Statement by Senator Douglas Roche, O.C. On the Kosovo Crisis
Edmonton, April 9, 1999 and Vancouver, April 10, 1999


The greater context of Kosovo must be understood.  The current Kosovo crisis points to an inescapable fact: the world must avoid such future conflicts to head off a global war. This is a defining moment in the history, not just of post-Cold War Europe, but the post-Cold War world.  This is, indeed, a world crisis and we must be prepared to live with the precedents we are now setting.  In this vein, this conflict involves the development or the loss of a viable security structure for the entire world in the decades to come.

Canada can play a leading role in building a viable system that will prevent the bloodshed we are now witnessing.

We all recognize that diplomacy and negotiations leading to a political solution to a conflict is the preferred route to its resolution.

But what happens if negotiations fail and the slaughter and genocide of innocent persons takes place?

We cannot stand idly by - and perhaps that is the first lesson we have learned from the Kosovo crisis.  Humanity must be protected.

But how?

The former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, showed the way in his remarkable document, "Agenda for Peace," prepared at the request of the Security Council.  In this document one can find the expectations and hopes for a new global security structure.  While NATO seeks a just outcome for the Kosovars, what is it throwing away?  What is Canada, in its bombing raids, saying to the world?

In his "Agenda for Peace" Boutros Boutros-Ghali distinguished between peace-keeping and peace-making.

Peace-keeping supervises a truce and in the many instances of U.N. peace-keeping, which was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, Canada has played an outstanding role.

Peace-making is military action to bring hostile parties to an agreement.  Under Article 42 of the U.N. Charter, the Security Council has the authority to take military action to maintain or restore peace and security.  In fact, such action is essential to the credibility of the U.N. as a guarantor of international security.

Such forces should be supplied by member states; these forces would never be sufficiently large to deal with a major army equipped with  sophisticated weapons, but they would be effective in countering a threat  posed by a military force of a lesser order.  This is exactly the case in dealing with the Serbs in the present crisis.

Had this plan been implemented, NATO troops, along with troops from other nations, could have, on the ground, made peace in Kosovo.  The immense bombing destruction of the infrastructure of Kosovo and Serbia, along with the killing of innocent people, could have been spared.

Major nations never agreed on the Boutros-Ghali plan.  But Canada did and recommended to the U.N. that a force of up to 5,000 military and civilian personnel be deployed in a crisis, under the authorization of the Security Council.  Canada emphasized that such a force would have to be made up of components from several countries, not just NATO.  A U.N. Rapid Reaction Force would prevent conflict and, if it broke out, settle it by military means.

This plan, which has withered as the U.N. has increasingly been sidelined in conflict situations, must be revived.

It cannot be left to NATO, as a Western military alliance, to impose its will on conflict situations.  This is too dangerous for world stability.

The former Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, has warned that the views of other major countries, such as Russia, China, and India, must be taken into account.  Air strikes by a powerful Western alliance are an affront to these other major nations.  They are not going to quietly sit by while a powerful, nuclear-armed Western alliance asserts its dominance.

Crises, such as the one represented by Kosovo, will spin out of control unless we reassert the predominant responsibility of the U.N. Security Council as the guarantor of peace and security in the world.

Canada is instrumentally placed to press for the implementation of a U.N. Rapid Reaction Force.  We should learn this lesson from Kosovo.  We must realize the future opportunities that may be lost and reflect deeply on the precedent we are now setting.


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