the Secretary General of NATO, Lord Robertson on the Human Rights Watch
I have seen the report by the Human Rights Watch on civilian casualties
in NATO's air campaign and welcome it as a further contribution to the public's
understanding of the full consequences of Milosevic's policies of ethnic
cleansing and regional destabilization.
It is a study that deserves serious analysis, not least because it exposes
the deceit and dishonesty of Serb propaganda, in which over 5,000 civilian
deaths are claimed.
The report asserts that, despite the extraordinary efforts of the Allies,
NATO's air campaign resulted in unintended civilian casualties. I regret
that NATO's action caused even a single civilian death, but these unintended
incidents in no way compare to the systematic, unspeakable violence inflicted
on civilians by Milosevic's troops and paramilitary.
We must never forget the scale and the barbarity of Serbian ethnic cleansing
which NATO set out to stop. The Organization for Security and Co-operation
in Europe is blunt in its report on human rights in Kosovo issued a few
"On the part of Yugoslavian and Serbian forces, their intent was
to apply mass killing as an instrument of terror
of civilians was both a tactic in the campaign to expel Kosovo Albanians
and an objective in itself."
"There is chilling evidence of the murderous targeting of children,
with the aim of terrorizing and punishing adults and communities."
"The scale on which human rights violations recur is staggering.
It has been estimated that over 90 percent of the Kosovo Albanian population
- over 1.45 million people - were displaced by the conflict by June 9,
NATO did not embark on Operation Allied Force lightly. It was undertaken
only after long, patient and ultimately unsuccessful efforts by the international
community to stop the killing and ethnic cleansing by diplomatic means.
NATO's military action was taken as a last resort and was successful in
stopping the killing, forcing the withdrawal of Serbian forces, and permitting
the return of hundreds of thousands of refugees.
Both this Human Rights Watch report and that of the OSCE conclude that
Serbian forces illegally used civilians as human shields for military
targets, so adding to the number of civilian casualties.
During the operation, NATO exercised scrupulous and meticulous care to
avoid harm to the civilian population and held firm to their commitment
to respect the rules and principles of international humanitarian law.
This campaign was undertaken to prevent massive violations of international
humanitarian law and was one of the most precisely executed military campaigns