Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"A problem from hell"

Perhaps in the 21st century, closure on the issue of genocide can be somewhat provided by international legal structures- even if emotional scars remain. Fascinating process which exposes the politics, symantics, nuances, guilt, victimization, collective hurt and retribution on a grand, human scale.

New York Times

February 27, 2007
Court Declares Bosnia Killings Were Genocide
By Marlise Simons

THE HAGUE, Feb. 26 — The International Court of Justice on Monday for the first time called the massacre of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995 an act of genocide, but determined that Serbia itself was not guilty of the enormous crime.

Nonetheless, it faulted Serbia, saying it “could and should” have prevented the genocide and, in its aftermath, should have punished the Bosnian Serbs who systematically killed close to 8,000 men and
boys in July 1995.

The ruling resulted from a civil lawsuit Bosnia had brought against Serbia, the first in which one country sued another for genocide.

The 15 international judges who held nine weeks of hearings and deliberated for nearly 10 months relied in part on evidence presented in criminal cases heard by the United Nations Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which has found two Bosnian Serb officers guilty of genocide for the Srebrenica massacre.

In the end, the lawsuit resolved Monday may have been the most complex case handled in the 60-year history of the World Court, which the United Nations set up to resolve legal disputes between

The ruling appeared to give some satisfaction — and frustration — to both sides. It freed Serbia of the stigma of being a genocidal nation and absolved it from having to pay war reparations, as demanded by

At the same time, Bosnia obtained what it said it wanted from the outset: a recognition of Serbia’s guilt.


In a statement after the session, Judge Higgins noted that the findings did not completely satisfy either side. “That does not mean, of course, that the court has been seeking a political compromise,” she

All the same, the ruling, even if strictly based on the law, hews close to the
political wishes of Western
countries that want to pull Serbia into a wider Western European community, rather than see it isolated as a pariah state, possibly accused of genocide, with its extreme nationalists growing in strength.


Lawyers for Bosnia had tried to convince the court that the pattern of atrocities across many communities in Bosnia demonstrated the intention to commit genocide, not only by killing, imprisoning
and deporting the population, but also by destroying evidence of their presence.

Andras Riedlmayer, a historian testifying for Bosnia, said the Serb campaign to purge 26 municipalities of Bosnia of non-Serbs had destroyed or damaged 958 mosques and close to 300 Roman Catholic churches and monasteries.

But the judges ruled that demonstrating a pattern of conduct or of atrocities was “too broad” to qualify for the definition of genocide. The crime of genocide required showing convincingly there was a specific plan or the specific intention to destroy the group or part of it, they ruled.

In essence, they did not answer the question often asked in The Hague: when does ethnic cleansing become genocide?

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