Statement by

Ambassador Munir Akram permanent representative of Pakistan, Coordinator of the OIC Working Group on Human Rights in Geneva, on behalf of the OIC, at the 55th Session of the Commission on Human Rights, on the Situation in Kosovo

Geneva, 1 April 1999


Madam Chair,

I am taking the floor on behalf of OIC countries. The OIC countries are gravelyconcerned at the developments in Kosovo, in particular the continuing premeditated, coldblooded massacre of innocent civilians by the Serbian authorities.

2. We express our shock and indignation over the ongoing Serbian policy of ethniccleansing in Kosovo which is reminiscent in scale and intensity of that we witnessed inBosnia Herzegovina. We are particularly distressed at the increasing number of refugeesflowing out of Kosovo and the Internally Displaced Person’s in Kosovo. These are not"individual cases of barbarity". But, in their continued policy of ethniccleansing and ethnic engineering, the Serbian authorities are acting in a gross,pre-meditated and systematic manner. As the High Commissioner on Human Rights pointed out,it is "a systematic and vicious campaign". Kosovars are forcibly being expelledfrom their homes. About 200,000 have been forced out of their homes. Their homes are beingset on fire to prevent their return. Identity papers are being taken from Kosovars beforethey are allowed to flee. There are reports of Srebrinca style forced marches in which menand women are separated and subjected to all forms of human rights violations, includingsummary executions and massacres.

3. The massive military operations launched by the Serbian authorities against thedefenseless people of Kosovo resulting in large-scale killings, systematic and plannedmassacres, destruction of houses and forced mass exodus to neighboring countries deservethe strongest condemnation by the international community.

4. The OIC Group reiterates its sympathy to and full solidarity with the people ofKosovo, reaffirms its total rejection of the arbitrary use of force against civilians andcalls for immediate cessation of all crimes against humanity by the Serbian forces and thewithdrawal of these forces from the civilian areas of Kosovo.

5. Though the Rambouillet Agreement did not offer the people of Kosovo all that theyaspire to, they did sign the Agreement. We deeply regret the intransigent attitude of theSerbian authorities and their repression of the Kosovo people which have resulted in thepresent state of affairs.

6. The Commission on Human Rights cannot remain silent in the face of the horriblehuman rights situation created by the Serbian authorities. The Commission must play anactive role in halting the bloodshed of innocent civilians by the Serbian authorities andpromoting a peaceful, just and lasting settlement of the issue, taking into account thelegitimate aspirations of the Kosovars.

7. The OIC Member States have submitted a draft resolution ( E/CN.4/1999/L.3) on the"Situation of Human Rights in Kosovo" which reflects the human rights principlesat stake and recounts the grave human rights crisis in and around Kosovo. It deplores therecent enforced and involuntary disappearance and execution of the Kosovar politicalleadership including members of the delegation that negotiated and signed the RambouilletAgreement. It recognizes that the people of Kosovo must be allowed to freely determinetheir own political future in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

8. The OIC resolution also calls on the Commission to:

  1. strongly condemn the policy of ethnic cleansing and ethnic engineering being perpetratedby the Belgrade authorities against the Kosovars.
  2. Demands an immediate halt to all repressive actions undertaken in Kosovo by the Belgradeauthorities which has led to further ethnic cleansing of the region and mass forcedexoduses.
  3. Calls for the immediate withdrawal of the Belgrade military and paramilitary forces fromKosovo.

9. The resolution also calls on the international community to bring to internationalcriminal justice the perpetrators of ethnic cleansing, ethnic engineering and other crimesagainst humanity in Kosovo, specially Slobodan Milosevic and Colonel Arkan. It demandsthat the Belgrade authorities immediately sign and implement the Rambouillet Accordsincluding the stationing of an international peace force.

10. It recognizes the right of the Kosovar refugees to return to their homes in safetyand honour.

Madam Chair,

11. We also endorse the intention of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to dispatchhuman rights monitors to the region. They should assess the human and humanitarian crisiscaused by the Serbian policy of ethnic cleansing and to ensure compliance withinternational human rights and humanitarian law. We appeal to the international communityincluding the High Commissioner for Refugees, to extend all humanitarian assistance to therefugees and internally displaced in Kosovo. The OIC countries are responding individuallyand will soon act collectively to respond to this crisis. We appreciate, in this context,the statement by the High Commissioner for Refugees, Mrs. Ogata, especially her courageand frankness.

12.    I hope, Madame Chair, that the Commission will adopt the draftresolution contained in L.3 urgently. The draft is open to co-sponsorship by otherdelegations. We look forward to an early response from the High Commissioner for HumanRights on the situation of human rights and the humanitarian crisis relating to Kosovo.

I thank you, Madam Chair.