Bosnian genocide Sean Gallup | getty images

Closing the Karadžić File

The recent conviction by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia of Radovan Karadžić, the former Bosnian Serb leader, for crimes against humanity and genocide filled many with a sense of deep satisfaction. It was an important victory, highlighting the power and potential of international criminal law.

NEW YORK – The conviction by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) of Radovan Karadžić, the former Bosnian Serb leader, for crimes against humanity and genocide filled many, including me, with a sense of deep satisfaction. The verdict has not only brought some semblance of closure to the most brutal European conflict since World War II; it has also demonstrated the international community’s commitment to ensuring justice and accountability in such matters. Not even the not-guilty verdict of the Serbian nationalist leader Vojislav Šešelj, reached just a few days after Karadžić’s, can undermine that impact.

Nearly 25 years ago, in July 1992, I issued, on behalf of Human Rights Watch (which I then directed), a call for the ICTY’s establishment. At about the same time, the existence of the concentration camps that Karadžić’s forces had created – in which Muslim men and women were starved, tortured, raped, and murdered – came to light, catalyzing support for that call.

In early 1993, when the creation of the ICTY was still being debated, I made three trips to Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital besieged by Karadžić’s troops. It was a grim time. Almost nothing worked. There was no electricity or heat on those cold winter days; no water flowed from the faucets; and there was very little food. Worse, every day, many of the city’s residents were wounded and killed by shelling and sniping from the hills surrounding the city, which just a few years earlier had been enlivened by the 1984 Winter Olympics.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.


Log in;
  1. Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

    The Brexit Surrender

    European Union leaders meeting in Brussels have given the go-ahead to talks with Britain on post-Brexit trade relations. But, as European Council President Donald Tusk has said, the most difficult challenge – forging a workable deal that secures broad political support on both sides – still lies ahead.

  2. The Great US Tax Debate

    ROBERT J. BARRO vs. JASON FURMAN & LAWRENCE H. SUMMERS on the impact of the GOP tax  overhaul.

    • Congressional Republicans are finalizing a tax-reform package that will reshape the business environment by lowering the corporate-tax rate and overhauling deductions. 

    • But will the plan's far-reaching changes provide the boost to investment and growth that its backers promise?

    ROBERT J. BARRO | How US Corporate Tax Reform Will Boost Growth

    JASON FURMAN & LAWRENCE H. SUMMERS | Robert Barro's Tax Reform Advocacy: A Response

  3. Murdoch's Last Stand?

    Rupert Murdoch’s sale of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets to Disney for $66 billion may mark the end of the media mogul’s career, which will long be remembered for its corrosive effect on democratic discourse on both sides of the Atlantic. 

    From enabling the rise of Donald Trump to hacking the telephone of a murdered British schoolgirl, Murdoch’s media empire has staked its success on stoking populist rage.

  4. Bank of England Leon Neal/Getty Images

    The Dangerous Delusion of Price Stability

    Since the hyperinflation of the 1970s, which central banks were right to combat by whatever means necessary, maintaining positive but low inflation has become a monetary-policy obsession. But, because the world economy has changed dramatically since then, central bankers have started to miss the monetary-policy forest for the trees.

  5. Harvard’s Jeffrey Frankel Measures the GOP’s Tax Plan

    Jeffrey Frankel, a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a former member of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, outlines the five criteria he uses to judge the efficacy of tax reform efforts. And in his view, the US Republicans’ most recent offering fails miserably.

  6. A box containing viles of human embryonic Stem Cell cultures Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

    The Holy Grail of Genetic Engineering

    CRISPR-Cas – a gene-editing technique that is far more precise and efficient than any that has come before it – is poised to change the world. But ensuring that those changes are positive – helping to fight tumors and mosquito-borne illnesses, for example – will require scientists to apply the utmost caution.

  7. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now