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New Series no.11/12 August - November 1999
Four states seek to end Belgrade's UN Status

The four states that were once part of Yugoslavia are working on a General Assembly resolution to end Belgrade's twilight status in the United Nations and oblige it to apply anew for membership.

Diplomats said on Monday the resolution was being drafted by envoys of Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia and Slovenia.

It would call for the removal of the flag of the defunct Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY), which flies outside the UN building alongside the flags of other countries.

It would also require the removal of the Yugoslav nameplate in UN bodies and all official UN references to the SFRY, which in addition to Serbia and Montenegro included the nowüindependent states that are drawing up the resolution.

The draft would call for the existing Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), which comprises only Serbia and Montenegro, to apply for UN membership, if it wishes to join.

The sponsors of the draft are seeking, in effect, to clarify the `noüman's land' status that Yugoslavia has inhabited at the United Nations for the past seven years. They also want to underline that the present truncated Yugoslavia is not the successor to the old SFRY and that it must follow the example of Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia and Slovenia if it wants UN membership.

Yugoslavia's shadowy UN status resulted from resolutions adopted in 1992 following the breaküup of what had been the SFRY and Belgrade's support for Bosnian Serbs fighting to oppose Bosnia's secession from Yugoslavia.

In September 1992 the General Assembly, acting on a Security Council recommendation, adopted a resolution saying that `the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) cannot continue automatically the membership of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the United Nations.'

The Assembly therefore decided `the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) should apply for membership in the United Nations and that it shall not participate in the work of the General Assembly.'

A few days later the representatives of Bosnia and Croatia demanded to know why the flag of the old SFRY was still flying outside the United Nations and why Yugoslavia's nameplate in the General Assembly was still in place.

The then UN legal counsel, Carl-August Fleischhauer of Germany, sent a reply saying the Assembly resolution dealt with an issue that was not foreseen in the UN Charter – the consequences for the purposes of UN membership of the disintegration of a member state on which there was no agreement among the immediate successors of that state or among the UN membership at large.

The only practical consequence, he said, was that `the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) shall not participate in the work of the General Assembly,' or its subsidiary organs or in meetings convened by the Assembly.

`On the other hand, the resolution neither terminates nor suspends Yugoslavia's membership in the Organization,' said Fleischhauer, who is now a World Court judge at The Hague. `Consequently, the seat and nameplate remain as before, but in Assembly bodies representatives of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) cannot sit behind the sign "Yugoslavia", he said.

He also ruled Yugoslav missions at UN headquarters and offices might continue to function and to receive and circulate documents.

As a result, Yugoslavia's UN mission is headed by a charge d'affaires rather than a permanent representative. This avoids problems that might arise if a new permanent representative had to present credentials to the secretary-general.

Yugoslavia is also allowed to take part, without a vote, in Security Council debates, like other non members of the 15 – nation council. But in a calculated slight, the council president always refers to the Yugoslav envoy by a name þ currently `Mr. Vladislav Jovanovic' – rather than as `the representative of Yugoslavia.'

Reuters, 2 November 1999

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