Updated: 07-Jun-2000 NATO Press Releases


7 June 2000


by Lord Robertson, NATO Secretary General,
in response to Amnesty International Report ""Collateral Damage" or Unlawful Killings/Violations of the Laws of War by NATO During Operation Allied Force"

The allegations made in the Amnesty International report today that NATO violated the laws of war in its conduct of the Kosovo air campaign last year are baseless and ill-founded.

Madame Carla del Ponte, the Chief Prosecutor of the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, told the UN Security Council last week, "I am very satisfied there was no deliberate targeting of civilians or of unlawful military targets by NATO during the bombing campaign." She stated, "I am now able to announce my conclusion, following a full consideration of my team's assessment of all complaints and allegations, that there is no basis for opening an investigation into any of those allegations or into other incidents related to the NATO bombing."

NATO scrupulously adhered to international law, including the law of war, throughout the conflict and made every effort to minimise civilian casualties. Unfortunately, as we have always acknowledged, among over ten thousand bombing missions, in a few cases mistakes were made, or weapons malfunctioned, leading to civilian deaths or injuries. We deeply regret such incidents. But such incidents must be weighed against the atrocities that NATO's action stopped.

NATO's air campaign put an end to the most brutal ethnic violence seen in Europe since World War II. Extensive documentation by the OSCE, Human Rights Watch and the media show that Serbian military and police forces engaged in a deliberate, massive, and prolonged campaign of violence against Kosovar Albanian civilians in gross violation of international law and civilised norms of behaviour. The clear priority now is to bring to justice the war criminals that perpetrated this violence against the people of Kosovo.

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