Member states of the Republic of Yugoslavia, which was formed during World War II as a way to unite the homogenous Slavic states against the power of an Austro-Hungarian state, have begun to withdraw from the republic in the hopes of gaining independence and freedom from ethnic conflict and the corrupt leadership of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.The effects of the dissolution of the Yugoslavian republic have been two-fold: though the breakup of the republic has helped alleviate tensions and reduce corruption and ethnic cleansing, it has also lead to widespread instability in the region. The current state of chaos and violence in the Balkan nations is unthinkable in today’s world, and especially in comparison to the rest of modern Europe.
Though the Republic of Uganda is not directly affected by the Bosnian War, Uganda, as a result of its recent history involving the conflict in Rwanda, is uniquely positioned to understand the burdens and implications of ethnic cleansing, genocide and war crimes. Specifically, Ugandans are deeply troubled by the ethnic cleansing targeting Muslims. The Serbians identify as majority Orthodox Christian, and while Uganda’s population is around 88% Christian, the atrocities being committed against Muslims in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo, makes it impossible for Uganda to support the effort to create a “Greater Serbia”, especially considering more than 2 million Ugandans are of Islamic faith. Uganda supports Croatia and Bosnia in their quest for independence.
Uganda believes the United Nations must prioritize protection of civilians and reduction of violence. The best course of action to protect innocent civilians in the Balkan Nations is to maintain the current arms embargo, which is supported by President Bill Clinton and a majority of the nations in the European Union. The weapons sanction serves to limit the amount of violence and show an international disapproval for the Serbian actions and President Milosevic’s behavior. Due to recent experience involving the Rwandan Genocide, Uganda understands that imposing a weapons sanction too late in a conflict can cause a disadvantage for one side, as was the case during the Rwandan Genocide. This was also due in part to how much the genocide had escalated at this point. The United Nations has the opportunity to implement and enforce an arms embargo in the Balkan states that would be a step towards solving the many and complex political, geographic and ethnic disputes. Despite the fact that the Rwandan genocide did not receive international attention like the Yugoslav wars, the Republic of Uganda encourages the United Nations and member nations of the International Criminal Tribunal to recall events of the past to proceed in the future. Uganda was alarmed at the lack of sympathy and foreign aid during the Rwandan Genocide. Besides the arms embargo outlined in the Security Council’s resolution 918, the majority of external came too late to help prevent any of the violence and ethnic tension that has plagued the region for too long. Uganda strongly urges the United Nations to not repeat past mistakes.