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A Wake-Up Call For International Legality

"As Europe approaches the millennial year of 2000. a very distinct feeling of unease has set In as its commentators and opinion makers cite the decline of international law in the conduct of nations - this after a century of wars and upheaval caused by nations and Ideological movements which believed that they were a law unto themselves. When World War II was over, the United Nations came into being with the support of the victorious powers - the U.S., Russia, Great Britain; France, and China - to ensure that history did not repeat itself. Unfortunately, a bipolar struggle began almost immediately, which pitted much of the Western World against a Sino-Soviet bloc, which was totalitarian in its nature.

"Ultimately, the spirit of freedom and democracy, backed by military might prevailed. For nearly 10 years the leader of the West, the U.S., has stood on its pinnacle of power - unchallenged. But now, not even a decade Into what it called the New World Order, we find that what our U.S. ally has in mind is an Increasingly arbitrary situation where Washington calls the tune and others are expected to follow meekly along. The UN is more and more manipulated by a U.S. which has come to deal with Secretary General Kofi Annan as some sort of "Step and Fetch it".

"Even Annan's anger over the U.S.'s use of UNSCOM for espionage and Washington's unabashed input to UNSCOM chairman Richard Butler's Iraq report was given a wash amid a U.S. media blitz, which focused on congratulatory comments by Desert Fox commander General Anthony Zinni and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Henry Shelton at the success of their Tomahawk missiles and "smart" bombs in hitting military targets. The estimated 2,000 National Guardsmen who died In the raids were described almost as if they were all clones of Saddam Hussein - not men who were doing their duty, who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The UNICEF/World Food Programme team's report of how U.S. and British ordnance destroyed an agricultural school; some dozen schools and hospitals; and knocked out the water supply for the Baghdad suburb of Karrada leaving 300,000 people without uncontaminated water - went unnoticed, as did the fact that some 3,000 children die every month from a sanctions regime that has no hope of removing Saddam from power. Similarly, the U.S. missiles that killed civilians and badly damaged homes in Basra have made no Impression on a U.S. administration that is out to "get" Saddam.

"Something is drastically wrong when outdated UN resolutions, which were issued under different circumstances, can be used at will by a Washington bent on bludgeoning others into line in support of failed policies. UNSCOM, which was considered more successful than not, is now shattered as an inspection mechanism; and the UN's leverage over Iraq is now weaker than ever. The only certainty is that more innocent people will be killed. Likewise, in Kosovo province of Yugoslavia, the U.S. is building up to a situation where Belgrade must either accept more than what was agreed to in October - a package called "compliance plus" - or be bombed by NATO. The "plus" of this policy is to hand Kosovo over to its Albanian majority.

"The U.S. appears determined to do this in the full knowledge that the Kosovo liberation Army will take over once the Yugoslav army Is forced out and ethnic civilians pull out with them. Again, Washington's policy Is to get rid of Slobodan Milosevic - a policy in which "collateral" civilian deaths and the chaos to follow have a yet to be determined role. It is time to reinvest the UN with the moral authority that itonce had; and to reinvest the Security Council with the powers that were intended at its creation - with even what to some may be an unwelcome veto. To do otherwise is to permit the UN to be hi-lacked by a U.S. administration that does not even pay its dues and a president whose fitness to lead has been called into question by his own colleagues"

Editorial by New Europe Newspaper Ltd., 51 rue du Kiem, BP 51, CAP L8301 Luxembourg

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