Following WWII, communist Yugoslavia was composed of six republics: Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Macedonia. The country faced a severe political and economic crisis following the death of its autocratic leader Josip Broz Tito in 1980.
Nearly a decade later, the relationship between the various ethnic groups shaping the country faced a tipping point: the rise of nationalism in Yugoslavia. Its largest republic, Serbia, an advocate for centralization, was opposed by Slovenia and Croatia, supporters of decentralization. The latter republics declared independence in 1991, triggering the deployment of the Yugoslav army. The attacks against Slovenia ceased in ten days. Yet in Croatia, Serbian rebels launched a four-year war. In 1992, the republic of Bosnia also obtained independence, initiating a three-and-a-half-year battle of ethnic cleansing done by the same Slav rebels. Tragically, 120,000 lives were claimed by these events, now known as the Bosnian war and Srebrenica genocide, one of the five genocides recognized by the federal government of Canada.
On the last day of 2017, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) will close its doors following 24 years of battling on behalf of the lives lost in the Srebrenica genocide. Since 1933, the ICTY indicated a total of 161 individuals, tackling impunity of genocide and greatly contributing to international criminal justice. In fact, this tribunal convicted Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, two of the mains orchestrators of this tragedy, imposing each of them with 40 year sentences.
This does not mean an end to the seeking justice for the victims of this atrocity, but simply recognition for the accomplishments of the ICTY. The battle for justice continues.
This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC RightsWatch student. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCLA or PBSC.