U.N. court absolves Serbia of genocide

ELVIS BARUKCIC/AFP As noted in today’s Morning Brief, The International Court of Justice, the U.N.’s highest legal body, has cleared Serbia of direct responsibility for what it ruled was a genocide during the 1990s war in the former Yugoslavia. However, the court did rule that Serbia violated international law by not preventing the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of Muslim ...

603755_srebrenica_05.jpg
603755_srebrenica_05.jpg

ELVIS BARUKCIC/AFP

As noted in today's Morning Brief, The International Court of Justice, the U.N.'s highest legal body, has cleared Serbia of direct responsibility for what it ruled was a genocide during the 1990s war in the former Yugoslavia. However, the court did rule that Serbia violated international law by not preventing the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of Muslim men and boys. The court, which rules on disputes between U.N. member states, has been deliberating on the case since May of last year. In a nuanced statement that took nearly two hours to read, British judge Rosalyn Higgins said the Srebrenica genocide "cannot be attributed to the respondent's (Serbia's) state organs."

Bosnia's case rested on the argument that Serbia incited ethnic hatred within Bosnia, armed ethnic Serbians, and actively participated in the war, which killed over 100,000 people between 1992 and 1995. Serbia has always denied the charge, insisting the war was an internal Bosnian conflict. Indeed, Serbia disputed the legality of the whole proceedings, as the U.N. had suspended Yugoslavia's membership at the time in question. Today, however, Judge Higgins ruled that Serbia had inherited Yugoslavia's "legal identity," and was thus bound by the Geneva Convention at the time of the massacre. It's doubtful that most Bosnian Muslims—who were looking for justice, not legalisms, and likely see an ethnic Serb as inseparable from the Serbian state—will be satisfied by this result.

ELVIS BARUKCIC/AFP

As noted in today’s Morning Brief, The International Court of Justice, the U.N.’s highest legal body, has cleared Serbia of direct responsibility for what it ruled was a genocide during the 1990s war in the former Yugoslavia. However, the court did rule that Serbia violated international law by not preventing the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of Muslim men and boys. The court, which rules on disputes between U.N. member states, has been deliberating on the case since May of last year. In a nuanced statement that took nearly two hours to read, British judge Rosalyn Higgins said the Srebrenica genocide “cannot be attributed to the respondent’s (Serbia’s) state organs.”

Bosnia’s case rested on the argument that Serbia incited ethnic hatred within Bosnia, armed ethnic Serbians, and actively participated in the war, which killed over 100,000 people between 1992 and 1995. Serbia has always denied the charge, insisting the war was an internal Bosnian conflict. Indeed, Serbia disputed the legality of the whole proceedings, as the U.N. had suspended Yugoslavia’s membership at the time in question. Today, however, Judge Higgins ruled that Serbia had inherited Yugoslavia’s “legal identity,” and was thus bound by the Geneva Convention at the time of the massacre. It’s doubtful that most Bosnian Muslims—who were looking for justice, not legalisms, and likely see an ethnic Serb as inseparable from the Serbian state—will be satisfied by this result.

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