There have been many voices calling for the restructure of the United Nations, particularly of the representation of the non-First World states within the General Assembly, and the operations of the Security Council consisting of the permanent five that largely utilize the UN for its own political and capital interests. The inept management of the conflicts in Bosnia by the UN have made those voices more vociferous, with some calling for the end of the United Nations. Francis A. Boyle is the Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, served as the Legal Adviser to Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and Foreign Minister Haris Silajdzic during the Owen-Stoltenburg negotiations in Geneva, and represented the Bosnian Government at the International Court of Justice. He won two World Court Orders for Bosnia, which the UN Security Council refused to enforce, due to the manipulations of Britain, Russia, France, and the US at the diplomatic table. In this recent interview he outlines the background to the diplomatic negotiations in Bosnia, the corruption and amorality of the great powers, and how the greed and capital interests of the West, and its anti-Muslim actions will spell the end of the post-World War II political order. This interview was originally conducted on June 23, 1995 for the production of a television documentary on the conflict in Bosnia. The transcript has been revised and edited with a Postscript added by Professor Boyle to take into account subsequent developments. His latest book is The Bosnian People Charge Genocide (Aletheia Press: 1996). In current world political affairs, there is one consistent factor in the conflicts in Bosnia, Chechnya, Nagorno-Karabakh, the Gulf war--a toleration by the West of atrocities committed against Muslim populations. An overriding agenda in the West is to actively deter Islamic fundamentalism and create mass hysteria to surround any political domain that comprises a 'Muslim' leadership.
Certainly if you look at it, that's what is happening, where the West seems to be going to war with the Muslim world. Just look around. The way that the Palestinians are being treated by the Israelis is tantamount to genocide--and indeed, I've offered to President Arafat to sue the Israelis at the World Court over this matter. Libya is being attacked and destabilised because of oil and the fact that Colonel Gaddafi will not take orders from the West.
Iran is under assault by the United States primarily at the beck and call of the Israeli lobby in the US. The entire Gulf is under the control of the United States. The US sits on top of all that oil--50 percent of the world's oil supply. And the US is keeping Iraq in near genocidal conditions--I've also offered to the Iraqi government to sue the permanent members of the Security Council to break the economic embargo that's designed to destroy them. Chechnya again is a situation where more Muslim people are being wiped out. After the Russian invasion, I tried to get some of the Islamic states to let me sue Russia to try to stop this, but none of them were prepared to go after the Russians. So this is the consistent pattern by the West of hostility toward the Islamic world, and it's only going to get worse not better. Bosnia is simply part of it in the grander scheme of things.
And we've also heard Owen and others say 'we don't want a Muslim state in Europe'. This is a continuation of the historic process of expulsion of Muslims from Europe going back to disintegration of the Ottoman empire and the subsequent mass transfers of people. This is the final cleansing and wiping out of a major concentrated population of Muslims in Europe and no one really cares.
In 1991, the Gulf war contained its own version of geo-political hypocrisy for the purpose of Western capital interests. However, this period did see a level of consultancy and agreement amongst the great powers that failed to exist for decades, and was regarded as the pinnacle of the United Nations' achievements. Four years after the Gulf war, the talk about the end of the United Nations is being circulated. Will the friction that exists between Muslim countries and Christian countries ultimately lead to the dissolution of the United Nations, in the same way that the League of Nations dissolved over 50 years ago?
Of course, the Gulf war was simply an attempt by the United States to steal 50 percent of the world's oil resources using the UN as a pretext and a cover to do so. The problem with many of the Muslim nations is their leadership. It's not the Muslim people. This became clear to me when I was in Geneva, meeting with some of the Ambassadors from the Islamic Conference Organization during the Owen-Stoltenburg carve-up. I said to these Ambassadors 'gentlemen, your people will hold your leaders accountable if the Bosnians are carved-up and destroyed'. The Deputy Head of the ICO smiled and shrugged his shoulders and said 'but, what can we do?'. At that point it was clear to me that all the Muslim rulers around the world know exactly what's happening but are not prepared to take on the West over Bosnia. And they have had the options available to them. In 1973 they had an oil embargo and the leverage that went with it. In the speeches that I've given in Malaysia and Turkey, I've stated to the Muslim nations that if they want to save the Bosnians, they should impose an oil embargo on the West. But they can't do it now because the situation has changed. Because the US troops are now stationed throughout the Gulf region. So this is the problem for the Muslim leadership. But for the people of the Muslim world, Bosnia is a critical issue.
They see the total hypocrisy of the West on human rights and international law, and the United Nations Charter and see that their leaders are not prepared to go to the matt on any of these issues. This is the typical colonial divide and conquer strategy, just as the Romans did, just as the British did, and what the Americans are doing today.
What type of future do you see for the republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
The Bosnians are going to keep fighting. As for where this will lead to, I really can't say, but as long as the Bosnians keep fighting, the pillars of the post-World War II legal order are going to be shaken--the UN, NATO, and the World Court. With the total hypocrisy surrounding all of the international principles, these institutions will continue to be unmasked and will continue to be undermined. That's what I see happening if the current policies continue, but unfortunately it appears that this is going to be the case in the future. As for me, I am still prepared to return to the World Court and start suing the permanent members of the Security Council and break that arms embargo for the Bosnians. This is the most critical factor now as they need the heavy weapons to defend their people. This is their right under Article 51 of the UN Charter. It is also their obligation under the Genocide Convention. So I don't see the Bosnians going away when they are prepared to fight and die for human rights and democracy--that was my impression after talking with President Izetbegovic--he is not going to throw in the towel. So the conflict in Bosnia will continue and the longer it continues the more it is going to shake the foundations of the post-World War II order.
What type of future is there for the United Nations?
None. As I see it, if this continues the way that it's going, then the UN means nothing, and it would be better to put it out of its misery, than a continuation of the current hypocrisy. By now, it should be clear to everyone that the UN is nothing more than the agent, and the instrument of those four permanent members operating in the Security Council and that it really has no independent or outside existence. The UN is pretty meaningless, so let's strip away the facade and the veneer and get down to the fiasco that's really happening here.
Could the United Nations become more meaningful and legally viable if there was reform in the Security Council itself?
The Security Council should be put out of business and all the functions for any maintenance of international peace and security should be transferred to the General Assembly by two-thirds vote. In this sense, there would be the capacity to have some sort of democratic control but this suggestion is not on anyone's agenda.
The Security Council is like a star-chamber these days, where they no longer even meet in public. All matters are now transacted in private. It's just a little club of the most powerful members of the world to order around everyone else. That's what the Muslims saw in the Gulf. We are seeing, in a historical perspective, the perversion--total perversion--of every known principle of international law, and the international organisations and institutions that were set up after World War II. Now that this is being turned on its head, and especially if the war in Bosnia continues, I really don't anticipate the current order staying.
We've reached a historical era now where the West as it is, Europe, and the United States, has proven its moral bankruptcy--complete and total moral bankruptcy, initially in Bosnia and then later on Rwanda. The West has now forfeited any moral right to leadership that it might have had in terms of a commitment to principles like human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, all of which they have subverted, undermined and destroyed in Bosnia.
The Bosnian crisis, whatever comes of it will be a turning point in the way people now perceive the West, and of course, that perception is that all the West is interested in is their own pocket books and controlling the world with weapons--the West produces the best weapons in the world and it has become obvious to the world that the West doesn't care about principles. All the West cares about is oil, standards of living and developing the weapons necessary to keep those standards of living. That's it. And that is becoming more and more clear to the Third World. How the Third World will act on this is unknown but I think that we are certainly at a major turning point in international relations.