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An Interview with Fabien Dubuet, MSF Researcher, on the Parliamentary Information Mission on Srebrenica
May 24, 2001
On July 13 2000, five years after the fact, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) made a public request for a parliamentary commission to inquire into France's share of responsibility into the paralysis of UN and NATO in the face of the Bosnian Serbs' attack on Srebrenica. The fall of the "safe area" on July 11, 1995, led to the deportation of approximately 40,000 people and the execution of 7,000 more. Twenty-two local members of MSF's personnel and approximately 10 of our sick and wounded were likewise executed.
The result of MSF's lobbying members of parliament was that an Information Mission, composed of 10 members of the National Assembly's Commissions on Foreign Affairs and Defense, was created on November 15, 2000.
Fabien Dubuet, a specialist in international humanitarian law, is a researcher with MSF. Below is an interview with him published by The Courrier des Balkans.
Why did MSF ask for a parliamentary commission of inquiry on Srebrenica?
Fabien:The deployment of peacekeeping operations was one of the tools available to the international community to oppose criminal policies against civilian populations. Requests for a parliamentary inquiry commission on Rwanda in 1998 and now on Srebrenica, are a natural result of MSF's policy, as we try to evaluate the degree of protection that can be expected from these operations so we can optimise our actions on the ground. Our request has a special importance in view of the recent renewal of military-humanitarian operations. A number of decisions taken at national and international levels seem to confirm this tendency - for example, NATO's adoption of a new strategic concept broadening its mission to include crisis management, including humanitarian aid; the priority now given to armies of Western nations to increase their capacity to move troops abroad, etc. The possibility of increased military presence on the ground means that everybody's roles and responsibilities must be made clear so as to avoid confusion which could cause harm to local populations and hinder independent civilian humanitarian action.
Why is a special effort of transparency required of France?
France had an important role in the decision-making process. A French general held responsibility over all UN troops in the former Yugoslavia. The "safe areas" were created on the initiative of a French general (Morillon) and upon France's proposal in the Security Council. The UN resolution authorizing the use of force to protect the "safe areas" was also adopted through French initiative. And a particular measure of transparency is required of France in light of its peacekeeping responsibilities because France directs the UN department of peacekeeping operations. Moreover, transparency is crucial considering the strategic nature of operations abroad in French defence policy - sending troops abroad is the now second most important strategic function of the French army.
What result have you obtained from the National Assembly?
â€¦ Finally, the two Commissions (Foreign Affaires and Defence) have created a true Mission of Information consisting of ten members of parliament.
What are the questions which you expect to have answered?
We hope for precise answers to precise questions:
The credibility of the Parliamentary Mission's work will be evaluated in the light of the answers obtained to these questions.
Written originally December 2000; updated May 2001
Tags: Bosnia and Herzegovina