excerpted from the book

Deliver Us From Evil

by William Shawcross

Touchstone Books, 2000, paper


Through 2000, old crises and old interventions loomed again or rumbled on, sometimes unseen, forgotten, sometimes recapturing attention.

The Russian army mounted a brutal new assault on Chechnya, in a reprise of the 1994-96 war in which at least eighty thousand people had been killed, among them Fred Cuny, whom I described in the prologue. Russia's leaders justified the assault by declaring that Chechnya was an outlaw state, and, indeed, the Chechen authorities had lost control to armed extremists; Chechen bandits had invaded the republic of Dagestan in August and Chechen terrorists were believed to be responsible for bombing three apartment buildings and an officers' barracks in Russia. The war was immensely popular in Russia; even Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said, "We have been attacked. We have been retreating for fifteen years and we need to stop somewhere. . .

But the impact was terrible. By the end of November 1999 at least 200,000 refugees had fled to the neighboring republic of Ingushetia and were shivering in railroad cars and other makeshift shelters with inadequate assistance. After Kofi Annan intervened with the Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, Sadako Ogata, the high commissioner for refugees, was allowed to visit the camps, and the United Nations attempted to increase deliveries of tents and other supplies to the refugees.

On December 6, Russia's military command delivered an ultimatum to the Chechens who remained in the city of Grozny. It stated that a "humanitarian corridor" would remain open until December 11 and after that all those who remained in the capital "will be viewed as terrorists and bandits and will be destroyed by artillery and aviation." There were at that time thought to be about fifty thousand residents of Grozny, many of them too sick, old or impoverished to be able to leave in the depths of a winter siege. By any standards the Russian ultimatum was an outrage.

Western complaints about this new humanitarian disaster were muted; whereas in Kosovo and East Timor the international community had intervened with the full force of both rhetoric and arms, in the case of Russia there was no such possibility. But the Russians saw a symmetry between Chechnya and Kosovo. Just as the West had ignored Russian complaints about NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia in spring 1999, so Russia now ignored Western complaints about the humanitarian disaster that its attack on Chechnya created. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov accused the West of showing little interest in the humanitarian problems in Yugoslavia after eleven weeks of NATO bombing.

As Michael Wines reported from Moscow in the New York Times, "Now, in Russian eyes, Moscow's day-and-night attacks on Chechnya mirror NATO's round-the-clock raids, but without the West's smart bombs and accurate missiles that minimized civilian deaths in Serbia and Kosovo." Chechnya in fact showed the limits of the new humanitarianism extolled by both Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.

In Cambodia, whose tribulations first interested me in international intervention, Hun Sen had consolidated his power by force and by guile. Now sole prime minister, over the last three years he had imprisoned, exiled or cowed the opposition in the royalist Funcinpec Party, the winner of the 1993 UN election. In 1997 he had finally destroyed the coalition with Funcinpec that he had barely endured since 1993 and took full control in a coup d'etat. He consdolidated his power in 1998 by winning elections which were by no means as free and fair as those staged by UNTAC.

Pol Pot had died, and among the other principal Khmer Rouge leaders a few were arrested, but most had been given amnesties by the government and still enjoyed valuable timber and gem concessions. The United Nations wanted to stage an international trial of other Khmer Rouge officials, but Hun Sen insisted that any trial had to be under Cambodian procedures, in which few people had much faith. Referring to the United Nations refusal to recognize his Vietnamese-dominated regime in the 1980s, he warned, "Those who maltreated Hun Sen should not criticize or teach Hun Sen how to have a trial of the Khmer Rouge leaders."

But there was now a form of stability in Cambodia and UNTAC's achievements were not all lost. The peace process had sown the seeds of civil society, which had survived in the form of independent human rights groups, newspapers and other free associations. Sam Rainsy, the leader of the Khmer Nation Party, the most effective opposition group, continued to oppose the Hun Sen regime with great courage. But the nature of governance in Cambodia depended on Hun Sen, whose power was more and more extensive and whose conduct was, as always, unpredictable. At the end of 1999 he maintained that there was no longer any need for even a small UN presence in Cambodia. But given the continued abuse of human rights, in particular by Hun Sen's agents, the continued presence of the UN and its human rights office seemed essential.

In Somalia, there were finally attempts to re-create a state. Mohammed Aideed was dead, but, except in Somaliland in the north, the clan leaders still fought bitterly at the expense of the population. This suggested that even with wiser priorities the United Nations could not have rebuilt the failed state in 1992 or 1993. In 1999, Somalia was still as far from becoming a "functioning and viable member of the community of nations" (Madeleine Albright's hope for Somalia in 1993) as ever. Nonetheless, hundreds of thousands of people were alive who would not have been but for the world's efforts in the early nineties.

But by the end of 2000, a new state had finally begun to emerge, a decade after the last functioning government had collapsed. A transitional national assembly managed to put itself together and appointed a new Somali president-Abdiqassam Salad Hassan. The initial funding for the tiny new administration was provided by the Arab League. The clan leaders were excluded from the new system but they remained powerful and Somalia was still a dangerous place; in the year up to November 2000, seven aid workers were reported to have been killed.

In Bosnia, Dayton had been a success as a cease-fire, but it had failed as a peace agreement. The fighting, mercifully, had been stopped, but almost nothing had been achieved in terms of building a democratic multi-ethnic state.

The original, well-intentioned concept of Dayton, "one state, two entities and three peoples," had failed. Dayton's electoral system had confirmed the power of the Muslim, Serb and Croat blocs. At the end of 1999, the International Crisis Group pointed out, Bosnia had three de facto mono-ethnic entities, three separate armies, three separate police forces and a national government that existed on paper but scarcely anywhere else. International police monitors, under UN control, were unable to dilute the nationalist ethics of the police forces.

Few of those indicted for war crimes had been arrested (in particular, not such ringleaders as Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic). Political power still remained in the hands of hard-line nationalists who often collaborated with police and local extremists. They prevented refugees from areas where they were not in the ethnic majority from returning to their prewar homes. At least one million Bosnians were still without permanent housing. The NATO-led international force (SFOR) refused to fulfill its mandate and act as an implementing agent. The Serbs and the Croats were awaiting a lessening of international interest. Local leaders demanded aid as the price of even minimum compliance with Dayton's plans. As donor fatigue increased, so compliance receded.

The gloomy conclusion was that the ethnic cleansers had won: Bosnia was ethnically divided. The international community's principal achievement of the last four years was to have suppressed the fighting. This was essential but inadequate. If and when NATO troops withdrew, it seemed probable that war would begin again.

The gloom was deepened by the results of elections in November 2000, in which the nationalist parties in Bosnia strengthened their positions. They had all used the peace imposed by Dayton not to repair the fabric of society as a whole, but to entrench their own positions. James Lyon, the head of the International Crisis Group in Sarajevo, said that the nationalist leaders were not exhausted and conciliatory after Dayton, but intent on securing power through means other than war. They had exploited the international community's reconstruction program for their own ends. The three nationalist parties in each of the enclaves created by Dayton had stolen (often blatantly) funds supplied by the international community to the public utilities they controlled. "Five years after Dayton, taxpayers in our countries are running out of patience," said Wolfgang Petrisch, the West's senior representative in Bosnia. There was increasing competition for the West's resources coming from elsewhere, and the leaders of the Bosnian factions clearly had no intention of even attempting to govern equitably, as had been hoped at the time of Dayton.

In Kosovo, the rights of the majority were now assured. But NATO troops held uneasy sway over a territory in which fewer and fewer Serbs dared to live (150,000 had been "cleansed" or fled since NATO's victory). Perhaps even more sinister, the enmity between Albanians and Serbs was echoed by a struggle between those Albanians who wanted to create a tolerant and multi-ethnic society and those who opposed it. At the end of 1999 the latter were in the ascendancy and the UN/NATO ambition of creating democratic, pluralistic institutions was far from being realized. Indeed, Kosovo appeared to be moving in the opposite direction, toward more violent intolerance.

And there was another uncomfortable paradox. The policy of the international community was that Kosovo should remain part of Serbia, but the overwhelming majority of Kosovars wanted total independence. The UN's mandate was therefore almost impossible to carry out. NATO troops, the liberators of the Kosovars, would soon be seen by those same Kosovars as the principal obstacle to the freedom that they sought. This was a strange dilemma for an organization of democracies intent on promoting the virtues of that system.

There was an even more serious problem for Kosovo by the end of 1999; the international community had forgotten it. That might not be the view of those who struggled to obtain funds for relief and development in a dozen African crises. But it was certainly felt by those fighting to maintain commitments to Kosovo. Steven Erlanger wrote in the New York Times in November 1999 that the UN government was "starved of funds by the countries that fought and had won the war." It could not even pay the salaries of the public employees it was supposed to hire and control. Serbs were still being killed with the same sort of impunity that had previously attended murders of Albanians; the reality of revenge and intolerance was eroding the UN's dreams of a multiethnic society. There were forty-two thousand Western soldiers and more than three hundred aid agencies in Kosovo, and yet the basics of a new state still had not been created. There was still no justice, no police, no power, no water, and there were not even any new identity documents to replace those the Serbs had stolen in the spring.

Bernard Kouchner, Annan's representative in Kosovo, complained that he was having to beg for money and police officers. Without them, he could not begin to restore a semblance of normal life. The international community just would not provide the $25 million needed for 1999's budget shortfall, let alone 2000's estimated $150 million budget gap. Compared with the costs of the bombing, the amounts were small. Without investment, the attempt to rebuild Kosovo would fail. "It is ridiculous and a scandal," complained Kouchner in December 1999 "If the nations of the world fighting to protect minorities altogether cannot send me six thousand police officers, what kind of a world is it>" The international community which had devoted its energies to winning the war was, as so often, far less obviously committed to the peace.

Serbia itself had been set back years, some said fifty years, by the bombing. Kofi Annan warned of a humanitarian crisis there unless food and heating oil were provided. Slobodan Milosevic, under indictment from The Hague, was facing increasing though still divided opposition. His ventures over the last decade had created catastrophe for all around. One of the leading Serb opposition leaders, Vuk Draskovic, said in October that the Milosevic regime was "an empire of evil, which allows nothing to grow in Serbia, which every day creates death and which will itself be destroyed."

In October 2000, the Milosevic regime was removed, though not destroyed, in the most unexpected way-that is, peacefully-after an election in which Milosevic was defeated by a new opposition leader, Vojslav Kostunica. Serbia and its neighbors rejoiced and Kostunica was given immediate support by the international community. In January 2001, parliamentary elections in Serbia dealt a serious blow to Milosevic's party and in February the head of his secret police, Rade Markovic, was arrested. Under increasing pressure to deliver the former leader to the tribunal in The Hague, or at least place him on trial in Belgrade, Kostunica had Milosevic arrested in April 2001. At this writing, it appeared that Milosevic himself might have to account for at least some of his crimes.

Around the Great Lakes of Central Africa, war and terror still raged. In autumn 1999 the rebels trying to overthrow President Laurent Kabila of Congo signed a cease-fire agreement in "the Great War of Africa" involving many of the countries around Congo; fighting slowed but did not end. Everyone had switched sides. Now the remnants of the Hutu army which Kabila and his Rwandan and Ugandan allies had tried to exterminate in 1997 were fighting for him against his former allies. By November 1999, the cease-fire seemed to be on the point of total breakdown, as each side accused the other of violations. Kabila denounced his erstwhile allies as "Rwanda's dogs" and insisted he would crush them.

Much of the continued warfare in the region stemmed from the failure of the world to stop the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. And now Kosovo had diverted resources from this and other African crises. By fall 1999, UNHCR had most of the money it needed for Kosovo refugees, but only 60 percent of the funds needed for African refugees. The World Food Program had to cut its programs in three of the poorest African countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, because of lack of donor interest.

In October, Hutu rebels murdered UNICEF's representative, Luis Zuniga, and the World Food Program's logistics officer, Saskia von Meijenfeldt, in Burundi, which was still teetering on the edge of disaster. Several other UN workers just escaped. Their deaths came just one day after a UN official, Valentin Krumov, was murdered in Kosovo (a Bulgarian, Krumov was apparently mistaken for a Serb) and a month after a UNICEF doctor was murdered in Somalia. Throughout this decade UN and other aid officials have become more and more vulnerable. They used to be "off-limits"; in the new wars they are often targets. In 1998, for the first time in history, more UN civilian workers were killed in the line of duty-twenty-four- than peacekeeping soldiers. Perhaps more shocking still is that whereas governments went to great lengths to protect their troops (witness NATO in Kosovo), the deaths of UN civilians provoked little public outcry.

In 1999, the figures were even worse than the year before. By the end of November, twenty-eight civilian UN workers had been killed around the world. Fifteen of them died in the crash of a World Food

Program plane in Kosovo which killed all twenty-four aboard, eight were shot to death and others died as the result of bombings and stabbings.

In Iraq, Saddam Hussein could still claim victory; for over a year there had been no inspections and no monitoring whatsoever of his attempts to create new weapons of mass destruction. According to the Pentagon, he was rebuilding his war machine, perhaps to the extent of building new chemical or biological weapons, in brazen defiance of the United Nations and international law.

The Security Council had been completely divided on how monitoring should be restored in line with successive resolutions. Iraq's friends on the council sought a far more lenient regime than that embodied by Richard Butler and the tough investigators from UNSCOM, one that would be answerable to the Secretariat rather than the council. The Russians had demanded that if and when new inspection teams (sometimes called "UNSCOM Lite") were allowed in, sanctions should immediately be lifted. The United States and Britain resisted this.

By early 2001 the international sanctions against Iraq were at the point of collapse. Saddam had still allowed no inspections or monitoring, but the French and the Russians in particular now refused to accept the ban on direct flights to Iraq. In February 2001, the new Bush administration, together with Britain, bombed military facilities outside Baghdad. This attack was denounced by France and Germany as illegal.

The consequences of the council's failure to agree stretched far beyond Iraq and the region, serious though they were there. The UN's basic responsibility for the "maintenance of international peace and security" was undermined by the fact that its unique lawmaking and law-enforcement power was being defied by a dictator of whose malign intent there was no doubt.

In Sierra Leone, the rebel leader, Foday Sankoh, had returned in triumph. The citizens of Freetown seemed prepared, for the moment, to give the peace accord which brought the rebels into government the benefit of the doubt. Kofi Annan had called for a peacekeeping force to be deployed there as envisaged under the accord, but unlike with East Timor, the troops and funds were hard to find, slow to come.

At the end of November, at the beginning of the largest peace keeping operation in Africa in two years, 130 Kenyan troops arrived. In all there were to be 6,000 peacekeepers, under the command of an Indian general. Their task was very hard. At the airport ceremony to welcome the Kenyans, there was no representative of Sankoh. Despite the fact that he had signed the peace agreement authorizing their intervention, he had recently criticized their deployment saying, "It's up to Sierra Leoneans to solve their own problems," and accusing the peacekeepers of living on 'blood money."

Only a handful of Sankoh's brutal troops had voluntarily disarmed, as they were all supposed to do under the peace agreement. Many of those who had laid down their arms were child soldiers. Tens of thousands of others remained in the bush and, according to United Nations officials, they were still killing, maiming, raping and abducting people in the countryside, even as their leaders became accustomed to the trappings of power in the capital. In 2000, the situation deteriorated still further, as we shall see.

In East Timor, independence was assured, but the future of Indonesia seemed more problematic. The East Timor peacekeeping force, INTERFET, had established order and thousands of people had returned from the hills to the wrecked towns. But unknown thousands were still missing. Many had been deported by the militias and the Indonesian army to West Timor or other parts of the Indonesian archipelago before INTERFET arrived.

In Afghanistan, the war between the Taliban and their enemies, together with opium traffic, religious extremism and gross human rights violations, particularly of women, still threatened the country's own people as well as its neighbors.

UN-sponsored peace talks had collapsed, and in an annual report to the General Assembly, Annan said that "Afghanistan is becoming a breeding ground for religious extremism and sectarian violence as well as various types of international terrorism." The Taliban government, he said, had been conducting "vicious attacks" against civilians, including executions of women and children, looting, burning, forced labor and driving thousands of people from their homes and land. In the Shomali plains in July, the Taliban had terrorized civilians, recruited children as soldiers, destroyed agriculture and cut down fruit trees. In September the Taliban had destroyed statues of Buddha in the Bamian area. The secretary general said the involvement of thousands of foreign "volunteers," including children under fourteen from religious schools in Pakistan, was unacceptable. "There is every indication that the fire has begun to spread in all directions."

In Haiti, which I visited again at the end of 1999, there seemed sadly little to show for the multi-billion-dollar U.S. invasion of 1994 that had been intended to restore democracy. Economic sanctions had helped lower per capita income to $250, the lowest in the Western Hemisphere. Leadership was nonexistent, and the country's political style remained intransigence. The UN had managed to create the country's first demilitarized national police-but the new force had been unable to combat a crime wave which included serious outbreaks of political violence. But the U.S.-UN intervention had achieved at least an end to the systematic abuse of human rights in the country. It had less success with politics. For more than two years, the parliament had not functioned. Elections for a new parliament and local councils had slipped from 1998 through 1999 to March 2000, a date widely questioned despite the efforts of an electoral council of integrity but dubious capability. U.S. troops, military engineers and medical specialists had succeeded in alleviating for some people the awful conditions in which almost everyone lived, but the last few hundred were now about to leave. All in all, the U.S. ambassador, Timothy Carney, admitted, Haiti was not a success story, but he said that some international expectations had been unrealistic. A widely shared analysis was that Haitians had created the norms of democracy, but were unable to realize those norms because Haitian leaders, in particular Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the former and perhaps future president, were unwilling to shed the country's old autocratic, predatory political style. The hope that Aristide had represented at the end of the 1980s was now entirely dissipated across Haiti's political and middle classes and attenuated even in the slums in which the vast majority of Haitians still lived. Like Cambodia, the case of Haiti seemed to show that the international community can put nations into the process of transition, but effecting the transition depends on the indigenous leaders and political class.

At the end of November 1999 the Security Council agreed to extend the police training program till March 2000, pending transformation of the human rights and police training into a new mission which would add the vital dimension of judicial reform. Responsibility for Haiti was moved to the General Assembly because China had threatened to veto any further police role on the island, in retaliation for its links to Taiwan.

In May 2000, legislative elections took place in Haiti, the first in three years. There were hopes that these would be a critical step towards building a stable democracy. Not so; the elections were preceded by the murder of more than a dozen party officials and candidates and were immediately followed by the arrest of other opposition candidates and officials. The eventual count was called into question by observers from the Organization of American States who said that the results had been falsified to favor Aristide's party, Family Lavalas. Kofi Annan urged the electoral authorities to recalculate the results, saying he was "troubled continuing irregularities" in the vote counting. Such concerns were denounced by Aristide's allies as interference in Haiti's internal affairs and the result was that Aristide's party dominated the new assembly.

Having been rebuffed so roundly, neither the UN nor the OAS would take part in monitoring the presidential elections at the end of November 2000. The opposition parties boycotted the event; Aristide was elected. Haiti was in danger of becoming even more isolated from its allies, as both UN and U.S. officials despaired of the corruption and despotism of its leaders, who seemed far more intent on making the impoverished island a stop-off point for running drugs from Latin America to the United States than in improving the political or social conditions of their country. After the election, Kofi Annan announced his intention of closing the UN mission in Haiti.

In the United States there was still argument over its debt to the United Nations, reckoned at $1.5 billion by the UN-or 80 percent of all unpaid assessments for the UN's regular budget and peacekeeping operations. In mid-November the White House and Congress reached a compromise under which the U.S. would pay $926 million to the United Nations-about two thirds of what the UN believed the U.S. owed. Annan said that the offer was a step in the right direction, but it was not much more. The money was much less than hoped for, and Congress imposed other conditions, insisting that even this reduced amount would not be paid unless the UN accepted it in full payment, agreed to a permanent cut in the U.S. share of the UN's operating budget from 25 percent to 22 percent and pledged that the UN's administrative budget would not rise over the next two years. These conditions were onerous for the UN and its members to accept.

The U.S. ambassador, Richard Holbrooke, said, "This is not a diktat from Washington; this is an effort at persuasion. It will take a long time, it won't be easy...." He repeated the mantra that U.S. payments were linked to UN reform. Kofi Annan agreed that he had not yet been able to remove "the overly burdensome and overly intrusive" management systems, which he blamed on "a plethora of resolutions and responsibilities handed down by the member states over the years, layer on layer."

Instead of the grand reform schemes proposed by Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Annan was now attempting to work through the existing structures, in particular, through regional organizations. Having infuriated senior U.S. officials by his ultimately unsuccessful attempts to deal with Saddam Hussein and stop the bombing of Iraq in 1998, Annan was now seen in Washington, as well as in other capitals of the permanent five, as an increasingly skilled builder of consensus on the Security Council. There were criticisms that he was too cautious and too averse to confrontation, but he could point out that confrontational policies had got Boutros-Ghali and the UN nowhere. He had begun to introduce a more transparent culture at the United Nations, which was best illustrated by his report on Srebrenica, published in November 1999. While it was painfully honest about the failures of the Secretariat and UNPROFOR troops, the report did not hesitate to blame the Security Council and member states for imposing totally inappropriate mandates which were bound to do more harm than good to the very people they were intended to help. He had also commissioned a report on Rwanda.

The report was published in the middle of December 1999. Like the report on Srebrenica, it was startling for its candor. Both were searing examinations of the flaws of the Secretariat and of member states. Annan had allowed the inquiry team, headed by former Swedish prime minister Ingvar Carlsson, complete access to the UN archives and to UN officials, past and present. The report was critical of everyone, including Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Annan himself, and officials in UNAMIR. It also identified much broader failures by the council itself and by individual nations, particularly the U.S., Belgium and France.

The report showed how the reluctance of the international community, led by the U.S., to "cross the Mogadishu line" led to bad decision making. UNAMIR was set up too slowly, too cheaply, with unrealistic optimism about the peace process, was "beset by debilitating administrative difficulties" and was unable to function as a cohesive mission. Annan and his peacekeeping department were criticized for not taking Dallaire's January 11, 1994, cable warning of massacres of Tutsis by Hutu extremists more seriously. The secretary general and the Security Council should have been directly informed. The three governments-the United States, Belgium and France- whom the peacekeeping department did inform took no action. When the genocide began in April 1994, some UNAMIR soldiers were courageous, but they also stood by virtually helpless as butchery spread across the country. The Belgians abandoned two thousand civilians hiding in a technical school after promising to protect them.

The inquiry called attempts by the U.S. and other governments to deny the genocide "deplorable." But it had much less detailed criticisms of the U.S. and other member states than of the Secretariat- because, unlike Annan, Albright and other senior U.S. officials declined to be questioned. The inquiry found that the overriding failure in the UN's response lay in both its lack of resources and its lack of political will; it declared that the UN Secretariat and its member states should have apologized more fully, more frankly, much earlier. Annan saw the finished report only shortly before it was published. He issued a statement saying that he accepted its findings unconditionally. "On behalf of the United Nations, I acknowledge this failure and express my deep remorse." At a press conference, Carlsson said wisely, "There is no mathematical formula for apportioning blame. We have not avoided telling the truth, but hind

The Rwanda and Srebrenica reports together showed a new culture of openness at the United Nations under Annan. Flora Lewis declared in the New York Times that Annan had made "a big breakthrough for simple honesty." The reports revealed, in excruciating detail, how very hard it is for the international community to respond with necessary speed to unfolding humanitarian disasters-for both organizational and political reasons. The bottom line in both crises was that major governments did not want to do more. And in both Bosnia and Rwanda, the United Nations tried to maintain the neutrality of peacekeeping longer than could be justified by the horror around. The Carlsson inquiry underscored Annan's assertion that when the international community promises to protect people, "it must be willing to back its promises with the necessary means." Far too often in the nineties there was a gulf between mandate and means. Partly as a result, thousands of people died.

Annan was praised not only for his openness, but also for many of his appointments, among them Louise Frechette, who brought vigor to the new post of deputy secretary general; Pino Arlacchi, the Italian anti-mafia prosecutor, to run the UN's Drug Control Program Mark Malloch Brown, who left the World Bank to become administrator of the UN Development Program and begin its long overdue reform; and Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UNHCR official who was now the special representative in East Timor.

Rather than demand grandiose new global orders, he played his strongest card, himself, using his innate powers of persuasion to try to effect change. He had not publicly criticized NATO's actions in Kosovo, and he had helped persuade both the Chinese and the Russians to accept Chapter VII intervention in East Timor-no mean feat. The Economist's Foreign Report stated in September 1999 that 'Annan may be remembered as the UN's most ingenious leader." By the end of the year, he was three years into his five-year term and there seemed to be a growing consensus among the permanent five that he should be asked to stay on for a second term. Given the fantastic pressures of the job, in which one crisis tumbles always on top of another, and given the conflicting demands that are made daily on the secretary general from different and distant corners of the earth, that was a daunting prospect. But Annan now personified the spirit of the international community, with all its hopes, heroism and disappointments, more than any secretary general since Dag Hammarskjold. In March 2001, he bowed to pressure from all over the world and announced he was prepared to serve another five-year term.

Deliverance from evil was the theme of Kofi Annan's address on September 20, 1999, to the last UN General Assembly session of the twentieth century. Humanitarian intervention in the twenty-first century was his subject.

He pointed out that the notion of state sovereignty-central to the concept of the United Nations-is being redefined by the forces of globalization and international cooperation. Individual rights are being seen as more and more important, so we have to think anew about how the world responds to political, human rights and humanitarian crises.

We are doing so... new global architecture is being built upon the international system that was constructed after the Second World War. The final structure is still unknown, but the shape is becoming clearer. It includes humanitarian rather than strategic intervention; the ad hoc war crimes tribunals dealing with the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, which in turn have led to the birth of the International Criminal Court; and other changes which diminish national sovereignty.

The overall aim is to protect the rights of individuals and to limit the impunity of dictators. Whether they will all succeed in doing so is another matter. Justice and peace do not always march hand in hand. Is armed intervention and the imposition of cease-fires always the best road to peace? Or is it sometimes the case, as the strategist Edward Luttwak has observed, that only the evil of war can resolve a political conflict and bring about peace? In a provocative essay on Kosovo in Foreign Affairs entitled "Give War a Chance," Luttwak argued that governments should resist "the emotional impulse to intervene in other people's wars-not because they are indifferent to human suffering but precisely because they care about it and want to facilitate the advent of peace."

Will warlords in the future limit their atrocities for fear of international prosecution, or will they be even more determined to hang on to power? Put another way, has the indictment of leaders in the Yugoslav tragedy both helped end that tragedy and deterred other warlords? Or does the fact that, until early 1999, NATO governments withheld from the tribunal the evidence necessary to form an indictment of Milosevic suggest that politics lie, as ever, behind the pieties? Would Sierra Leone have been better served by the international community if Foday Sankoh had been hunted down and brought to trial rather than made minister for diamonds?

The nature of the world today does not allow us to ignore the disasters that others suffer, but we are aware only of some. Many cases call for attention, but there are only limited resources and limited desire to meet them. Our choice of where to intervene is often driven by the capricious nature of television and the interests of major Western governments.

There is an uncomfortable paradox. We want more to be put right, but we are prepared to sacrifice less. To put this another way, Western television audiences want to stop seeing children dying on their screens, but many political leaders believe we do not want our own soldiers (our own children) to be put at risk to rescue them. That could change if political leaders (in particular the U.S. president) were prepared to argue that intervention cannot be cost free- but that was not the case in the 1 990s.

The television cry "something must be done" can be irresponsible and fickle. Too many of the efforts I have described were forgotten as soon as victory was declared. (Even Kosovo had virtually disappeared from newspapers and screens by October 1999.) A commitment to peace is as important as a commitment to war, but it is far more difficult to sustain. Is there not sometimes a risk that by trying to do good half-heartedly or on the basis of emotion, we can actually do more harm?

Such questions are raised by the events of the last decade. Annan discussed them in his speech to the General Assembly. "From Sierra Leone to the Sudan," he said, "to Angola to the Balkans to Cambodia and to Afghanistan, there are a great number of peoples who need more than just words of sympathy from the international community."

He spoke of our partial vision: "our willingness to act in some areas of conflict, while limiting ourselves to humanitarian palliatives in many other crises whose daily toll of death and suffering ought to shame us into action." The truth is that national interest (or the perception of its own wide interests by the international community) and geography will determine that some crises get more attention than others.

Annan pointed out that Rwanda provides the most terrible example. The genocide there defines for this generation the consequences of inaction in the face of mass murder. By contrast, NATO's war against Serbia-with serious humanitarian reason but without Security Council approval-showed regional organizations acting unilaterally in a good cause. Which was preferable?

Some people (and many states) argued that the use of force without Security Council approval was the greatest threat to the imperfect but resilient security system created after World War II. Annan himself had been against NATO's unilateral action. But remember Rwanda, he said. "If, in those dark days and hours leading up to the 1994 genocide, a coalition of states had been prepared to act in defense of the Tutsi population, but did not receive prompt council authorization, should such a coalition have stood aside as the horror unfolded?" The implication was no.

He suggested that "if we are given the means-in Kosovo and in Sierra Leone, in East Timor and in Angola-we have a real opportunity to break the cycles of violence, once and for all."

As those and other examples show, that is astonishingly hard to achieve. Adequate means will never be available everywhere. Critics warned that Annan could be proposing everlasting humanitarian war. But Annan was right to stress the vital nature of the debate, and President Bill Clinton also told the General Assembly that the UN must strengthen its capacity to intervene.

But what Clinton's suggestion failed to address was the crucial fact that the members, in particular the United States, still continually failed to give the United Nations the resources required to undertake such tasks as he proposed. A gulf still yawned between the rhetoric and the reality. Annan knew that unless that gulf could somehow be bridged, the UN would never be able to act effectively.

Throughout the year 2000, Annan and his staff attempted to grapple with the continuing dilemmas of intervention and attempted also to redefine the role of the United Nations in the new millennium. They had both successes and failures.

In April and May 2000, Kofi Annan visited West and Central Africa, traveling to Senegal, Gambia, Gabon, the Central African Republic and Cameroon. At each airport he was met with great noise and enthusiasm by drummers, dancers and dignitaries. In Gambia, the line of officials and diplomats with whom the secretary general and his wife had to shake hands was long, but the progress was enlivened by the shouting of a very tall grio, or soothsayer, who walked just behind Annan and called out all manner of charms and welcomes. Walking beside him was a happy-looking man in a bowler hat with a feather in the rim. He looked as if he had some ancient function-he was Gambia's ambassador to the UN.

Annan was horrified by the continuing crises in much of Africa, in particular Sierra Leone, Congo and Zimbabwe. In a recent interview he had said that one of his greatest disappointments as secretary general was the quality of some African leaders. This remark had infuriated some of the presidencies of Africa as much as it had pleased many ordinary people.

In all the countries he visited, Annan repeated over and over again that the time of coups was over, that this had to be the era of good and transparent government, that law now ruled. And the leaders whom he was visiting would invariably nod in agreement. Sometimes they would volunteer how much they had done to meet the new international standards of human rights. And in many cases, sadly, everyone knew this was largely lip service.

While Annan attended ministerial tete-a-tetes, his wife Nane visited women's groups and made it her business to draw attention to the horrors of AIDS in Africa. Perhaps the saddest encounters for her were in the Central African Republic, an utterly impoverished land where up to 2s percent of the population are thought to have been struck by the disease. Nane Annan visited an AIDS ward in a hospital in the capital, Bangui, and a home for scores of children orphaned by this killer.

As always, other crises fought for the secretary general's attention. On this trip they included finding troops to replace Israeli forces when they withdrew from southern Lebanon by June. On his last night in Cameroon, Annan heard that there was a new crisis in Sierra Leone.

Under the Lome Agreement, imposed on the elected government of Sierra Leone in summer 1999, the rebel leader Foday Sankoh had been given amnesty and power. He was made vice president and was given control of those very diamond mines which had fueled if not caused the war. Central to the Lome Agreement was a requirement that the rebels disarm and demobilize. They were to hand over the areas they had controlled for years to a new UN peacekeeping force, UNAMSIL, which began to deploy in Sierra Leone toward the end of 999.

But in the months since then, Sankoh had continually abused his new position. Instead of ordering his men to abide by the agreement, he encouraged them to continue to profit from the diamond mines they controlled, by selling stones through Liberia. Now, Annan learned, the RUF had suddenly attacked UN peacekeepers and taken 500 of them hostage. There were real fears that the RUF would march again on the capital and repeat the hideous atrocities they had committed against its population in January 1999.

Annan spent half the night in Cameroon on the telephone to all those African heads of state who might have some influence on Foday Sankoh. In particular, he tried to persuade Charles Taylor, the president of Liberia, Sankoh's closest ally and principal supplier of arms, to exert control over his notorious ally. They all failed to get the peacekeepers released. Later that day, when Annan arrived in Paris to see President Chirac, he heard that at least one peacekeeper had been murdered.

Sankoh's troops began to advance on Freetown, causing both panic and anger in the city. Sankoh's house in the capital was surrounded and sacked by a crowd of furious demonstrators. Sankoh himself escaped over the wall and disappeared. He was thought to have fled the city and rejoined his army, but after a few days he was captured close to his ransacked house and imprisoned. Subsequently, with the active assistance of the international community, preparations were begun to place him on trial.

Annan called for a Rapid Reaction Force to be dispatched to help UNAMSIL. To his disappointment, none of the industrialized countries capable of mounting such an operation, agreed to participate. Washington did offer to fly other countries' troops to Sierra Leone, but at a higher cost than commercial charters. Annan publicly complained of this and was rebuked by senior officials in the Clinton administration.

In a surprising and welcome development, Britain did decide to intervene, though not as part of the UN peacekeeping force. In May 2000, under the pretext of evacuating British nationals, a military force was dispatched to Freetown. It was not intended to fight, but its presence was probably vital in deterring the rebels from entering Freetown. Through the summer, the British embarked on a prolonged exercise to train the undisciplined and ineffectual Sierra Leone army.

The hazards of the British commitment were illustrated when six British soldiers were captured by a ragtag group of Sierra Leone rebels who called themselves the West Side Niggers (the press usually referred to them as the "West Side Boys"). The British mounted a highly sophisticated and complicated rescue mission which required extensive reconnaissance, intelligence and planning, the use of satellite imagery and radio intercepts. It succeeded because such resources were available and because elite troops-the Parachute Regiment and the Special Air Services (SAS)-were used in the operation. Ordinary UN peacekeeping troops would have found success much more difficult.

Through the summer and autumn of 2000, the British presence in Sierra Leone increased. Hundreds more British troops were deployed alongside the UN mission, UNAMSIL, and a British task force was anchored off Freetown. British officers on the ground and officials in London stressed that they were there to work alongside the UN and to try and persuade the rebels to back down and honor the cease-fire they had signed.

UNAMSIL certainly needed assistance. It was already the largest UN peacekeeping mission in the world-around 10,000, before the Security Council authorized it to expand to 20,000. But it was bedeviled by serious problems of command control, cohesion and discipline. One fundamental problem was that the Nigerians, who had born the brunt of the fight against the RUF long before the UN intervened, believed that they should be in charge. Kofi Annan, however, had refused to allow a controversial West African mission merely to change its flag to that of the United Nations. He insisted that the substantial Indian commitment to UNAMSIL be rewarded with the command of the force.

The Indian commander, Major General Vijay KumarJetley, had an almost impossible task. Command and control was almost nonexistent; UNAMSIL was riven by tensions. General Jetley himself ascribed this in part to Nigeria's wish to continue to dominate its backyard and to corruption on the part of some Nigerian officers under his notional command. Jetley believed that such officers were more interested in dealing with the rebels over illegal diamond exports than in policing the cease-fire and supervising the cantonment and demobilization of rebel troops.

In September 2000, a Jetley memo detailing what he saw as Nigerian corruption and malfeasance surfaced. The Nigerian government denounced him and demanded that he be removed. In retaliation, India announced the withdrawal of its troops. Jordan also announced it would remove its contingent.

Annan had difficulty in finding suitable troops to replace the Indians and the Jordanians, let alone to bring the force up to the new authorized strength of 20,000. However, in November 2000, the rebels (under pressure from both the UN and the British force) did agree to another cease-fire. In early December, Kofi Annan visited Sierra Leone again. A new force commander, Lieutenant General Daniel Opande of Kenya, had replaced General Jetley. But UNAMSIL's political and organizational problems remained immense: there was little reason for confidence that the peacekeepers could really help end Sierra Leone's agonizing civil war. The UN's force was depleted and fractured; it was acting in the context of the Lome Agreement which was a bad agreement in the first place and had now been destroyed by rebel malfeasance. Many Sierra Leonians considered that only a military offensive could end the threat of the rebels. The British contribution to force was very popular, and there was widespread concern (shared by many UN officials) that UNAMSIL would never have enough troops, let alone the will, to confront the real problem.

The situation in Congo was, if anything, more complicated for the United Nations than that in Sierra Leone. President Laurent Kabila of Congo had continually refused to cooperate with the peacekeepers mandated by the UN Security Council to police the cease-fire the belligerents had signed in Lusaka in summer 1999 and had ignored thereafter.

Even with the cooperation of Kabila and all the other factions, the UN would have had an almost impossible task. The peacekeeping plan called for 500 monitors protected by 5,000 troops to be based in four sites around the country from which they were to monitor a cease-fire which none of the belligerents was prepared to observe. And Congo was not a country that any peacekeeping force could easily observe-it is, after all, the size of Western Europe, without a single decent road. The peacekeepers and all their supplies would have to be flown huge distances across the center of Africa, and the whole operation would therefore be at the mercy of soldiers with shoulder-fired, aimed ground-to-air missiles. It was undoubtedly fortunate for the UN that the failure of the many factions to abide by the agreement they had signed in Lusaka meant that only a very small number of peacekeeping troops could be deployed during 2000. But the consequences of continuing, unseen warfare for Congo itself were terrible. In January 2000, Kabila was assassinated by one of his bodyguards. He was immediately succeeded by his son, who promised he would honor the Lusaka agreement. At last there was a glimmer of hope.

Faced with the failures of the past and with present problems, Annan commissioned Lakhdar Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister and now a seasoned UN diplomat, to compile a report on the lessons to be derived from the peacekeeping efforts of the last decade. Examining Srebrenica, Rwanda and other debacles of the 1990s, the Brahimi report insisted that UN peacekeepers should no longer practice neutrality in the face of serious violations of accords. Impartiality could not mean "equal treatment of all parties, in all cases, for all times." Peacekeepers must be prepared to respond with force to "obvious aggressors." The principles of the Charter must be respected; where one party was clearly violating the terms of a peace agreement, continued equal treatment of all parties by the UN could amount to complicity with evil. No failure had done more to damage the standing and credibility of UN peacekeeping in the 1990s than its reluctance to distinguish victim from aggressor.

Brahimi recommended that the Secretariat should not apply best-case planning assumptions when the local actors have usually shown worst-case behavior. The Secretariat must tell the Council what it needs to know, not what it wants to hear when recommending force and other resource levels for a new mission.

Perhaps most important, the panel recommended that Council resolutions authorizing new missions should remain in draft form until the secretary general could confirm that members have found the troops necessary. In other words, a Council resolution protecting safe areas, such as in Bosnia in 1993, should not become law until the necessary troops had been found. The secretary general must be able to say no.

Brahimi pointed out that the slowness of reaction is often very damaging and suggested that peacekeepers should be deployed within thirty days of a resolution. The secretary general should compile a list of people suitable to serve as his special representatives, as police commissioners and in other senior peacekeeping positions, at short notice. A standby arrangement system should be developed to include several coherent multinational brigade-size forces and the necessary enabling forces. The readiness of units should be assessed by a UN team before they were deployed. The panel called on member states to establish enhanced national "pools" of police officers and other experts-judicial experts, penal experts and human rights specialists, police officers, and others-to be on call.

The panel also recommended changes in peacekeeping procurement to facilitate rapid deployment. There should be a global logistics support strategy for the stockpiling of equipment reserves and standing contracts with the private sector for common goods and services. The actual peacekeeping office in New York should be strengthened. At the moment it cost $50 million a year-just 2 percent of the $2 billion now being spent a year on peacekeeping.

The report included examples of apple-pie thinking. Noting that too many UN officials were appointed according to quotas or nepotism, it argued that merit should be the only criterion and that, from the top down, the secretary general and his staff must reward excellence and remove incompetence. More realistically, it urged member states to improve their working culture and for the Council to "breathe life" into the words it produced: the Council's mission to Djakarta was cited as an example of effective action at its best-res, non verba.

Behind all of this lay the truth that increasingly the UN is being asked to take on the functions of the government-first in Cambodia, where it established or tried to establish a virtual trusteeship in the early 1990s, then in both Kosovo and East Timor. It had become very clear how hard these tasks were and how ill-prepared the UN is to govern.

The operations in Kosovo and East Timor were very different, but there were common lessons. Among these was preparedness: in both places the UN had great difficulty in recruiting the right personnel. It needed experts, rather than generalists-people with skills in public administration, law and order, power, water, agriculture, finance, procurement, auditing, border control, tax. These were the skills needed actually to run a country. In all this there was a clear irony. In the 1950s, the UN promoted decolonization. At the turn of the millennium, it was being asked to act almost like a colonial administration- but with none of the resources of empires gone by.

In September 2000, Kofi Annan presided over a Millennium Summit at the opening of the General Assembly. It was intended to redefine the place of the United Nations in the world at the start of the new millennium. Annan told the largest ever gathering of heads of state-more than 150 kings, presidents and prime ministers-that the people of the world looked to them to eradicate poverty, wipe out disease and forge peace. He said he had no illusions that the summit would by itself cure the world of its problems: "But in today's world, given the technology and the resources around, we have the means to tackle them. If we have the will, we can deal with them. You may think I am a dreamer. But without the dream you do not get anything else."

... The crises with which the world has had to deal since the end of the Cold War are not new. Ethnic cleansing happened on a vast scale at the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, when there was no international community to do anything about it. Now there is and, with fits and starts, this community is making progress.

The decade began with paralysis in Bosnia, overambition in Somalia, a blind eye in Rwanda. It ended with Russia tolerating international action in Kosovo and joining with China to approve a peacemaking force in East Timor. But it ended also with the West attempting to downplay Russia's brutality in Chechnya. The new "humanitarian" foreign policy trumpeted by Clinton and Blair clearly had familiar pragmatic limits when it came to Chechnya.

The interventions(that I have described)have attempted to make the world a little less horrible in the last decade. Similar interventions will almost certainly be needed in the next ten years.

The decisions of the men and women working as servants of that fickle master, the international community, were sometimes flawed by their own mistakes. More often they were hindered by the strictures and limits placed upon them by their master. To be humane, humanitarianism must last for more than the fifteen minutes of attention that each crisis is accorded these days. Intervention can assist people when they are desperate. But if it is to be more than a sop to our own guilt, intervention must be commensurate and consistent; it must be followed through. That is how more people can be delivered from evil and peacekeepers can prevail more often over warlords. As Annan put it in his report on Srebrenica, "When the international community makes a solemn promise to safeguard and protect innocent civilians from massacre, then it must be willing to back its promise with the necessary means. Otherwise it is surely better not to raise hopes in the first place."

But humility is important. Not everything can be achieved, not every wrong can be righted simply because the international community desires it. We cannot suddenly rebuild failed states or failing territories in our own image; Bosnia will not become Michigan, nor Sierra Leone the Netherlands, just because we would like to see visions of harmony on our television screens.

In a more religious time it was only God whom we asked to deliver us from evil. Now we call upon our own man-made institutions for such deliverance. That is sometimes to ask for miracles.

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