Denying the Bosnian genocide: the ICJ judgement

Letter to The Guardian, published in a slightly edited version, 28 February 2007

The International Court of Justice judgement on Serbia’s role in Bosnia is narrow, conservative and ultimately perverse. Sticking to the findings of the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia, the Court rules that only the Srebrenica massacre was genocide. Thus the judges isolated this massacre from the larger Serbian project of destroying Bosnian Muslim society and the widespread killings, rapes and brutal expulsions used to effect it. As the Court’s vice-president said in his dissenting opinion, ‘the Court refused to infer genocide from a “consistent pattern of conduct” disregarding in this respect a rich and relevant jurisprudence of other courts.’ Likewise, the Court curiously indicts Serbia for failing to prevent genocide but exonerates it of having committed or even being an accomplice to genocide. These decisions, while politically convenient, amount to nothing less than genocide denial by one of the world’s highest legal authorities, and bring the law into disrepute.

See also my Open Democracy article on this verdict, published 28 February 2007, and my subsequent reply to Anthony Dworkin who questioned whether ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Bosnia constituted genocide. Also my interview on this issue with the English-language Turkish paper, Today’s Zaman.

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