As Srebrenica genocide resolution was vetoed by Russia, how important do you find this resolution? Russia is saying it would be divisive, UK says true reconciliation requires facing up to the realities of the past by all sides. Read few comments.
Gemma Collantes-Celador, Lecturer in International Security, City University London
The Srebrenica Genocide Resolution would have allowed the UN to symbolically apologize for its failings to protect civilians taken refuge in this UN-protected ‘safe zone’ as well as adding to the already widespread international recognition of the very serious crimes committed in Srebrenica.
We need to acknowledge the suffering of all groups during the wars of the 1990s in the former Yugoslavia but not at the expense of the much needed Srebrenica Genocide Resolution.
Russia, with its veto of the Resolution, is not helping the reconciliation process in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the region more generally. Its impact is in fact the opposite.
Christian Costamagna, Adjunct Professor, University of Oriental Piedmont
I think that the resolution could may had a very important symbolic value for commemorating the 20th anniversary of the single worst crime committed after the end of WW2 in Europe, and at least so it was in 1995. Unfortunately it is exploited politically and this is how I see it. UK, USA and France back in 1995 could do more to prevent the genocide in Srebrenica, they had information that mass killing was possible, but in that moment the most important goal was to stop the war and reach the peace with Bosnian Serbs. This was interpreted by Pale as a green light for their criminal revenge against the Muslim enclave fighters, but this concept was extended to every man, from child to older people of male gender. We have to keep in mind that, that, in Washington and not only, peace was to be reached as soon as possible. And then, after 20 years, to push for such a UN resolution would be a way to clean, at some extent, the regrets and responsibilities of those countries. It must be said also that at the time the UN helmets had great responsibilities with basically no real power to fight back, and as far as NATO was involved around Sarajevo, it was strictly under UN resolution, in order to push back heavy artillery of Pale’s army.
Then there is the pressure of the EU toward Belgrade: if Serbia wants to join the EU club, it has to accept the stick and carrot strategy, as it already did in the last decade. Many issues are still open, such as the Kosovo’one. The acceptance of Belgrade of its own troubled past would be a signal of its genuine willingness to face and recognize its mistakes, turn the page, and embrace the values of tolerance and respect promoted in Western Europe after WW2.
Russia, being currently in not so good relation with the West, did exploit this issue of the UN resolution in order to block the West initiative, and gaining consensus in the eyes of part of the public opinion in Serbia and Republika Srpska. But this is more manipulative than genuine (e.g. Russia did not recognize the independence of Kosovo because of violation of sovereignty, international law etc, but recognized and annexed Crimea).
Since two international courts already declared the facts of Srebrenica “genocide” the absence of an ad hoc UN resolution will not change the history and reality. But to think or declare that a similar resolution will be divisive is risky, because it is accommodating the nationalist narrative created by the local elites, a political discourse according to which the mistakes of its own nation are denied or underplayed. It would not be divisive if every single nation recognize all of its own mistakes during the wars of the 1990s in former Yugoslavia.
Marko Attila Hoare, Associate Professor, Kingston University London
The Srebrenica resolution was important. The Srebrenica massacre was a grave stain on the record of the international community; the UK, US, France, EU and UN were all actively complicit in bringing it about. It has to be remembered that during and immediately after the massacre, the British and other Western governments were trying to minimise and downplay it, and avoided recognising it as an act of genocide. British Conservative statesmen like Prime Minister David Cameron are, I believe, genuinely ashamed at the record of their predecessors, and the resolution has to be understood in this context. There can indeed be no proper reconciliation in the former Yugoslavia without recognition and acknowledgement of the crimes that occurred, such as the Srebrenica massacre. But Putin’s regime in Moscow sees the question purely in terms of the new Cold War it is waging against the Western alliance, and has vetoed the resolution as a way of driving a wedge between Serbia and the West.
Florian Bieber, Professor of Southeast European Studies, Director, Centre for Southeast European Studies, University of Graz
The veto by Russia was clearly meant to support Serbia and the RS, as both have lobbied for a Russion veto. I don’t think Russia is motivated by the content, but rather to support Serbia when it costs little. It is a cynical move by Russia and a dubious victory for Serbia and the RS. The resolution is not at all divisive as it does not identify Serbs or Serbia, but acknowledges Srebrenica as a genocide, which has been described as such by the ICTY and noted in the ruling of the International Court of Justice in the genocide case between Serbia and Bosnia. Thus, this is not a controversial fact and there is no doubt that the mass murder in Srebrenica was the worst single act of violence in the wars of Yugoslavia. Blocking such a resolution reads like denial, a policy pursued by the RS in Bosnia already for years. It sends a worrying signal that Serbia and the RS are not willing to confront their own past, or do so only selectively. Thus, it is rather the reaction than the resolution that are obstacles to reconcilliation.