Using and Abusing the Hague Tribunal

The International Tribunal in The Hague was intended as a Sword of Damocles for human rights violators in the Balkans. Within the Balkans, however, it has become a political tool that both nationalists and their opponents exploit in a never-ending game of divide and (hope to) rule. Croatia provides a textbook case of this.

Snags and fissures now bedevil Croatia's infant democratic reforms. The reasons are connected to Premier Ivica Racan's unwillingness to tackle the centers of power left behind by the regime of the late President Franjo Tudjman, whose nationalist-minded party, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), was voted out of office in January 2001 following Tudjman's death in December 1999. Tudjman forged an authoritarian regime that blurred the distinctions between HDZ and state agencies, in particular the army and police. This muddied legacy remains at the heart of Croatia's current problems and its relations with the Hague Tribunal.