The Guardian reports that the International Court of Justice has found Serbia not guilty of direct responsibility for genocide during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia.
The court has already found that genocide did take place at Srebrenica, and ruled both that the Serbian state could have prevented the massacre, and has also failed in its duty to bring those responsible for the killings to justice.
The effect of the ruling will allow Serbia to avoid heavy reparations which were being demanded by the Bosnian government.
Boris Tadic, the Serb president, has asked his parliament to condemn the massacre, saying:
For all of us, the very difficult part of the verdict is that Serbia did not do all it could to prevent genocide,
Much has been written about historical responsibilities and reckonings at Harry’s Place recently. As we have all actually lived through the wars in the former Yugoslavia, and followed at least the press reports of events in the region, hopefully there will be many comments on today’s judgement .
Press release, summary and full verdict here
(Hat Tip – Ian Cresswell.)
Neretva River mentions another international court case concerning the aftermath of the Balkans wars of the 1990s, specifically the division of Bosnia & Herzegovina into two ethnically-defined entities, the “Republika Srpska” (Serb Republic) and the (Bosniak and Croat) “Federation of Bosnia & Herzegovina” (the latter of which is subdivided further into a number of cantons, most of which are defined as either majority-Bosniak or majority-Croat).
Along with this division came strict quotas and requirements (as in, for example, the tripartite rotating presidency of Bosnia & Herzegovina as a whole) for political representation of each of the three main ethnic groups. While this measure has served, for example, to ensure that Croats and Bosniaks have some representation in those areas of Republika Srpska from which they were largely “cleansed”, and also that Serbs have representation in the Federation, one side effect is to discriminate against those who choose not to identify themselves by one of the three principal ethnic (and effectively religiously specific) labels of Bosniak, Croat or Serb.
(It should be noted that before the war a large minority of the inhabitants of the Republic, and an even larger proportion of the population of Sarajevo avoided such terminology, preferring the specifically non-specific and secular term “Yugoslav” )
As a result of that, a case is to be presented, led by Jakob Finci, of Sarajevo’s Jewish community, to the European Court of Human Rights, that the Dayton Accords are effectively in breach of European anti-discrimination legislation and norms.
(See also East Ethnia‘s take on the matter, including the observation that
It seems surprising that there have not been more legal objections to a framework that treats (some) ethnic groups as though they were citizens, and citizens as though they were nothing.)
There are nearly a thousand news reports about this story on Google this morning. This one from The Australian is a short and sensible summary of the issues involved.