The Security Council slapped an oil embargo and other sanctions Monday on the Khmer Rouge for obstructing the U.N.-sponsored peace accords by refusing to disarm and take part in upcoming elections in Cambodia.
The sanctions, although mild and difficult to enforce, went beyond the recommendations of Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
He had asked for more time to try to negotiate a diplomatic solution to the crisis, which has enveloped the largest U.N. peacekeeping operation in the world. The United Nations has sent more than 20,000 troops and civilians to Cambodia in a massive peacekeeping operation that puts it in the role of a quasi-colonial power while Cambodia prepares to elect a constituent assembly in May.
The council approved the sanctions in a 14-0 vote, with China abstaining. "Instead of helping solve the problems," Chinese Ambassador Li Daoyu said, "sanctions will further increase differences and sharpen contradictions and could consequently lead to new, complicated problems in the Cambodian situation."
He said that China also abstained because the resolution endorsed holding the elections in May even without the Khmer Rouge.
But U.S. Ambassador Edward J. Perkins, accusing the Khmer Rouge of cease-fire violations, abuse of human rights, political intimidation and attacks on U.N. personnel, said the American support for the resolution "reflects . . . our determination to support fully the U.N.'s efforts in Cambodia."
"We want the Cambodian people to know that they can depend upon the United Nations to take those measures necessary to ensure they will have an opportunity to determine their own future in a free and fair election," he added.
Enforcement of the sanctions appeared to fall largely on Thailand, which borders areas of Cambodia that are in the hands of the Khmer Rouge. Under the sanctions' terms, the United Nations called on member nations "to prevent the supply of petroleum products" to Khmer Rouge-occupied areas. It endorsed a September decision by the Supreme National Council of Cambodia prohibiting the export of logs from Cambodia.
Bordering states--a polite reference to Thailand--were asked to stop importing these logs.
The Khmer Rouge, like some other political parties in Cambodia, is believed to derive most of its revenue from the export of logs and gems from areas it controls. The bulk of this lucrative trade is handled by Thai dealers. Gem exports have not been prohibited by the Cambodian council. The U.N. resolution asked the Cambodians to enact such a ban soon.
The U.N. resolution also threatened the Khmer Rouge with a further sanction--the freezing of their assets outside Cambodia--if they continue to obstruct the U.N. peace accords.
On a controversial issue, the council took note of plans by the United Nations to hold a presidential election at the same time as the constituent assembly elections in May.
Presidential elections had not been envisioned in the peace accords. But U.N. officials are supporting the idea now under pressure from Prince Norodom Sihanouk, once the traditional ruler of Cambodia. Most analysts believe that he would easily win any presidential election.
But critics say that it would be a distortion of democracy to hold a presidential election even before an elected constituent assembly draws up a new constitution.
The peace accords providing for elections and U.N. supervision of the country were signed in Paris more than a year ago by the Vietnam-supported Cambodian government and by a coalition of three factions--including the Khmer Rouge--that had opposed the government for years in a civil war.