Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Fourth Report


The diplomatic process
(1)We conclude that threatening to use force against Milosevic before mid-1998—when there was a significant escalation in the assault on the Kosovo Albanians—would have been out of line with the thinking of our allies. (Paragraph 42)
(2)We conclude that there may have been a missed international opportunity to achieve a peaceful settlement in Kosovo before the emergence of the KLA, but that this is only apparent with hindsight. (paragraph 45)
(3)We are concerned that it took three months for the European Council decision on a flight ban to be implemented, given that Yugoslavia was a pariah state which was engaged in a campaign of atrocities against its own population. (Paragraph 47)
(4)We conclude that a more effective sanctions regime might have been imposed, but that it would have been unlikely to have resolved the crisis. (Paragraph 48)
(5)We conclude that the deployment of OSCE verifiers was an important part of the Holbrooke agreement, and that the international community did not display sufficient seriousness or urgency in fulfilling this side of the agreement. (Paragraph 51)
(6)We conclude that, in retrospect, the Holbrooke agreement delayed NATO intervention, but did not avoid it—and it was perhaps unlikely that unarmed observers could do more, given the entrenched positions of the combatants. (Paragraph 52)
(7)We conclude that it is difficult to criticise the United Kingdom for doing too little on the diplomatic front: on the contrary the Government should be commended for the efforts it made during this period [March 1998-January 1999]. (Paragraph 53)
(8)We conclude that, whatever the actual impact of the Military Annex of the Rambouillet proposals on the negotiations, NATO was guilty of a serious blunder in allowing a Status of Forces Agreement into the package which would never have been acceptable to the Yugoslav side, since it was a significant infringement of its sovereignty. (Paragraph 65)
(9)We conclude that considerable efforts were made to find a peaceful means of averting the Kosovo crisis. Leaving aside the Military Annex, a matter not raised at the negotiation, the Rambouillet proposals were reasonable. Milosevic was not reasonable, but despite this, it was worth making a determined effort to find a diplomatic solution. (Paragraph 70)
The military campaign
(10)We conclude, it was regrettable that, for understandable domestic political reasons in some Member States, the Alliance publicly removed the potential deterrent of a ground option before the start of the air campaign. (Paragraph 80)
(11)We conclude that, although Milosevic's forces were already poised to move against the Albanian population of Kosovo, the withdrawal of OSCE monitors and the start of NATO air strikes encouraged an intensification of repressive action by Milosevic against the Kosovo Albanians, including their expulsion from Kosovo, as opposed to their internal displacement. (Paragraph 89)
(12)We conclude that, regardless of the accuracy of reports of "Operation Horseshoe," there were orchestrated elements to the campaign of expulsions, which could be described as a plan. Outside observers could have been aware of this plan as it would have required significant preparation. We also conclude that the withdrawal of OSCE monitors together with the international media and the start of NATO's bombing campaign encouraged Milosevic to implement this plan. (Paragraph 98)
(13)We believe a very serious misjudgement was made when it was assumed that the bombing would not lead to the dramatic escalation in the displacement and expulsion of the Kosovo Albanian population. Although we accept that the government could not have established refugee camps before NATO action started, for fear of giving tacit encouragement to expulsion of refugees, equipment and supplies could have been stockpiled so that the refugees could have been housed more speedily once the exodus occurred. We are confident that NATO has undertaken an assessment of the reasons for its failure to predict Milosevic's response. We believe that this issue is of such over-riding public interest that the Government should make its conclusions available to Parliament for scrutiny.
(Paragraph 105).
(14)We conclude that many of NATO's political leaders were excessively optimistic about the prospect that Milosevic would back down either before a bombing campaign was launched or after a short campaign. This misplaced optimism harmed NATO's campaign against Milosevic. (Paragraph 111)
(15)We conclude that, because a ground assault was ruled out at an early stage, NATO was in no position to launch a ground assault in March 1999, and it would have taken many months to build up sufficient forces. Serious consideration of a ground assault only began towards the end of the campaign, and, given the military and logistical difficulties involved, it is likely that if it had proved necessary to launch a ground assault the conflict might have been prolonged and might have involved many casualties. (Paragraph 115).
Why did Milosevic concede?
(16)We conclude that Russia played a central role in causing Milosevic to concede. This reinforces the message of our Russia Report that engagement with Russia is vital for achieving our foreign policy objectives in difficult regional issues of this kind.
(Paragraph 118)
(17)We conclude that, while mistakes were made in the period before the NATO campaign against Milosevic, overall the Government was right to support the launching of air strikes on 24/25 March 1999. (Paragraph 123)
Was military intervention legal?
(18)Our conclusion is that Operation Allied Force was contrary to the specific terms of what might be termed the basic law of the international community—the UN Charter, although this might have been avoided if the Allies had attempted to use the Uniting for Peace procedures. (Paragraph 128)
(19)We conclude that, at the very least, the doctrine of humanitarian intervention has a tenuous basis in current international customary law, and that this renders NATO action legally questionable. (Paragraph 132)
(20)We conclude that, faced with the threat of veto in the Security Council by Russia and China, the NATO allies did all that they could to make the military intervention in Kosovo as compliant with the tenets of international law as possible. (Paragraph 134)
(21)We recommend that the Government examine whether any new legal instrument is necessary to allow NATO to take action in future in the same manner as it did in Kosovo.
(Paragraph 135)
(22)We conclude that NATO's military action, if of dubious legality in the current state of international law, was justified on moral grounds. (Paragraph 138)
(23)We support the FCO in its aim of establishing in the United Nations new principles governing humanitarian intervention. (Paragraph 144)
Was the campaign conducted lawfully?
(24)We recommend that the British Government consider carefully the experience of the use of cluster bombs in the Kosovo campaign to determine in future conflicts whether they are weapons which pose so great a risk to civilians that they fall foul of the 1977 Protocol and should not be used in areas where civilians live. (Paragraph 150).
(25)We recommend that the Government set out their view of the circumstances in which it will be both acceptable and lawful for depleted uranium munitions to be used by the United Kingdom or its allies in conflicts involving British forces. (Paragraph 151).
(26)We recommend that the Government set out the reasons for the attacks on broadcasting stations in order to make clear the legal justification. (Paragraph 152)
(27)We recommend that the Foreign Secretary informs the House as to the outcome of the review [into the bombing of the Chinese Embassy, announced by the Foreign Secretary on 10 May 1999], and as to whether or not his statement on 10 May 1999 remains wholly correct in the light of any new information, including information from the US Administration and from NATO, that has become available to him since that date. (Paragraph 156)
(28)On the evidence available to us, we believe that NATO showed considerable care to comply with the 1977 Protocol and avoid civilian casualties. (Paragraph 157)
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
(29)We endorse the Government's view that there should be no amnesty for Milosevic or any other leaders indicted of war crimes, and that dealings with Serbia must remain limited so long as any indicted war criminal remains within its government. (Paragraph 159)
(30)We recommend that the Government continue, and if possible enhance, its present level of assistance, both material and financial, to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. (Paragraph 161)
(31)We recommend that the Government co-operate with any investigation which the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia may mount, irrespective of the identity of the individual investigated. (Paragraph 163)
(32)We urge the Government to ensure that the legislation to allow ratification of the Statute of the International Criminal Court is one of the first Government Bills introduced in Session 2000-2001. (Paragraph 164)
Parliamentary aspects
(33)We recommend that the Government should table a substantive motion in the House of Commons at the earliest opportunity after the commitment of troops to armed conflict allowing the House to express its view, and allowing Members to table amendments. (Paragraph 166)
Kosovo after the War
(34)We recommend that the United Kingdom should aim to provide bilateral assistance [to Kosovo] at least at the average EU level. (Paragraph 179)
(35)We regretfully conclude that there is little likelihood in the short to medium term of a multi ethnic Serb and Albanian society being secured unless there is a dramatic change in attitude and relationships. NATO and the UN should review as a matter of urgency what further confidence building and security measures are possible to achieve this major policy goal. One measure will be the numbers of Serb refugees returning. (Paragraph 187)
(36)We are concerned that these smaller, and therefore particularly vulnerable, minority communities [such as the Roma and the Muslim Slavs] should be given better protection by the international community.
(Paragraph 188)
(37)We recommend that the Government continue to make it plain to Kosovo Albanian leaders that any ethnic violence or indeed discrimination is unacceptable, and that, if they wish to secure international respect, they must take responsibility for the safety of all the people of Kosovo and actively encourage a society to develop in which minority communities feel safe. (Paragraph 190)
(38)We recommend that the Government continue to encourage all states to put pressure on Belgrade to release Kosovan detainees and to continue to allow full and unimpeded access by the ICRC to all those who are still denied their freedom. (Paragraph 191)
(39)We recommend that the Government give all possible assistance to the positive identification of the dead and that the Milosevic regime is left in no doubt as to the unacceptability of the holding of unidentified prisoners. (Paragraph 192)
(40)We recommend that the FCO should give strong support to the BBC World Service, including extra grant-in-aid, to enable it to act as a force for the development of human rights in Kosovo and the region. (Paragraph 194)
(41)We recommend that the Government ensure that the British Council is adequately funded to enable it to achieve its full potential in the development of human rights and civil society in Kosovo and the region. (Paragraph 195)
(42)We recommend that a very close watch is kept on developments in the Kosovo Protection Corps to ensure that its avowed civilian and multi-ethnic purpose is not subverted. (Paragraph 197)
(43)We welcome the Government's support for the fight against organised crime in Kosovo. (Paragraph 198)
(44)We conclude that the situation in both Mitrovica and the Presevo Valley demonstrates that extremism and terrorism remain grave threats to Kosovo, and we support action by KFOR to suppress those who seek to inflame violence there or elsewhere in Kosovo.
(Paragraph 202)
Criminal justice system
(45)We welcome the increase in police numbers sent from the United Kingdom, and we recognise the very high quality that the British police bring to Kosovo. We recommend that the British contribution should now be further enhanced. (Paragraph 208)
(46)We recommend that the FCO arrange for an experienced police firearms trainer (a) to visit Kosovo to discuss with the UNMIK Police Commissioner the level of firearms skill necessary to patrol in Kosovo and (b) to report to the FCO on the training need which this would imply. (Paragraph 209)
(47)We recommend that the FCO urgently study with the Home Office and the Scottish Executive the feasibility of deploying recently retired firearms-trained officers in Kosovo. (Paragraph 210)
(48)We recommend that the Government press for a reduction to six months in the minimum period of engagement for UNMIK police officers. (Paragraph 211)
(49)We recommend that the FCO explore with the Northern Ireland authorities the possibility of recruiting more RUC officers for service in Kosovo. (Paragraph 212)
(50)We believe that UNMIK is to be congratulated on recruiting a multi-ethnic local police force in Kosovo, and we recommend that the British Government give full and generous assistance to the equipping and training of the Kosovo Police Service. (Paragraph 213)
(51)We believe that the development of the KPS should be an important priority for the international community. (Paragraph 214)
(52)We recommend that the British Government should contribute to the material needs of the courts of Kosovo, as identified by the OSCE. (Paragraph 218)
(53)We believe that the absence of a functioning prison system is a very serious problem for Kosovo, and we recommend that the British Government consider as a matter of urgency sending experienced prison staff to assist in its development. (Paragraph 220)
Economic and infrastructure reconstruction
(54)We believe that UNMIK and KFOR have made an impressive beginning in the reconstruction of the economy and infrastructure of Kosovo. (Paragraph 221)
(55)We recommend that, once a functioning criminal justice system is in place, UNMIK and KFOR should deal vigorously with those accused of evading taxes. (Paragraph 223)
(56)We believe that large scale unemployment is one of the most major problems which Kosovo faces, and that urgent consideration should be given to the development of successful employment schemes. (Paragraph 224)
Promoting the establishment of autonomy and self government
(57)We recommend that the FCO consider special funding to support the work of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy to promote the full involvement of all the people of Kosovo in its political life. (Paragraph 231)
(58)We recommend that the British Government encourage UNMIK to ensure that the conditions for holding local elections are met as soon as possible, providing material assistance as necessary. (Paragraph 233)
(59)We endorse the Foreign Secretary's view that there should be no undue haste in calling elections to a Kosovo-wide body. (Paragraph 235)
(60)We find this [the idea that Kosovan independence will stabilise Macedonia and the region] implausible, and conclude that the effect of Kosovan independence on Macedonia is potentially destabilising, at least at present. Macedonia is the one state which has left the former Yugoslavia without bloodshed, and it is important that bloodshed should be avoided in the future. (Paragraph 242)
(61)We believe that the re-drawing of boundaries which partition of Kosovo would involve would be destabilising for the region and a barrier to any idea of multi-ethnic states in the region. (Paragraph 245)
(62)We believe that the international community is prudent in deferring any decision on its preferences for Kosovo's long term future. (Paragraph 246)
(63)We strongly support UNMIK's intention to move forward with an interim constitution and interim government for Kosovo. (Paragraph 247)
(64)We conclude that the present interim status for Kosovo is likely to remain in place for an indeterminate period. (Paragraph 248)
(65)We conclude that developments in Montenegro have been extremely positive for the large majority of the Montenegrin people and for the United Kingdom and its allies, and that the British Government should continue to do all that it can to support the democratic process in Montenegro. (Paragraph 256)
(66)We conclude that support from the United Kingdom for democratic forces in Montenegro is a valuable means of supporting democratic forces in Serbia as well. (Paragraph 257)
(67)We recommend that the Government continue to encourage the maximum degree of autonomy for Montenegro without endangering regional stability. (Paragraph 261)
(68)We recommend that the FCO should take into account the deep anxieties of Montenegrins in any future discussions on the independence of Kosovo. (Paragraph 262)
(69)We recommend that the British Government request NATO to examine closely the allegation that the Military Technical Agreement has been breached by troop movements into Montenegro. (Paragraph 265)
(70)We believe that it is imperative that Western policy is directed towards prevention of a civil war in Montenegro. (Paragraph 267)
(71)We strongly agree [that a build up of Western troops in the region and guarantees of support to President Djukanovic in case of aggression from Serbia should help to deter another crisis], and see the merit of keeping Milosevic guessing as to the West's reaction to any military intervention or other attempt at destabilisation by him in Montenegro. We recommend that Milosevic should be in no doubt, however, as to the willingness of the United Kingdom and its partners to protect the democratic government of Montenegro.
(Paragraph 269)
(72)We recommend that the Government take prompt action to ensure that the EBRD is able to work in Montenegro and report back to the Committee as to the position of the major shareholders of the Bank. (Paragraph 275)
(73)We very much welcome the new urgency which the European Council has given to support for Montenegro, and we encourage the Government to drive forward the Council's commitment in the months to come. We recommend that the Government press for any remaining bureaucratic obstacles to macroeconomic assistance for Montenegro from the European Union to be removed. (Paragraph 279)
(74)We recommend that the Government, with its European partners, should keep under constant review the sanctions regime against Yugoslavia, moderating it where possible to assist Montenegro. (Paragraph 280)
(75)We agree with the Foreign Secretary that the EU should find creative ways to improve the trade regime which applies to Montenegrin goods to remove the discriminatory duties which apply even to products which clearly originate in Montenegro. (Paragraph 281)
(76)We recommend that every effort is made to give concrete support to Montenegro through the Stability Pact. (Paragraph 282)
(77)We wish to see the FCO adopt an imaginative solution which will allow the establishment of a British representative office in Podgorica. (Paragraph 283)
(78)We recommend that visas to visit the United Kingdom should be issued in Podgorica. (Paragraph 284)
The regional dimension
(79)We recommend that the Government should inform the Committee in unambiguous terms how much of the £100 million it has promised for the next three years for the Balkans is new money, and how much had already been announced. (Paragraph 292)
(80)We believe that the Stability Pact offers an opportunity for the international community to avoid the mistakes of the past in the region, but that the current level of commitment will result in that opportunity being missed. The United Kingdom contribution to the Stability Pact has been minimal, and should be increased substantially. Another conflict in the region will be far more costly than a relatively modest financial contribution at this stage.
(Paragraph 296)
(81)We recommend that the Government encourage the EU to adopt its next Common Strategy on South Eastern Europe, in order to define clearly its policies, as well as to facilitate better decision making within the EU in this important policy area. (Paragraph 303)
(82)We welcome the Commission's intention to pursue asymmetrical trade liberalisation with the countries of South Eastern Europe, and trust that its proposals will be far-reaching. We urge the Government to take up these proposals and to pursue them vigorously. (Paragraph 306)
(84)The Government should increase the BBC World Service's provision of news to Serbia, in Serbian and English, to offset the stranglehold the regime has on news information. (Paragraph 310)
(85)We recommend that the Government consider what measures can be taken to encourage the Serbian opposition to unite in its campaign against Milosevic. In particular, consideration should be given to supporting only those elements of the opposition that are prepared to sign up to a joint programme. (Paragraph 312)
(86)We are concerned that there appears to be evidence that the EU visa ban on Serbian officials is not being respected. We request that the FCO report to us on all violations of the ban, and what action the FCO has taken in response to these infractions. (Paragraph 313)
(87)We recommend that the United Kingdom should continue to take a leading role in building a consensus amongst our allies to promote peace and stability in South Eastern Europe, recognising that, if we do not, we will be faced once again with refugee flows and the need to deploy British forces, and British resources, in the region. (Paragraph 315)
(88)NATO took the unprecedented action of bombing an internationally recognised European state in defence of the rights of a large minority within that state. As a result these rights have been restored.
However, the objective of establishing a multi-ethnic Kosovo society within a democratic Yugoslavia remains unachieved. Milosevic remains in power.
In the meantime, as a result of NATO action, the UN has been compelled to assume virtually unprecedented responsibility for the governance of a province. It has to establish all the basic requirements of a civilised society, an economy and a currency, institutions to uphold law and order and to deliver the whole range of services necessary to society.
This is a formidable challenge which deserves the full support and attention of the international community. We are concerned that the attention span of the international community is short. There is a tendency to act immediately and then move on, leaving the UN to bear the longer-term consequences.
This should not happen in Kosovo. NATO, with the support of the European Union, authorised the action taken in Kosovo outside the terms of the UN Security Council. NATO and EU states, therefore, more than the UN, have a very specific and heavy responsibility to establish long term stability and peace in Kosovo and in the region.
We have made a commitment to Kosovo. Unless we fulfil that commitment, and build peace in Kosovo and the region, our efforts to date will have been in vain. (Paragraphs 316-321)

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