Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

UN Asserts Broader Peace Role in Approving Sarajevo Aid Mission

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

UN Asserts Broader Peace Role in Approving Sarajevo Aid Mission

Article excerpt

THE United Nations Security Council sent a clear message to Belgrade June 29 and fighting forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina: When it comes to intervention on humanitarian grounds - even in the most fierce and relentless of conflicts - the world will not take "no" for an answer.

The 15 Council members voted unanimously to deploy a large battalion of UN peacekeepers (800-900 Canadians) to secure and reopen Sarajevo airport for humanitarian aid. Regular shipments of relief supplies for long-besieged civilian residents of Sarajevo and Dobrinja could begin as early as July 2.

Some critics argue that the UN took too long to act. Bosnian officials wanted the UN to move in militarily rather than confine itself to peacekeeping support for humanitarian aid.

"Our government feels that unless you stop the slaughter and the bombardment in Sarajevo, you really have not fulfilled the mandate of the UN mission," says Muhamed Sacirbey, Bosnia's ambassador to the UN.

Yet Janusz Bugajski, an East European expert at the Center for International and Strategic Studies, says the UN took "the right course."

He says the Council's green light signals Belgrade and Serb forces in Bosnia that Bosnia's government and capital city are recognized as "legitimate" and that Europe and the UN will not continue to tolerate the murder of innocent civilians.

International institutions are eager to establish the concept of humanitarian intervention as a proper basis for collective action, notes John Ruggie, dean of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. He says the effort is particularly strong in complex internal situations where military intervention could lead to a "quagmire." The message, says Dean Ruggie, is: "We don't care who's right and who's wrong - all we want to do is make sure innocent people do not get ground into hamburger meat in the process." Stepping the pace

The UN move this week is actually just one more step in a plan originally adopted by the Council June 8. Though Serb forces agreed June 5 to turn control of Sarajevo airport over to UN forces and had signed a cease-fire, progress until last weekend was slow. …

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