‘Frozen Justice: Lessons from Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Failed Transitional Justice Strategy’
by Jared O. Bell
In May 1993 the United Nations Security Council founded the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Based in the Hague, Netherlands, the ICTY was formed with the objective of prosecuting those who had committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina and elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia during the early to mid-90s. During its mandate (1993-2017), the tribunal heard many cases and tried numerous perpetrators, from those who carried out the killings to those who orchestrated and ordered them. In spite of its accomplishments, the ICTY is considered to be highly controversial. It is debated if the ICTY did enough to foster healing and reconciliation in many of the conflict-torn societies. Many scholars argue that the tribunal operated adequately within their mandate and sought to promote justice and reconciliation, however, those who lived through the brutal wars would argue that there has simply been no justice. Importantly, Bosnia and Herzegovina still remains a country divided by issues of post-conflict justice, among other things.
In 2010 a government-led strategic plan emerged that was intended to deal with the unfinished “business” of justice and promote reconciliation throughout the country. However, it failed to do this, and there is currently no political will or momentum to revive it. But, was this strategy doomed to failure from the beginning? In the form of a quantitative study, this book examines the possibility of reconciliation being achieved in Bosnia and Herzegovina through the methods fostered by the strategy. Focusing on three major cities, Sarajevo, Mostar, and Banja Luka, Dr. Jared Bell surveyed nearly 500 people in order to shed light on the subject of the national transitional justice strategy and reconciliation from the perspective of the everyday populace.