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Lord Skidelsky: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for giving way. To what period does the last quotation refer?

Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, it covers the period of the investigations into refugees made by the OSCE in Macedonia and also Albania. I cannot give the precise dates, but I have clearly indicated to the noble Lord that the report itself refers back to 1998. I have also given clear first-hand evidence that these practices were not first perpetrated in Kosovo but long before in Bosnia and Croatia. I give one more example. I saw at first hand the so-called winter exercises of the Yugoslav army in Kosovo in January 1999, two months before NATO intervened. I saw at least half a dozen villages burnt to the ground. I was so horrified by what I saw--for example, children's shoes in burnt-out houses--that I became then, as I am to this day, a strong supporter of intervention by NATO in Kosovo. If we pretend otherwise we should see the recent film made about Srebrnica entitled "A Cry from the Grave". If we do not recognise that this is a systematic, strategically planned and carefully thought out policy to commit atrocities against civilians we should not take part in any discussion without looking at the evidence at first hand.

In the terribly troubled century that has just ended, we have seen the use of state policy to break human beings. One example is Hitler's Germany; another is Stalin's Russia. The anarchy that has led to the killing of Serb civilians is unforgivable, but it is not the same as state policy. One has in mind the words of William Butler Yeats:

    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed".

Anarchy and state policy are two different things.

What can we do now? I agree with the observations of the noble Baroness, Lady Turner, and the noble Lord, Lord Judd. At this point I am not totally uncritical of Her Majesty's Government. I believe that, as Justice Arbour said, unless there is justice there will be revenge. First, justice is still not established in Kosovo. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Judd, when he spoke about the need to put resources into justice. We have not done it. I understand that there is not even a UK financial contribution to the work of OSCE. But without justice one plunges into revenge. The code of ethics of the peoples of the Balkans is one of revenge. "If no one avenges me I shall avenge myself". Ignatieff calls it the warrior's honour; it is all about tit-for-tat, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

Secondly, I believe that the British Government should support the training of more police and courts in Kosovo. Thirdly, I believe that they should disarm both of the conflicting ethnic groups in Mitrovica which is currently under the French UN force. To

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allow one ethnic group to kill another in an area where one has thousands of troops is insupportable. Finally, I ask the Minister what steps we are taking to try to bring about the return of Serb prisoners from Kosovo and the many thousands of Kosovar Albanian prisoners currently in Serbian prisons. That could be a key to a better relationship between both sides. Such an exchange of prisoners has been a building block in the peace negotiations, however troubled, in Northern Ireland. I believe that we can learn from that lesson in Kosovo.

Lord Rea: My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down perhaps I may put one question. Does she agree that, despite the horrible atrocities committed by the Serbs in Bosnia and Albania before the decision of NATO to intervene, when the bombing commenced and the OSCE monitors left the country the atrocities vastly increased and it was at that point that the majority of the Albanian expulsions took place?

Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, I agree that there was an escalation, as invariably happens. There was an escalation in German mobilisation after the strategic bombing of German towns in 1943 and 1944. However, I do not believe that there is any evidence that NATO's intervention was related directly to atrocities, and I tried to explain why. I have also given the House first-hand evidence of what happened in Bosnia when there was no intervention and the British and French stood to one side and let it all happen. What was the result? Thousands of innocent people were slaughtered. Srebrnica is a clear case where 8,000 people died and the British and French did absolutely nothing to intervene.

8.9 p.m.

Lord Moynihan: My Lords, I, too, thank my noble friend Lord Skidelsky for securing this important opportunity to discuss the current situation in Kosovo. I welcome many of the powerful insights made by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby. All too often, once conflicts are over, the media spotlight is dimmed and the eyes of the world turn elsewhere, ignoring the fact that the real challenge--that of making and keeping a permanent peace--is only just beginning. So today I shall concentrate on what is to be done now.

As noble Lords have heard today, the publication two months ago of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights reports has provided a valuable window into events in Kosovo, past and present; and has shed light on the grave problems Kosovo has faced and continues to face.

Page after page of the report reveals an organised and systematic strategy of human rights and humanitarian law violations, most brutally implemented. The report makes clear that Belgrade has much to answer for in its years of ruthless incitement of ethnic hatreds in the region. I hope that the Minister will take this opportunity to outline how the Government intend to make use of the reliable database that the report constitutes in order to agree

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upon appropriate measures to restore and maintain international peace and security in the region; and to bring to justice those responsible for the crimes uncovered, which is an important part of the reconciliation process by which dismembered societies are invisibly stitched back together.

Part II of the OSCE report which documents the period between 14th June and 31st October, when more than 800,000 refugees returned to a war-torn Kosovo under K-FOR protection and UN administration, confirms that Kosovo remains infected with the disease of ethnic hatred and violence and that the nightmares described in Part I are living ones and cannot be consigned to the archives of the past. With one example after another, the report depicts a Kosovo convulsed by the poison of revenge, with acts of vindictive, retaliatory violence contributing to the creation of a climate of lawlessness and impunity.

The report notes that two particularly iniquitous trends have emerged: the targeting of vulnerable, elderly Kosovo Serbs and the participation of juveniles in human rights violations, both of which disturbingly underline the growing intolerance that has emerged within the Kosovo Albanian community.

The current situation in Kosovo highlights the critical importance of the work of the UN mission (UNMIK) in the rebuilding of civil society in the province, a fact which makes the recent allegations of bureaucracy and incompetence against UNMIK all the more disturbing. Yet nearly eight months since the conflict was ended and NATO troops entered Kosovo to keep the peace, today's reality is very far from that goal. Back in May, the Prime Minister promised the refugees of Kosovo,

    "practical help, practical commitment and above else a determination that all this suffering and all this misery...[should] not last but [should] be reversed",

so that those same dispossessed refugees would become,

    "symbols of hope, humanity and peace".

Yet, despite the international presence, there are very few "symbols of hope, humanity and peace" to be found and the peace that has been built to date stands on the flimsiest of foundations.

The international community has not been able to deliver on its promises. No Kosovar of any ethnicity feels secure. There is no region in Kosovo in which human rights are fully respected. Tens of thousands remain without adequate shelter. Civil registration has yet to get under way. No Serb has agreed to stand on the new UNMIK-Kosovo Joint Interim Administrative Structure. Kosovo's long-term status is still in question. Its economy and infrastructure are still devastated. And, as we have heard today, there is no agreed-upon, functional system of justice, and criminals, including war criminals, continue to operate.

As though to acknowledge that no remedy has been found for the contagion of intimidation and intolerance, the UN Mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, no

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longer talks about reconciliation but about "the first step of co-existence". This is a step that has yet to be taken.

The stark back-drop to the post-war setting described in OSCE reports makes it clear that only a strong law enforcement system can prevent the atmosphere of vindictive revenge that has perpetuated such violence. Amnesty International makes it clear that the international community, through UNMIK, must bear some responsibility for the failures in Kosovo. Last month, Amnesty concluded that the murder of a Slavic Muslim family in Prizren--a father, mother, daughter and an elderly grandmother--highlighted the continuing failure of the international community to protect the human rights of all minorities in Kosovo.

Does the Minister agree with Amnesty that it is indeed,

    "time for the international presence to fulfil its obligation to protect human rights and take urgent action to prevent further human rights abuses"?

Does the noble Baroness further agree that the rebuilding of an open and inclusive society in Kosovo founded on the principles of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms can be realised only through the continued monitoring and reporting of the human rights situation and the establishment of the rule of law?

Dr Bernard Kouchner once again was going recently, cap in hand, to the international community in Brussels. He was urgently pleading for more UN policemen, for more support for training local police and for the local system of justice, and for the plentiful pledges and promises of funds from the Kosovo Donors Conference to be fulfilled.

Can the Minister assist the House by explaining why, when the Foreign Secretary was hopeful last June that 3,000 international police officers would be deployed in Kosovo by July last year, today there are still fewer than 2,000 police officers deployed?

We used all the energies of NATO to stop the killing, and the atrocities, at a cost of billions. Yet it appears that we do not have the small resources which would make all the difference between success and failure in Kosovo. If all the nations in the world who claimed to fight for freedom and against repression cannot now manage to send sufficient police officers to Kosovo, then I regret to say that that failure may cost the world Kosovo's peace.

From these Benches we would be the first to say that our expectations must be realistic. Kosovo will not be changed overnight. The legacy of human rights violations that occurred before, during and after the conflict is a very heavy one. Kosovo is a society eviscerated by hatred and fear. Such deep wounds take time to heal. In diplomatic, financial, ethical or any terms, peace is a better investment than war, and certainly an intermittent war. The principle is one which I am sure the Minister will be eager to acknowledge. We must not find ourselves in the position of winning the war that we have chosen to fight, but losing the peace we have sought to impose.

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The point has been made by the President of the European Commission. Romano Prodi said,

    "As each day passes I am increasingly worried that the capacity for organising war far outstrips our capacity to co-ordinate the reconstruction of people's shattered lives".

His concerns struck a deep chord. In the cease-fires and armistices which the UN presides over, it is a lesson well learned that combat suspended is not combat ended. While international peacekeepers are occupied in keeping apart parties who remain hostile, while war seethes under the surface and its underlying causes are not addressed, the deep scars and wounds of conflict will never heal and true peace cannot take root and thrive.

I am sure the Minister will recognise that there have been reverberations far wider than the immediate vicinity of Kosovo, and, indeed, the debate today in this House. These reverberations will continue to be felt in transatlantic attitudes, relations and institutions for a long time. There is an increasing demand for answers to questions about the legality of intervention, mandates for intervention, and burden sharing, both financial and in terms of manpower, firepower, equipment and resources.

In conclusion, we are all agreed that the evil ethnic cleansing that took place in Kosovo which led to the NATO operation against Serbia was an assault on the universal values of respect for human rights and dignity. For that reason, we supported the Government's action, yet the way we implement the peace that has been imposed and the resources we commit for that purpose will be the ultimate test of the success or failure of our military intervention in Kosovo.

The stakes are high for the people of Kosovo, Montenegro, neighbouring states, the Balkans and the international community. Effective war fighting needs to be followed by effective war termination and peace consolidation or history will surely judge us wanting. I look forward to hearing the Minister outline how the Government, who took a lead in winning the war, intend to take a lead in winning the peace in Kosovo.

8.20 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, for drawing the attention of the House to the important and valuable OSCE report on human rights in Kosovo, published in December 1999. I agree wholeheartedly with the noble Lord that the report deserves careful perusal. However, it is important to read the report as a whole. We have derived a different flavour from that divined by the noble Lord. We refute entirely any suggestion that the Government have lied. I was surprised to hear such language in this place.

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