UN Keeps Arms Embargo, Sends More Peacekeepers

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

THE United Nations Security Council will stay with its economic sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro and press on with its plans to protect six Muslim enclaves in Bosnia-Herzegovina by sending 7,500 more peacekeepers.

After a debate this week, the Council declined to lift the UN arms embargo for Bosnia's Muslim-led government.

Aimed at giving Muslims a fairer share of weapons under their right of self defense, the measure was sponsored by the Council's five nonaligned members. Though it won the support of the US, the proposal needed three more votes (a total of nine) to pass.

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Britain, France, Russia, China, Hungary, Japan, Spain, New Zealand, and Brazil abstained. New Zealand's Ambassador to the UN Colin Keating said the resolution would have "shut the door on any remaining chance for a peaceful settlement."

The General Assembly may now take up the issue, though any resolution it passes would be nonbinding.

The Council has passed more than 40 resolutions over the last year to try to stop the fighting and get aid to the needy in beleaguered Bosnia. Most Council diplomats are every bit as frustrated as their citizen critics that these measures have not proven more effective.

Yet the Council's shortcomings have rarely been as publicly aired as they were this week. Muslim diplomats spoke of a Council that had lost credibility and that was almost oblivious to the moral issue before it.

Most speakers urged a return to the principles of the Vance-Owen peace plan and stressed the importance of a negotiated accord freely agreed to by all parties. Morocco's Ambassador Ahmed Snoussi said the new Serb-Croat plan for the ethnic division of Bosnia is "Machiavellian."

Pakistan's Ambassador to the UN Jamsheed Marker, the sponsor of the resolution, said the Council has acted in piecemeal fashion - "each step too little and too late" - without addressing the core issue of Serb aggression and ethnic cleansing.

"The more Serb aggression escalates, the more the UN retreats," said Abu Odeh, Jordan's ambassador to the UN. A Libyan diplomat likened the UN's actions on Bosnia as similar to throwing someone in the water with his hands tied and telling him not to get wet.

Bosnian Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey accused the most "prominent" members of the Council of abdicating their responsibilities. "It is not enough to feed us at a subsistence level while we continue to be murdered," he said.

Sharply critical of both Britain and France, he said that to ignore Bosnia's preference for self defense over continued humanitarian aid is "beyond arrogance."

Diplomats from Britain and France, who have long publicly opposed the embargo lift as likely to lead to intensified fighting and endangering their peacekeeping troops in Bosnia, bristled at the criticism. Britain's Sir David Hanney, who called the embargo "a solution of despair," said he would not reply to such "intemperate" remarks.

France's Jean-Bernard Merimee said the embargo would amount to an "incitement to and noted that France has 6,300 troops in Bosnia and has lost 11 men. "My country will not accept lessons in morality from anyone," he said.

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