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"Complicity with Evil"

"Complicity with Evil": The United Nations in the Age of Modern Genocide

Adam LeBor
Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    "Complicity with Evil"
    Book Description:

    From the killing fields of Rwanda and Srebrenica a decade ago to those of Darfur today, the United Nations has repeatedly failed to confront genocide. This is evinced, author and journalist Adam LeBor maintains, in a May 1995 document from Yasushi Akashi, the most senior UN official in the field during the Yugoslav wars, in which he refused to authorize air strikes against the Serbs for fear they would "weaken" Milosevic. More recently, in 2003, urgent reports from UN officials in the Sudan detailing atrocities from Darfur were ignored for a year because they were politically inconvenient.This book is the first to examine in detail the crucial role of the Secretariat, its relationship with the Security Council, and the failure of UN officials themselves to confront genocide. LeBor argues the UN must return to its founding principles, take a moral stand and set the agenda of the Security Council instead of merely following the lead of the great powers. LeBor draws on dozens of firsthand interviews with UN officials, current and former, and such international diplomats as Madeleine Albright, Richard Holbrooke, Douglas Hurd, and David Owen.

    This book will set the terms for discussion when UN Secretary General Kofi Annan steps down to make room for a new head of the world body, and political observers assess Annan's legacy and look to the future of the world organization.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13514-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvii)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xviii-xxii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    I first encountered the United Nations in the summer of 1992, at its headquarters in Zagreb, capital of the newly independent state of Croatia. I presented a UN official with a letter from the newspaper for which I worked, theTimes(of London), my passport, and two photographs. In return, she issued me with a small piece of plastic about two inches by three, emblazoned with a blue stripe marked “Press,” and the emblem of the United Nations, a globe encircled by two olive branches, symbolizing a peaceful world. I was now officially accredited to UNPROFOR, the UN protection force...

  7. Part I

    • I A Safe Area
      (pp. 23-43)

      The video begins with an Orthodox priest blessing the Serb paramilitaries before they go forth. They stand in a row, AK-47 assault rifles in their hands, red berets atop their shaved heads. Flanked by two giant black flags, the priest brushes the soldiers’ heads with a handful of greenery as they file past. The date stamp shows that it is 7:30 P.M., 25 June 1995, a few days before the Serbs’ final attack on Srebrenica.

      The recording then cuts to a road in eastern Bosnia. It is a warm, sunny day, some time after the capture of the town. The...

    • II Master Drafters
      (pp. 44-70)

      Diego Arria’s most powerful opponent on the Security Council was David Hannay, Great Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations and the de facto leader of the P5. Even his colleagues admitted that Hannay, supremely confident and a master of his brief, did not suffer fools gladly. He often lectured the Security Council like a British public schoolmaster forced to teach a particularly dim group of pupils. “He is one of the most gifted and combative people I have seen in my life,” says Arria. “He had very strong views and we did not see eye to eye at all. The...

    • III Countdown
      (pp. 71-91)

      In view of later events it was ironic that the Netherlands offered a battalion of peacekeepers precisely because it thought the United Nations should take far more robust action against the Serbs. The 570 troops of Dutchbat I arrived in Srebrenica in early March 1994, replacing the Canadians deployed the previous April. Dutchbat was a much larger mission. It included two infantry companies, reconnaissance and security troops, engineers, and explosives experts. But the Srebrenica enclave covered about fifty square miles, and Dutchbat was spread thin on the ground. The town itself was on the eastern side, almost two miles from...

    • IV The Fall
      (pp. 92-111)

      As spring moved to summer, General Mladić squeezed Srebrenica hard. The Serbs humiliated the United Nations. They blocked the passage of all fresh food, dairy products, flour, and meat. No engineering equipment, spare parts, or fuel reached Dutchbat, and the soldiers lived off combat rations. The health of those trapped inside the enclave further deteriorated—the sticky heat of a Balkan summer was a perfect breeding ground for cockroaches, fleas, and lice. The Serbs prevented any troops from entering or leaving after 26 April. Dutchbat was 150 soldiers short. Day by day the sense of impending disaster grew. Those living...

    • V Recently Disturbed Earth
      (pp. 112-132)

      On the morning of 10 August, a month after Srebrenica’s fall, Madeleine Albright began her presentation to the Security Council. Her voice was calm and controlled, for any hint of emotion, she knew, would allow the assembled diplomats to doubt or dismiss the evidence in front of them. She drew support from Diego Arria, who sat nearby. Albright reported that the whereabouts of some six thousand Bosniak men and boys from Srebrenica was unknown. But their fate was not. “We have enough information to conclude now, however, that the Bosnian Serbs beat, raped, and executed many of the refugees,”...

  8. Part II

    • VI Silence in the Secretariat
      (pp. 135-156)

      Jan Egeland gathered his maps and papers and left his spacious corner office on the thirty-sixth floor of the Secretariat building. It was the morning of 2 April 2004, one of the most crucial days in Egeland’s twenty-five-year humanitarian career. Egeland, under–secretary general for humanitarian affairs, had finally persuaded the members of the Security Council to let him brief them on the yearlong disaster unfolding in Darfur, a remote area of western Sudan. The tall, blond Norwegian was something of a star in the world of humanitarian crises, known as someone who could get things done. A former...

    • VII A Rwandan Reprise
      (pp. 157-181)

      Mukesh Kapila’s was not the only voice within the United Nations raising the alarm over Darfur. Several UN special rapporteurs on human rights sent a series of urgent appeals to Khartoum protesting against continuing abuses. UN humanitarian officials visited Khartoum trying to persuade the government to stop its onslaught. But the Security Council stayed silent, and none of these efforts stopped the scorched-earth campaign. In early December 2003 aid workers announced that almost ten thousand new refugees had fled into Chad. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) reported that forty-six of the sixtytwo villages in South Darfur had been burned...

    • VIII Genocide, or Maybe Not
      (pp. 182-203)

      The United Nations has a multitude of days, weeks, years, and even decades devoted to special themes.¹ The tenth of December is annual Human Rights Day, which doubtless inspired Annan in part to issue a statement on Darfur a day before its observation in 2003. The following year was designated the International Year to Commemorate the Struggle Against Slavery and Its Abolition and the International Year of Rice; it was also part of the International Decade for Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World. None of which applied in Darfur, or indeed much of Africa, as the...

    • IX A Will and a Way
      (pp. 204-228)

      During the Bosnian war Pakistan and the Islamic and Arab countries kept steady pressure on the United Nations to take a more robust stand against the Serbs, although the Arab states were never concerned enough to threaten an oil embargo, which might have actually affected Western policy. The Arab and Islamic bloc at the United Nations has taken a very different position on Darfur. Pakistan and Algeria, both nonpermanent members of the Security Council during the Darfur crisis, have proved powerful allies of Sudan, says one UN official working on Darfur.“Sudan was initially very successful at keeping itself off...

    • X A Meager Reckoning
      (pp. 229-253)

      The video shows the Scorpions ushering the prisoners forward one by one, as though they were about to enter a room or climb on a bus. Azmir Alispahić, the sixteen-year-old boy who wanted to be a doctor, trembles as he watches the men line up. The prisoners walk ahead, stop, stand still; the Serbs shoot each in the back. The men lurch forward as the bullets hit them, then crumple into the long grass. One man twitches several times before he lies still. After the Serbs have shot four of the men, they untie Azmir and another prisoner and order...

    • XI Command Responsibility
      (pp. 254-280)

      If there is a sense of shame among Secretariat officials for the United Nations’ failures in Srebrenica and Rwanda, it is not a career hindrance. Those implicated have been neither penalized nor demoted. The most conspicuous example is Kofi Annan, head of the DPKO during both the Bosnian war and the Rwandan genocide, who was afterward promoted to secretary general. Once Annan took office, on 1 January 1997, he quickly found new posts for his protégés. Shashi Tharoor, the DPKO team leader on Yugoslavia, was appointed Annan’s director of communications and special projects. In 2001 Tharoor was promoted to under—...

  9. Appendix
    (pp. 281-290)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 291-300)
  11. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 301-306)
  12. Index
    (pp. 307-326)