UN Court Whitewashes History

UN Court Whitewashes History
February 27th, 2007  

Topic: UN Court Whitewashes History

UN Court Whitewashes History
UN court rules Serbia did not commit genocide in Bosnia
By Vesna Peric Zimonjic in Belgrade
Published: 27 February 2007

The sigh of relief in Serbia was almost audible as the International Court of Justice cleared the country of genocide in Bosnia. But the court further ruled that Serbia had failed to prevent genocide and had seriously violated international obligations by not handing over individuals accused of the crime. The three-hour session of the court, the UN's highest judicial body, was broadcast on several Serbian TV channels. The country feared being pronounced a genocidal nation, in the first such case against a state, and risked having to pay billions of dollars in war damages if the ruling had gone in Bosnia's favour.

The court president, Judge Rosalyn Higgins, said that the court defined only the massacre of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in July 1995 as an act of genocide. Other mass killings in Bosnia Herzegovina at the time of 1992-95 war were not.

More than 100,000 people died in the war, most of them non-Serbs. "The court finds that Serbia has violated the obligation to prevent genocide in respect of genocide that occurred in Srebrenica ... Serbian leaders should have made the best effort within their power to try and prevent the tragic events then taking shape."

The court ordered Serbia to immediately hand over for a war crimes trial General Ratko Mladic, who led the Bosnian Serb Army attack against Srebrenica.

But if many in Serbia were heartened by the ruling, leading international human rights activists pointed out that genocide was confirmed to have occurred in Bosnia.

"The ICJ has ruled that genocide did occur and that fact should not be obscured or lost in the context of court's failure to find direct responsibility by Serbia," said Richard Dicker, the international justice director of Human Rights Watch.

"I know it's going to be disappointing and troubling for families of victims not only in Srebrenica, but all over Bosnia. But I hope this stiffens the resolve of those in Serbia to see that Ratko Mladic and [Bosnian Serb leader] Radovan Karadzic are arrested and surrendered for fair trial in the war crimes tribunal at The Hague," Mr Dicker said.

Serbia is reluctant to hand over the pair, fearing nationalist outrage. This is especially true for the government of the outgoing Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica.

In his first reaction, the reform-oriented President Boris Tadic said: "There remains the serious obligation of Serbia to co-operate immediately with the international war crimes tribunal.

"The ICJ decision is the court epilogue for the policy of Slobodan Milosevic. Whoever counters the co-operation with the war crimes tribunal from now on, can be described as working directly against Serbia, its future and citizens."

Yesterday's final and mandatory rulingcame 14 years after Bosnia took the case to the court. It accused Serbia, led by Milosevic, of genocide by methodical extermination of non-Serbs, and through systematic expulsions, rape and ethnic cleansing.Milosevic died last year at the war crimes tribunal detention unit, without sentence being pronounced on him after five years of trial. He fell from power in 2000.

The ruling is unlikely to help reconcile Bosnia-Herzegovina, which was divided into into Muslim-Croat and Serb entities under the 1995 Dayton peace accords. A large part of the public expected the court to find in favour of Sarajevo.

"I don't know the reason for such a decision," said Zeljko Komsic, a Croat member of collective presidency. "We must respect the ruling, but I will know what to teach my children," he added.

Milorad Dodik, the Prime Minister of Bosnia's Serbs, criticised the ruling: "It was a heinous crime in Srebrenica and not genocide".

The ruling

This is an edited version of the court's ruling:

"Serbia has not committed genocide, through its organs or persons whose acts engage its responsibility under customary international law;

"Serbia has not conspired to commit genocide, nor incited the commission of genocide;

"Serbia has not been complicit in genocide, in violation of its obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide;

"Serbia has violated the obligation to prevent genocide, under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, in respect of the genocide that occurred in Srebrenica in July 1995;

"Serbia has violated its obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide by having failed to transfer Ratko Mladic, indicted for genocide and complicity in genocide, for trial by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and thus having failed fully to co-operate with that tribunal;

"Serbia shall immediately take effective steps to ensure full compliance with its obligation ... to transfer individuals accused of genocide or any of those other acts for trial by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and to co-operate fully with that tribunal;

"The case is not one in which an order for payment of compensation, or ... a direction to provide assurances and guarantees of non-repetition, would be appropriate."

This is unobliterated horse from I have read about what went on. All parties involved in this toilet were guilty of ethnic cleansing. The UN has once again proven its irrelevance is unequalled in the world.

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