MANDATE INTERRUPTED: THE PROBLEMATIC LEGACY OF THE UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
Washington University Global Studies Law Review
The mandate of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which was founded in 1993, was "to bring to justice those responsible for serious violations of international and humanitarian law committed in the former Yugoslavia since 1991 and thus contribute to the restoration and maintenance of peace in the region." However, this essay will argue that the proceedings and Judgements of the ICTY have not contributed to the restoration of peace in the region, and in certain respects, have rather bred disappointment and cynicism. This analysis does not deny the virtues of certain aspects of the operations of the Tribunal nor does it refute the Tribunal's claim that it "irreversibly changed the landscape of international humanitarian law, provided victims an opportunity to voice the horrors they witnessed and experienced, and proved that those suspected of bearing the greatest responsibility for atrocities committed during armed conflicts can be called to account."2 The Tribunal's Indictments and Judgements have indeed provided extensive documentation of the atrocities that were committed. Through the testimony of the survivors, the proceedings gave a profoundly important voice to those who the perpetrators attempted to erase from the world and memory. However, in spite of those procedural bring to justice those responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the former Yugoslavia since 1991 and thus contribute to the
virtues and outcomes, the disappointment by survivors concerning the limits of justice has also been expressed and documented: '"How can you measure justice against all I have suffered?' asked a witness whose husband and two sons had perished during the 1993 assault on Ahmići. 'It’s just a word. It means nothing.'"3 The current analysis seeks to emphasize that the disappointment felt by survivors of the genocide and other war crimes has been compounded, for example, by short prison sentences, early releases of the convicted perpetrators, and the failure to achieve convictions for genocide. The disheartening outcome of the legal proceedings seems to have enabled the rise of hate speech,4 genocide denial,5 the glorification of convicted war criminals,6 and the suppression of memorials for the victims in Republika Srpska.7 Such divisive rhetoric, far from restoring peace, has served to destabilize Bosnia and Herzegovina, and has led some to reflect that the region may be on the brink of another conflict, if not another genocide.8
MANDATE INTERRUPTED: THE PROBLEMATIC LEGACY OF THE UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA,
Wash. U. Global Stud. L. Rev.