ICJ to Hear Arguments on Croatia v Serbia Genocide (you’re invited)

The brutality faced by the Croats in attempted Serbian ethnic cleansing.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is going to hear arguments next month from Monday, March 3 to Tuesday, April 1 in a Croatia v Serbia genocide case.

This stems from the 1999 Croatian charge of Serbian genocide in relation to Zagreb’s (the largest city in Croatia) 1991-1995 war of independence that resulted in the death of about 20,000 people.

The war of independence was fought between Croat forces that were loyal to the government of Croatia (which had declared independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) and the Serb-controlled Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) and local Serb forces. Croatia sought to leave Yugoslavia and form a sovereign country. Other ethnic Serbs living in Croatia, supported by Serbia opposed the secession and wanted Croatia to remain a part of Yugoslavia.

In the ICJ proceedings Croatia is seeks to establish that Serbia engaged in “ethnic cleansing” which was elaborated as “a form of genocide which resulted in large numbers of Croatian citizens being displaced, killed, tortured or illegally detained, as well as extensive property destruction.”

This would be fairly new ground for the ICJ as they have only declared a genocide once before in 2007 regarding acts in Bosnia in 1995 which resulted in 8,000 Muslim men and boys were murdered by Bosnian Serb troops after they invaded an enclave shielded by the United Nations. The international community was outraged when the bodies of these innocent nationals were dumped in mass graves. This is considered by many in the international community to be the “worst slaughter since the Second World War.”

The general public along with the media are free to attend the proceedings with seating to be governed in a “first-come, first-served” basis. The general public will be allowed to attend the hearings on condition that it does not disclose the content of testimony before the end of the oral proceedings on Tuesday 1 April 2014.

How do you think the ICJ will rule in this case? Will the testimony be sufficient to establish that Serbian acts constituted ethnic cleansing or can their acts be classified as casualties of an unfortunate “civil war”?


Tengri News

Photo: Courtesy of Ron Haviv, Bloomberg




  1. The history speaks for itself, and the number of innocent civilians who were killed is known to the Court. I believe that hearing the testimony about those days, and how the incident emerged will create a supporting effect relating to the argument of “genocide” in the minds of the ICJ Justices. Certainly, in establishing that Serbia engaged in “ethnic classing,” Croatia has to present more than individual testimonies to convince the court about the effects of this killing, such as photos, documents, etc. After reviewing all the evidence, I think there is a strong chance that the Court may rule in favor of Croatia. Even if the Court refuses to define the incident as a “form of genocide,” I think it will provide sufficient remedies for the victims.
    I do not think the Court will consider this killing as “civilian casualty” because as far as I know from what I read in the past relating the history of this incident, there were direct attacks on civilians where no military target was present. However, if the Court finds from the evidence that there was military target and Serbia was responding to an attack or protecting its aim, then it may rule as “incidental civilian casualties” and provide appropriate remedies.

  2. Following the Republic of Bosnia’s declaration of independence from the former Yugoslavia, Radovan Karadžić and Slobodan Milosevic set out to cleanse Bosnia from non-Serbs. Victims and survivors have been privy atrocities, including brutal acts of rape, forced prostitution, forced impregnation, torture, and summary execution, carried out by Bosnian–Serb military forces as part of a genocidal campaign.

    The Appeals Court in the ongoing case of Radovan Karadžić, pointed to evidence that in meetings Karadžić held he declared that “it had been decided that one third of Muslims would be killed, one third would be converted to the Orthodox religion and a third will leave on their own” and thus all Muslims would disappear from Bosnia. The same attack was launched on Bosnian-Croats as well. Over 100,000 Bosnian Muslims and Croats died in the Bosnian war from 1992-1995. Of course Croatians fled once they had the chance, and like many other countries, including, Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro etc., these countries sought independence and separated from the former Yugoslavia. I believe that the ICJ should classify the casualties as genocide, because that is what it was, it was genocide, and justice should be served.

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