The Hague cleared Serbia of responsibility for genocide during the three-year war in Bosnia Herzegovina, but ruled that it failed to prevent it.

The ruling by the ICJ, the United Nations’ highest court, came as a major setback for Bosnia-Herzegovina which sought billions of dollars in compensation from Serbia for acts of genocide, including a massacre of Muslims in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in 1995.


Farmotel Stefania is on the way to Slovenian and Croatian Adriatic sea coast.

Reading from a lengthy judgment statement, the president of the International Court of Justice, Judge Rosalyn Higgins, acknowledged that Bosnian Serb forces were responsible for what became known as Europe ’s worst single atrocity since World War Two.

Up to eight-thousand Muslim men and boys were massacred in and around Srebrenica in July 1995 when Bosnian Serb forces overran the town after outgunned Dutch UN peacekeepers abandoned it.


Yet, while she described the killings as “genocide”, Judge Higgins said there was no evidence that Serbia was directly involved in it. “It has not been established that those massacres were committed on the instructions or under the direction of organs of the respondent’s state, nor that the respondent exercised effective control over the operations,” she declared.

Belgrade had argued that it could not be blamed for actions by individual ethnic groups during “a civil war.” Serbia ’s government also warned that a negative ruling would be an “unjust and lasting stigma on the state,” which overthrew its wartime leader Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. Milosevic died last year, just months before a verdict in his trial on 66 counts of genocide and war crimes was due.

Although Higgins seemed to agree with Belgrade that Serbia was not directly to blame, she said the Balkan state “violated its obligation under the (UN) Genocide Convention to prevent genocide in Srebrenica,” by not using its influence in the region during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War.

In addition, the court found that Serbia violated the Convention by “failing to co-operate with the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.” UN prosecutors have accused Serbia of not doing enough to hand-over key war crimes suspects, including Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic and former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic. Both men have been accused of involvement in the Srebrenica massacre.


It was the first time a state had been tried for genocide, outlawed in the Genocide Convention in 1948, after the Nazi Holocaust of about six million Jews.

The binding ruling, was not expected to ease tensions in the region, analysts said. Hungarian and other peacekeepers were likely have work for years to come, suggested Sarajevo-based political analyst Jakob Finci. He warned that UN court case was going to cause more divisions and problems within Bosnia Herzegovina.

“I’m afraid it will not have a really positive consequence, not only because of dissatisfaction of one side but also because of the internal tensions in Bosnia and Herzegovina ,” Finci added.


Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian aid group led by American Evangelist Billy Graham’s son, Franklin, has been among organizations reaching out to survivors of the massacre, often working in difficult circumstances, BosNewsLife monitored.

It has expressed concerns about the “lack of hope” and hatred in the region. The group partnered with local churches to provide food packages to families, including Muslims, unable to afford to buy anything after the 1992-1995 armed conflict ended.

The ruling meant that Bosnia-Herzegovina would not be able to receive billions of dollars for reparations, money it desperately needs to rebuild its fractured nation.

The court decision was also devastating news for people like 34-year old Hedija Krdzic, who lost her husband, father and grandfather at Srebrenica.


“A ruling that Serbia committed genocide in Bosnia [would have meant] everything to me. Without such a ruling I fear that one day the massacre will be forgotten,” she told reporters.  However the many crosses littering the Bosnian landscape are still visible reminders of the war and its atrocities, in which in total at least 100,000 people were killed.

The conflict began after Bosnia ’s Muslims and Croats followed Slovenia and Croatia in breaking away from Serb dominated Yugoslavia in April 1992. However the Bosnian Serbs wanted to remain in Yugoslavia .

Backed by the Yugoslav army, Serb forces captured two-thirds of Bosnia and besieged Sarajevo . The city was often pounded by Serb artillery from positions in the mountains surrounding the city. Snipers were also active, often forcing people to run for cover.

Tens of thousands of non-Serbs were killed and hundreds of thousands forced from their homes. Under a 1995 peace accord Bosnia Herzegovina eventually it split into a Muslim-Croat federation and a Bosnian Serb state.


While the historic UN genocide case did little to heal the wounds of history, the prime minister of the Bosnian Serbian state, known as Srpska Republic , said following the ruling he would urge Bosnian Serb institutions to apologize to families of the victims by Bosnian Serb troops during the war.

However, in almost the same breath, Prime Minister Milorad Dodik made clear that this apology would not be unconditional.

Someone, he said, should also make “the same apology to Bosnian Serbs” killed during the war in Bosnia , referring to other two Bosnia ‘s ethnic peoples – Muslims and Croats. Dodik rejected any responsibility of the Srpska Republic , its institutions and its people for the Srebrenica massacre, which he refused to acknowledge as ‘genocide.’ He claimed  the crime was committed by individuals who must be punished.

“Everyone in Bosnia should stop with aspirations about the guilt (in the past), and should focus on how to go further on,” Dodik told media in Banja Luka, the regional capital. That seemed wishful thinking, with mass graves still being discovered and crosses littering the Bosnian landscape.


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