so far made by the Security Council and the Contact Group had not been accepted. Nor had the peace plan been accepted. Unfortunately, the Serbian defence to NATO had primarily consisted of an intensified campaign against its own civilians, particularly the Kosovar Albanians. That response went beyond the issue of courage and morality; it went to the heart of the only two visible strategies pursued by Belgrade, namely let NATO bomb and "we will hurry up and complete ethnic cleansing on the ground" -- if some Serbs were hurt or had to die or more Kosovars were killed, so be it.
Did anyone remember the ethnic cleansing and the genocide committed against Bosnians? he asked, adding that he was deeply disturbed, even insulted, when after the Bosnian experience, some had rushed to condemn military measures to confront Belgrade's continued resistance to peace and escalating campaign of ethnic cleansing. Who were the real victims and who were the victimizers? Should those rushing to complete ethnic cleansing hope to garner sympathy while the civilian victims of such cleansing wondered if they had been forgotten? "Did we learn something from the Bosnian experience -- at least some sensitivity to the victims of genocide?"
He asked whether the supporters of the draft resolution believed that an end to NATO's action would produce anything positive for Kosovo, or Bosnia and Herzegovina, or for the region as a whole? The Belgrade authorities would
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only then claim a victory of a brave fighter standing up to the mightiest military force on earth. The new mythology of the battle of Kosovo 1999 would be written, and the current Belgrade authorities would use it as a revitalized weapon of war against Kosovars, Bosnians, and other neighbours, further enslaving the minds of the Serbs.
If the draft had been adopted or had succeeded in garnering significant support, it would have been a defeat for peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was not here to preach morality, but to plead the cause of peace in his country and in the region as a whole. Like many other United Nations Members, his country was concerned about the implications of the NATO military action being undertaken without sanction of the United Nations or Security Council, but he would be even more dismayed if the Council was blocked and if there was no response to the humanitarian crisis and legal obligation to confront ethnic cleansing and war crime abuses.
Numerous calls by the Council for Belgrade to refrain from its disastrous policies in Kosovo, and efforts by the Contact Group to achieve peace, had been rejected. Rather, Belgrade responded by intensifying its resort to military force against Albanian Kosovars. Should the Council now be used as a marginalized institution to block or criticize the only viable response to end the vast human rights abuses?
He recalled that when the war against Bosnia and Herzegovina was being waged, the United Nations was too frequently criticized, even savaged, for its inability to stop the war. Unfortunately, even Bosnians frequently pointed a finger at the United Nations, for which it would apologize. In hindsight, it was clear that the responsibility for both the failures and successes of Bosnia lay with United Nations Members themselves, particularly with the Security Council. The same responsibility now lay with them with respect to Kosovo.
"Let us not once against allow the Security Council or the United Nations be seen as ineffective, even as an obstacle, to the necessary steps for peace", he said. Perhaps, as in Bosnia, there was no luxury of time in setting aside daily the lives that were being wrecked or lost.
The Cuban representative had spoken of the fight of the Serbs against the Nazis, he noted. The Bosnians were part of that fight, and had represented the greatest resistance to the Nazis. He did not wish to see history rewritten. His country had pleaded within and without the Security Council for any salvation, and thanks to many countries around the table that response finally did come. It was late, but it was welcome. He did not now wish to see a response come too late for the Kosovars.
KAMALESH SHARMA (India) said that it was a matter of great concern to his country that NATO's attacks on Yugoslavia continued, with the Council reduced to helplessness. The draft resolution had aims to which India
Security Council - 14 - Press Release SC/6659 3989th Meeting (AM) 26 March 1999
completely subscribed. It called for an immediate end to the senseless violence, and sought to re-establish the Council's authority, which had been one of the early victims of NATO's bombing campaign. Therefore, India had joined as a co-sponsor. He deeply regretted that the Council had not adopted the draft. The effect would be to prevent a return of the peace that the international community so dearly wanted, and which permanent members, three of whom had cast vetoes in pursuit of national interests, had a special responsibility to uphold.
It was clear that NATO would not listen to the Security Council, he said. It appeared that NATO believed itself to be above the law, and that was deeply uncomfortable. NATO had argued that the Serb police in Kosovo had acted violently and without any respect for the law. Unfortunately, NATO seemed to have taken on the persona and the methods of operation of those whose activities it wanted to curb. Those who took the law into their own hands had never improved civic peace within nations; neither would they help in international relations.
Those who continued to attack Yugoslavia professed to do so on behalf of the international community, and on pressing humanitarian grounds, he said. They said that they were acting in the name of humanity. Very few members of the international community had spoken in today's debate, but even among those who had, NATO would have noted that China, Russia and India had all opposed the violence which they had unleashed. "The international community" could hardly be said to have endorsed their actions, when already representatives of half of humanity had said that they did not agree with what NATO had done.
In a second intervention, Mr. FOWLER (Canada) said that the representative of India had said that three vetoes had been cast during the vote on the draft. In fact, there had not been any vetoes cast in the morning.
Also, in a second intervention, Mr. DEJAMMET (France) said he wanted to associate himself with the statement just made by Canada.
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