UN backs use of force in Bosnia

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The Independent Online
THE United Nations Security Council last night authorised the use of force, if necessary, to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to the starving and besieged civilians of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The vote in the 15-nation council was 12 in favour and none against, with three abstentions - by China, India and Zimbabwe. The council adopted unanimously a second resolution demanding unimpeded access for the Red Cross to prison camps and detention centres throughout the former Yugoslavia, where civilian prisoners have been executed, tortured and abused.

Earlier, the Council prevented the Bosnian ambassador to the UN from delivering a speech.

As the Council met in New York, consultations began at the Conference on Security and Co- operation in Europe (CSCE) in Prague aimed at getting heavy weapons in Bosnia under international supervision. In Brussels, Nato officials drew up plans for air escorts for the humanitarian convoys bound for Bosnia. In Paris, officials at the Western European Union headquarters discussed plans to deploy limited ground forces to protect the aid convoys.

The controversial decision to gag Sarajevo's representative, Muhamed Sacirbey, has added to the widespread doubts in diplomatic circles concerning the future of the newly independent nation. 'It's the endgame, I'm afraid,' one diplomat said.

The call by the Croatian President, Franjo Tudjman, for Bosnia to be made a UN protectorate, which is supported by Radovan Karadzic, the leader of the Serbian forces, has led some Council members to speculate that the international conference on Yugoslavia being held in London from 26 to 28 August will mark the end of the road for an independent Bosnia. The Serbian side now controls 70 per cent of the country, more than the 64 per cent it claims as its own, and a move to put the country under UN protection would freeze the gains it has made on the battlefield.

Mr Sacirbey planned to address this issue in his speech. 'Obviously these criminals (the Serbians) continue to dictate the terms to the international community rather than the other way around,' his prepared speech said. Mr Karadzic said last night that UN military intervention in Bosnia could turn the republic 'into a hell'.

At a special session in Geneva of the UN Human Rights Commission yesterday, the International Committee of the Red Cross called for 'imperative and urgent measures' to halt abuses in detention camps. It condemned 'massive and forced transfers of populations characterised by the systematic use of brutality' and said all parties in the conflict must bear full responsibility for breaking international humanitarian law.

David Kaplan, 45, a television producer for the American ABC network, died yesterday after snipers opened fire on a convoy carrying the Yugoslav Prime Minister, Milan Panic, from Sarajevo airport to talks with Bosnia's Serb and Croat leaders.