Philosophizing about Slobo's death
My interest in Karadzic is a fact-intensive inquiry that is dependent upon connections between discrete, relatively unnewsworthy incidents. So forgive the indulgence into philosophizing about conceptions of justice, but I promise it to be temporary, and only occasioned by the reaction to the Slobo story. The fact that a guy like Slobo could die after four years of trial without any finding of guilt just got me thinking.
Lots of reporters and government officials are doing great work sleuthing out the details of Milosevic death. It is great to see this story near the top of news importance around the world.
Slobo's death has brought perhaps more attention on the ICTY than ever before. By its mistakes, it seems to have already secured its legacy and changed the way the world views the best ways to handle transitional justice and post-conflict reconciliation. For example, the ICC (International Criminal Court) in Rome has had lots of its momentum in response to the clunkiness and expense of the ICTY's model as a country-specific, treaty-based method of resolving atrocities through a limited criminal process. In Iraq, the ICTY's tactical blunder of combining Milosevic's charges for Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo is credited as the principal reason why Saddam's prosecutors started with the straightforward but relatively minor Duleil charges.
In an essay last year, I wrote of the need for a truth-and-reconciliation commission to supplement criminal prosecution in The Hague and Sarajevo, in order to more fully address impunity and understanding of what happened in the Bosnian war. Our record of the war now is based on usually limited press coverage, and the ICTY's decision in Krstic which showed how Bosnian Serbs committed genocide in Srebrenica. Can't we do better with our understanding of Bosnian atrocities than this? Certainly Karadzic and others need to be caught, but are the wounds of the Bosnian war healed even if the small group of 60 defendants are all successfully caught and convicted?
An interesting new trend has emerged of giving more weight to claims of state-sponsored genocide. A case pending before the ICJ by Bosnia-Herzegovina alleges state action of genocide by Serbia and Montenegro. In the court of Serbian public opinion, an ICJ pronouncement could help sway the large population of Serbian fence-sitters who are eager to put their war criminals behind them, but who have been turned off by the inquisitional anti-Serb reputation of the ICTY.
I'll now let the statesmen figure out how to fix the way we do transitional justice, and resume my work looking under stones for Radovan.