Not the outcome I expected
Published on February 26 2007
UNs top court clears Serbia of genocide during Bosnian war
THE HAGUE AFP - The UNs top court on Monday cleared Serbia of direct involvement in genocide during the war in Bosnia, but said Belgrade did breach international law by failing to prevent the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica. "The court finds that Serbia has not committed genocide," ICJ president Rosalyn Higgins said. The ICJ found that "massive killings" and atrocities occured throughout Bosnia with Bosnian Muslims being the victims in many cases. However, it stressed most events did not amount to genocide because "the evidence did not show that these terrible acts were accompanied by the specific intent to destroy a group that is the required proof of genocide," Higgins told journalists after the judgement. The ICJ found only one act of genocide -- the massacre at Srebrenica of nearly 8,000 Muslims by Bosnian Serb troops -- and said there was not enough evidence to suggest Belgrade was directly responsible. However, it ruled that Serbia had failed in its responsibility under the 1948 genocide convention to try and prevent the killings.Let me see if I have this right. Lots of killings happened, but it was just a coincidence that most of the victims were a particular nationality and religion? After all, the ICJ found only one act of genocide. It was only one little massacre. ICJ President Judge Rosalyn Higgins said the court concluded that the Srebrenica massacre did constitute genocide, but that other mass killings of Bosnian Muslims did not. I never knew there were "levels of genocide".
While the ICJ ruled that Belgrade had given "considerable military and financial support" to the Bosnian Serb leadership, the court found it did not mastermind the slaughter in Srebrenica. "The decision to kill the adult male population of the Muslim community was taken by some members of the main staff of the Bosnian Serb army but without instructions from or effective control by Serbia," the court said. But Higgins stressed the case had also "conclusively proved" that the Serbian leadership, and former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic in particular, "were fully aware ... that massacres were likely to occur".The court found that Serbia supplied "considerable military and financial support available" to the Bosnian Serbs but that it had not known they had genocidal intent. They "were aware" it was "likely", but there ends their responsibility. Ahhh, I understand now. Blame it on the military. Who can control them, after all? They have guns! I had wondered aloud during class what the reaction of the Muslim world would be if the decision happened to go Serbia's way, considering the reaction to a few cartoons and a comment by the Pope. Surely, if Serbia was found not guilty, the reaction would be incredible, wouldn't it? My prof forwarded the question to one of his TA's in another class, who happens to be a Muslim from Bosnia. Her response follows:
Dr. K, this is a difficult question, and I am not sure if I can help with it. I am willing to try, though. First of all, there is a problem within the question. Bosnia is not predominantly Muslim - before the war Bosnia had about 44% of Muslim population; now it must be either close to that or even less, after so many people left, and many were killed. So, even though, Bosnia has high percentage of Muslim population, it is usually not considered Muslim. More than fifty percent of Bosnian population is Christian, mostly Eastern Orthodox, but also Catholic. We also have a Jewish minority. Even though, some Arabic countries have tried to be involved in rebuilding Mosques in Bosnia, and have tried to finance some religious schools, etc., most of the Bosnian Muslim population is not religious in the sense that they follow some of the most sacred Muslim traditions. Very few Bosnian Muslims pray five times a day, and it is very difficult to find a Bosnian (regardlss of religion) who does not drink!!! (I am still looking to find one). Even though the Muslim world, so to say, did sympathize with Bosnian Muslims during the genocide, I doubt that the decision would bring about any type of radical reaction within the Muslim population. And lastly, in my mind, there is honestly no way that Serbia can be found not guilty on all counts - the evidence is overwhelming. Overall, I do not think that decision (whatever it might be) will carry much importance for the Muslim world, and most likely than not, Serbia will be found guilty on at least some accounts.Will be interesting watching the news over the next few days, I think.