Twenty-Third Anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide

Today, July 11, 2018, the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR), observes the twenty-third anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide. Commencing on this date in 1995, more than 8,000 Bosniaks lost their lives in an event that would come to be recognized as the worst European mass killing since the conclusion of World War II. While thousands of boys and men living in the town of Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, were rounded up and systematically executed by elements of the Vojska Republike Srpske (VRS), thousands more women, children, and elderly residents were forcibly displaced and subjected to a host of other abuses.

On February 26, 2007, the International Court of Justice ruled that the atrocities committed at Srebrenica constituted genocide. The court reasoned that, while other atrocities that occurred during the Bosnian War lacked evidence to prove the existence of the necessary element of intent, the VRS perpetrators of the July 1995 massacre possessed the specific intent required to qualify the event as genocide.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), established in 1993, represents the first war crimes court created by the United Nations as well as the first international war crimes tribunal since the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals, which had been established in the aftermath of the Second World War. Before the expiration of its mandate in 2017, the ICTY issued indictments to 161 individuals and sentenced 90 for 4 categories of crimes.

In a statement on the twenty-second anniversary of the genocide, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres explains:

The terrible events that occurred at Srebrenica in July 1995 are historical facts and have been documented extensively. Both the ICTY and the International Court of Justice have concluded that the acts committed at Srebrenica constituted genocide. The ICTY has determined the criminal responsibility of different individuals for the Srebrenica massacre and has convicted them of genocide.

To help prevent future such atrocities, we must look honestly at the past, and acknowledge that these crimes occurred and our roles in allowing them to occur. The international community, and in particular the United Nations, has accepted its share of responsibility with respect to the tragedy at Srebrenica and has worked hard to learn from the lessons of its failures.

On this anniversary, the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation remembers the genocide committed at Srebrenica and honors the victims and their families. AIPR recognizes the work of national and international criminal justice bodies around the world for their work in preventing future mass atrocities through the promotion of truth, justice, and accountability.