Holding States Accountable for the Ultimate Human Rights Abuse: A Review of the International Court of Justice Bosnian Genocide Case
Human Rights Brief, Vol. 11, No. 3, p. 30, 2007
14 Pages Posted: 8 May 2009
Date Written: May 6, 2009
What is genocide? Can a State be held judicially accountable for its commission? What affirmative obligations do States have to prevent genocide? The International Court of Justice (ICJ) offered new answers to these perennial questions on February 26 when it held in the Application of the Genocide Convention (“Bosnian Genocide”) case that: (1) Serbia violated its obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (“Genocide Convention”) to prevent genocide in Srebrenica (the largest mass murder in Europe since World War II), but did not have the requisite specific intent to commit genocide, and; (2) Serbia must fully cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). While clarifying State accountability, the decision has raised fundamental questions regarding the proliferation of tribunals in international law and the extent to which States now have affirmative obligations to prevent genocide.
Keywords: Genocide, international tribunal, international court, international criminal law, incitement to genocide
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