Towards a New Paradigm in International Relations

Dissertation for the MA in European Integration, University of Limerick, Ireland

Towards a New Paradigm in International Relations – The Contribution of the European Political Co-operation in the Times of the Yugoslav Crisis

by Anca Păduraru

Graduate, The Electrical Engineering Faculty at The Polytechnic Institute “Traian Vuia” of Timisoara, Romania

Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the
Master of Arts in European Integration in the
College of Humanities,
University of Limerick,

Dr. Nicholas Rees
Dissertation Supervisor

Table of Contents


Chapter I: The Principle of Self-Determination
  1. The Taming of the Principle
  2. The Reasons for a Domesticated Principle
  3. Qualified Secession and the European Political Co-operation
Chapter II: The Principle of State Formation and Recognition
  1. Recognition of States, Between Redundancy and Non-Endorsement
  2. Why Non-Endorsement Was Ruled Out
  3. Recognition as a State Founding Principle and the European Political Co-operation
Chapter III: The Principle of Non-Intervention
  1. Non-Intervention as a State Supportive Principle
  2. States' New Foe: Humanitarian Intervention
  3. Qualified Intervention and the European Political Co-operation


I thank all my teachers at the University of Limerick, Department for European Integration and Administration, for their effort to pass their knowledge to me.
If the latter will not be discernible in the following pages, it is obviously no body's fault but mine.
Anca Păduraru


CDU/CSU Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union
CSCE Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe
EC European Community
EEC European Economic Community
EP European Parliament
EPC European Political Co-operation
EPP European People's Party
IGO Intergovernmental Organization
NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization
UN United Nations
US United States
USA United States of America
USSR Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
WEU Western European Union


This dissertation is an attempt to assess the advantages and disadvantages of the European Political Co-operation (EPC) process. The study focuses on the case of the Yugoslav crisis and looks at the role that the European Community (EC) has and is playing in this crisis. Furthermore, the way the international community is dealing with the conflict in Yugoslavia is regarded as relevant for exposing the changes that are taking place in the international relations paradigm, where the right of peoples to statehood is increasingly challenged by a new interpretation given to the principles founding the present world system as a states' system.

The EC has changed its position concerning Yugoslavia from non-intervention to seeking to promote stability, and from the promotion of peace (while proving actor capability) to the imposition of its own idea of conflict resolution (Wiberg, 1992: 30). Furthermore, its changes in attitude cannot be regarded as simple responses to the developments in Yugoslavia, since the very stances of the Community were among the causes triggering these outcomes.

The crucial thing, though, is that while Yugoslavia and the EC look important – like actors do when in the limelight – the lines in the play are fundamentally changing. The existing normative framework of the states' system founded on the interlocking of the principles of self-determination, state formation and recognition and the non-intervention norm, is shifting towards a new framework that qualifies the secessionist self-determination and the outside intervention. If these developments could only be guessed during the Gulf War, the events in Somalia and Yugoslavia were, each in their turn, a springboard for the new principles. Whether indeed they will ascend to the status of founding principles of the international order, then important changes will be underway: at one end stays the world system completely unstructured as a states' system; at the other end stays the world system completely integrated in a state led by the United Nations. In-between is the continuation of the policy of “might is right” by the world, regional or local powers, not in the name of democracy this time – be it communist or capitalist –, but in the name of the human rights.

Whether we welcome this as the eve of a new world order, or we loathe it for the same reason, the fact is that important alterations are taking place in the international relations paradigm.

The dissertation is organized in the chronological order of these three previously interlocking principles' implementation on the Yugoslav case. Each chapter will comprise a short presentation of the existing “former” principle, considered relevant for the point being made, and the actual developments of the principle in the EPC process. This is not to say that the EPC was shaping – either the events on the ground, or the new paradigm in international relations –, but that it was as much acting as reacting, being just one of the inputs, and just one of the refiners in this whole phenomenon.

The first chapter gives a brief account on the spawning of the principle of self-determination as a destructive principle of the world order of the 19th Century, on the way it still preserved its disruptive meaning on the eve of the Second World War, and the subsequent emasculation of the principle enshrined in the legislation passed by the United Nations (UN). Furthermore, there are given the reasons – legal and political – that prevented the self-determination (and the implied secession) to be in the high esteem of both the United Nations Organization (UNO) and of its member states. The chapter ends with the example offered by the dissolution of Yugoslavia and its endorsement by the European Community, valued as a real breakthrough in the international praxis.

The second chapter deals with the norm of state formation and recognition, at first from a historical perspective, explaining what its status was in the international relations up to the Yugoslav crisis. The fact that the recognition of the breakaway Yugoslav republics functioned as a factor constitutive of statehood is seen as another turning point in the existing framework of the international relations. In what concerns the developments in the European Community, this is also relevant for the way Germany displays a growing boldness in its foreign policy, under the Community's umbrella.

Chapter three is focused on the principle of non-intervention which stays at the basis of the present world system as a states' system, together with the other relevant principles like sovereignty, territorial integrity, and non-interference in the domestic affairs of a state. It stresses that, while after 1945 the right of humanitarian intervention – which previously existed – has been expelled from the principles of international order, in the present day international praxis, it is surfacing again. It is enshrined in pieces of legislation passed by the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly, and it is heavily re-enforced by the European Community with its economic, political, and military pressure. Finally, the consequences on the European Political Co-operation are valued as positive, the protracted conflict in Yugoslavia working as a catharsis for a common stance of the Community. Furthermore, the West European Union (WEU) has grown in its assertiveness, both as a defense component for the Community and as an European pillar for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This happened as a consequence of its becoming operational and participating, together with NATO, to the enforcement of the UN ordered embargo on Yugoslavia.

In the Conclusion it is argued on what would bring the present developments in the international relations paradigm, as discernible during the Yugoslav crisis. Since the secessionist self-determination and the humanitarian intervention are not to be applied consistently on a world scale, but only outside the Western world, their endorsement by the Third World and Non-Aligned countries as superseding principles of international relations is unlikely. Furthermore, United Nations puts its own status as a states' organization in jeopardy, by its active involvement in the development of these two principles. Therefore, we should either get our double standards right in connection with these two principles, or not use them at all. As it is, it looks reasonable to assume that the right of the minority as opposed to that of the state would be the ideology of the future in the name of which economic and political pressure, and outside military intervention would be moral deeds.

The dissertation draws on the data published by the Office for the Official Publications of the European Communities, on the publications of the Agence Internationale d'Information pour la Presse, and from a number of secondary sources such as the books and articles on the topic. The tape-recording of the lecture given on the situation on the ground in Yugoslavia by Commandant Colm Doyle, Irish officer in the UN forces, and personal representative of Lord Carrington for Bosnia Herzegovina, is the only source used that is not yet published.

The number of academic papers, articles and news reports written on the Yugoslav crisis is impressive, but much of this is emotional analysis, and very little is of long term value. The emotional appeal on behalf of the victims of war crimes, the depicting of an aggressor portrayed in evil features, the recourse to “lessons” from history, the pointing to nationalism as primitive, the outrage for the existence of a conflict at the heart of Europe, all do nothing but help us loosing focus.

Wars have always been appalling. When going to war one has to simplify through propaganda the complex reality into “good and bad”, “right and wrong”, for practical reasons of making acceptable to the public opinion the political decisions and the subsequent loss of young life. As for nationalism being a primitive feeling, nothing more false than that: it was a 19th Century invention in the realm of political ideas, and it means just the organization of a state along national lines. As Dunn (1987: 45) puts it, “nationalism in and of itself is neither good nor bad. At times it can be democratic or undemocratic, fanatical or moderate, productive or destructive. The only thing that nationalists hold in common is the belief that nations have a right to determine their own destinies.” As for the ethnic conflict in springing out of the perceived differences in ethnicity, it will be equivalent with saying that inter-state conflicts stem from the very existence of different states. And finally, quoting examples from history is an unsound intellectual exercise when theorizing because, firstly, history is not a list of facts, but of facts as reported by people, and secondly, its record is too long to not comprise everything one would like, enabling one to prove or disprove anything in the world.

The only valid argument of those listed previously is that Yugoslavia is significant and a problem to be examined because the Yugoslav conflict is indeed at the geographical heart of Europe, and also because it tells us something about the role of the EPC in conflict resolution. This only accelerated the changes of approach – or better say challenges – towards the very foundation of the international system as a states' system.

Chapter I
The Principle of Self-Determination

1. The Taming of the Principle

As it emerged in the 19th and early 20th Centuries, the principle of national self-determination was a very explosive one, aiming the self-assertion against any form of domination1. But its subsequent evolution showed that while it had been put nominally at the foundation of the international relations, its implementation had been linked with that of other relevant principles, and its actual meaning had been adapted for the purposes of a stable states' order as the world order.

In the time of the League of Nations, the regime for the protection of minorities included seven stages, of which, however, the last was not an automatic one. This meant that the initial petition of an individual belonging to a minority who felt his/her rights were not being respected by the respective government (stage 1), was not risen automatically during a formal League session (stage 7), unless a member of the Council decided so, and thus rendered the complain “public” for the first time. Both minorities and governments subjected to scrutiny for minorities rights were unhappy with this system. Also, the way World War II broke out taught us that “Germany, whilst a keen champion of minority rights, adhered to this principle, not out of commitment to the international protection of minorities, but because of affective links with specific German minorities in specific states. Indeed, under Hitler, it became clear that Germany was fundamentally opposed to the assumption that German minorities should live under “foreign” governments and undermined the League system by encouraging German minorities to act in a disloyal and provocative manner” (Claude, as cited in Ryan, 1990: 157).

Thus, the world's structure, as it emerged after World War II, was that of a community of states, and not of peoples. Nation came to mean state, and the very issue of national self-determination was tamed on the one hand by the simultaneous applicability of the norms of non-intervention and preservation of the territorial integrity of states, and on the other hand by the right to exercise the self-determination only once.

Though it acquired the status of jus cogens, the principle was void of its earlier disruptive meanings, for it was not the right of a nation, but the right of a colony to independence or union with another state, and the right of a majority within a colony or a state. The basis was now territorial, instead of ethnic or cultural. It applied to non-self-governing territories, not to metropolitan territories. It meant non-colonialism and in practice came to mean only independence from Western colonial rule. The only other beneficiaries of such a right were territories under occupation and majorities subjected to institutionalized racism (Heraclides, 1991: 21).

As it is now, only very few states regard the right of secession as inherent in the right of self-determination (Somalia, India's recognition of Bangladesh in 1971, the four African recognitions of Biafra in 1971, and the four African recognitions of Biafra, in 1988), and the state-centric view of the world held by the world's governments is mirrored in the way United Nations operates (Ibidem)2.

Why the world system evolved in such a way that it protected states against national minorities and not the other way around, it is obvious: there are very few states that do not comprise on their territory minority groups. The United Nations, the various Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs) and the states' governments had to narrow the meaning of self-determination, or else they would have put themselves at peril, while inviting or justifying attacks on the integrity and unity of one of their own kin. (It should be noted, however, that this argument goes only for the legal point of view. Since the end of World War II, history counted numerous attempts to secession and outside intervention in the name of national self-determination.)
  1. The Reasons for a Domesticated Principle
The strict legal arguments for not encouraging secession lay, therefore, (1) on the right to exercise self-determination only once, on the basis of pacta sunt servanda; (2) on the international law as the law of states, and not individuals or peoples (states are the subject of international relations, and the peoples – majorities and minorities – are the objects of law); (3) on the argument of mutuality (as states cannot oust one of their provinces, equally a province cannot secede). As Lee C. Buchheit (in Heraclides, 1991: 28) further summarizes, the political, non-legal arguments speaking against secession were: (1) the fear of Balkanization, the domino theory, or the Pandora box; (2) the fear of indefinite divisibility, because very few states are ethnically homogeneous, and often neither are the secessionist territories themselves; (3) the fear of the effect such a right could have on the democratic system, by providing a minority with an opportunity for constant blackmail – threatening to secede if there is no conformity with its wishes; (4) the danger of giving birth to non-viable and particularly small entities which would rely on extensive international aid; (5) the fear of trapped minorities within the seceding state, who presumably cannot secede in their turn; (6) the fear of “stranded majorities” in cases where the seceding territory is economically or strategically crucial to the original state.

Since the principle of self-determination was not only watered down, but even in its diluted form it lost the object of its application – being used for only such cases as the Palestinians and the South African blacks – it would have become a non-entity, equivalent with the principles of non-intervention or sovereignty, were it not for the changes caused by the end of the Cold War.

It seems realistic to presume that the future will not bring the end of separatism, but again an enforcement of double standards regarding the re-animated principle of self-determination. It was not “right” to deny self-determination for a distinguishable minority that happened to be part of an already independent state at the time of the drafting of the United Nations Charter. But as it is now applied, it is again being used in the territories outside the former metropolitan states!

The principle cannot become any better, for the very defining of terms (nation, national minority) is as difficult and culturally biased now, as it was half a century or a century ago. And indeed, which population is entitled to self-determination: the one living in Northern Ireland, the one living in the island of Ireland, the population of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or the latter plus that of the Republic of Ireland? But, this is a pointless question, since the principle is designed today, as it was before, to re-shape the world outside the Club of the Western World. The “new” principle is only dressed up in the white clothes of a “better” world, whereas its foundations are morally suspect and intellectually unsound.

Some – like Franklin (1992: 38) – try to sort the problem by designing “additional rules for secession” like (1) a “historical identity” for the seceding area; (2) financial or other compensation to be negotiated for the assets and future revenues forgone by the country being seceding from; (3) agreement in new treaties for special needs and demands like access to ports or renunciation of nuclear weapons. As the author himself points out, all his “new criteria” are questionable and therefore he ends with the unhappy conclusion that “the situation in Eastern Europe and ex-Soviet Union is unusually messy. In response, foreign diplomacy will have to be flexible, creative, quick off the mark, sometimes thrusting, sometimes restrained” (Ibid: 40). He continues that “the formula sounds rather like the recipe for a successful service industry (the “industry” of re-drawing the borders in these areas3), which sadly, over the next few years is going to be a growth industry (Ibidem). One can take this last remark only as his apology for writing the article quoted.
  1. Qualified Secession and the European Political Co-operation
In the case of Yugoslavia, the calls for the right of self-determination for the peoples within it are completely out of the tune it had been set at the end of World War II. None of the United Nations criteria for defining the principle are applicable to the Yugoslav case. The crucial issue was, as in the question Yugoslavia sent to the Badinter Commission4: “Who can be subject of the right to self-determination from the standpoint of the international pubic law – a nation or a federal unit; is the right to self-determination a subjective collective right or the right of a territory?”

“The Badinter Commission reply avoided a clear answer. When political and national boundaries differ, the interpretation of national self-determination is rather difficult, as seen when the Badinter Commission implicitly treated the republics as the relevant entities, whereas the Serbs outside Serbia as minorities or ethnic group, rather than as nations” (Wiberg, 1992: 39). This blew wind in the Croatian sails, since in reply to the Arbitration Commission of the Conference in The Hague, which raised the question whether the Serbs in Croatia “as constituent people of Yugoslavia” are entitled to self-determination, Croatia affirmed that “the rights of every national group or minority must be guaranteed in every republic or state”, but that these minorities “do not have the right to secede”. In its message to the Badinter Commission, Croatia denounced the creation of “so-called” regions or autonomous Serbian republics on its territory as “illegal”.5

As Wiberg (in print: 108) stresses, EC's answer reflected its state emphasis, inventing the principle that secessions should follow administrative rather than ethnic-national boundaries.

The first consequence was that outside the newly independent states were left two million Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina, 750,000 Croats in Bosnia Herzegovina, and two million Albanians in present Yugoslavia and Macedonia. (He further highlights that the German Rechtstaatlichkeit was embodied in the criteria for recognition, especially human rights and minority protection, attempting to make it irrelevant that political and national boundaries differ and that international law distinguishes “nations”, entitled to self-determination, from “national minorities”, merely entitled to minority protection.)

The second consequence, stemming from the first, was that the Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina saw themselves reduced in their status from a founding people of the former Yugoslavia to a national minority in the two newly created states. Therefore they tried to pursue the same national self-determination, and to secede in their turn, thus providing a perfect illustration of the consequences following secession as described by Buchheit, and cited previously.

Through the endorsement of the right to secession of Croatia and Slovenia, the EC did nothing but open the Pandora box, provoked further divisibility, and since the Serb entities in Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina could not be viable in themselves this triggered the “ethnic cleansing” and the military operations with the aim of providing these entities with link-corridors with Serbia. The same stays true for the Croats in Bosnia Herzegovina, as the latest developments (May-June 1993) are showing.

However, the most important consequence is not for the fate of Yugoslavia as a federal state, or for that of its peoples trapped in this turmoil, but for the legal basis of the international system as a states' system. The fact that the challenge of the world order is actually taking place shows something we already knew: that the equilibrium provided by the superpower balance of powers has been disrupted. Whereas the fact that among the challengers is the EC, is a sign of its growing assertiveness on the international arena. That this is happening with Germany as the driving motor is only natural, since Germany is the driving economy. Unnatural was its low profile up to now!

Chapter II
State Formation and Recognition

1. Recognition of States – Between Redundancy and Non-endorsement

As opposed to the norm valid at the beginning of this century, in the last 45 years, the recognition of states was not anymore a factor constitutive of statehood, as it was not the membership in the United Nations Organization. In other words, if there was actual control over the territory and its inhabitants by an organized government, and it appeared to be likely to be so in the future, the state was regarded as existing and was recognized on that basis. Other states put themselves at risk legally if they chose to ignore the basic obligations of state relations. Though recognition does not imply in itself any approval, some states, including the United States, used sometimes non-recognition as a way of expressing disapproval.

However, as Heraclides (1991: 25) points out, recognition of an entity by third states has always been an important issue concerning secessions stricto sensu (those with a declaration of independence). An entity that bears the marks of statehood but it is not a self-determined unit, such as Katanga and Biafra in the 1960s, and the Republic of Northern Cyprus today, cannot be recognized by third states. Any such recognition defies the principle of self-determination of the majority in a state and is regarded at very least as premature, hence an unwarrantable intervention in the internal affairs of another state. On the other hand, if an entity is a self-determination unit, but does not meet the strict criteria of statehood, such as Algeria in the late 1950s, the former Portuguese colonies in Africa and, more recently, and controversially, the Sahraoui Arab Democratic Republic, there is far greater leniency, and third states may recognize such entities without being regarded as patently intervening in the internal affairs of another state.

In any case, as Wiberg (1992: 40) reminds us, international praxis has been not to recognize unilateral secessions, unless and until the seceding units appear to have permanent and stable control over (most of) the territory they claim as theirs, whether by agreement with the state they secede from or by clearly demonstrating it de facto. After the failed coup in Moscow in August 1991, there was a clear break with this tradition: many Western states instantly recognizing several ex-USSR states proclaiming independence.

  1. Why Non-endorsement Was Ruled Out

The recognition of a seceding territory emerging as a norm constitutive of statehood in international relations will not bring with it the actual existence of a state, but just another means for exercising outside pressure on a given state, and ultimately on the international system, as one consisting still of sovereign states. It will be an element with a twofold potentiality: integrating and disintegrating the world system. But for practical reasons, first comes disintegration. The shaping of the world on ideological grounds, in itself, it is neither better nor worse than before. The ideology only it's new.

  1. Recognition as a State Founding Principle and the European Political Co-operation

Looking now at the way the recognition of the breakaway Yugoslav republics emerged, it will be obvious how the Community's stance changed completely, following the four steps sequence described in the introduction – from non-intervention and support for Yugoslavia as a single political entity, to complete, biased and active involvement in its dismemberment.

The attitude towards the political future of Yugoslavia developed in the EPC process can be best described by the declaration on the situation in Yugoslavia adopted on 4 February 1991 by the EEC Foreign Ministers, pleading against the use of force and, at the same time, for the unity and territorial integrity of the country. Asked about the appeal for unity and territorial integrity, Council President Jacques Poos said at his press conference that “the Community has no interest in a dismantling of Yugoslavia”6. The same position was valid on the eve of the European Council in Luxembourg, on 27 June 1991, when the President of the European Parliament (EP) Enrique Baron, after speaking to the Heads of State and Government of the Community, at the opening of the Council, recalled the press the very firm resolution of the European Parliament, which confirmed Parliament's preference for a united and federal Yugoslavia, in the respect of democracy and human rights.7 But still waters ran deep, and one got signs of the tides to come when the European Parliament rejected point by point a draft resolution by the EPP, Socialists, Liberals, Conservatives, Unitarian Left, Greens and the Rainbow Group, asking the Twelve to recognize Croatia and Slovenia “if the cease-fire and the separation of the belligerent forces had produced no effect by Monday 14 October”. It did so following the withdrawal of the signature of the Socialists and the Unitarian Left from this text, justified by the fact that the Council had asked for greater flexibility in its mediation work.8

However, the developments occurring by the European Council in December 1991, will show that Germany did exactly what it should have “more than ever avoided to” - according to the spokesman for policy for the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in Germany Karl Lamers: it took the stance of “a lone ranger in its foreign policy”. As Lamers put it, “the threat of recognition by the EEC as a whole could have been effective at the beginning of the conflict, but that it is of no use now”.9

The actual attitudes on the recognition issue in the EPC process at Maastricht is very interesting and need to be looked at closely: during the meeting on political co-operation, under the presidency of Hans Van den Broek, the EEC Foreign Ministers reached a consensus on the Franco-German proposal for a “doctrine” of recognition by the Community Member States of new states that could arise in Europe10, but they did not agree on the terms of implementation. The Belgian minister, Mark Eyskens, described the middle road as consisting in the “recognition of the irreversibility of the principle of recognition”, or in an agreement on the principle of recognition, with diplomatic implementation being delayed.11

As for the timing, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, the German Foreign minister, proposed that recognition take place “within 24 hours”; the Dutch Presidency was for 15 January; the Danes, supported afterward by the Belgians and the Germans, stood by 23 December, while Luxembourg was for returning the question to the General Affairs Council of 3 February, to give UN's mission a chance for succeeding.12

And this is precisely what did not happen, rendering the agreement reached upon, and the work of the Badinter Commission purposeless, since Germany started “from the view that the Republics of Croatia and Slovenia fulfill the conditions on the list of principles and the prerequisites for recognition”13, and recognized the two republics on 23 December 1991, completely out of the scenario agreed upon. Douglas Hurd, the British Foreign minister, summarized perfectly the situation: “The Bonn Government will not be able to postpone the recognition after 15 January. Germany does not feel bound by the agreement on conditional recognition and can … opt out”14.

The agreement of which Germany “opted out” was that:
  1. on December 23, the Yugoslav republics wanting recognition should let the ministers know15 of their decision, as well as their willingness to satisfy the conditions16 decided by the Twelve and imposed on all East European entities proclaiming their independence;
  2. the Arbitration Commission chaired by Robert Badinter in the framework of the Conference on Yugoslavia in The Hague should then verify that these republics are satisfying the conditions imposed by the Twelve;
  3. on the basis of this opinion, the Twelve will decide whether or not to recognize them on 15 January.

The argument for the recognition of the seceding republics was first presented as a political leverage, a threat, targeting the federal government of Yugoslavia. Afterward it became a “necessity” to “stop the killing”, and it went unabated – in the cases of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina – till it reached the question of recognizing the former Republic of Macedonia. Here the EC went into problems, as the Greeks have very strong feelings against it, and have hidden their anxieties behind the arguments over the republic's future name.

The important thing for our understanding is that exactly within the debate on this issue of recognitions are exposed all the weaknesses of the EPC process, with its inevitable temporizing given by the inter-governmental procedure, and the necessity to accommodate different national perspectives.

Germany threw in its whole political weight and got in the end what it wanted, with the endorsement of the EC. As Nuttall (1992: 319) warned, the lack of long term common foreign policies raises the risk of the EPC to give birth to something that is nothing else but national policies writ large. And he further notes that “there is a danger in this approach. Put at its crudest, it makes it easier for a Member State to adopt one policy collectively at the European level and follow another one nationally, possibly incompatible with the first. This is perceived as an advantage by some Member States. It is most likely to happen when the choice is between a moral and a realpolitik approach to a question, particularly one involving human rights. Moral attitudes can be struck at the European level, under the cover of which more self-interested policies can be pursued nationally. This is the exculpatory function of the political co-operation which is of advantage neither to the pragmatist, nor to the unionist, but to the cynic,” (Ibid: 319).

The good thing, however, is that Yugoslavia provided the “necessary amount of crisis”17 to make evident that in spite of the principles of complete separation of competence and respective procedures of political co-operation inside the EC, the facts called for permanent and inevitable interaction between the political and economic sides in the foreign relations, as de Schoutheete (1980: 173) pointed out a good many years ago. In this respect, the withdrawal of the carrot (the promised aid, the annulment of the signed agreements), and the use of the stick (the economic embargo) were as much economic as political deeds – the line in-between being blurred.

Ultimately, from a West European perspective, it turned out for the better. For the aim of an ever closer coming together of the Member States, that the German view prevailed it was the good thing to happen; our assessment changes according to how we place ourselves for observing the “details”. The outside view gives the image of the EC as a growing actor. The inside view shows that Germany is the one that grows. This is highlighted by the hasty recognition which Germany gave to Croatia and Slovenia, on 23 December 1991, disregarding the very principles it set as a precondition for recognition. The way the other Member States “joined in” on the 15 January 1992 is another sign of the links becoming tighter and tighter between the Twelve, or, perhaps, “One plus Eleven”, according to mathematics – and not only mathematics.

Chapter III
The Principle of Non-Intervention

  1. Non-Intervention as a State Supportive Principle

Though a right of humanitarian intervention had existed before 1945, the traditional legal position in the aftermath of World War II was that non-intervention was a fundamental norm, and however praiseworthy the motives, military intervention was an infringement of prohibition of force, as set in Article 2(4) of the UN Charter.

Deviation from this norm could be based on powers conferred by the UN Charter to collective intervention, and following specific resolutions, for such reasons as provided under Chapter VII of the UN Chapter. Chapter VII gives the UN Security Council the power to take action, including military action, if there is “a threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression”18. However, this is not at odds with Article 2(7) of the Charter, which states that “nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the UN to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state”, since Article 2(7) itself provides that it does not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter VII of the Charter.

As Greenwood (1993) suggests, while those that opposed collective intervention invoked Article 2(7) of the Charter, those that supported United Nations intervention did so because they opposed unilateral intervention, thinking there was more scope for abuse. Unilateral intervention could be derived only from customary international law, but states' practice revealed little support for the existence of such a right, and rested their case primarily on the right of self-defense. India's intervention in East Bengal, in 1971, Tanzania's overthrow of the Amin government in Uganda, in 1979, Vietnam's use of force against the Pol Pot regime, in Cambodia, are cases in point. More recently, the International Court of Justice took the same view, when it rejected that the United States intervention in Nicaragua could be justified by the violations of human rights of the Nicaraguan government.

Again, as Heraclides (1991: 26) points out, traditionally, non-intervention means non-interference against a state and not non-intervention in its support. A sovereign independent state is entitled to request from any third state the aid that it deems necessary. At the same time, third states cannot assist secessionists19, for they would be in effect using force against the territorial integrity of an independent state.

  1. States' New Foe: Humanitarian Intervention

The above situation, however, has characterized the former Yugoslavia. At first, the conflict was perceived as within the federal state, therefore intervention was not envisaged, only afterward was it justified on humanitarian grounds. After the seceding republics received international recognition and became states in their own right, the conflict became an international one, which meant that the regular legal instruments used for regulating relations between states could again be used. From that moment, at least, the legal basis for outside intervention no longer needed to rest upon any theory of humanitarian intervention, for the case was described not as lawful military action of a sovereign state government to prevent the dismemberment of the country, but as a case of international aggression, of a state against another state, similar to that of Iraq’s attack on Kuwait. Therefore the UN Security Council was again able to adopt measures under Chapter VII of the Charter with regard to Yugoslavia.
Not the same scenario applied for the “second generation” secessions!
For the Serbs within the newly formed states of Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina, and the Albanians in Kosovo, the right to self-determination and subsequent secession was not recognized, and since the conflict within these states20 was defined as an internal one, again there was made recourse to the right for humanitarian intervention. But, ironically, this time to keep these states from further dismemberment.

The concept of humanitarian intervention evolved so rapidly, that it is almost obsolete to quote Heraclides (1991: 56) when stating that “most relief agencies take the view (at least officially) that their aid – when administered to secessionist held territory – is purely humanitarian and not political. But as one researcher of humanitarian intervention put it, somewhat bluntly, such distinction is propaganda”21.

The quotation is futile as the means used today are more straightforward, and the international legal framework has changed at a pace with the evolution of the political stances. A short review of the relevant Resolutions passed by the UN Security Council illustrates how Yugoslavia's dissolution was enshrined in pieces of legislation.

In September 1991, UN Security Council Resolution 713 estimated that “the continuation of fighting in Yugoslavia constituted a threat to international peace and security”, and imposed an arms embargo under Chapter VII. The Resolution was adopted with the approval of the Yugoslav government, thus fully respecting the sovereignty of this state.

Resolution 721, opening the way for the establishment of a peace-keeping force in Croatia, had been requested by the government of Yugoslavia.

Resolution 743, establishing the UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR), no longer referred to the consent of the government of Yugoslavia, was based on Chapter VII, but the force was deployed with the consent of all parties.

May 1992: Resolution 752, demanding an end to the fighting in Bosnia, refers to “the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia”.

August 1992: UN Security Council adopted by 12 votes in favor, and abstentions from China, India and Zimbabwe, Resolution 770, inviting United Nations members to take “all necessary measures22” for humanitarian aid to reach Bosnia Herzegovina.

The last Resolution states that this should be done “in co-ordination with the United Nations”, but outside the UNPROFOR. In Rome, experts from the WEU Foreign and Defense Ministries considered on the same day that “the idea of creating humanitarian corridors to get aid to Bosnia was outside an immediately achievable framework”. However, they decided to evaluate the idea of organizing “escorted convoys” by troops23.

Resolution 770 is proof that the UN Security Council has now the power24, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, to take military action against the present Yugoslavia, or authorize a group of states or ad hoc coalition to take military action against it, as it did in the case of Kuwait. Only political and military considerations prevented the actual action to be taken, and not the legal ones. As Gow (1992) said, when using coercion, one has to balance the comfort one gets from curbing the will of others, with the discomfort of the costs implied to oneself in the respective action. And if benefits do not sensibly outweigh losses, there is no room for making domestic public opinions take the burden of stiff body-bags coming back home.

A quick list of the apprehensions and the dilemmas facing politicians when contemplating military involvement in Yugoslavia, as given by Dewar (1993), comprises: the uncontrolled immigration westwards because of the fighting; the multitude of local militias with incomplete control over their men, which could be “pacified” only at very high costs for the forces of intervention; the terrain, which favors the defensive; the high costs of imposing a political settlement, or propping up a puppet government once a victory had been achieved. Of course, there are also some discomforts with humanitarian flavor, that there is no such thing as a “surgical air strike”, or that the UN peace-keeping forces would be displaced once the full-fledged military operations began, and thus the aid to the suffering and survivors would be disrupted.

Furthermore, there is certain problem in the attempt to dress the old political goals with the new “humanitarian” sauce, and then sell them to the military staff. As a consequence, further delay of the intervention occurred, for a conflict emerged between the political and military class. The military men want the political goals to be spelled out clearly when going to war, and even more so when commanding others to go. No wonder one can read General Colin L. Powell, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, stating that “military force is not always the right answer. If force is used imprecisely or out of frustration rather than clear analysis, the situation can be made worse. Decisive means and results are always to be preferred, even if not always possible. So, you bet I get nervous when so-called experts suggest that all we need is a little surgical bombing or a limited attack. When the desired result isn't obtained, a new set of experts comes forward with talk of a little escalation” (Powell, 1992).

Turning our attention now back to the swift expansion of United Nations' activities in the realm of peace-keeping, peace-making, and peace enforcement, one has to note that the change had been caused by the fundamental turn in the policy performed by the former USSR. As a result of its domestic developments, the conflictual approach was changed for a close collaboration between Russia and the United States. This affected the stature of the UN Security Council, which turned from a potentially dead body, hampered in its initiatives by the incessant use of vetoes by the two great powers, into a very active and self-assertive body. Some would say too active, and too self-assertive, for example in response to the Iraqi invasion in Kuwait, when for the first time since the Korean crisis in 1950, the Security Council authorized the use of force for peace enforcement25.

Also, for this record stays, as Col. Doyle has noted, that “between 1945 and 1988, the United Nations established thirteen peace-keeping operations, of which five were still in the field in 1988. In the following three and a half years since the spring of 1988, United Nations set up another thirteen peace-keeping operations or operations similar to peace-keeping”26.

The misgivings of some of the United Nations members, as highlighted by Goulding (1992), especially the Non-Aligned ones, are connected with the perception of the Security Council as not serving the United Nations Organization as a whole, but being “highjacked” by the United States and its allies. The criticism also points to the fact that the Security Council authorized something, and lost control over the way in which it was implemented. The turning point, though, was when the legislative organs of the United Nations, the Security Council and the General Assembly, involved the organization in the internal affairs of the member states. In that year, the General Assembly asked the Secretariat General to mount field operations to monitor elections in two independent states, Nicaragua and Haiti. In the case of Haiti, there was a straightforward internal election, and the argument made by the Secretariat General – that if the election in Haiti did not go well, there would be consequences for peace and security in the Caribbean region – was not accepted. However, the provisional president of Haiti asked the United Nations to verify the election, and this triggered a controversy in the General Assembly about whether it was right that the United Nations should involve itself in an internal matter of this kind. Some member states thought that would be a bad precedent. But still, good or bad, the precedent was created, for the General Assembly unanimously agreed to the plan. What happened in Haiti following the election deepened the controversy, adding a new dimension: if the United Nations gives its seal of approval to an election or a referendum, does that create some kind of obligation for the United Nations to protect or guarantee the results, so that they are not subsequently overturned by undemocratic means?

If the conflicts of the next millennium will be solely internal – as some seem to envisage – then Article 2(7) of the UN Charter would be outdated, since it would prevent the United Nations from dealing with this new type of war. This line of thought was sustained by growing international interdependency, which triggers the concern not only for the mutual influence in the economic field, but also in that of human values. Whether it is justified in this way, or in the familiar one, like: “the refugees drive westwards puts pressure on West European economies and creates dangerous political instability in Germany, whereas a conflict between the Albanians and the Serbs could draw Turkey and Greece into a wider war, threatening thus the United States economic strategic interests in Europe” (Gelb, 1992), in the United Nations there is still an attitude of resisting the changes. The great majority of the United Nations member states still hold that the principle of sovereignty should not be compromised, and the restrictions of Article 2(7) of the Charter should be upheld to avoid sliding on a dangerous slope.

“My own view is that it is an issue on which we should proceed rather slowly and cautiously. It would be dangerous to start tinkering with Article 2(7) of the Charter and giving the United Nations a license to involve itself in the internal affairs of the member states. At the same time, there is probably going to be a tendency within the membership to erode the restraints of Article 2(7) in a pragmatic way and in specific cases. This has already happened in the field of human rights, where it is now accepted that the member states of the United Nations do have a legitimate interest in whether human rights are being respected by member states” (Goulding, 1992).

It is highly relevant in this context that the Security Council used the situation in Yugoslavia for adopting resolutions that made real breakthroughs in the existing normative framework of international relations:

  1. The UN Secretary General, Boutros Ghali, recommended to the Security Council the deployment of an infantry battalion of around 700 men in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. These forces will be deployed along the border with Albania and Serbia, by 20 February at the latest, “to control and report on any incident in the border region” that could affect the stability and “territorial integrity” of the republic. When the Security Council ratifies it, this would be the first preventive deployment of UN forces27. The latest developments (June 1993) show not only that the Security Council ratified it, but that the United States is sending its own contingent there, partly as a response to criticism from its European allies, who said that the United States are quick to approve military engagement, when it has no forces deployed on the ground.

  1. The United Nations decided to authorize military intervention in Somalia to protect humanitarian aid. In the view of the Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs and Security, Spanish Socialist Enrique Baron, “this operation consecrates the right of humanitarian intervention. This new principle of international law will become increasingly necessary for those who oppose it with the sacrosanct principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of a state in order to pursue a policy that is contrary to the right of the people”. Mr. Baron, therefore, saw it as a “precedent”, and felt that the “international community should consider more effective intervention in ex-Yugoslavia”28. Whereas the latest events (12 and 13 June 1993), show that the UN forces in Somalia were driven away from their initial aim, and instead of peace brought about an escalation of military activity, through not only the retaliation following the killing of the Pakistani UN peace-keepers, but also the “nervousness” of their gun-fire reply to Somali demonstrators.

  1. The UN Security Council formally created the International Tribunal for former Yugoslavia. “It is the first time since the Nuremberg and Tokyo Trials that the international community sets up criminal procedures to try war criminals and those committing crimes against humanity. The Tribunal will sit in The Hague, and will be composed of a public prosecutor and eleven judges of different nationalities”29.

This is another crucial innovation, since whether we agree or not in defining the Yugoslav conflict as civil war or war between states, it is obvious that there is no such clear cut division in the reality on the ground, and only the labels given from the different chancelleries seem to attempt to sort it out. Therefore, the United Nations are developing not only the legislative framework, but also designing the means to enforce its new asserted authority in the affairs of what had been not only a former state, but also a former member of the organization, since the UN General Assembly expelled in September 1992 the government of the rump state of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) on the basis of human rights violation!

  1. Qualified Intervention and the European Political Co-operation

“Question: Did the Europeans have the capability to enforce a diplomatic plan?
Answer: Europeans certainly do have enough military force to handle this and they could have if they had acted more firmly and consistently up front and had been more even-handed. The Europeans were not even-handed and that undermined their credibility”30 (Scanlan, 1993).

Not only was their credibility undermined, but also their political leverage, their capacity to co-ordinate and to further integrate their respective foreign policies. Indeed this had been a testing time for the EPC process and the Community as a whole.

First, it must be clear that legally the Community could not take action until the legal framework was provided by the United Nations. Second, it must also be clear that the Member States embarked illegally on a number of lone actions that included aid to the then outlawed secessionists, and non-enforcement of the embargo. In this context, to have different political stances and disagree in the political fora it was only the mildest form of divergence.

There is a set of elements like old alliances, cultural factors, religion, ethnic composition, economic interests, that determine the ramifications of attitudes in the EC on other than national lines. As Wiberg (1992) stresses, Great Britain had been allied either with the Hapsburg overlords of Croatia, in World War I, or with the Croatian puppet state it set up with Italy, in World War II. Serbia belonged to the French cultural sphere, Croatia to the German one (with Italian influences in its Dalmatian parts). Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and large parts of Germany and the Netherlands are Catholic, like the Croats. Greece is the only Member State that is Orthodox, like Serbia. Furthermore, everything else being equal, one may expect pro-Croatian sympathies in those states that have no recent experience, and thus little understanding of internal ethnic conflicts, like Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Portugal. Greater skepticism would stay with Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Greece. Germany and Italy had the greatest trading interests in Yugoslavia, with about one fifth each of its foreign trade, far more than any other EC country. Those interests have primarily been in Slovenia and Croatia.

All of these factors are especially evident when considering the positions held by the MEPs in the debates of the European Parliament. In what concerns the EPC and the military intervention in the Yugoslav crisis, there are three major developments:

(a) the rendering obsolete of the Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) as a legal framework, and the placing of the EC actions under the cloak of the United Nations;

(b) the rifts in the NATO framework, which highlighted not only an American versus an European view, but also the old pro-Alliance idiosyncrasies of some of the Member States, as opposed to an European centered attitude of the others;

(c) the growing stature of the WEU, up to the point of playing the part that had been written for it in the Maastricht Treaty.

Such developments can be traced in the following events:

(a) The European Council in Luxembourg took steps regarding Yugoslavia in the context of the new emergency mechanism set up by the CSCE, while Italy (and Austria) set off the emergency proceedings for the CSCE, following the unilateral declarations of independence of Slovenia and Croatia, and the subsequent “unusual military activity” in Yugoslavia31. But, the procedure did not go further than the first step, which was the obligation of the Yugoslav government to inform Rome, respectively Vienna, of the situation on its territory within 48 hours, a thing that the Yugoslav government did. The next step would have meant that Italy and Austria reserved the right to set off the second stage of the mechanism, which was convening a meeting of the 35 CSCE countries on this matter. But what would have been the outcome of such a gathering, since in the spirit of the CSCE is enshrined the respect for state sovereignty, and therefore Yugoslavia would have been able to use it?!
While the EC has lost the leading role in the play, it still can get an Oscar for best supporting role, for its co-chairmanship with the United Nations, not only in designing, but also in implementing the new principles for international order in the Yugoslav case.

(b) The sharpest disagreement surfacing in the EPC process, and the most recent one (May 1993), is a consequence of several interwoven occurrences: (1) the UN Security Council adopted unanimously Resolution 824 that declared five towns in Bosnia Herzegovina as “safe areas”, and called for the withdrawal of all Serb units from these areas. The Security Council announced that should the resolution not be respected, it was prepared to envisage the immediate adoption of “all extra measures” that could be necessary32; (2) the Bosnian Serbs rejected the Vance-Owen Plan for the partition of Bosnia Herzegovina into ten regions, on which occasion the Twelve adopted a statement reaffirming “their total support for the plan”33; (3) but the spark was given by the launching of an alternative plan34 to the Vance-Owen's, by the Foreign Ministers of USA, Russia, Great Britain, France and Spain meeting in Washington on 22 May 1993 (all being members of the Security Council). The problem was that neither of the participating Member States considered prior consultations with the other Community members. The clumsiness in the way this plan was designed and sold was furthermore highlighted by the fact that the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, welcomed the plan as more realistic, while the Bosnian President, Alija Izetbegovic, denounced it as an attempt of the international community to create “camps” for the Muslims, and thus not solve the conflict in Bosnia Herzegovina!35 The difference of opinions among the EC Members was again obvious, Germany stepping on the band-wagon and expressing its support for the establishment of safe heavens in Bosnia, as recommended by the Washington Action Plan (which Chancellor Helmut Kohl criticized previously)36. The same approach regarding the “double standards” the Member States have, when they are also members of the Security Council, was triggered by Great Britain's vote in New York, in favor of a recourse to force, but having added that “on the ground, we will not be there”37.

(c) Finally, the most important achievement for the EPC during the Yugoslav conflict was the status the WEU received. Since July 1992, WEU ships and aircraft have been conducting, at first embargo monitoring, and subsequently embargo enforcement operations in the Adriatic, in close co-ordination with NATO. After the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 820, the two military organizations discussed on a continuous basis ways of increasing the effectiveness of these embargo enforcement operations38. So much so, that the Secretary General of WEU, Willem van Eekelen, assessed that “relations between WEU and NATO are more developed than with the EC”39.

The appropriateness of lifting the embargo on the delivery of arms to the Bosnian Muslims (an idea favored by the Americans, to the discomfort of the Europeans) remained a point in dispute at the WEU Council of Ministers (Foreign and Defense ministers) held in Rome, on 18 May 1993. But again Germany showed itself to be the driving force, which moves from within the EPC process towards a further and deeper endorsement of the “new trend” in international relations, when insisting on considering the possibility of lifting the arms embargo40.

The role the WEU can play in co-operation with the EC in situations of crisis had been understood like never before when the WEU Secretary General, Willem van Eekelen, told the WEU Assembly that in the coming months there is the need for defining the goals of the European construction in the areas of defense and security for, in his view, the concept of defense is changing, “because we will now be faced with protecting interests that are broader than the national ones”. And he further cited the situation in Somalia, as “particularly interesting”, because this is the “first time that the United Nations seems prepared to intervene in order to impose peace41.

Therefore, the developments concerning the non-intervention norm that took place during the Yugoslav crisis show that while the UN Security Council is “preparing the ground” both in legal terms and in actions, the EC is following closely, re-enforcing these new trends with its own set of legal and practical measures. No wonder for this convergence, since the 180 degrees turn in the USSR's (and later Russia's) policy made for the UN Security Council to be dominated by its five permanent members, and the group of permanent members of the UN Security Council to be dominated by Western values. In the bipolar world we parted with, the intervention for “promoting the democratic values” of one system was opposed with the intervention in the name of the other system's values. It will be naive to think that the new emerging principle is to be applied world-wide, proving thus to be disruptive for the international order as a states system. For the time being, the intervention on humanitarian grounds is to function only outside the Western World, and has no countering principle or political powers to oppose it.


The present essay was an attempt at raising issues for the future, by looking through the door opened by the Yugoslav crisis, This was not a very easy task. It is impossible to not have preconceptions – as culture determines our mind sets. But still, we should be aware of them for the purpose of a non-biased analysis. Bearing that in mind, I would argue first that we should avoid double standards about the meaning of principles of international law; secondly, that we should be more cautious when endorsing the new developments in this field. Thirdly, in spite of all misgivings regarding the shift in the international paradigm, highlighted by the Yugoslav crisis, for the European Community, and especially for the European Political Co-operation, it was the best opportunity to forge the envisaged mechanisms with a view to Political Union, and the best catalysis. Before coming to a detailed explanation as to the content of these three findings, a brief summary of the previous three chapters seems appropriate.

In Chapter One, the focus was on the principle of self-determination regarding its historical development, which now faces a new turn. It looks quite likely that self-determination is not anymore to be applied in an inter-locking relation with the other relevant principles of international relations, that laid the foundations of the world states' system after World War II, but its sole superiority is emphasized. Its theoretical soundness can be easily challenged, since on the one hand the definition of what nation, national minority, ethnic minority is is still waiting for coherence, and on the other hand the “new principle” is applied not to peoples, but to territories (case in point: the former administrative units of federal Yugoslavia). The European Community played an active role in this, through the opinions given by the Arbitration Commission chaired by Robert Badinter, which ruled that Yugoslavia was in the process of dissolution (July 1992).

In Chapter Two, state formation and recognition was examined, at first from a historical point of view, and finally from the perspective of new developments in the principles, as highlighted by the Yugoslav case. The main point to be made here is that Germany had the leading role in recognizing the new entities, disregarding the standards on human rights protection it settled itself. The awkward moment of Germany's lone recognition of the breakaway republics was seen as forcing the hand of the other Member States. Nevertheless, it worked, and as a consequence the international practice has a precedent not easy to deal with in the future.

Chapter Three deals with the problem of humanitarian intervention as seen, again, from both a historical perspective and in term of current developments. As it is now enshrined in pieces of UN legislation and followed closely by the practice on the ground, the right to transcend the borders and the realm of domestic affairs of a state, on humanitarian grounds, is seen as potentially dangerous for the world system. However, this potentiality will not develop for the system as a whole, as long as the privileged Club of the Western World will try to impose it outside its borders. The perils will arise if and when the norm comes closer home. Yugoslavia is not close enough from this point of view! Therefore the norm is seen as only another way to assert strategic interests outside the physical borders of the states who are using it as a new fundamental norm in the international relations.

* * *

The idea of avoiding the double standards when interpreting the principles of international relations refers to the need to apply rules that are founded on moral grounds in a way consistent with that morality. In other words, to not devise a system in which some are “more equal” than the others. If the foundation is unsound, there will be little room left for its collective endorsement. As Marrack Goulding, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Special Political Affairs, pointed out: “the United Nations is going to become an effective system of collective security only if all members of the United Nations feel that the system belongs to them, and they belong to it” (Goulding, 1992: 6).
Because of the Gulf War, but also of the Yugoslav crisis, especially the Third World and Non-Aligned member states have all the reasons to feel alienated from the United Nations Organization, and especially from the policies affirmed by the UN Security Council.

Speaking for cautiousness in endorsing the new understanding of these principles was triggered by the following: in spite of its glamor, the trend of thought that pretends to value above all the human being, is potentially dangerous for the world system as a whole, exactly how in the totalitarian regimes the praising of the state above the human being was potentially dangerous for the latter. This is not to say that the world of states will live now in is the best possible world. It means only that it is there, it exists, and that the balance should be struck so as to accommodate the fundamental aspiration of people to affirm their individuality with their fundamental need to live in a structured society. Challenging it could bring about a better world … or not. Would that world be led by a UN government?! Would it be a world of duchies and counties?! Does the future lie in regional organizations?! Who knows? What we can know is that if it were for the new principles to really be implemented on a world scale, than the whole system will be dismantled, and maybe it will not be appropriate anymore to speak of international relations, since they will not exist on such a level anymore.

The kind of normative-wishful thinking that aims at making us take the bitter pill is perfectly illustrated in the comments of James Kurth on the latest book by Paul Kennedy, “Preparing for the Twenty-First Century”. The reviewer states that Kennedy “may be wrong that the great transnational trends of our day will bring about a decline in the power of almost every nation state and in the quality of life of almost every human being; but to prove him wrong may require great conflicts and great catastrophes that are as unanticipated and unimaginable now as were the conflicts and catastrophes of the 20th Century to Halford Mackinder and his contemporaries” (Kurth, 1993). So, we get somehow to “know” that the world opposed the “natural” international trends that could not be welcomed (Germany's ascendancy), with two bloody World Wars. If it did not, it would have been bad. As it was, it was even worse. Conclusion: do not oppose the “natural” developments, no matter how uncomfortable they seem. The only small detail to be settled is how can we know beforehand which is the “natural” trend?!

What is likely to happen, though, it is not the dreaded dismantling of the world system as a states' system. Since I do not believe that the new standards will be valid for any state, and in any circumstances, but exactly as the new doctrine envisages, “on a case by case basis”, I take it that they will function only through a “pragmatic approach”, to reach the aims of what one can simply stick on the label “realpolitik".
As Joxe (1993) said, “one can only see with one's own eyes, in the color of the helmets and of the tanks of the United Nations expeditions, the symbolic definition of two types of mandates: a United Nations empire (that is United Nations expeditions sustained by the United States), and an American empire (that is United States expeditions sustained by the United Nations)”. Sometimes, one starts wondering if the distinction is not only academic, and we speak actually of only one power who sees its capacities expanded by the endorsement provided for its deeds by the United Nations. This is all the more obvious since the model of policing the world has shifted from peace-keeping to peace-enforcement, with no resemblance at all with the more constructive models proposed.
For instance Ryan (1990:15) speaks of conflict resolution made up of peace-keeping (aimed at the violent behavior of warriors), peace-making (aimed at the attempts by decision makers to resolve conflicting interests), and peace-building (aimed at the attitudes and socioeconomic circumstances of ordinary people); that is not in sight either in Somalia, or in Yugoslavia.

Coming to the third point I found important to emphasize – I mean the overall positive evolution inside the European Community – I would justify it as follows:

  1. In spite of the inner conflicts obvious in the EPC process, when it came to the recognition of new Yugoslav entities, in the case of military involvement (be that peace-keeping, deployment of troops, or peace-enforcement), the attitudes within the Community converged increasingly. This was partly due to the cloak provided by the United Nations, which gave a new impetus to the trends favoring the engagement in one country's affairs on humanitarian grounds, which were already underway in the international organization. (Here, the American “haste” met the German one, lastly illustrated by the approval the Germans gave to the idea of lifting the arms embargo to the Bosnian Muslims – an idea cherished by the American Administration42.) At this point, the question was not anymore to recognize the seceding parts, but to make these recognitions last through military action.
  2. And now I come to the other meaningful fact: the WEU was reinforced as a third pillar of the Political Union yet to come. In spite of the apprehensions expressed by some of its members (Belgian Defense minister, Mr. Coeme), that the WEU should not become “the policeman of Europe”43, in the end it turned out that “the situation on the ground” asked for ever stronger military presence. The WEU followed closely the change in the stances on military presence taken by the European Community, and moved swiftly from non-interference to advocating it. As long as “in the understanding of the Community and its Member States (was) that no military intervention is contemplated”44, the Council of the WEU “meeting to discuss the possibility to send forces to protect the European observers in Yugoslavia, did not reach a decision to send such troops”45. When the EC Council President, Niels Helveg Petersen, stated that “we exclude no further steps, including military ones”46, the WEU Secretary General, Willem van Eekelen, stated that would the Vance-Owen Plan be rejected, “the pressure on Serbia would have to be mounted by stepping up the embargo, and perhaps by military means as well”47.

The last WEU Council of Ministers on which documents were available was held in Rome on 18 May 1993. A communique “reaffirms the commitment to developing the WEU both as defense component of the European Union and European pillar of the Atlantic Alliance, and shows that the WEU is prepared to implement measures to prevent conflicts and manage crises (including peace-keeping operations) on a case by case basis”48.

The new assertiveness of the military organization is even more evident in the most recent stances taken by its Secretary General, who was complaining at a meeting in Brussels with EP's Subcommittee on Security and Disarmament that the “UN views former Yugoslavia too much as a humanitarian problem, while the real question is how to use force49 in international relations”50.

At the end of the day, I think the important thing to happen would be to challenge first our moral soundness, our intellectual premises, our capacities of analysis before imposing our findings on others. To this end I only propose the findings of this essay to my readers' assessment, still wondering if I have not asked for the wrong thing in the previous sentence, for no system, and no human being for that matter, can challenge its/his very foundations without the danger of disintegrating itself/himself. The only lesson taught by history that I feel compelled to remind here is that revolutions never start from within.



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Contribution in a book

Wiberg H: Societal Security and the Explosion of Yugoslavia. In: Weaver O, Buzan B, Kelstrup M, Lemaitre P: Identity, Migration and the New Security Agenda in Europe. London: Pinter (in print), pp.157-183


Closa C: The Gulf Crisis: a Case Study of National Constraints on Community Action. ECPR Workshop on National Political Systems and the European Community, University of Essex, 22-28 March 1991

Tromp H: Conflict and Crisis Management: the Yugoslav Case. In: Proceedings of the Panel on International Conflict at the Inaugural Pan-European Conference of the Standing Group on International Relations of the European Consortium for Political Research in Heidelberg, Germany, 16-20 September 1992

European Documents

Agence Europe, Agence Internationale d'Information pour la Presse, Bruxelles, years 1991-1993

Agence Europe – Documents, Agence Internationale d'Information pour la Presse, Bruxelles, years 1991-1993

XXII General Report on the Activities of the European Communities – 1988. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 1989

XXIII General Report on the Activities of the European Communities – 1988. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 1990

XXIV General Report on the Activities of the European Communities – 1988. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 1991

XXV General Report on the Activities of the European Communities – 1988. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 1992
XXVI General Report on the Activities of the European Communities – 1988. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 1993

European Report. Europe Information Service, Brussels, years 1991-1993

1It should be stressed that in the Anglo-Saxon tradition the view is held that nationalism is an undemocratic and illiberal movement that promotes disruption and revolution, and that it will never be an embodiment of law, morality, and tradition on which order and security are built (Dunn, 1987: 8). Whereas East Europeans obtained their modern notion of nationalism in defiance of the state and its policies. In such conditions, East European nationalism was pushed by nationalists who were actively opposed to the state. The distinction between citizenship and nationality is a major feature of East European life, which unfortunately is often blurred to Westerners who, for example, refer to all the peoples of Soviet Union as “Soviets” or “Russians” (Dunn, 1987: 10).
2Maybe it is worth knowing that at the time of the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948, not legally binding on states), the Commission of Human Rights decided to omit all references to minorities from the Universal Declaration, in spite of the support for such a clause given by the Lebanese, Soviet and Yugoslavian delegates. When the draft declaration reached the Third Committee of the General Assembly, the Soviet, Yugoslav and Danish delegates attempted to re-insert a minority rights clause, but they were not successful. The US and Australian delegates thought such a clause will inhibit assimilation, and the French and certain Latin American states argued that it would increase instability withing states (Ryan, 1990: 165), However, years later, the Human Rights Commission has established a working group to study a Yugoslav draft on the rights of minorities. It is interesting to note that one of the first acts of the Commission was to alter the Yugoslav emphasis on minority groups per se to the rights of persons belonging to national, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities. Even though this work began in 1978, it has not yet completed its work, and it is unlikely to do so in the near future (Ryan, 1990: 167).
3my explanatory note
4The Arbitration Commission was set by the Conference in The Hague on Yugoslavia, organized by the European Community. Robert Badinter was its chairman. The Commission was supposed to consist of three Community judges and two Yugoslav ones, but ended up with all its members being from the Community, since the Yugoslavs could not agree on the two they were to name. Finally, the Commission was composed of five European Presidents of Constitutional Courts, responsible for examining the list of disputes submitted by the different Yugoslav parties.
5Agence Europe, no. 5636, 23/24 December 1991, p. 3
6Agence Europe, no. 5425, 6 February 1991
7Agence Europe, no. 5523, 29 June 1991, p.3
8Agence Europe, no. 5586, 11 October 1991, p.4
9Agence Europe, no. 5425, 6 February 1991
10my emphasis. A possibility on which nobody would have ever dreamed before, but which now surfaces in political documents as the normal thing to happen.
11Agence Europe, no. 5631, 16/17 December 1991, p.3

12Agence Europe, no. 5632, 18 December 1991, p.3
13Hans-Dietrich Genscher in an interview with “Deutschlandfunk”, on the eve of the meeting of the Twelve. Agence Europe, no. 5631, 16/17 December 1991, p.3
14Agence Europe, no. 5632, 18 December 1991, p.3
15my emphasis. No less than an invitation to secede addressed to all the “entities”.
16These conditions, principles or “new doctrine” were: (1) the respect of the UN Charter and the Charters of Helsinki and Paris, in the CSCE framework (state of law, democracy, human rights); (2) the respect of the rights of minorities and national communities; (3) the respect of borders (which can only be modified by common agreement via peaceful negotiations); (4) the respect of commitments made by states in order to ensure arms control and stability; (5) the settling of the question arising from the constitution of a new state via agreements.
17Nuttall complained that EPC suffered from a shortage of world crisis to which to react (1992: p.7).
18The decisions are binding on all states.
19Of course, actually this did happen after 1945, but legally it was not accepted. Or as legality was conceived up to now.
20Croatia, and lately Bosnia Herzegovina. The Albanian time-bomb awaits the respective recognition in order to blow up.
21And he further notes that a relief agency can perform several of the functions: (1) according legitimacy to the secessionists by dealing with them directly; (2) providing moral support; (3) publicising the secessionist case by their appeals for funds for the starving or the displaced; (4) providing directly or indirectly the secessions movement with medicine, food, funds, currency and perhaps even fuel or means of communication, as a result of their inability to control the final destination of their supplies or the precise use of their funds; (5) serving as a cover for arms shipments; (6) providing access to the outside world.
22Implicitly meaning the resort to force.
23“Escorted convoys by troops” is already a different concept from “peace-keeping forces”. And a different military reality. Agence Europe, no. 5794, 15 August 1992, p.1
24After redefining the conflict in Yugoslavia as an international one.
25my emphasis. (Goulding, 1992)
26Commandant Colm Doyle, in a speech on “Yugoslavia: a personal view”, delivered at the University of Limerick, 18 May 1993.
27my emphasis. Agence Europe, no. 5876, 11 December 1992, p.7
28Agence Europe, no 5876, 11 December 1992, p.8
29Agence Europe, no. 5988, 27 May 1993, p.6
30John D. Scanlan was United States' ambassador to Yugoslavia from 1985 to 1989, and foreign affairs adviser to Prime Minister Milan Panic.
31Agence Europe, no.5523, 29 June 1991, p.3
32Agence Europe, no.5976, 8 May 1993, p.3
33Agence Europe, no.5983, 19 May 1993, p.3
34The new settlement for the Bosnian conflict comprised: to adopt air support to the Blue Helmets in the Bosnian Muslim “safe areas”, in case of attack; to strengthen the embargo; to take measures against Croatia, should it appear the latter helps the Croats in Bosnia against the Muslims.
35Agence Europe, no.5986, 24/25 May 1993
36Agence Europe, no.5992, 3 June 1993, p.4
37Agence Europe, no.5791, 12 August 1992, p.1
38Agence Europe, no.5985 (Annex), 22 May 1993, p.2
39On a meeting in Brussels with the EP's Subcommittee on Security and Disarmament. In: Agence Europe, no.5993, 4 June 1993
40Agence Europe, no.5984, 20 May 1993, p.5
41my emphasis. Agence Europe, no.5871, 4 December 1992, p.4
42The opinion was expressed by the German Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Helmut Schaffer, at the WEU Council of Ministers (Foreign and Defense ministers), held in Rome, on 18 May 1993. In: Agence Europe, no.5984, 20 May 1993
43Agence Europe, no.5572, 21 September 1991
44Agence Europe, no.5572, 21 September 1991
46Agence Europe, no.5975, 7 May 1993, p.4
48Agence Europe, no.5984, 20 May 1993, p.5
49Maybe it is worth noting the opinion of the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), which in “Strategic Survey 1992-1993” suggests that “there are limits and alternatives to intervention by force”, and although the horrified emotion caused by the sights of former Yugoslavia is comprehensible, it is “questionable” if governments can afford to base their policies on such emotions. Furthermore, the IISS affirms that “a better case can be made for intervening in Burma than in Bosnia Herzegovina” because such an intervention “would have a clear aim, a finite end, and the support of the majority of the people”. The report adds, however, that this will not be undertaken because the media has not focused on the oppression of the Burmese people by a corrupt military leadership. In: Agence Europe, no.5984, 20 May 1993, p.6
50Agence Europe, no.5993, 4 June 1993, p.4