Decision 1 (55) on Kosovo (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) : Yugoslavia. 09/08/99.
Convention Abbreviation: CERD
COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
Decision 1 (55) on Kosovo (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)
1. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination opposes all forms of racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing, irrespective of which groups are the perpetrators and which the victims. It has affirmed its support for multi-ethnic societies.
2. In the light of recent events in Kosovo the Committee has reviewed its earlier decisions relating to the region, notably 2 (47) of 17 August 1995, 2 (48) of 13 March 1996, 2 (51) of 18 August 1997, 3 (53) of 17 August 1998 and 1 (54) of 16 March 1999. In this respect it calls particular attention to the following:
(a) Any attempt to change or to uphold a changed demographic composition of an area against the will of the original inhabitants, by whatever means, is a violation of international human rights and humanitarian law;
(b) Persons shall be given the opportunity to return safely to the places they inhabited before the beginning of the conflict and their safety shall be guaranteed, as well as their effective participation in the conduct of public life;
(c) All those who commit violations of international humanitarian law or war crimes shall be held individually responsible for such acts.
3. The Committee recalls that a mission of three Committee members visited Kosovo in 1993 to help promote a dialogue between the Albanians in Kosovo and the Government of Yugoslavia, and that the Committee later again offered its good offices to promote such a dialogue.
4. The Committee also recalls its general recommendation XXI, in which it set out its approach to the right of peoples to self-determination, emphasizing that the implementation of the principle of self-determination requires every State to promote, through joint and separate action, universal respect for an observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. Equally, the Committee has expressed its view that international law has not recognized a general right of peoples unilaterally to declare secession from a State.
5. The Committee further recalls its general recommendation XXII, on the rights of refugees and displaced persons, in which it noted that these include the right to have restored to them property of which they were deprived in the course of the conflict and to be compensated appropriately for any such property that cannot be restored to them.
6. The Committee is painfully aware that the Kosovo Albanians have been the victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity. At the same time the Committee expresses its profound concern that in recent weeks Serb inhabitants of Kosovo have been driven from their homes and made to flee Kosovo, that Serb inhabitants have been murdered, and that Roma inhabitants have been targeted.
7. The Committee appeals to all States to provide economic assistance and to ensure that such assistance reaches the population of Kosovo with a view to securing adequate living conditions for everybody without distinction as to race or national or ethnic origin.
8. The Committee appeals for support for the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in his efforts to restore the rule of law and respect for human rights, and calls with greatest urgency upon all those in power in Kosovo at the present time to ensure full and effective respect for human rights without distinction as to race or national or ethnic origin, and to promote understanding and tolerance among all ethnic groups in Kosovo.
9 August 1999