THE allied decision this weekend on a unified policy toward Bosnia-Herzegovina has paved the way for several key actions at the United Nations aimed at stopping the war in the former Yugoslav republic.
The Security Council is expected today to pass a resolution setting up a war crimes tribunal in the former Yugoslavia. On Tuesday the Council is expected to take up a resolution to place UN guards on the border between Serbia and Bosnia. The Council also will consider this week a resolution setting up "safe havens" for Bosnians, called for in this weekend's unified policy, to be patrolled by thousands of the UN peacekeepers. And the Bosnian government has asked for an immediate Security Council meeting o n the war.
Secretary of State Warren Christopher met with the foreign ministers of France, Britain, Spain, and Russia on Saturday in Washington. Among other things, the leaders agreed to seek the establishment of safe havens in six Muslim enclaves in Bosnia and to post monitors on the Serbian-Bosnian border. If requested, the United States has agreed to supply air power to protect the peacekeepers.
The leaders did not endorse President Clinton's proposal to lift the arms embargo on the Bosnian Muslims or to use force. But "the meetings overcome the impression there is no coherence or strategy," a UN diplomat says.
Analysts believe the allied effort also means the Vance-Owen peace plan is not likely to succeed. Under the Vance-Owen plan, Bosnia would be a multi-ethnic country. By recognizing safe havens, the US and the other foreign ministers appear to be allowing the Serbs to hold land they acquired by force and overlook ethnic cleansing.
"I think the international community is trying to pacify what is left," says Kenneth Jensen, director of research and studies at the US Institute of Peace in Washington. "I think the international community has given up on trying to get back the 70 percent of the land in Serbian hands. If things change, fine, if not we keep the aggressive Serbs out of the other 30 percent," he adds.
The most controversial issue faced over the weekend is setting up the so-called safe havens. Only two weeks ago, Christopher said he was opposed to such zones. And on Friday, President Clinton indicated he was not enthusiastic about the plan, and he said he was not inclined to volunteer US troops to protect UN peace keepers.
The Europeans and the Russians, however, are keen to set up these areas in an attempt to stop the fighting. The allies are terming the havens part of the "progressive implementation" of the Vance-Owen peace plan. Christopher said the foreign ministers had agreed to enforce "tight and tough sanctions" against Yugoslavia until the Bosnian Serbs withdraw from areas occupied by force.
The negotiators themselves, now in Geneva, are cautious about the term "progressive implementation."
"If by progressive implementation they mean pick and choose among elements of the plan that you want to implement and forget the rest then the negotiators don't agree with that," says Fred Eckhard, the spokesman for Lord David Owen and Thorvald Stoltenberg, who are trying to negotiate the peace plan. Mr. Stoltenberg replaced Cyrus Vance as the UN's mediator.
Some analysts believe the safe havens are a mistake. "They enhance the possibility of ethnic cleansing. Once people know a safe zone exists, their inclination is to go toward it," says John Bolton, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute in Washington and a former State Department official under President Bush. Reports from Bosnia appear to bear Mr. Bolton out. Bosnia is becoming three different countries: Serbian, Croatian and Muslim.
It is unclear how the UN resolutions can actually be carried out. For example, the war crimes tribunal can be set up, but it will require that the Bosnian Serbs, Muslims or Croatians hand over people named by the tribunal. Without the defendants, the trials could be criticized for not being fair.
"One of the reasons we did not hold a war crimes trial for Saddam Hussein is we could not get hold of the principal defendants," Bolton says.
In an interview last December with the Monitor, former Nuremberg prosecutor Telford Taylor said he believes there is sufficient evidence to have a war crimes trial. He adds, however, that "you have to find the people who have the power and wish to do it."
Posting guards on the Bosnian-Serbian border will be a test of wills. The guards would insure that the Serbian promise to cut off the supply of arms to the Bosnian Serbs is carried out. The President of Yugoslavia, Dobrica Cosic, said Friday the posting of such guards would violate his country's sovereignty.
British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd hopes the Russian involvement will help to convince the Serbians to cooperate. The Russians carry a lot of weight with the Serbs, he pointed out.