A number of people on the political fringes have tried to show that a guilty verdict against Serbia would mean that Serbia is a “genocidal nation” and that the average Serb will have to bear a cross as being labeled part of a “genocidal people.”
While such phrasing does make for good headlines and appealing sound bites, not to mention, good political slogans to use on the latest campaigns; that view completely misses the point of the trial and the verdict. The trial was never about branding the Serbian people with the red letter “g” for genocidaire. The trial was about whether the Serbian government, through its organs and personnel committed genocide. Even if the verdict affirmed all of Bosnia’s claims; it still would not have labeled the Serbian people as being genocidal. As Andras Riedlmayer explains here, in a way the the ICJ trial is not too different in concept from the trials of citizens suing towns or city halls for discrimination. An affirmation that one was discriminated against, does not render every single person in that town guilty of discrimination; but the specific people and city government institutions that are responsible for said act of discrimination. Nevertheless that view is perhaps too nuanced and rational for some nationalist politicians who need to see everything in such over generalized and dramatic terms in order to cause enough worry and fear amongst the average person that usually leads to such nationalist politician being elected in the first place.