Boutros-Ghali clashes with Security Council on Bosnia policy

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The Independent Online
IN A gesture bearing all the hallmarks of a budding constitutional crisis at the United Nations, the Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, has angrily challenged the instructions of the Security Council.

In a highly-charged letter to the Council, Mr Boutros-Ghali refused to submit an assessment report on placing heavy weapons in Bosnia under UN control by a deadline of Monday morning, even though diplomats say the report has been with him since Sunday. Mr Boutros-Ghali's anger appears to have to do with being instructed to draw up reports at very short notice, without adequate time for reflection.

'I sincerely believe that setting pre- emptory dates for submission of reports does not help the secretariat to serve the Council well,' he wrote. He expressed his 'concern and surprise' at the way the Council ratified a European Community decision without consulting him. The intemperate tone of the letter set tongues wagging in UN corridors about an inevitable clash between the Security Council's Western permanent members - the US, Britain and France - and Mr Boutros-Ghali, which would amount to a vote of no confidence. However, Mr Boutros- Ghali's close advisers say he is simply standing up to the big powers and showing that he is more than a mouthpiece of Washington and its allies.

The full force of the Secretary-General's anger was directed at Britain, as president of the EC and the main sponsor of Lord Carrington's peace efforts. Britain's ambassador, Sir David Hannay, met Mr Boutros-Ghali to try to resolve differences over how to proceed on Yugoslavia, but such is the depth of ill-feeling generated by the dispute that it seems certain to affect future co-operation between the EC and the UN.

UN sources point, in particular, to what they describe as the Council's shoddy work in making decisions on matters of such importance as Bosnia by means of a presidential statement rather than a formal resolution. The sources say last Friday's Council statement, which says 'the Council has decided in principle to respond positively' to the EC request for the UN to take control of all heavy weapons in Bosnia, is a meaningless declaration. Because the decision is only 'in principle', member states are unlikely to provide funds or resources for the initiative.

Signalling his deep anger at the Council's failure to consult him, Mr Boutros-Ghali wrote to the president of the Council to say the agreement reached in the London peace talks on Bosnia - that the UN should take responsibility for the combatants' heavy weapons during the proposed two-week ceasefire - was ill-advised. That decision was taken by the EC conference last week against the advice of the UN.

In a separate decision yesterday, the UN sanctions committee decided that the rump Yugoslav state could not participate in the Olympics, but athletes could participate as individuals, without flags or uniforms.

BELGRADE - Lord Carrington failed yesterday to persuade Serbia to agree to an international conference to head off conflict in its province, inhabited mainly by Albanians.

'I got nowhere, I find this very disappointing,' Lord Carrington said after talks with the Serbian President, Slobodan Milosevic, and Dobrica Cosic, the President of the rump Yugoslavia. The EC proposed a conference on Kosovo to prevent it from sliding into the kind of strife engulfing Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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