National Congress of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina
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The Rush to Ditch Responsibility
Srebrenica & Zepa
By Muhamed Sacirbey, former Bosnan Ambasador in the UN
-The special or “safe area” status of Srebrenica is now reconfirmed by the judgment of the International Court of Justice.
-The Peace Implementation Council is itself obliged to abide by the ruling of the ICJ, as a matter of international law, rather than commanding a resolution that in whole or part may be grounded upon the consequences of the very genocide that is now explicitly condemned.
-By the judgment, Srebrenica is the most entitled to be restored to its pre-genocide status, regardless of the legitimacy or not of the Dayton Accords or other consequent political actions or improvised institutions.
-As Srebrenica is restored to its pre-genocide status this also reasserts United Nations responsibility for resolution and rehabilitation.
-Its not up to the Srebrenica victims to appeal for negotiations with the UN authorities, or PIC representatives, and certainly not RS politicians who have inherited the accountability for the consequences of the crime of genocide with such plundered land.
-Those demanding political negotiations of the Srebrenica survivors must, instead, satisfy the rights and demands of the victims only conditioned by the framework of the ICJ judgment. AND, the Srebrenica citizens are not obliged to accept. “You” must satisfy their rights under the judgment.
Again A Rush to Deflect Legal Responsibility for Srebrenica’s Restoration
Even before the Dayton Agreement was functional there was a rush by some “diplomats” to null and void the “safe area” and “protected zone” status of Srebrenica and Zepa. As I began to resume my responsibilities as Bosnia & Herzegovina’s Ambassador before the United Nations, I urged that such action was inappropriate, or at least premature as it ignored the unresolved. The more recent obstacles faced by Srebrenica and Zepa survivors as well as the International Court of Justice judgment has now proven my initial concerns justified.
It’s a Judgment in Favor of Rather than a Directive for the Survivors of Genocide to Negotiate with the Representatives of the Political Entity Found Responsible for the Crime
Little has been done to facilitate the return and restoration of opportunities of the citizens of Srebrenica and Zepa, and for that matter, of most victims of genocide throughout BiH. The same bureaucrats who have failed in this most fundamental element of the Dayton Accords and essential condition to BiH’s return to normalcy and to progress forward, now would presume the role of judging the ICJ judgment. Diplomats who sought to deny Srebrenica and Zepa their special status as “safe areas” immediately after the now confirmed genocide would again ditch their responsibility. Unabashedly, they try to reverse responsibility by commanding the Srebrenica victims to negotiate with the representatives of the political entity found guilty of their victimization. It is such actions, or more accurately, lack of recognition of responsibility as well as accountability, that corroborates the illegitimacy of the Dayton Accords and withdrawal of my signature.
A Rush to Avoidance
In the wake of the optimism that the Dayton Accords might spawn a more progressive set of dynamics for Bosnia & Herzegovina, deleting from Security Council Resolutions the “safe area” status of Srebrenica and Zepa probably appeared as a simple tactic in revisionism. However, even then I surmised that the motive was avoidance of accountability and an effort to deflect further responsibility. Both before the Security Council and in private, I had argued that the questions of Srebrenica and Zepa’s betrayal had to be addressed and that there was an ongoing responsibility to the survivors of the genocide, then referred to as “ethnic cleansing.”
While the most powerful within the Security Council bullied efforts to investigate the responsibility for Srebrenica and Zepa’s betrayal, with the lobbying of Prince Zeid of Jordan, Ambassador Turk of Slovenia and Bianca Jaeger, in 1998 we managed to push through the General Assembly a demand for a United Nations investigation and report. The publication of the report was delayed several times while United Nations officials came under stern pressure to sanitize the report and leave out the most damning evidence and conclusions. Still, the report while religiously ducking to lay culpability, did acknowledge that they had “failed” the people of Srebrenica and Zepa. While I personally gave evidence that I possessed at the time of something more than just a coincidental failure, this betrayal of Srebrenica and Zepa was expunged from the final and public version of the report.
Leaving aside the issue of betrayal, now is at least the time to try to assume some responsibility and remedying this “failure.”
PIC Should Encourage Enforcement of the ICJ Judgment
Rather than Redefine or Encourage Circumvention of Such Judgment
The Peace Implementation Council nor the Dayton Accords existed at the time of the “Srebrenica Genocide,” as defined by the ICJ judgment. The ICJ delegated no authority upon the PIC to redefine or certainly not to encourage that the victims accommodate the representatives of the perpetrating political entity. The citizens of Srebrenica and Zepa had, well before the ICJ judgment of February 26, 2007, asked that they be accorded special status within BiH because the Dayton Accords, and its implementers, had failed them in restoring Srebrenica to the objectives promised by the Accords. Along with several NGOs, I had supported their request. That was the time for the RS authorities to have committed to negotiations and exhibited even the symbolic sensitivity to the political and human plight of the Srebrenica citizens. That was the time for the PIC to have encouraged resolution within a political context of the Dayton Accords.
Rather than Accommodating Political Authority, the Dayton Accords and PIC must be made to Oblige Legality of the ICJ Judgment and the Victims of Srebrenica
It is legally as well as morally inappropriate to demand that the Srebrenica victims accommodate the Dayton Accords or decrees of the PIC. It is absurd to demand that the citizens of Srebrenica now be made to plead with the RS or any political authority in BiH. Their right is born out of legality and paramount.
Or maybe I have it totally wrong in understanding what the PIC means by negotiations within the guidelines of the Dayton Accords. Does it mean that the magic witch potion of 51/49 must be maintained more sacred than the rule of law. Should the Federation of BiH trade the Bihac Krajina, or the some of Sarajevo or Mostar for Srebrenica and Zepa. Neither I, nor, I believe that I correctly presume, General Wes Clark will allow ourselves to be placed in a flight remote controller to map out a new inter-entity line. Then was war and maybe that presumption can be justified then. However, in peace it would be a crime against humanity.
Now, we also have a full legal judgment. Even the ICTY would have to take note of such an abuse of authority.
Maybe the Problem is Not With Srebrenica but with the Dayton Accords
The Dayton Accords must be reviewed in the context of the ICJ Judgment. My position on the Accords as a whole is already established. The ICJ judgment along with the betrayal of Srebrenica and Zepa and applications inconsistent with Euro-Atlantic norms do not bode well for a BiH defined by the deal with indicted war criminals orchestrated by the Dayton Accords’ High Priests. The only reason to still believe in the Dayton Accords is because the High Priests tell us that we must or otherwise it would be blasphemy. Of course, we should note that the people who still worship the Dayton Accords in BiH are the ones who are inclined to reap the devil’s work even if they did not do the actual murder or rape.
The Second Betrayal?
Regardless, of my extended metaphor and the Dayton Accords viability, Srebrenica owes not accommodation but to the contrary. Srebrenica cannot be again made to pay the price of accommodating the designers of the Dayton Accords. That would be the second betrayal.
The United Nations Still Unsatisfied Responsibility
Ironically, the legal principle which obliges the UN Security Council to insure execution of ICJ judgments, (including Belgrade’s obligations), will provide the world body with a second opportunity. There is an unfulfilled obligation as well though, since the United Nations has already recognized its own “failure” in Srebrenica and Zepa. It is my prediction that through the obstinacy of Belgrade, Banja Luka or of both, this matter will inevitably land in New York. Inevitably too, some will again seek to make the UN the scapegoat by pressuring the institution to ignore legality, its own failures in BiH and the responsibilities yet unmet. This will test the leadership of the new Secretary General, but also the credibility of Washington, Moscow, London, Paris, Beijing and the commitment of all its members to the institution and its principles.
The Future: Another Chance for the UN and Euro-Atlantic Family
New Opportunity for Bosnia & Herzegovina
The future of the Serbs in BiH does not depend upon the notion of territorial exclusivity. Of course it would be arrogance for me to define for the Bosnian Serbs as to how they should see or negotiate their future within BiH. However, an “entity” born out of genocide and which is DNA defined by territorial based exclusivity is a fatal birth defect.
Srebrenica was the low point for BiH, but it can now also be seen as the beginning. When I was BiH’s Agent before the ICJ, I harbored no secret ill toward the Serbs of BiH, but to the contrary. I understood the case as an opportunity to see the future in a new perspective. There is no collective guilt but only joint responsibility toward legality, Bosnia & Herzegovina and a common future, now seen as desirable or not.