A STATEMNT AR THE SEVNTH
BIENNIAL MEETING OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GENOCIDE SCHOLARS
Sarajevo, July 2007
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Genocide was defined as a crime of destroying or committing conspiracy
to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. Genocides or mass killings
characterized by their systematic and widespread nature emerge from a long process
recognisable by its pattern of purposeful actions that are common to each genocide: from
the political doctrine and the message creating a clear distinction between them and us,
to the perpetration of offences showing a pattern on repetition of destructive and
discriminatory acts. But it is not sufficient identifying these patterns and even the
moving force(s) behind the execution of the genocidal plan. Only external political will
can prevent or stop genocides or crimes against humanity.
External, because the slaughtered people will never have the strength to
react properly as genocide's first step consists precisely in dehumanizing the targeted
groups and depriving them from any of their rights even the one to live.
Political, because genocide itself is a policy. Genocide and crimes
against humanity are crimes of a system and not crimes of individuals even if multiple
individual participations are necessary for achieving the goals. Only highest authorities,
often highest state authorities, can instrumentalize efficiently the hatred through an
orchestrated campaign prior to the commission of crimes, and then give other people the
means and the organization to translate the hatred into actions and to undertake the
genocidal process in details while the leadership is in fact making very general
Regrettably, the external political will necessary to stop genocides is
not systematic and depends upon various political factors that are not universal but
pertain to various particular state interests.
The intent which is peculiar to the crime of genocide need not be
expressed clearly by the perpetrator or by his associates. It may be inferred from a
"pattern of purposeful actions". Evidence of a pattern on repetition of
destructive and discriminatory acts is powerful evidence of an intent to destroy the
group, particularly where the perpetrator's group is systematically excluded from the
crimes. The specific intent is therefore proved by perpetrators' words and by their
The plan to carve (up) Bosnia has been clearly and precisely formulated,
-often publicly-, as early as 1991. This plan implied the intent to destroy the Bosnian
Muslims - the Bosniaks - within a limited geographic area, in this case part of the
territory in Bosnia and Herzegovina which was targeted for inclusion in a Serbian state.
Milosevic was the initiator and the moving force behind the execution of
the plan to secure Serb designated areas in both Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. He
was the political leader of Serbia but was regarded as the leader and protector of all
ethnic Serbs dispersed throughout the former Yugoslavia. He used Karadzic to formulate and
to articulate their shared intent. In a conversation between Milosevic, Milan Babic and
Radovan Karadzic in July 1991, Karadzic says he would chase the Muslims in the river
valleys in order to link up all Serb territories in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Yet again, since the beginning of the crisis in the Former Yugoslavia,
so already prior to the war, Milosevic and his associates made no secret of their goals.
It was obvious that including territories from other republics with already established
borders would inevitably bring a high risk - or certainty - of violence. The use of
violence was necessary to achieve this goal, especially in multiethnic areas as was
Yugoslavia. As it was foreseeable, it could have been prevented. Moreover, there was no
doubt that the Bosnian Muslim population was the principle obstacle to their territorial
designs and they could not tolerate their existence as a group in the municipalities
coveted. Prior to the war, they started singling out the Bosnian Muslims as the group that
was to be partially destroyed.
In spite of a clearly formulated intention no adequate actions were
taken by the international community in order to prevent it. Diplomatic actions at that
time were not properly designed to dissuade Karadzic, Milosevic and their associates from
taking all military and political actions in order to ensure the implementation of their
Milosevic took always a special care to minimize the public
acknowledgement of his involvement in events in Croatia and Bosnia as we can see in
various intercept from 1991. In an intercepted phone conversation with Karadzic on 30
December 1991, he cautioned him not to indicate any new concept for Yugoslavia -Greater
Serbia for instance - but rather the continuation of the old Yugoslavia. He said:
"Take care, it is dangerous if they think that something new is being created.".
At that time, Cyrus Vance was indeed saying to Milosevic: "You
would never get Republika Srpska". In the first years of the war, the prospect of
getting legalized the take over of part of the Bosnian territory was close to none. In
June 1993, Milosevic felt that "the war option in Bosnia has been exhausted". At
a high level meeting in Belgrade, he explained the reason: "they have taken
everything that was supposed to be taken". "They", meaning his associates.
In facts, they had not exactly what they wanted. Their plan required
making the map "compact". The area required to make the map "compact"
was the enclaves that included Srebrenica, Gorazde and Zepa. Their need for, and their
determination to have, a "compact" map sealed the fate of the enclaves in the
summer of 1995. So the tragic events that slowly unfolded were not the chaotic
consequences of the acts of individual local perpetrators but the consequences of the Serb
political leadership's planning and foresight. Therefore it was predictable and so it
could have been prevented.
The genocidal ambitions of the Bosnian Serb leadership are frequently
evident in their discussions and speeches. They did not make any effort to disguise these
intentions of ethnically cleansing Bosnia of Muslims, even from the international
community as David Harland, for instance, revealed before the ICTY in its testimony at the
Milosevic trial. Despite this advance notice, international community failed to take
necessary actions to prevent such crimes committed with a genocidal intent.
Genocidal intent on the part of Karadzic and other members of the
Bosnian Serb leadership found its expression in particular in speeches at the 16th Session
of the Bosnian Serb Assembly on 12 May 1992 and in intercepts of communications between
Karadzic and others in 1991 to 1992. Most of those intercepts were not made public but
they were timely made available to leading powers.
"Six strategic Objectives of the Serbian people", -published
on 12 May 1992 in the Republika Srpska's Official Gazette-, are the clearest
manifestations that a plan existed to remove non-Serbs from power in all targeted areas
and to essentially remove non-Serbs physically from targeted parts of Bosnia regardless of
whether they formed the ethnic majority or not. Taken in the context of Karadzic's and
others' increasing references to the annihilation of Muslims in Bosnia, and what followed,
these documents may be seen as vehicles employed by the Bosnian Serb leadership to
implement a genocidal plan. The first strategic goal -'separating the Serbian people from
the other two ethnic communities"- is articulated by Karadzic in the 16th Assembly
Session. "We cannot be in that unified state. We well know, where fundamentalism
arrives, you cannot live any more. There's no tolerance. Serbs and Croats together by
birth rate cannot control the intrusion of Islam in Europe, for in 5-6 years in a unified
Bosnia, the Muslims would be over 51%. .This conflict was incited so that the Muslims
would not exist"
On 12 October 1991, Karadzic had a lengthy discussion with Gojko Djogo.
During the conversation, Karadzic repeated five times that the Muslims will disappear in
case of war. Let me quote him partially: "They do not understand that there would be
bloodshed and that the Muslim people would be exterminated. The deprived Muslims, who do
not know where he (Izetbegovic) is leading, to what he is leading the Muslims, would
disappear" or "They will disappear, that people will disappear from the face of
On 13 October 1991, Karadzic speaks with Momcilo Mandic : "In just
a couple of days, Sarajevo will be gone and there will be five hundred thousand dead, in
one month Muslims will be annihilated in Bosnia and Herzegovina".
On 15 October 1991, Karadzic forecasts extermination of the Muslims in
case of war in Bosnia. In a conversation with Miodrag Davidovic and Luka Karadzic, Radovan
Karadzic says: "In the first place no one of their leadership would stay alive, in
three, four hours they'd all be killed. They wouldn't have a chance to survive at
On the same day, in his famous televised speech in the Bosnian Assembly,
-a public speech-, Karadzic says once again: "This is the road that you want Bosnia
and Herzegovina to take, the same highway of hell and suffering that Slovenia and Croatia
went through. Don't think you won't take Bosnia and Herzegovina to hell and Muslim people
in possible extinction."
With the beginning of the war in April 1992, crimes were perpetrated on
a large scale and a systematic pattern, notably in Prijedor, Brcko, Sanski Most, and in
Zvornik, Bratunac and later in Srebrenica, as part of the genocidal campaign across the
whole of the proposed Serbian state in Bosnia. Evidence of repetition, pattern, or system
is indicative of the presence of a genocidal plan or campaign conceived at the leadership
level. This should have drawn the attention of internationals in order to take the
necessary measures to prevent the Serb leadership not only to realize their military goals
but their genocidal ambitions.
A clear genocidal intent on the part of the Bosnian Serb leadership in
respect to Srebrenica was expressed throughout the war. During the 33rd Session of the RS
Assembly, held on the 20th and 21st of July, 1993, Karadzic says that if the Bosnian Serb
forces had entered Srebrenica, there would have been 'blood to the knees'. In 1994,
Karadzic said in the context of the enclave: "If the international community treats
us like a beast, then we will behave like a beast". He repeated a similar sentence in
a meeting with British General Rupert Smith on 30 April 1995 ( if the international
community treated Bosnian Serbs like beasts in a cage, that is how they would behave).
According to the well known evidence given at the ICTY by late Miroslav Deronjic, Karadzic
said to him on 9th July 1995 in Pale just after meeting with Jovica Stanisic:
"Miroslav, all of them need to be killed.everything you can get your hands on".
On the other hand, Mladic expressed openly such an intent. For instance, on 11 and 12 July
1995 at the Hotel Fontana meeting, Mladic offers the Bosnjaks the option of surviving or
By mid 1994, Milosevic acknowledged the change in the international
community's position. To his associates he said at a meeting in Belgrade: "We have
actually been offered to expand our territory by one fourth and to legalize it as well!
And even to have a confederation right away!" Prior to the mass killings in
Srebrenica, Milosevic stressed, in January 1995, that international community eventuelly
offered a fifty-fifty solution in BH exclusively on basis of fact that a military victory
has been achieved in war. If there had not been military victory, international community,
he said "would have never proposed that territory of BH be devided fifty-fifty, which
in history was never been territory on which there was a Serb state." After
Srebrenica genocide and before Dayton, in August 1995, Milosevic stated that enclaves will
not need to be exchanged as they would blend into Serbian surroundings without a fight. He
then praised Mladic and his officers for having completed "their part of the job with
honour". Then he added: ".if Muslims refuse a peace solution, they will be told
that they are to be left alone with the sword of Mladic hanging over them ". After
Dayton, Milosevic outlined: "And RS has been created, a state in territory where
there has never been a Serbian state. That is a historical achievement. Simply, a huge
victory has been achieved and the result is that the RS has been created , a republic!, on
half the territory of BH. We sustained and entered into the books 49% !"
Evil inventiveness of modern murderous politicians has outpaced the
legal inventiveness of lawyers and diplomats. Milosevic managed to give the impression he
had no effective control over his associates and troops while they were committing
genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina, that he had not formulated the intent or committed
conspiracy to destroy a part of the Bosnjak group. In the case that Bosnia brought against
Serbia for genocide, the International Court of Justice's verdict, from last February,
found Serbia under Milosevic guilty of aiding and abetting an act of genocide, but not
guilty of the act itself, even though the court found that the military and police of the
Republika Srpska had indeed committed genocide. This was the first time that the
often-cited but never implemented 1948 genocide convention was brought against a state.
How to prevent genocide ? I went though this short selection of facts
and quotes in order to outlined that Bosnia provides us with a clear answer. This answer
may not apply in every single case although Bosnia's example is not quite isolated.
Indeed, in most of the cases, as in Bosnia, preventing genocide in a timely manner
requires observing, understanding the signs, especially when the intent has been so
clearly formulated since the beginning of the war. There was no surprise in what happened
in Bosnia, any one who wanted, could easily foresee the cycle of violence and the intent
to destroy one of the ethnic group, namely the Bosniaks. Preventing genocide, as I said at
the beginning of my presentation, depends therefore on the external political will. In
Bosnia the intent was clearly articulated and available to the great powers. If genocide
was not prevented, that was the result of a lack of political will. And I have to
underline, that this lack of political will happened despite the legal obligations created
by the Genocide Convention on its signatories since it says that states have a duty to
intervene and prevent it. It was to avoid those duties that the international community,
mainly the US and the EU, deliberately avoided using the Genocide-word over Bosnia, same
as they did in 1994 over Rwanda.