Brutal Conflict: 'An Affront to the World's Conscience.' (Bosnia-Herzegovina)

UN Chronicle, December 1993 | Go to article overview

Brutal Conflict: 'An Affront to the World's Conscience.' (Bosnia-Herzegovina)


Tragedy in the former Yugoslavia continued to "drain the attention, resources, and emotion of the international community", Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali reported on 10 September.

The "most visible and successful contribution" of the world community in that region was in the humanitarian sphere, the Secretary-General stated. Unfortunately, conditions for assistance efforts had "steadily deteriorated". Relief operations were "obstructed, sabotaged or diverted for military purposes". The personnel of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other organizations were "increasingly targeted deliberately", he lamented.

Peace remained elusive, fighting was widespread, and new outbursts had taken place in central and southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Secretary-General stated (A/48/1).

Strenuous efforts by the UN, the European Community and the Co-Chairmen of the Steering Committee of the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia - undertaken during July, August and September 1993 - failed to bring about a political settlement.

Hopes for an overall agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina did not materialize, as the Bosnian Assembly on 29 September rejected a new peace package, although the choice, according to the Co-Chairmen (S/26395), was "between a negotiated peace and the continuation of war".

The ongoing brutal conflict was accompanied by massive and systematic violations of human rights, the Secretary-General observed. The "daily horrors" inflicted on suffering civilians constituted an "affront to the world's conscience".

From 1 July through 30 September, some 257 violations of the ban on military flights in the airspace of Bosnia and Herzegovina, imposed under Security Council resolution 816 (1993), were reported - 132 more than in April, May and June. That brought to 881 the total number of apparent violations since monitoring began in November 1992 under Council resolution 781 (1992).

In Croatia, the situation remained tense, the Secretary-General reported. Demilitarization of the UN Protected Areas (UNPAs) had not taken place due to local Serb resistance. Croatia's frustration with the lack of progress in recovering its sovereign territory had led to incursions against Serbs, setting back the peace process even further.

Peace prospects for Bosnia and Herzegovina and a possible role for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in support of UNPROFOR were discussed on 1 September in Geneva by Mr. Boutros-Ghali and Manfred Woerner, NATO's Secretary-General.

The creation of a permanent NATO-UNPROFOR joint staff to implement a peace plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina was considered by UNPROFOR Commander General Jean Cot and Admiral Mike Boorda, NATO Allied Forces South Commander, in Zagreb on 28 September.

Also, the General Assembly on 15 and 17 September selected 11 judges to serve on the International Tribunal established under Council resolution 827 (1993) to prosecute persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1 January 1991. The Council, in its resolution 857 (1993), had provided a list of candidates.

Between 1 July and 4 October, the Security Council met, either formally or for consultations, on 11 occasions to discuss the former Yugoslavia, adopting 6 resolutions and issuing 5 statements.

In adopting resolution 871 (1993) on 4 October, the Council extended the mandate of UNPROFOR for another six months, until 31 March 1094.

Faces of sorrow

Of more than 24,000 UNPROFOR soldiers and 3,000 civilians, 54 had been killed and 585 wounded, the Secretary-General said on 21 September, at the opening at UN Headquarters of a photo exhibition with the theme "Faces of Sorrow".

The UN provided the "only tangible sign of hope", he stressed, assisting 3. …

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