Current Issues: Electronic Interview

Article excerpt

Response by Amassador Ivan Simonovic, Croatia.

Question

What could have been done differently to resolve the Kosovo Issue by diplomacy and peaceful means before NATO bombing started early in 1999?

Answer

The causes of the conflict in Kosovo can be traced to those that have resulted in instability in southeast Europe during and since the dissolution of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Most particularly they are the rise of belligerent and expansionist Serbian nationalism, supplanting the previous communist ideology, and the development of a security vacuum in the wake of the Cold War which delayed and significantly weakened the response of the existing security structures to halt the conflict. The failure to address the fundamental causes of the conflict during its beginnings has resulted in shifting epicenters from Slovenia, to Croatia, to Bosnia and Herzegovina and now Kosovo. Milosevic's inclusion as an actor in the efforts to stabilise the region has proven to be a mistake. Greater support should have been afforded by the west to the democratic opposition in Serbia instead of continuing to rely upon Milosevic as a partner. The severe geopolitical implications of the further spread of the crisis beyond Kosovo, as well as the expiration of all other options when the state-sponsored violence against the Kosovo Albanians started to result in crimes against humanity and mass expulsions made a resort to military force by NATO the only available option.

Question

Do we have a strong United Nations ? What reforms do you propose in the United Nations so that it serves a neutral, productive role in making every global citizen's life healthier, prosperous, and peaceful?

Answer

The establishment of the United Nations in the aftermath of World War One and its development during the period of the Cold War affected the way in which multilateral diplomacy was carried out. Rapid globalization in all its aspects and the end of the Cold War has changed the environment in which the United Nations must carry out its work, in turn requiring change from the organization. Due to natural inertia this process of reform is not proceeding as quickly as it might. Nevertheless, the two track reform process is making inroads. For example, the formation by the Secretary General of Executive Committees in the five main areas of United Nations activity, namely peace and security, economic and social questions, development and humanitarian matters has proven to be beneficial in streamlining the bureaucracy. While the so-called "second track", which is constituted by areas requiring the approval of member states for change continue to lag behind, it is hoped that next year's Millennium Assembly shall provide the incentive for greater progress.

Question

What reforms do you propose in the UN Security Council, so that it may strengthen its role in resolving the differences among the member countries of the United Nations?

Answer

Efforts to strengthen the United Nations which sideline concrete and fundamental reform to the composition and working methods of the Security Council are a contradiction in terms. Given the drastic political and economic changes that have occurred since the demise of the Cold War, together with a continually increasing membership of new States, to keep its place as the leading organ for maintenance of global peace and security, requisite democratization is essential in order to realistically represent the pertinent and diverging interests of all its members. Security Council reform should be concentrated on three main areas, namely increasing its membership, the transparency of its work and curtailment of the institution of the veto. More particularly, expansion of the membership of the Security Council up to 24 members in both Charter categories of membership would respond to pressing contemporary realities and the imperative of balance between the industrialized and developing countries, without jeopardizing the need for increased efficiency and effectiveness of the work of the Security Council. …