On May 25, 1993, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 827, which established the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991. Of course, by ignoring the atrocities that occurred in the Balkans during 1941-1945 and by limiting its scope to events since 1991, the Tribunal will be decontextualizing the issues at stake in the current war. This is just one of several matters that call into question the credibility of the Tribunal.
In composition, it does not include even one member from an Eastern Orthodox country, despite the fact that this civil war is fought among the Catholic, Muslim, and Orthodox communities. According to U.N. document A/49/3 42S/1994/1007, which lists the 11 judges’ countries of origin, four are Islamic, four are Roman Catholic, and three are from states with a secular legal tradition—none, in other words, is Orthodox Christian.
More alarming still is that the Commission of Experts, appointed to collect data for the Tribunal, is headed by an ardent Muslim, Mammoud Cherif Basiouni. No less disturbing, the database for the collection of war crimes is housed at the Roman Catholic De Paul University in Chicago. Moreover, the same U.N. document shows that (excluding the pledges of several Western countries) 93 percent of the financial contributions to the Tribunal have come from two Muslim countries, Malaysia and Pakistan.
Under such circumstances, the Serbs doubt that their case will be treated without prejudice. It is not puzzling that, to date, the Tribunal has not indicted Muslim or Croat perpetrators of crimes committed against Serbs, despite the fact that several nongovernmental Serbian organizations have submitted to the Commission of Experts, in Chicago and in the Hague, documented war crimes committed in Western Slavonia, Krajina, and Bosnia-Herzegovina by Croat, Muslim, and Mujahedin units. Will the atrocities committed by the forces of the governments of Croatia and Bosnia be conveniently blamed on the “unidentifiable” Mujahedins and soldiers of “international” brigades who came to help kill the Serb “aggressors”? Who will be charged for the war crimes of these “volunteers”? In this context, Serbs have reason to be skeptical and to question the ability of the Tribunal to render justice.
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