Prof. David Pettigrew: Lessons from Srebrenica and Rwanda have not been learned

NEWS 16.12.202315:06 0 komentara
MAHMUD HAMS / AFP / Profimedia

Although the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) have passed historic verdicts regarding genocide and wartime violence against women, cases of mass crimes in the world are multiplying and there is no end in sight, Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Southern Connecticut State University and Board Member of the Genocide Studies Program at Yale University, David Pettigrew, told the Fena news agency. Pročitaj više

He warned of a record number of civilian casualties in 2023, stressing that it seems that the lessons of Srebrenica and Rwanda have not been learned.

“As we approach the end of 2023, the Russian Federation's illegal invasion of Ukraine has caused approximately 10,000 civilian deaths in 22 months. In the Israeli siege of Gaza, close to 20,000 civilians were killed in just two months”, Pettigrew said.

He mentioned data according to which nearly 300,000 civilians were killed this year in armed conflicts around the world, saying he believes that this is even more tragic considering the existence of the mechanisms of the United Nations for the prevention of crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity, the existence of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the legacy of the ICTY, ICTR and ICJ, whose verdicts and precedents should serve to prevent war crimes.

“Hopes are rightfully placed in the International Criminal Court (ICC) to end impunity, to hold the perpetrators accountable and to prevent the repetition of war crimes. But, until now, it seems that the court played only a symbolic role and as such is considered largely ineffective”, he said.

Pettigrew noted that on March 17, 2023, the Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin, accused of the war crime of illegal deportation and illegal transfer of children from the occupied territories of Ukraine to the Russian Federation. However, he stressed that no further action was taken. Also, Palestinian human rights groups have filed a lawsuit, calling on the ICC to investigate Israeli attacks on civilians in Gaza and to issue arrest warrants for Israeli leaders, also to no avail.

He believes the ICC can certainly be expected to build on the very important legacy of the UN International Criminal Tribunals (ICTY/ICTR), but it cannot be expected to act in isolation or succeed alone. The ICC needs the support of the international community to achieve its goal of establishing lasting peace, however, he believes the international community has repeatedly failed by giving in to aggressors rather than confronting them.

“The international community failed to respond convincingly when Putin attacked Georgia and later occupied the Donbas region and Crimea. Putin was given additional concessions when the EU delayed Ukraine's accession to the EU. Also, even today, no one disputes those who still talk about the unification of all Serbs into one state”, Pettigrew said.

French lawyer Gilles Devers explained that the ICTY verdict on the genocide in Srebrenica sets a precedent for his complaint to the ICC regarding Israeli crimes in Gaza. However, as Professor Pettigrew said, the genocide in Srebrenica is increasingly being denied in BiH’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity. He also stressed that the target group that was persecuted and killed throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995, Bosniaks, is exposed to hate speech and insults on a daily basis.

Pettigrew said that RS leadership is making a mockery of the rule of law as genocide denial and hate speech continues with impunity, and that the lack of a response from the international community and political will to act could lead to the repetition of crimes.

“In order for the verdicts of the ICTY to make sense, especially the verdict for the genocide in Srebrenica, then the denial and glorification of war criminals in the RS entity must be condemned and prosecuted. The international community has a responsibility to protect survivors from re-traumatization caused by denial and hate speech. Survivors must be supported in their efforts to erect memorials to the victims”, he said.

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