Wednesday, February 04, 2015

International Court of Justice Clears Both Serbia and Croatia of Genocide Charges

Yesterday the International Court of Justice at The Hague handed down a 145-page opinion rejecting both Croatia's claim of genocide against Serbia (vote of 15-2) and Serbia's claim of genocide against Croatia (unanimous decision) growing out of the 1991-2001 War in the Balkans. Twelve judges filed separate opinions.   The Telegraph has an excellent summary of the decision:
Croatia’s case turned on the fate of the city of Vukovar, which endured three months of bombardment by Serbian irregular forces and the Yugoslav national army in 1991.... Croatia argued that the “attacks on Vukovar were directed not simply against an opposing military force, but also against the civilian population”.... But the ICJ rejected Croatia’s case, concluding that the crucial element of an intention to destroy a specific ethnic group had not been proved....
Serbia, for its part, accused Croatia of committing genocide by launching “Operation Storm” in 1995. During this military offensive, Croatia recaptured a Serb-inhabited region of its territory known as Krajina. In the process, about 200,000 Serbs were driven from their homes.
The crucial evidence was a meeting held on the Croatian island of Brioni between Franjo Tudjman, then president, and the country’s military leaders. Serbia argued that the full transcript of this conversation showed the aim of Operation Storm was the elimination of the Serbs of Krajina.  But the ICJ rejected this interpretation.... The “specific intent to destroy which characterises genocide” was missing from the Krajina offensive, found the ICJ.
All the pleadings and records of proceedings in the case are available from the Court's website. The Court also issued its own press release summarizing the decision.