Genocide Trial

Published on January 5 2007

Re: International Law & Human Rights posted by posted by LE Fri Jan 5 13:51:42 2007 A very interesting and closely watched case is very near completion at the International Court of Justice, the United Nations’ highest judicial body. This case is known as the Bosnian Genocide case, full name “APPLICATION OF THE CONVENTION ON THE PREVENTION AND PUNISHMENT OF THE CRIME OF GENOCIDE (BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA v. SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO)”. The Court’s final judgment is expected to be handed down February 21st, 2007, and it will probably be considered a landmark ruling in International Law. This case is the first in which a state, Bosnia and Herzegovina, is accusing another state, Serbia and Montenegro, of genocide during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia. The International Court of Justice deals exclusively with disputes between states, and this case was first brought before them in 1993. Prior to this, accusations of genocide and war crimes were only brought against individuals, and were dealt with by tribunal. Bosnia must prove that the war was a war between States as well, and Serbia must argue that it was a civil war within Bosnia, and not subject to the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice. No state has ever been convicted of genocide; and a judgment against Serbia could result in that state being ordered to pay reparations to Bosnia, which could run into billions of dollars. Bosnia and Herzegovina filed the claim in 1993, accusing then-Yugoslavia (now Serbia and Montenegro) of violation of the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. On Monday 24 April 2006, Bosnia and Herzegovina presented the following final submissions: “Bosnia and Herzegovina requests the International Court of Justice to adjudge and declare: 1. That Serbia and Montenegro, through its organs or entities under its control, has violated its obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide by intentionally destroying in part the non-Serb national, ethnical or religious group within, but not limited to, the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including in particular the Muslim population, by” And then went on to list in detail how Serbia had accomplished this genocide. Serbia, on the other hand, is claiming that the International Court of Justice has no jurisdiction in this matter since “Yugoslavia” no longer exists, the country having broken down to its component nations. Also, the Court has already ruled that the former Yugoslavia cannot claim against NATO-member countries for their bombing of Yugoslavia, because Yugoslavia was not a member of the United Nations at the time. The Serbian position is that if “Yugoslavia” did not exist for the purpose of making a claim, then it equally cannot be held liable for a claim against it. Serbia is also arguing that there was not a state-based intent to commit genocide, no matter the actions of individuals representing the state. This case is interesting for the many issues it raises beyond the genocide issue. Should a state representing all its citizens, be held responsible for the actions of only some of those citizens? If Serbia loses the case, all of the citizens of Serbia will be taxed to pay for the possible reparations. Serbia is also pointing out that it is a victim of the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia—if the larger country had not broken into its smaller nations, there would have been no basis for a claim—after all a claim cannot be made by a country against itself. An example of this is Rwanda, a country where equally appalling genocide existed, but a country which did not divide into separate nations; no possible legal case can be made in the International Court of Justice for reparations in that case. There is a great essay posted at which further discusses the implications of this case. A comparison is made between the Bosnia/Serbia case and the aftermath of World War 1 when Germany was forced to pay reparations that served only to increase resentment and may have possibly directly led to World War 2. It will be very interesting to see the results of this case, as well as to see if any judgement can be enforced by the United Nations. References Genocide, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of - - Prevent Genocide International. (n.d.). Retrieved January 5, 2007, from iBHY: Application of 20 March 1993 - Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Yugoslavia. (n.d.). Retrieved January 3, 2007, from iBHY: SUMMARY - Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Yugoslavia) Judgement on preliminary objections. (n.d.). Retrieved January 2, 2007, from Posner, E. (2006, March 9). Bosnia vs. Serbia. Message posted to __

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