Friday, March 02, 2007

The ICJ Verdict: Trends, Consequences, and more

Croatian v. Serbia: As of yesterday, Croatia was still considering charging Serbia with genocide. The Croatian PM did note that they would study the recent ICJ judgment as well. IMO, in light of the ICJ judgment in the Bosnia case, I cannot possibly imagine Croatia even thinking it has a case that it can successfully prove. The JNA's involvement in Croatia however is more obvious than even in Bosnia; and I wouldn't be surprised if Croatia is able to negotiate an out of court settlement with Serbia to pay for damages as a result of JNA/Serbian Paramilitary actions. That would probably be the best result for everyone, because it would give (at least some) of the victims some compensation, without having to drag through a court case where they have no chance of proving genocide.

Bosnian Serbian Relations: A lot of common consensus I've read on other blogs have noted that the verdict was the best possible outcome for not inflaming the tepid/tense Bosnian-Serbian relations. Any more thoughts on possible outcomes this verdict could have on future state-to-state relations between Bosnia and Serbia? It is also my personal opinion that even though Serbia is certainly not legally obligated to pay anything to Bosnia re: the ICJ verdict; it would certainly be morally the right thing to do, imo, for Serbia to pay some compensation, even just a token compensation (and any form of compensation is going to have to be "token", because it cannot possibly pay for the full financial damages, let along personal and emotional damage suffered).

RS Status:
In wake of the verdict, some Bosniak politicians, most notably President Haris Silajdzic have become much more vocal in their insistence that the RS be demolished. Former Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey argues that Srebrenica and Zepa should be revoked from the RS.
Even Tomislav Nikolic realizes the verdict was damaging to the RS. Just a few days after the verdict, the RS government officially apologized for war crimes committed against non Serbs.

Serbian Politics: The LDP has urges a resolution condemning the genocide in Srebrenica. The move is supported by President Tadic; but the SRS, the Socialist Party of Serbia and Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia says that it would only support a resolution that condemns all war crimes.

Serbia and the EU: What effect will the ICJ verdict have on Serbia and the SAA? For some trends, see here here and here.

Darfur: Remember Darfur? Some time ago, Darfur was in the news quite a bit, as the United States made the argument that the crimes against humanity that was occuring in Darfur amounted to genocide. The UN concluded that there was no attempt to detroy the tribes as "such" therefore, massive crimes against humanity still occur, but now without much international interest or incentives for governments to stop the atrocities. For some pundits, the Bosnia verdict has shown just how tough it is to prove genocide; and how difficult it is to prove genocide in cases like Darfur. For some, this is based less on the lack of evidence pointing to genocide, but more towards the extreme rigidness, and narrow interpretation of the genocide convention; an interpretation that Raphael Lemkin, who created the word "genocide" never intended to be so rigid. A more positive flipside is that in the wake of the verdict, it is shown that legally states can be held accountable for genocide; which hopefully isn't lost on the Sudanese government. And hopefully even more, the fact that according to the UN, the atrocities that are committed against those in Darfur does not reach the threshold of "genocide" does not diminish their seriousness or brutality. In the words of a LA Times op-ed,
No matter what we call them, we know horrible atrocities when we see them. Such crimes, on their own, should be met with political, humanitarian and, when necessary, forceful responses.


Owen said...

It's clear that the ICJ and the iCTY in the Krajisnik case have taken a very narrow approach to interpreting the convention but as you point out the big plus (in addition to the theoretically unnecessary but practically very important consolidation of the ICTY Krstic judgment on genocide at Srebrencia) is that states can now be held accountable.

Progress in interpreting legislation is liable to proceed by fits and starts. Now that the basic principles have been established by the findings of genocide of the men and boys of Srebrenica as part of the "Bosnian Muslims", individual responsibility for genocide, and the liability of states under the Convention futher case law may evolve towards an interpetation of the Convention that's more in line with its spirit.

That's why we need to hope that states won't be deterred from bring actions under the Convention by this verdict.

Daniel said...

As Andras pointed out:

" also worth keeping in mind that the indictment under which Krajisnik was charged covered ONLY acts that took place in the period 1 July 1991 and 30 December 1992; after December 1992, Krajisnik was no longer a member of the Expanded Presidency of the "Serb Republic" in Bosnia-Herzegovina. While he continued as Speaker in the "RS Assembly", by the last year of the war Krajisnik no longer had the same direct role in decision- making as he did before December 1992. Which is why he was not charged in the indictment with responsibility for the events that followed the fall of Srebrenica and Zepa."