And now the serious work begins, because the people who have suffered deserve justice. An elite forensic crime-scene examination team of Canadian Mounties is being sent to assist the U.N. war crimes tribunal in its investigation of alleged crimes against humanity in Kosovo, the Canadian Embassy here announced yesterday. Canada is in the final stages of staffing the team, which will accompany the international peacekeeping force entering Kosovo.

"This is meant to strengthen the cases of torture and killing that refugees have talked about; we have an enormous amount of anecdotal evidence and photographic evidence, and now we will establish scientific evidence to support the claims of the tribunal," said Paul Frazer, the embassy's minister for public affairs.

The U.N. Security Council resolution agreed upon Wednesday guarantees that the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia will have freedom of movement in Kosovo. The team would go in with officials working for the chief prosecutor of the tribunal.

"The idea is to be part of the first wave of activity; if you wait too long, evidence could be tampered with. The challenge here is to get to sites before they are destroyed or tampered with," Frazer said.

The Canadian team, which will spend a month in Kosovo, will include police investigators, pathologists, photographers and ballistics and mapping experts drawn primarily from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, an embassy statement said. "Their mission will be to gather forensic and other evidence from the scenes of alleged atrocities, to ensure the integrity of the evidence for possible future [tribunal] prosecutions."

"They are part of what is becoming more and more of a core area of Canada's contribution to efforts to build peace," said Frazer. In Haiti, Canada brought in Mounties to help establish civilian police units to restore order after a military dictatorship was toppled in 1994. "This is a new aspect of peace building in the world, and it flows from [External Affairs Minister] Lloyd Axworthy's approach to what he calls human security -- in essence to create an environment that is free of violence, where people will be able to pursue their lives free from threat and within a healthy economy," he said.

Canada also has promised intelligence support in addition to the more than $1.9 million in special contributions it has made to the tribunal since it was set up by the Security Council in 1993. This includes assistance for such operations as the exhumation of bodies from mass graves and the Rules of the Road program, which ensures that arrests of suspected war criminals by local authorities are consistent with international legal standards.

"So much of the conflict is not between countries but very much rooted within the countries. . . . Restoring a degree of normalcy is to demonstrate to these communities that justice will be brought to bear and that what Canada and others have stated within NATO is an attempt to determine what crimes were committed in a detailed sense," Frazer said.

Defense Tango

There is more to U.S.-Argentine relations than the seductions of tango, wine and pampas-fed beef. Argentine Defense Minister Jorge Dominguez met with Defense Secretary William S. Cohen yesterday and later attended a briefing on the Kosovo pacification process at the Pentagon, the Argentine Embassy said.

Argentina is the eighth-largest contributor of peacekeepers around the world -- and No. 1 in Latin America -- with troops in Bosnia, Cyprus, Africa and on the border between Kuwait and Iraq, an embassy official said. "There is some possibility that Argentina could offer troops to the Kosovo peace effort," the official added.

On Jan. 6, 1998, President Clinton designated Argentina as the first major non-NATO ally in Latin America. For several years, this status had been limited to Australia, Egypt, Israel, Japan and South Korea.

The benefits of such status are largely symbolic, implying a close working relationship between a country's defense forces and its American counterparts. It involves U.S.-funded military training in the United States and the assignment of American trainers to military academies in Argentina.

Major non-NATO allies are eligible for priority delivery of excess defense equipment; the stockpiling of American defense materials; the purchase of depleted-uranium antitank ammunition; participation in cooperative research and development programs; and, for those that qualified as of March 31, 1995, participation in the Defense Export Loan Guarantee program, which backs up private loans for commercial defense exports.

Even before gaining major non-NATO ally status, Argentina was offered more excess defense gear from the United States than any other country in Latin America and the Caribbean in 1996 and 1997.