Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, bristling with anger and frustration, derided the international community Wednesday for talking but doing little else to stop genocide in Rwanda. He denounced the inaction as a scandal.
“All of us are responsible for this failure,” the secretary general told a news conference. “It is a genocide which has been committed. More than 200,000 people have been killed, and . . . the international community is still discussing what ought to be done.
“I have tried,” he said. “I have been in contact with different heads of state and begged them to send troops. . . . Unfortunately, let us say with great humility, I failed. It is a scandal. I am the first one to say it. And I am ready to repeat it.”
Although he never singled out the United States for criticism, Boutros-Ghali mocked the philosophy behind President Clinton’s recent policy directive on peacekeeping.
Under this policy, which U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright invoked last week to force the Security Council to delay the dispatch of 5,500 troops to Rwanda, the Clinton Administration insists that it will not approve peacekeeping operations until they are subjected to close scrutiny, including an assessment of their chances for success.
“We must accept that in certain operations we will not be successful,” Boutros-Ghali said. “And the fact that you are not successful in a certain operation must not be an obstacle to additional operations all over the world.
“It is like going to a hospital,” he said. “You cannot say, ‘I don’t want to take this case.’ There is a moral responsibility. The raison d’etre of this organization is to help member states solve peacefully their internal disputes and their international disputes.”
Boutros-Ghali, a 71-year-old former Egyptian diplomat and law professor, also used the news conference to make what amounted to a declaration of his intent to seek a second five-year term in 1996.
This was a sharp change of course. When he was elected in late 1991, Boutros-Ghali insisted that he intended to serve only one term, a posture that would give him great independence from the five members of the Security Council, which have the power of veto, including the United States.
When asked to justify his change of intent, the secretary general told the news conference, “I believe that only stupid people don’t change their mind.
“The question will be raised in 1996,” he said, “and it will depend on my own physical capacities. If I am feeling in shape, quite honestly, I will say yes. On the other hand . . . if I don’t feel well enough, then I won’t request a second term.”
Mocking the philosophy behind the Clinton Administration’s policies will not help any Boutros-Ghali campaign for a second term.
Relations between Washington and the secretary general have been tense for much of the last year.
Boutros-Ghali has been angered about the U.S. attempt to blame him for the debacle in Somalia. The Americans have been angered by his penchant for setting policy rather than just taking orders from the Security Council.
The United States, using its veto, could block a second term for him.
The latest council resolution on Rwanda authorizes the 5,500-strong peacekeeping force but delays sending more than a few hundred until the secretary general satisfies the ambassadors with progress toward a cease-fire, approval from the warring parties, a timetable, a military strategy and commitments of troops.
The secretary general told the news conference that he has failed so far to round up the troops. He said that Ghana, Ethiopia and Senegal have officially agreed to send a total of 2,200 soldiers. He said he is discussing the possibility of more troops from Egypt, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. But he said he still does not have firm offers for equipment or transportation for these troops.
Asked if the squabbling in the Security Council over the Rwanda resolution had made it more difficult for him to recruit troops, the secretary general did not reply directly but instead spoke of “a fatigue among the donor countries.”
U.N. troops now take part in 17 peacekeeping operations.
Meanwhile in Geneva, the U.N. Human Rights Commission, meeting in an emergency session, was preparing to name a special investigator to look for evidence of crimes against humanity in Rwanda, even though there is no international criminal court that could punish the guilty.