UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. Security Council authorized military force yesterday to ensure delivery of humanitarian aid to the victims of unrelentingly vicious fighting in the former Yugoslavia.
The move, adopted with China, India and Zimbabwe abstaining, called on "all states to take . . . all measures necessary" to deliver the aid in coordination with the United Nations.
Spurred by horrifying accounts of suffering and death in detention camps, it was accompanied by broad condemnation of the practice of "ethnic cleansing," uprooting tens of thousands of Muslims and Croatians, and a second resolution launching a war-crimes investigation.
Serbian forces have been designated as the chief culprits in the program to move non-Serb populations from the regions they have occupied, but Croatians and Bosnian Muslims also are accused of atrocities.
The resolutions passed yesterday did not single out the Serbs by name.
But U.S. envoy Edward J. Perkins, in some of the strongest U.S. language denouncing Belgrade, likened ethnic cleansing to genocide, calling it "actually ethnic extermination." He also warned: "I wish to emphasize that a conquest of territory will not be tolerated by the international community."
And in another forum, at a U.N. Human Rights Commission hearing in Geneva, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State John Bolton fixed the blame squarely on Serbia and Montenegro, the Serb partner in the rump Yugoslav state.
"To the perpetrators of the appalling acts now alleged, I say that the international community took a vow when it realized what had been committed by Nazism in Europe during the Second World War -- 'Never again,' " he said.
"We ask the people of Serbia-Montenegro this simple question: Do they wish to go down in history as citizens of the last fascist state in Europe?"
Beyond the rhetoric, yesterday's U.N. action was unlike the last use-of-force resolution, used to drive Iraq from Kuwait. The measure is not thesignal for imminent military action.
Nothing like the U.S.-led anti-Iraq coalition has been assembled, nor has any country committed the tens of thousands of ground troops that might be necessary for a successful military venture in the Balkans.
But yesterday's action is expected to hasten planning for a military mission that the United States and its allies would rather avoid.
"The use of force is not desirable, but it may be necessary," said Britain's envoy, Sir David Hannay. "The aim is to develop a system of protective support as necessary to supplement and expand the existing humanitarian operations."
Decisions on how best to follow up the resolution "will now be intensified," he said.
Military sources in Turkey, a NATO member, reported that plans were under way to assemble an elite mechanized battalion to be part of a possible U.N. military intervention in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Turkey, a Muslim country with a secular state system, has been championing urgent military action to stop the ethnic fighting in Bosnia, which is 44 percent Muslim.
But U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali warned in a letter to the Security Council that any state planning military action should give him adequate warning.
A U.N. aide, who insisted on anonymity, said that when that happens, thousands of U.N. troops already in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina may have to be withdrawn.
These troops could become "sitting ducks" in the event of military intervention, the aide said, adding that members of the council "haven't thought through what action they will take."
The council action was nevertheless dismissed as inadequate by the ambassador of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose country, rapidly hTC being eaten away by Serbia, wants military help in the form of air power and access to weapons.
"Universally, the international community has identified the aggressor, has condemned in the strongest terms the crimes against humanity, and has been virtually impotent in providing creative leadership and actions to help solve the crisis," said the envoy, Muhamed Sacirbey, in a statement issued after the council agreed to let him sit at the table but not speak.
Sir David Hannay told reporters that a peace conference scheduled for Aug. 26 in London was the place to deal with the political questions, and said in his address to the council that peace could come only from a respected cease-fire and a negotiated settlement.
Months of attempts by the European Community to mediate the crisis have failed to get results.
Yesterday's speeches showed the international split between countries -- some with historical ties to Serbia -- who see the crisis as a civil war and a humanitarian disaster, and those who view it as aggression against a sovereign people.
Morocco's envoy called it "the invasion of one state by another, which has in cold blood planned genocide."
Austria decried the attempt "to carefully maintain impartiality," and said that aggression must be met by collective resistance. Appeasement, its ambassador said, has never worked.
Here are the highlights of Security Council Resolution 770 authorizing the use of force to protect relief shipments to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Resolution 771 condemning rights abuses.
USE OF FORCE: Member nations should take "all measures necessary" to ensure the delivery of supplies by relief agencies to Sarajevo and other parts of the country. The council did not specifically sanction military aid or disclose plans to deploy additional troops in Bosnia.
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES: The council demanded that all sides give the Red Cross and humanitarian groups full and immediate access to detention camps. It expressed "grave alarm" over reports of "ethnic cleansing," the forced expulsion of civilians. It did not specifically condemn the Serbs.