This appendix includes Human Rights Watch correspondence with NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, his response, and a response from his office.
April 14, 1999
The Honorable Javier Solana
North Atlantic Treaty Organization Headquarters
Via fax: 32 2 707 4666
Dear Secretary General Solana:
The challenges facing NATOs mission in the 21st century are expected to form the core of the discussions at the April 23-25, 1999 NATO summit in Washington, D.C. The forthcoming summit, marking the 50th anniversary and the enlargement of the Alliance, represents a historic opportunity for you to address key issues regarding the work and evolution of the Alliance. Among these issues, we believe, are:
We urge NATO to adopt the new United Nations policy regarding age limits for peacekeepers, military observers and civilian police. This policy, announced by Kofi Annan in October 1998, states that troop-contributing countries should not send civilian police and military observers younger than 25 years to serve in peacekeeping operations and that national contingent soldiers deployed in U.N. operations should preferably be at least 21 years old, and definitely not below the age of 18.
The U.N. secretary-general has stated that this policy is intended to ensure that the U.N. benefits from experienced and mature uniformed personnel able to perform their duties according to the highest standards. He expressed the hope that the policy would serve as an example for police and military forces worldwide, at a time when children in large numbers are, unacceptably, recruited to participate in armed conflicts. UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy has strongly endorsed this position.
Excess Weapons and Harmonization of Export Controls
We urge NATO to take concrete steps for the responsible disposal of excess weapons and the harmonization of weapons export controls to the highest possible standards. We have followed up on your suggestion and approached NATO allies and partners soliciting their answers on these two topics. Some governments have promptly replied to our queries. From their replies, however, we realize that reliable data concerning inventories and movements of excess weapons is not available. We believe this data production is crucial for enhancing transparency and building trust among allies and partners, and that NATO can stimulate this.
We were pleased to learn that the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council began to tackle light weapons proliferation. It is our understanding, however, that there is significant resistance in some quarters against increased transparency. Our correspondence also persuaded us that allies and partners have a long way to go along the path of harmonization of export controls policies. We hope that you will lend your good offices to overcome these objections, and stimulate a convergence of high standards in export controls.
Since all but two NATO governments have signed the Ottawa Convention banning antipersonnel landmines, we urge NATO to adopt a policy of no use of antipersonnel mines in joint operations. We urge NATO governments that have not signed the Ottawa Convention to do so immediately, and urge those that have signed but not ratified to do so prior to the First Meeting of States Parties in Mozambique in May. We urge the United States and those NATO nations where U.S. antipersonnel mines are stored to reach agreement to remove those mines expeditiously, no later than four years from the Convention's entry into force.
Arrest and Protection Mandate in Bosnia
We urge NATO members to pursue a robust interpretation of NATO's arrest and protection mandate throughout the territory of Bosnia and Hercegovina. The capacity of NATO to grow into its post-cold war role has been severely tested in recent years in the Balkans. The Bosnia peace process has revealed that NATO cannot limit its involvement to counting weapons and separating warring factions. Such situations may also require providing security assistance to war crimes investigations, conducting arrest operations, and protecting returning refugees. The Bosnia process has been most successful where NATO-led SFOR troops have embraced this broad mandate and thereby created the political space for those Bosnians truly committed to reconstructing their country. A particularly valuable innovation has been SFOR's multi-specialty units (MSUs), and we would welcome the expanded use of the MSUs through preventive deployment for the protection of civilians.
These important SFOR contributions to the Bosnia peace process have unfortunately been overshadowed by NATO's continued unwillingness to arrest indicted war-time Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. NATO's failure to apprehend these architects of ethnic cleansing has not only undermined peace in Bosnia, but also emboldened those currently committing atrocities in Kosovo. All NATO member states should endorse a broad arrest and protection mandate for Bosnia. A similarly robust interpretation of its arrest and protection mandate should apply in Kosovo in the event of a similar deployment there. At the same time, in the course of the NATO conflict with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, countries of the NATO alliance must take all steps to minimize civilian casualties, including holding accountable those responsible for any indiscriminate attacks on civilians.
Thank you very much for your kind consideration of our requests. We wish you a very happy 50th anniversary.
Human Rights Watch
This report was written by Loretta Bondì, the advocacy coordinator of the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch, and was edited by Michael McClintock, the deputy program director of Human Rights Watch, Joost Hiltermann, the executive director of the Arms Division, and WilderTayler, general counsel to Human Rights Watch.
Production assistance was provided by Sharda Sekaran, associate with the Arms Division, Patrick Minges, publications director, and Fitzroy Hepkins, mail manager.
Human Rights Watch also acknowledges with appreciation the support of the Compton Foundation, NOVIB, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Winston Foundation for World Peace, an anonymous member of the Rockefeller family, and members of the Arms Divisions international advisory committee. Human Rights Watch takes sole responsibility for the content of the report.
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Human Rights Watch is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world.
We stand with victims and activists to bring offenders to justice, to prevent discrimination, to uphold political freedom and to protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime.
We investigate and expose human rights violations and hold abusers accountable.
We challenge governments and those holding power to end abusive practices and respect international human rights law.
We enlist the public and the international community to support the cause of human rights for all.
The staff includes Kenneth Roth, executive director; Michele Alexander, development director; Reed Brody, advocacy director; Carroll Bogert, communications director; Cynthia Brown, program director; Barbara Guglielmo, finance and administration director; Jeri Laber, special advisor; Lotte Leicht, Brussels office director; Patrick Minges, publications director; Susan Osnos, associate director; Jemera Rone, counsel; Wilder Tayler, general counsel; and Joanna Weschler, United Nations representative. Jonathan Fanton is the chair of the board. Robert L. Bernstein is the founding chair.
Its Arms Division was established in 1992 to monitor and prevent arms transfers to governments or organizations that commit gross violations of internationally recognized human rights and the rules of war and promote freedom of information regarding arms transfers worldwide. Joost R. Hiltermann is the executive director; Stephen D. Goose is the program director; Loretta Bondì is the advocacy coordinator; Mary Wareham is the senior advocate; Ernst Jan Hogendoorn and Alex Vines are research associates; Lisa Misol is the Sophie Silberberg Fellow; Sharda Sekaran and Jasmine Juteau are associates; and William M. Arkin, Kathleen Bleakley and Monica Schurtman are consultants. Torsten N. Wiesel is the chair of the advisory committee and Nicole Ball and Vincent McGee are the vice-chairs.
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