Misjudging the History at the ICTY: Transitional and Post-Transitional Narratives About Genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Table of Contents: I. Introduction. – I.1. Theoretical framing of transitional, post-transitional justice and strategic narratives. – II. Transitional narrative of genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina. – II.1. Genocide charges for facts occurring in 1992. – II.2. Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats: two protected groups targeted by the Serb forces in genocidal crimes in 1992. – II.3. Relevance of the ICTY judgments on Serbia’s involvement in the international armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina. – II.4. Transitional narrative of the Srebrenica genocide. – II.5. Importance of the genocide charges in Slobodan Milošević’s trial. – II.6. Serbia, Srebrenica and crimes against humanity. – III. Post-transitional and strategic narrative of genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina. – III.1. From transitional to post-transitional justice narrative, 2000-2020. – III.2. “Border correction” initiative: how much larger will the post-Yugoslav Serbia be? – IV. Conclusions.

Abstract: This Article explores the transitional, post-transitional and strategic narratives about the wars in the former Yugoslavia, more specifically in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The criminal justice narrative created by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) dominates the transitional narratives about the Yugoslav wars. It is not uncommon that both sides – the victims and the perpetrators – express dissatisfaction with the justice outcome depending on the verdict. Transitional narratives based on the criminal trials are expected to provide clarity on the distinction between “bad” and “good” guys; between perpetrators and victims; between the criminality of the perpetrating side and the response of the victim’s side. With the passage of time, all transitional narratives will be challenged by post-transitional narratives, launched by various societal and political actors for different reasons with specific objectives behind them. For example, the ruling post-conflict elites can decide to create a post-transitional narrative in which they will try to re-interpret or counter the existing transitional narratives with the goal to exonerate the policies of the predecessor regime that led to the violence by reintroducing the “politics of the past” into the “politics of the present” in the perusal of the still to be achieved political objectives of the predecessor regime. Using the example of the ICTY genocide judgments, this Article will explore how its transitional narrative of genocide has been undermined by the post-transitional narratives launched by the Serbian post-conflict elites in the perusal of the unfulfilled strategic goals of the predecessor regimes.

Keywords: disintegration of Yugoslavia – ICTY – genocide – Bosnia-Herzegovina – Srebrenica – transitional justice.

European Papers, Vol. 5, 2020, No 3, pp. 1191-1223
2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/431

* Lecturer, Department of European Studies, University of Amsterdam, n.tromp-vrkic@uva.nl.


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