1. Archive

Swiss prosecutor to head U.N. tribunals on Yugoslavia, Rwanda

The U.N. Security Council on Wednes- day appointed Switzerland's crusading federal prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, to head U.N. criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

The council unanimously backed del Ponte, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's choice to replace Louise Arbour, who is joining Canada's Supreme Court. Del Ponte will start her new job Sept. 15.

After meeting with the 52-year-old prosecutor at U.N. headquarters Aug. 5, Annan praised her "strength and determination."

Del Ponte made international headlines with her money-laundering investigation against the brother of former Mexican President Carlos Salinas. She also risked the wrath of President Boris Yeltsin by investigating allegations of high-level Russian corruption.

Serbian Orthodox church

wants Milosevic out

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia _ Warning that President Slobodan Milosevic is leading Yugoslavia into "certain disaster," Serbian Orthodox church leaders formally called on him Wednesday to resign.

The church joined the growing opposition movement trying to oust Milosevic after a synod of bishops decided he, and Serbian President Milan Milutinovic, are "turning their own people into hostages."

They "should, as soon as possible, allow other people to take over the helm of state and lead the people out of the dead end into which they have been brought," the bishops' statement said.

The Orthodox church plans to join several parties in a mass rally on Aug. 19 in Belgrade, the first large-scale protest in the Yugoslav and Serbian capital after weeks of demonstrations in the provinces.

Although Serbian Orthodox clerics have spoken out against Milosevic in recent weeks, and even insisted he be sent to The Hague war crimes tribunal, Wednesday's statement was the first by a synod of bishops, which decide on church doctrine that applies to millions of believers.

U.N. troops ordered

to obey international law

UNITED NATIONS _ Overriding objections from a number of countries that contribute peacekeeping troops to the United Nations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has ordered that all forces operating under U.N. command abide by international laws protecting civilians and governing the conduct of soldiers in war.

Until now, U.N. peacekeepers have operated in a gray area of international law, not strictly accountable to the Geneva Conventions established 50 years ago this week, which set standards of behavior for combatants. Only representatives of countries, not of international organizations, signed those documents. Individual commanders in peacekeeping operations, drawn from many countries, have been expected to enforce good behavior, and troops were supposed to be tried for infractions by their home governments.

This system more or less worked in traditional operations after cease-fires were reached. But in this decade, peacekeeping troops, which are supposed to be neutral, began to be entangled in vicious civil wars that turned even peacekeeping into a violent free-for-all at times. Annan, who directed the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations before becoming secretary-general in 1997, has been concerned about this trend since the mid-1990s, his aides said.

The secretary-general's directive, issued Tuesday in effect as an executive order to all member nations, responds to reports of serious human rights violations by peacekeepers in the Balkans, Africa, Cambodia and elsewhere.