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Halt NATO bombing.

The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia has failed to achieve its stated goals: to "prevent more human suffering and more repression and violence against the civilian population of Kosovo," and to compel Serbia to accept the Rambouillet plan as the basis for the future of Kosovo. Instead, the bombing has escalated the conflict and contributed to a starker humanitarian catastrophe, failing to prevent (and perhaps even inciting) a vastly increased campaign of "ethnic cleansing" by Serbian forces in Kosovo. Further bombing, or escalation to a ground war, is not the way to protect the vulnerable and build the conditions for a just and sustainable peace in Kosovo. Canada should press for an immediate, unilateral moratorium on NATO's bombing campaign.

The international community has a responsibility to respond when gross violations of human rights are committed, but it also has the responsibility to pursue responses that do the least harm, that have the best chance of rescuing and bringing protection to the vulnerable, and that help set the stage for post-conflict recovery and reconciliation. NATO's intervention in Yugoslavia does not meet these requirements.

In addition to pressing for an end to the bombing, Canada should support an increasing role for Russia in the search for a diplomatic breakthrough and encourage its continued overtures to Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic. Similarly, Canada should work to move the political focus of diplomacy out of NATO and into the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), whose membership includes all of NATO as well as Russia, Yugoslavia (currently in suspension), and other European countries. As a regional security organization within the framework of the United Nations, the OSCE can help to recover a priority diplomatic role for the UN.

The UN also must be encouraged to explore the possibility of placing peacekeeping forces on the margins of the arena of armed conflict. The mandate of those protective forces should be narrowly confined to providing support and protection to refugees in safe havens outside the main arena of full-scale armed combat in anticipation of a longer-term political framework that will enable them to return to their homes.

Canada should take advantage of its hard won position on the UN Security Council to press for these initiatives, calling on the Security Council and the UN Secretary-General to perform the central coordinating role in the diplomatic and humanitarian response to the crisis.

Taking action

Write letters to Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Minister of Foreign Affairs Lloyd Axworthy (House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6; no postage required) urging the Canadian government to:

I. press NATO to agree to an immediate halt to the bombing in Yugoslavia;

II. focus on diplomatic measures for resolving the conflict, insisting on UN and OSCE leadership in negotiations to create a just and sustainable peace in the Balkans; and

III. explore the deployment of international peacekeeping forces to support and protect refugees from the conflict.

How it works

Using our short description of a current peace issue, you write, fax, or phone the recipient(s) that we have identified. Feel free to copy the Workout and give it to friends who would like to participate.
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Publication:Ploughshares Monitor
Date:Mar 1, 1999
Words:523
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