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Chapter Eighteen UNMEDIATION Although Resolution 502 had not required anything of the SecretaryGeneral , Perez de Cuellar made an effort from the start to keep in touch with the development of the dispute. As early as 8 April he had established a working group headed by Under Secretary-General Rafee Ahmed of Pakistan to develop some plans in case Haig's mediation should fail.* This group assembled its own data on the crisis. Although it had voluminous files, going back to 1964, covering the decolonization aspects of the dispute it lacked such simple things as detailed maps covering islands like South Georgia. Possibilities for UN operational involvement - perhaps in the form of a peace-keeping force - were also examined.1 On 19 April, without any invitation to do so, the Secretary-General gave the two sides, as well as the United States, an account of the ways in which the UN might be able to help with a negotiated settlement. This floated such possibilities as a small UN civilian presence, together with military observers, which might help supervise a military withdrawal and interim agreement. Options ranged from a UN umbrella for whatever arrangements were agreed to a temporary UN administration.2 Haig never showed much interest in a UN role in a * He could not ask either of the two Under Secretaries-General for Special Political Affairs to take on this task - although in other circumstances they would have been natural candidates - because one, Mr Brian Urquhart, was British and the other, Mr Diego Cordovez, was Ecuadoran. There was no West European or Latin American on the working group. 292 UN Mediation settlement and tended to be dismissive when it was discussed. Although the Secretary-General was not kept well informed at an official level of the development of the Haig mediation he appears to have been kept in touch informally. On the other hand the Peruvian initiative came to him as a complete surprise, despite the fact that he himself was Peruvian. This may be explained by his own background, which contained a degree ofrivalrywith President Belaunde. The only time he was contacted by the Peruvian Foreign Minister was because the latter was curious to know whether he was doing anything.3 None the less, as a result of the preparations, almost as soon as the Haig mediation came to an end, Perez de Cuellar was ready to initiate his own. To some extent it was vital for his own position that he should scotch the view that the Secretary-General's role was becoming increasingly passive. On 2 May, coincident with the sinking of the Belgrano, he presented a 'set of ideas' on one sheet ofpaper which suggested that the two sides take a series of simultaneous steps as provisional measures.4 These were described as 'not prejudicing the rights, demands or positions of the parties', and covered such familiar areas as mutual withdrawal, removal of sanctions and exclusion zones, interim administration and long-term negotiations to end the dispute. They were not dissimilar to the proposals made at the concluding stage ofthe Peruvian Plan.5 At the same time Ireland, uneasy at the raising of the military temperature, was pressing for a round of more public diplomacy in the Security Council in order to urge the two parties to 'exercise restraint'. This was precisely the sort of move Britain feared most. Having obtained the backing it sought with Resolution 502 it did not want any amendment, especially a notionally even-handed call for a cease-fire, that would leave it in an impossible position militarily. Britain therefore objected that the exercise of restraint was meaningless so long as Argentine forces continued to occupy the Islands. It would only support a UN effort ifit were unofficial and confidential. The Secretary-General agreed that a public debate was not going to help and that private diplomacy should continue a little longer. With both sides accepting the mediation offer - Argentina on 5 May and Britain on 6 May - Ireland was persuaded to suspend its request. 293 Collision There remained some pressure on Britain within the Security Council not to take any military action so long as the negotiations were under way, but no assurances were given. Nor were any given during the subsequent negotiations. As they began Britain announced the new 12-mile Exclusion Zone. This was seen in Buenos Aires as further intimidation. The Secretary-General might have preferred Britain to hold back on such moves but he did not...


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