Security Council Debate:
.....In the debate, Kurt Waldheim,
Secretary-General of the United Nations, said he had issued a
statement on 8 July immediately after his return from Africa
in which he had given a detailed account of the role he had played
in efforts to secure the release of the hostages at Entebbe.
.....The case before the Council
raised a number of complex issues because, in this instance,
the response of one State to the results of an act of hijacking
involved an action affecting another sovereign State. In reply
to a specific question, he had said: "I have not got all
the details, but it seems to be clear that Israeli aircraft have
landed in Entebbe and this constitutes a serious violation of
the sovereignty of a State Member of the United Nations."
The Secretary-General said he felt it was his obligation to uphold
the principle of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of
.....However, that was not the only
element involved in considering cases of the kind which the Council
was discussing. That was particularly true when the world community
was required to deal with unprecedented problems arising from
acts of international terrorism, which Mr. Waldheim said he had
consistently condemned and which raised many issues of a humanitarian,
moral, legal and political character for which, at the present
time, no commonly agreed rules or solutions existed. . . .
.....Percy Haynes (Guyana)
said the action taken by Israel against Uganda was nothing but
naked and brutal aggression. Guyana strongly condemned Israel
for its aggression against the black African country of Uganda.
.....It was being argued that the
principle of sovereignty was subordinate to the principle of
human freedom and that Israel had the right, whenever it chose,
to violate the sovereignty of other States in order to secure
the freedom of its own citizens. That was nothing but a modern-day
version of gun-boat diplomacy.
Those who, like Israel, sought to give legitimacy to the violation
of the sovereignty of other States were making many small States,
whose faith in and commitment to international law were unshakable,
hostage to the dictates of naked power. . . .
.....Kaj Sundberg (Sweden)
said the drama was started by an abhorrent act of terrorism perpetrated
by a group of extremist Palestinian Arabs and Europeans. There
was no excuse for that criminal act.
The world must react vigorously against terrorist acts and take
all possible protective measures. New efforts must be undertaken
to achieve broad international agreement to combat terrorism,
in the form of generally recognized standards of international
conduct. The international community must work towards general
recognition of the clear obligation resting on every State to
do everything in its power, where necessary in collaboration
with other States, to prevent acts of terrorism and, even more,
to refrain from any action which might facilitate the perpetration
of such acts.
.....Any State where hijackers landed
with hostages must be prepared to shoulder the heavy responsibility
of protecting all victims under circumstances which were bound
to be difficult and delicate. . . .
.....Sweden, although unable to
reconcile the Israeli action with the strict rules of the Charter,
did not find it possible to join in a condemnation in such a
case. . . .
.....Mr. Scranton (United
States) said the United States reaffirmed the principle of territorial
sovereignty in Africa. In addition to that principle, the United
States was deeply concerned over the problem of air piracy and
the callous and pernicious use of innocent people as hostages
to promote political ends. The Council could not forget that
the Israeli operation in Uganda would never have come about had
the hijacking of the Air France flight from Athens not taken
.....Israel's action in rescuing
the hostages necessarily involved a temporary breach of the territorial
integrity of Uganda. Normally, such a breach would be impermissible
under the Charter. However, there was a well established right
to use limited force for the protection of one's own nationals
from an imminent threat of injury or death in a situation where
the State in whose territory they were located was either unwilling
or unable to protect them. The right, flowing from the right
of self-defence, was limited to such use of force as was necessary
and appropriate to protect threatened nationals from injury.
.....The requirements of that right
to protect nationals were clearly met in the Entebbe case. Israel
had good reason to believe that at the time it acted Israeli
nationals were in imminent danger of execution by the hijackers.
In addition, there was substantial evidence that the Government
of Uganda cooperated with and aided the hijackers. The ease and
success of the Israeli effort to free the hostages suggested
that the Ugandan authorities could have overpowered the hijackers
and released the hostages if they had really had the desire to
do so. . . .
.....Mikhail Kharlamov (USSR)
said that the flight carried out, the material destruction wrought,
the substantial number of Ugandans killed were all regarded by
Israel as a measure which was just or at least justified. But
there existed no laws in the world, no moral or international
laws, which could justify such action.
.....However much the representative
of Israel might have tried to refute the irrefutable, the armed
action against Uganda was an act of direct, flagrant aggression
and an outright violation of the Charter, especially of Article
2, paragraph 4, which stated: "All Members shall refrain
in their international relations from the threat of use of force
against the territorial integrity or political independence of
any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes
of the United Nations."
.....The Soviet Union consistently
opposed acts of terrorism, and was prepared to do its part in
order to end that phenomenon. But one could not replace one matter
with another. The Council was considering not the matter of international
terrorism but an attack on Uganda, the killing of Ugandans, the
destruction of Entebbe Airport, and other material destruction
inflicted by the Israeli action against that State. . . .
.....The Council must condemn in
the most vigorous manner the Israeli aggression against the sovereignty
and territorial integrity of Uganda and compel Israel to recompense
Uganda for the material damage done in connection with the attack.
In addition, the Council must extend a serious warning to Israel
that such acts of aggression would not go unpunished in future.
. . .
.....Isao ABE (Japan)
said international terrorism, whatever form it might take, constituted
an abhorrent crime against mankind and must be denounced in the
strongest terms by the world community. The countries in the
world must take effective measures to prevent and eliminate such
a crime against humanity, and they were required to cooperate
fully with each other in attaining that goal.
.....The Air France hijacking was
terminated in an extraordinary circumstance--military action
by a State within the territory of another State. Although the
motives as well as the circumstances which led Israel to take
such action were presented in detail, nevertheless there was
an act of violation by Israel of the sovereignty of Uganda.
.....Japan reserved its opinion
as to whether the Israeli military action had or had not met
the conditions required for the exercise of the right of self-defence
recognized under international law, as the Israeli representative
.....The Security Council did not
adopt either of the above draft resolutions condemning Israel's
violation of Uganda's territorial sovereignty. Most nations were
reluctant to officially condone Israel's acts, although their
newspapers reported popular approval. One reason for this approval
was that Israel did not initiate the crisis. Another was that
Uganda's inaction acquiesced in terrorist hostage taking. Without
some action by the Israeli government, the hostages faced certain
death in Uganda at the hands of the hijackers. Whether State
practice prohibits this limited use of reactionary force remains
unclear. Rescue missions may be an acceptable way of responding
to hostage crises. Although the US coauthored a resolution that
would have condemned Israel for its rescue mission in Uganda,
it later argued in favor of a limited right to rescue hostages
from certain death when there was a diplomatic impasse. Three
years later, the US would undertake its own hostage rescue mission
in Iran. That mission did not generate an international reaction
like the one that was thrust upon Israel.
.....1. In 1984, the US
Congress passed the Act for the Prevention and Punishment of
Hostage Taking. See 18 US Code §1201 et seq. This legislation
implemented the US commitment when it ratified the 1979 Hostage
Convention. In a 1998 conviction under this Act, the defendant
claimed that neither the Act, nor the treaty, apply to domestic
hostage taking in the US. The court decided, however, that the
treaty requires ratifying countries to take "effective measures
for the prevention, prosecution and punishment of all acts of
taking hostages as manifestations of international terrorism."
US v. Wang Kun Lue, 134 F. 3d 79 (2nd Cir. 1998).
.....2. On July 15 2000, the UN
launched a rescue mission. It retrieved 233 of its remaining
captured peacekeepers, being held in Sierra Leone. Heavily armed
helicopter gunships successfully executed this mission against
the hostile Revolutionary United Front's rebel stronghold. The
UN Secretary-General said that "The use of force in a U.N.
mission to extract its personnel from the area had become inevitable
... after intensive diplomatic and political efforts at all levels."
Officials at the New York City headquarters, and personnel on
the ground in Africa, attempted to monitor this rescue mission.
Troops from Ghana, Nigeria, and India carried out the rescue.
British helicopters were used. London's Defense Secretary said
that "I welcome this decisive action by UNAMSIL [UN peacekeeping
force] which demonstrates its clear resolve to operate where
it needs in order to meet its mandate in Sierra Leone.