UN wants greater military clout

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The Independent Online
THE deployment of 1,500 troops from France, Egypt and the Ukraine to relieve Canadian troops at Sarajevo airport is intended to reflect the religious mix of Bosnia's population of Bosnian Muslims, Roman Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs, the UN Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, said yesterday.

'The composition of this UN force is taking into consideration the composition of the different parts of the population in Bosnia-Herzegovina,' Mr Boutros-Ghali told journalists after a meeting with Lord Carrington, the EC's mediator on Yugoslavia.

A European diplomat said Mr Boutros-Ghali, himself an Egyptian, had been conscious of the need to send a contingent from a Muslim country, given the concern of the Muslim world that 'Muslims were yet again the victims being kicked around in an international dispute'.

Mr Boutros-Ghali, who was due to see John Major last night, was in London to discuss the expansion of the UN's peace-keeping and peace-making roles. He has just completed a report commissioned by the UN Security Council in January, in which he states that the option of military action for peace-making purposes 'is essential to the credibility of the United Nations as a guarantor of international security'.

This would require fulfilling the agreements foreseen in the UN Charter 'whereby member states undertake to make armed forces, assistance and facilities available to the Security Council . . . not only on an ad hoc basis but on a permanent basis. Under the political circumstances that now exist for the first time since the Charter was adopted, the long-standing obstacles to the conclusion of such special agreements should no longer prevail'.

He called yesterday on member states to keep a special contingent ready for use by the UN. President Mitterrand, he said, had said there were 1,000 French troops at the disposal of the UN at 24 hours' notice. 'If this was done by 20 countries it will not cost them so much more,' he added. The same was true of arms and transport equipment. At the moment, the logistics of buying jeeps, for instance, took six months because of the required procedure of purchasing them through special auction.

He issued a plea to member states to pay the money they owed the UN, which he said totalled nearly dollars 2bn (pounds 1.09bn). 'Unless we have at our disposal a certain amount of money, it will be difficult to maintain our credibility. During the Cold War the problem for the UN was a crisis of credibility, whereas since the Cold war, the problem is too much credibility. Everybody believed the UN would be able to solve all problems . . . That it is Superman. The problem is how to maintain this credibility'.

Although the United States owes dollars 810m and is also the most vociferous advocate of a new world order, Mr Boutros-Ghali refrained from criticising President Bush outright, saying only that a solution depended on negotiations 'between the White House and Congress'. On the prospects for a solution in Bosnia, he declined to speculate. 'We are doing our best. It will take patience and time and some imagination to overcome some very difficult problems. And money.'

One of the themes he discussed with Lord Carrington was what ought to be done 'beyond Sarajevo'. They had agreed on further co-operation between the UN and the EC, and Lord Carrington had accepted to go to New York for an informal meeting with the Security Council next week to discuss any action before the conflict spreads further.

(Photograph omitted)