SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR ACCESS FOR UN AND OTHER HUMANITARIAN PERSONNEL OPERATING IN KOSOVO AND OTHER PARTS OF FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA

14 May 1999
SC/6677

SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR ACCESS FOR UN AND OTHER HUMANITARIAN PERSONNEL OPERATING IN KOSOVO AND OTHER PARTS OF FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA

14 May 1999

Press ReleaseSC/6677

SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR ACCESS FOR UN AND OTHER HUMANITARIAN PERSONNEL OPERATING IN KOSOVO AND OTHER PARTS OF FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA

19990514 Resolution 1239 (1999) Adopted By Vote of 13-0-2 (China and Russian Federation)

Reaffirming the right of all refugees and displaced persons to return to their homes in safety and dignity, the Security Council this morning called for access for the United Nations and all other humanitarian personnel operating in Kosovo and other parts of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Adopting resolution 1239 (1999) by a vote of 13 in favour to none against, with two abstentions (China and the Russian Federation), the Council invited the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other international humanitarian relief organizations to extend relief assistance to the internally displaced persons in Kosovo, the Republic of Montenegro and other parts of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as well as to other civilians being affected by the ongoing crisis.

Commending the efforts that have been taken by Member States, the UNHCR and other international humanitarian relief organizations in providing the urgently needed relief assistance to the Kosovo refugees in Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Council urged them and others in a position to do so to contribute resources for humanitarian assistance to the refugees and internally displaced persons.

By other terms of the resolution, the Council emphasized that the humanitarian situation would continue to deteriorate in the absence of a political solution to the crisis consistent with the principles adopted by the Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States on 6 May and urged all concerned to work towards that aim.

Statements were made by the representatives of Bahrain, Malaysia, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Gambia, Namibia, China, Russian Federation, Argentina, Brazil, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Netherlands, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Ukraine, Belarus, Cuba, Albania and Slovenia. The Observer for the Organization of the Islamic Conference also made a statement.

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At the outset of the meeting, the President of the Council, Denis Dangue Rewaka (Gabon), expressed, on behalf of the Council, sincere condolences to the bereaved families of all those who had lost their lives since the beginning of the crisis in and around Kosovo. He said he also wished to convey the Council's deepest sympathy to all the victims of the tragedy.

He then invited the members of the Council to observe a minute of silence.

The meeting, which was called to order at 11:35 p.m., was adjourned at 1:55 a.m.

Council Work Programme

The Security Council met tonight following consultations on a draft resolution contained in document S/1999/517* and sponsored by Argentina, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Egypt, Gabon, Gambia, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Morocco, Namibia, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovenia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

The text of the draft resolution read as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Recalling its resolutions 1160 (1998) of 31 March 1998, 1199 (1998) of 23 September 1998, and 1203 (1998) of 24 October 1998, and the statements of its President of 24 August 1998 (S/PRST/1998/25), of 19 January 1999 (S/PRST/1999/2), and of 29 January 1999 (S/PRST/1999/5),

"Bearing in mind the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the international covenants and conventions on human rights, the Conventions and Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Additional Protocols thereto of 1977, as well as other instruments of international humanitarian law,

"Expressing grave concern at the humanitarian catastrophe in and around Kosovo, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as a result of the continuing crisis,

"Deeply concerned by the enormous influx of Kosovo refugees into Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and other countries, as well as by the increasing numbers of displaced persons within Kosovo, the Republic of Montenegro and other parts of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia,

"Stressing the importance of effective coordination of humanitarian relief activities undertaken by States, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and international organizations in alleviating the plight and suffering of refugees and internally displaced persons,

"Noting with interest the intention of the Secretary-General to send a humanitarian needs assessment mission to Kosovo and other parts of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia,

"Reaffirming the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all States in the region,

"1. Commends the efforts that have been taken by Member States, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other international

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humanitarian relief organizations in providing the urgently needed relief assistance to the Kosovo refugees in Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and urges them and others in a position to do so to contribute resources for humanitarian assistance to the refugees and internally displaced persons;

"2. Invites the UNHCR and other international humanitarian relief organizations to extend relief assistance to the internally displaced persons in Kosovo, the Republic of Montenegro and other parts of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as well as to other civilians being affected by the ongoing crisis;

"3. Calls for access for United Nations and all other humanitarian personnel operating in Kosovo and other parts of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia;

"4. Reaffirms the right of all refugees and displaced persons to return to their homes in safety and in dignity;

"5. Emphasizes that the humanitarian situation will continue to deteriorate in the absence of a political solution to the crisis consistent with the principles adopted by the Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America on 6 May 1999 (S/1999/516), and urges all concerned to work towards this aim;

"6. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."

Statements

JASSIM MOHAMMED BUALLAY (Bahrain) said that the displacement of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo had been caused by the destruction of property, the burning of people's homes, as well as by acts of terror, rape and assassination. Those actions reminded the world of a similar situation that had occurred in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and they proved that the Serbs had learned no lesson from that situation.

He said the Serbs were starting the same activities all over again, as a result of which people in Kosovo had suffered various forms of displacement. Displacement could take several forms. Some were lost in the mountains, others were scattered throughout the region and still others were in the border areas awaiting their turn to emigrate.

HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said that in the wake of the humanitarian tragedy unfolding in Kosovo, it was time the Security Council pronounced itself on the issue after weeks of paralysis, during which the international community had watched in anguish. The issue could only finally be resolved by way of a

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political solution. In the meantime, the Council could play a meaningful role by pronouncing itself on the humanitarian situation.

He said there was universal concern among Council members over the humanitarian tragedy that continued to unfold in and around Kosovo. The humanitarian aspect of the situation in Kosovo was the least contentious and should command the concern of all Council members. The adoption of the draft resolution would be a strong and unequivocal expression of the international community's support for the refugees and internally displaced persons and their right to return to their homes.

A. PETER BURLEIGH (United States) said the resolution, which his delegation supported, focused attention on the urgent issue at hand in Kosovo and the surrounding region: the plight of hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced persons, and the critical need to assist the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian workers and organizations in their efforts to address the crisis.

Slobodan Milosevic was responsible for the humanitarian crisis, he said. His campaign of ethnic cleansing had caused hundreds of thousands to flee their homes. It was clear how the crisis was to be resolved -- Belgrade must meet the conditions set out by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the principles agreed to at the Foreign Ministers' meeting held in Bonn on 6 May. All efforts in Kosovo and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia were focused on the objective of continuing to exert pressure on Mr. Milosevic and his Government to stop their planned, systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing and to permit the return of all refugees and displaced persons to their homes in safety and security.

The Secretary-General's humanitarian mission to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia would focus on the destruction in Kosovo, he said. The mission could greatly assist in preparing for the return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes. The team could identify the types of humanitarian food and medical assistance most urgently needed. The team must have unimpeded access throughout its visit, he stressed.

Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said the focus was now on the Kosovo crisis. The objective was for the people of Kosovo to return to their homes and recover from the crisis. The way to go from crisis to a resolution was to fulfil the terms of the text before the Council.

MICHEL DUVAL (Canada) said he unconditionally supported the resolution. It was entirely reasonable for the Council to be heard on humanitarian matters.

ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said that since the beginning of the tragic events in Kosovo, the Council had expressed its deepest concern. Yet the

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Council today, for the first time, was expressing itself through a resolution. The Non-Aligned Movement was to be thanked for its part in the process. There was a need for coordination of humanitarian efforts, a process which involved the UNHCR. There was also the matter of the return of the refugees.

The fifth provision of the present resolution merited special attention, he said. It stated that the humanitarian condition would continue to deteriorate in the absence of a political solution to the crisis. Tonight the Council was stating that the solution should be in line with the principles set out on 6 May in Bonn by Germany, the United States, Canada, the Russian Federation, France, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom. He would vote in favour of the resolution.

BABOUCARR-BLAISE ISMAILA JAGNE (Gambia) said it must be recognized that the urgent need to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo notwithstanding, the underlying political problems should also be given all the attention they deserved because the longer the search for a durable peace was postponed, the longer the suffering of the refugees would continue. The principles outlined by the G-8 leaders in Bonn constituted a credible basis for a lasting solution to the Kosovo crisis.

He said the Security Council should not overlook the humanitarian situation in other parts of the world, notably in Africa, which had the largest refugee population in the world. While appreciating all the efforts being made to alleviate the suffering of refugees in Africa and elsewhere, the fact remained that Africa still needed more help.

MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said that as a result of ethnic cleansing, as well as NATO's military actions, many refugees found themselves displaced and living far from their homes. The ongoing military action had severely affected the lives of the people of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The human tragedy that continued to escalate was such that a political solution had become even more imperative.

He said the humanitarian situation in and around Kosovo could not be addressed in isolation from a political context. In that connection, Namibia reiterated that the Security Council must reassert its authority on the situation now unfolding.

QIN HUASUN (China) expressed concern that by bypassing the United Nations and without the authorization of the Security Council, the United States-led NATO had launched military attacks against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and had thus unleashed a regional war in the Balkans. In the past 52 days, that war, conducted under the name of humanitarianism, had created the largest humanitarian disaster since the Second World War. Residents within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including Serbs, ethnic Albanians, Hungarians and Slovaks, were living in miserable, inhuman conditions. Oil

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refineries and chemical plants had been levelled by NATO bombs. As a result, poisonous gas and pollutants were threatening the health and lives of hundreds of millions, especially children, in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Europe at large.

He said that while stepping up its bombing campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, NATO had brazenly attacked the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade with five missiles. Three people in the Embassy had been killed and more than 20 injured. The Embassy building had been severely damaged. Such a criminal act was a flagrant encroachment on China's sovereignty and a serious violation of international law and the norms governing international relations. As a victim, China had every reason, on both moral and legal grounds, to demand that NATO stop bombing the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia immediately and unconditionally. An immediate cessation of NATO's bombing campaign should be the prerequisite for any political solution to the Kosovo issue, and also the minimum condition for relieving the humanitarian crisis in the Balkans.

China had put forward constructive amendments to the draft resolution, including the proposal to add the words "there must be an immediate cessation of all military activities", which had also been called for in the Non-Aligned Movement's statement of 9 April. It was most regrettable that the Chinese position had not been accepted. At the same time, China noted that the draft resolution made reference to the principles of the G-8 Foreign Ministers' statement. China could not accept that the Council prejudge those principles in its resolution without first deliberating on them. The Chinese delegation had no choice but to abstain from voting on the draft resolution.

ANDREI GRANOVSKY (Russian Federation) said the tragic course of events since 24 March showed that actions taken outside international norms of warfare had created the emergency in and around Kosovo. The unprecedented bombing campaign had made civilians into victims, which belied the claim that the campaign was undertaken in the interest of high ideals. The whole region was threatened by a huge environmental catastrophe. It was difficult to remain indifferent to the crisis in and around Kosovo. The Security Council should have spoken out earlier.

Unfortunately, the Council had been unable to assess the nature of the military attack and had therefore been unable to halt the actions, he said. Just today, he said, another tragic incident had occurred. The Russian Federation had repeatedly warned against the dire consequences created by NATO's illegal military actions. It was continued bombing that could lead to an escalation of the humanitarian tragedy -- a fact that was not reflected in the resolution. Narrow national interests had prevailed over Charter obligations in the case of some Member States. The Russian Federation could not support the text and would continue to give what assistance it could to the victims.

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The resolution was then adopted by a vote of 13 in favour to none against, with two abstentions (China, Russian Federation).

FERNANDO ENRIQUE PETRELLA (Argentina) said the resolution set out terms for the practical assistance and relief for the people in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. There had to be a prompt political solution to the crisis, which had caused much suffering and taken lives. Diplomacy was the best instrument. Hence, the importance of article 5 of the resolution and the need for all parties to contribute to the terms set out in it. The Yugoslav Government was respectfully asked to release the Australian humanitarian workers.

LUIZ TUPY CAIDAS DE MOURA (Brazil) said the purpose of the resolution was to build unity in the Council. In a situation characterized by a deterioration of humanitarian conditions and the absence of a political solution, the role of the Security Council had been reaffirmed. The fact that consensus had not been reached did not take away from a step that demonstrated the importance of United Nations involvement in a political solution.

VIADISLAV JOVANOVIC (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) said that in the latest ferocious act today, 80 civilians had been killed. Would that, too, be cynically interpreted as collateral damage? he asked. How many more civilians would need to be killed before an end was called to the aggression? The Security Council had taken no steps to stop the illegal actions of NATO's campaign of terror, which had brought down a humanitarian catastrophe on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The NATO strikes had caused death and destruction, as well as an ecological disaster. There should be a ban on certain weapons, such as cluster bombs. Just days ago, the Embassy of the People's Republic of China had fallen prey in the bombing. Destroying radio and television stations in the country was NATO's way of stopping the truth of the horror it was creating from reaching the outside world.

Refugees had taken to the road with the first dropping of NATO's bombs, he said. The NATO bombs had hit many refugee camps, but such tragic results of NATO's actions were not mentioned in the draft. The resolution legalized NATO's aggression by putting it into the terms of a humanitarian resolution. The resolution should have contained a demand by the Council that the NATO aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia stop.

ARNOLD PETER VAN WAISUM (Netherlands) said that if Serbia wanted at last to become a part of Europe, it would have to understand why it was being subjected to the current action. The NATO campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was an expression of its accumulated disgust at what had been seen in Croatia, in Bosnia and Herzegovina and now in Kosovo.

AHMAD KHAN (Pakistan) said that in recent contacts and forums, Pakistan had emphasized the need for the Security Council to address the crisis

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effectively, in particular, the urgency of establishing a United Nations peacekeeping force in Kosovo. The inability of the Security Council to take effective action and to carry out its Charter responsibility had been a matter of deep concern to Pakistan. Its failure to address the issues of international peace and security in the past had only aggravated conflicts and human tragedies, as was well known in South Asia.

He said Pakistan hoped that the Security Council would soon address the Kosovo crisis comprehensively and facilitate an early implementation of last week's decision by the Foreign Ministers of the Group of Seven industrialized nations and the Russian Federation, to establish a United Nation peacekeeping operation in Kosovo. The Security Council must endorse the proposals which, among other things, would pave the way for a verifiable end to the violence and ethnic cleansing in Kosvo; withdrawal of Yugoslav military, police and paramilitary forces; establishment of an interim administration in the province; the safe and free return of refugees; and a political settlement providing self-government for Kosovo.

NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar), speaking in his capacity as the Chairman of the Islamic Group, said it was incumbent upon the Security Council to end the suffering of the Kosovar refugees. Qatar urged increased humanitarian assistance to the refugees and internally displaced people.

He said the Islamic Group strongly condemned the actions of the inhumane Serbian authorities and called for a political, just and permanent solution that would guarantee the rights of the Kosovar Albanians to return to their homes under international protection.

There was no justification for delaying the adoption of a resolution aimed at alleviating the suffering of the refugees, he said.

Mr. SHOBOKSHI (Saudi Arabia) said the international community had to put an end to the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo, where much pain had been caused. The entire world should take a stand to support the people of Kosovo. Saudi Arabia had been forthcoming in sending aid to the region, and a hospital had been established in Albania to help the refugees. Saudi Arabia had joined in support of the resolution because it felt it was necessary to put an end to the destruction. The resolution proved that the Council stood for justice and peace.

SEYED MOHAMMAD HADI NEJAD HOSSEINIAN (Iran), in his capacity as Chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference Contact Group on Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, said the continuation of the Kosovo crisis could endanger the fragile peace and security in other parts of the Balkans. The grave concern of the Contact Group over the forced flight of an increasing number of Muslims from Sandjak, and their taking refuge in neighbouring

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countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, had been conveyed to the Security Council.

He said the Contact Group deeply regretted the Council's failure to deal effectively with the crisis in Kosovo and to put an end to the plight of Kosovar Albanians. It was hoped that the Council would accelerate its endeavours in order to carry out effectively its responsibility under the United Nations Charter for the maintenance of international peace and security.

The Contact Group, he said, lent full support to all diplomatic efforts and initiatives in the search for a just and durable solution which would ensure an end to the Yugoslav policy of ethnic cleansing and the swift, safe and unimpeded return of all Kosovar refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes under international protection.

MAGED A. ABDEL AZIZ (Egypt) said that faced with the grave situation in Kosovo, the Council had to take action, as it must in all such humanitarian situations. Because of the urgent need to have the international community at the side of those who were suffering, Egypt had endorsed the resolution.

The resolution adopted by the Council was a humanitarian one, he said. The clear-cut message had been sent by the Islamic Contact Group that efforts had to be intensified to end the suffering of the refugees and of those who had taken the refugees in, thereby assuming a great burden. Hopefully, the Security Council would be able to overcome its difficulties and would be able to bring about a political solution.

VOLODYMYR YEL'CHENKO (Ukraine) said that, despite the fact that the investigation of the grave incident involving the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade was still under way, one immediate conclusion was that all military activities in and around the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia should be stopped. From the first day, Ukraine had tried to warn of the unpredictable and dire consequences of such a course. The Security Council, as the only United Nations body bearing primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, should immediately intervene to put an end to military actions which continued to multiply the number of innocent victims and held at bay an eventual political settlement of the problem.

Finding the right answers to the many questions regarding the humanitarian situation was urgent, he said. How could the refugees return home when no homes were left? he asked. In that context, the timely proposal of the Secretary-General to dispatch the humanitarian needs assessment mission to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was welcome.

ALYAKSANDR SYCHOV (Belarus) said today there existed aggression against a sovereign State, whose latest manifestation was the bombing of the Chinese

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Embassy in Belgrade, resulting in death and severe property damage. Some 1,000 had been killed and 4,000 injured as the result of the use of cluster bombs and other weapons. The current crisis in the region was the result of the wish of some NATO leaders to play the "Kosovo card" and to demonstrate their superior military might.

BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARILLA (Cuba) said Cuba shared the suffering of the refugees in Kosovo. The United States had intended to shelter refugees in Guantanamo Base, land occupied against Cuba's will, he noted. The Security Council should not accept the proposals of the G-8 until the armed attack was stopped.

AGIM NESHO (Albania) said it supported the resolution. All efforts to stop the biggest catastrophe in Europe since the Second World War were appreciated. The people of Kosovo had had to leave their homes because of aggression against them -- their only hope was that the international community would help them. Albania thanked the United States and the countries of the European Union, as well as the Arabic countries which were helping the Kosovo refugees.

AHMAD HAJI HOSSEINI, Observer for the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said that Foreign Ministers of his Organization's Contact Group on Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo had expressed regret at a Geneva meeting last month that the Security Council had been unable to discharge its responsibility in Kosovo in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

He said the draft resolution addressed, in particular, the humanitarian aspect of the crisis in Kosovo, which was of crucial concern at the present time. The draft resolution allowed the Council to act in unity and without any controversies that may otherwise have posed possible constraints on its ability to act quickly in fulfilment of its responsibilities at the present grave moment.

DANILO TURK (Slovenia) said the action dealt with in the resolution represented a political priority. The discussion had shown that there were distortions of fact and misrepresentations of international law. It was important that the resolution set the international priorities clearly.

The resolution contained the important potential to help the Council to restore its authority, he said. Unity and resolve were essential ingredients for eventual success.

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For information media. Not an official record.