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Monday January 24, 2022
Testata per la stampa

Bosnia-Herzegovina and International Justice. Past Failures and Future Solutions

Written by Marko Attila Hoare, this article appeared on the second issue of Vol. 24 of the journal East European Politics and Society in May 2010.
Three different international courts have determined that genocide took place in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992-1995: the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Yet paradoxically, there has been virtually no punishment of this genocide, while the punishment of lesser war crimes of the Bosnian war has been very limited. The ICTY has convicted only one individual, a lowly deputy corps com­mander, of a genocide-related offence. The ICJ acquitted Serbia, the state that planned and launched the assault upon Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992, of genocide and related offences, finding it guilty only of failure to prevent and punish genocide. Although Serb forces were responsible for the overwhelming majority of war crimes, the ICTY prosecution has disproportionately targeted non-Serbs in its indictments and, among Serbs, has disproportionately targeted Bosnian Serbs, with no official of Serbia or Yugoslavia yet convicted of war crimes in Bosnia.
The article argues that the meagre results of the international judicial processes vis-à-vis the crimes of the Bosnian war must be sought in the structural failings, poor decision making, and political influences that affected the international courts. It argues that the international courts have failed either to deliver justice to the victims of the war crimes or to promote reconciliation among the peoples of the former Yugoslavia and suggests measures that could be taken to rectify the situation.

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