IN a timely message from New York to London, the United Nations General Assembly has voiced its strong support for an end to the fighting and atrocities in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the start of a search for a fair political solution.
The UN resolution, which followed two days of impassioned speeches on the Assembly floor, passed just one day before the the start of peace talks involving all former republics of Yugoslavia in London. The talks are sponsored by the European Community and the UN.
The 47-member Organization of the Islamic Conference requested the special session. The Islamic nations have been particularly concerned that the rights of Bosnia's Muslims - who before the war accounted for 44 percent of the population but who now can claim very little territory - might be compromised at the London conference. A busy debate
Representatives of close to one-third of the UN's 179 member nations spoke at the Aug. 24 debate. Most despaired of the many broken cease-fire agreements in Bosnia and stressed the need for stronger protection of human rights.
Mustafa Aksin, Turkey's ambassador to the UN, said those responsible for the "brazen" violations of Bosnia's territorial integrity and the suffering of its people must be sent a "powerful" message that such behavior will no longer be tolerated by the international community. "Failure to act would be appeasement, and we all know where that leads to."
In the end, the message to the Security Council itself was in some respects as strong as the signal sent to London. The new Assembly resolution asks the Council to consider, on an urgent basis, further measures to end the fighting, under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter which deals with aggression, and to restore Bosnia's territorial integrity. End arms embargo
Several speakers urged the Council to exempt Bosnia from the UN arms embargo imposed against all of Yugoslavia last September. These supporters cite the right to self-defense guaranteed under Article 51 of the Charter.
The reluctance of Western nations to supply troops in support of the Council's Aug. 13 pledge to "use all necessary means" to protect delivery of relief supplies in Bosnia also came under criticism.
Redzuan Kushairi, Malaysia's ambassador to the UN, criticized the Council's selective decision not to take action in Bosnia because the situation is seen as "too difficult." He said the international community cannot afford a situation where aggression and the dismemberment of a member state is not viewed as serious enough to warrant collective enforcement action because it doesn't serve the "interest and expedience" of prominent members of the Council.
UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has argued, in a reverse variation of the same theme, that the Council is more inclined to pay attention to Yugoslavia than to Somalia and other parts of the world where needs are equally if not more desperate.
Stressing that the United States will never accept changes in boundaries achieved through force and intimidation, US Ambassador Alexander Watson insisted that the Serbia-Montenegro government is not the continuation of the former Yugoslavia and cannot be granted its UN seat. He asked members' support for a Council resolution asking the Assembly to determine that the former Yugoslavia "no longer exists."
Vladislov Jovanovic, minister of foreign affairs for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, stressed that many nations have embassies in Belgrade. "They know we're the legal successor," he said in a meeting with reporters.
In his speech on the Assembly floor, delivered just before he headed for the London conference, Mr. Jovanovic argued that Serbs have been subjected to atrocities just as Muslims and Croats have and that Yugoslavia has had to shelter thousands of Serbian refugees forced out of Bosnia and Croatia. Yugoslavia, he says, has suggested that the UN establish observer posts along borders and at all Yugoslav airfields to verify that Belgrade is not helping Bosnia's Serbs. "We haven't gotten any response but an un friendly campaign of allegations and accusations," he told Assembly delegates.
Bosnia's UN ambassador, Muhamed Sacirby, says his country asks only for enforcement of UN resolutions already in place. It is not enough to send relief only when the aggressor allows it, he says. The problem has been a lack of commitment which he says has "emboldened" the aggressor. Either the international community must stop such "brutal aggression" against Bosnia or "the victim" must be allowed the right of self-defense. London the `only hope'
The London peace conference is expected to mark the beginning of what could prove to be a long process. Some analysts say it is the only hope, and yet few expect much to come of it. Though Serbia wants to keep the Yugoslav seat at the UN and is eager to be free of UN economic sanctions, such pressure points and world criticism appear to have had only a minimal effect, analysts say.
"This is the new world order where you have to mix your carrots and sticks," comments Robert Hunter, director of European studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. In his view, the war could end quickly if the Serbs met up with "overwhelming force."
"The Serbs are sitting there watching to see whether the cavalry is coming, and it isn't," says Mr. Hunter, who says he favors lifting the arms embargo for Bosnia and grounding the Yugoslav Air Force as first steps. "We in the Western world have sent the message that we're not going to do anything."