The work done by international and national criminal tribunals dealing with mass atrocities has highlighted the need to research the impact of legal proceedings concerned with war crimes on historical and other interpretations of the causes and consequences of armed conflicts and of the atrocities committed in armed conflicts.
The Master Class’s objective is to advance a multidisciplinary approach to international criminal justice through exploration of legal, historical, political and sociological methodologies with students of different disciplines from many countries.
The multi-national faculty of lecturers includes academics with backgrounds in law, history, political science and sociology, together with politicians, practicing international lawyers and human rights activists.
The core case study will be the massacre at Srebrenica, that occurred 20 years ago and that has been found by international courts to have been a genocide. The human rights tragedy of North Korea – where genocide has yet to be alleged in terms – has seen much recent activity aimed at bringing the problems of North Korea to the ICC before historic and present human rights atrocities are allowed to degrade. It provides a forward-looking problem to serve as a counterpoint to historic Srebrenica.
The Master Class’s core cohort of students from the Balkans is enlarged by inclusion of participants from Western Europe and the USA. These students from outside the region where mass atrocities occurred will enrich their academic curricula by the interdisciplinary approach of the Class and by interaction with colleagues from the region.
This Master Class will cover legal, political and historical aspects of genocide.
The course will deal, on the one hand, with the general topic of genocide identifying the ‘politics of genocide’ (in particular the politics lying behind genocide allegations when they are first made and politically motivated interference that can occur in the course of genocide trials) and, on the other hand, with the failure of the International Community to prevent genocidal crimes from happening, while they are in progress or in the future.
More specifically, the Master Class will deal with the genocide in BiH in the 1990s.
In 1993 the UN, despite – perhaps because of – its inability to stop the war and the mass atrocities committed against Bosnian Muslim civilians, established the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) as the first post-Nuremburg international criminal tribunal. Students on the course may conclude, on the basis of multidisciplinary analysis, that the ICTY’s foundation did not, and could not, compensate for failures at the political, diplomatic and military levels to stop the war in BiH. They will learn how the ICTY’s functioning as a court did not prevent the war in Kosovo in 1999, or facilitate smooth normalisation of relations in the post-conflict period that followed the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, or deliver substantial reconciliation.
History: Mass atrocities trials produce extensive trial records that eventually become historical sources. At every war crimes trial, history will inevitably be discussed because, first, all sides – prosecution and all accused – will use the historical background to explain the conflict and its violent nature from their points of view. Second, all sides might call expert witnesses on history to inform or educate the judges about the conflict. Third, every trial record will become a historical source and might contribute to new or extended historical interpretations of the given historical period. Yet, the lawyers and judges may draw very different conclusions from those drawn by historians, despite working from the same trial records.
Politics: New post-conflict political elites will try to interpret the ‘Legal Narrative’ as told in the courtroom and Legal Justice as articulated in court judgments to their own ends. There are different ways for political elites to (ab)use mass atrocities trials in achieving objectives other than justice. They might use trials to influence the processes of shaping collective memory about the conflict or by stressing the wrongdoings and criminality of the ‘other side’ in the conflict while downplaying the role of their own side. They might try to use the existence of war crimes courts to get rid of political rivals by influencing the indictment strategy of the courts – for example, by selectivity in what incriminatory evidence they provide to an international prosecutor from state archives. They may use the mass atrocities trials for immediate political objectives, such as accession to the EU.
Society: What is the impact of mass atrocities trials on post-conflict societies? What is the reaction of the victims, of the Media and of NGOs? How easy or difficult is it for non-specialists to understand legal proceedings and to appreciate the impact of ‘Retributive Justice’, which is perpetrator oriented? What about ‘Restorative Justice’, which is victim oriented? How does one achieve reconciliation in post-conflict societies where the perpetrators and victims remain living close to, or even intermingled with, each other? Should reconciliation be a goal of Retributive Justice at all?
Target Group: MA and PhD students of Law, History, Sociology, Politics, International Relations, Journalism, European Studies and related subjects.
The gravest crimes in BiH happened two full years after the ICTY was created and some four years after there had been daily presence in the territory of ‘internationals’, many of whom foresaw what was to come.
Against this background the Srebrenica narrative is still developing but Victims are losing their voice with the passage of time. Official reports and the records of trials at the ICTY do not provide a full account of what happened because there may be too many powerful parties interested in obscuring the truth.
Twenty years after these awful events, much research and teaching needs to be done in order to facilitate a proper reconstruction of how this tragedy occurred. Present incomplete narratives may allow for future manipulation at the hands of any who could profit from calculated interpretation or reinterpretation of history.
The politics of genocide does not stop with the ending of the killings. In post-conflict societies the struggle for control of the historical narrative of the conflict takes over. The historical interpretation of mass atrocities in BiH includes competing narratives, which reflect – and may serve to perpetuate – the pre-conflict ideological divides between the parties to the conflict. Twenty Years after the genocide at Srebrenica, despite legal determinations at national and international courts that the crime of genocide had been committed there, denial of genocide has been introduced as a historical counter-narrative. Attempts, sometimes successful, to take control of the prevailing historical narrative continue while retributive and restorative justice mechanisms struggle to respond adequately to the needs of the survivors of mass atrocities.
This Master Class will offer legal, historical, political and societal insights into the politics of genocide by addressing the court judgments, the process of writing history and the political mechanisms that deal in their separate ways with the legacy of genocide locally, as well as with the broader political and societal processes of reconciliation and integration.
COURSE EVALUATION will be by each student and faculty member being able to speak direct to camera for up to 3 minutes explaining what, if anything, the course has done for her/ him without assessing other individuals on the course in any way.
12 days divided into two ‘weeks’ with one half or one day free in the middle (privileged guided sightseeing of Dubrovnik will be offered by the University Centre on this day)
First week with concentrate on law, history politics dealing with mass atrocities generally
Second week will concentrate on the conflicts of the former Yugoslavia and in particular on Srebrenica. The course will end one day before 11 July, the 20th anniversary of the start of the Srebrenica genocide with possibility of travel from Dubrovnik to Sarajevo or Srebrenica to be present at one or more of the events marking the anniversary (to be dealt with in Dubrovnik or independently by students and faculty)