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UN Rejects Serbian/Croatian Genocide

UN Rejects Serbian/Croatian Genocide

UN Rejects Serbian/Croatian Genocide

Even though nearly 200,000 people died during Croatia’s war of independence (1991-1995), the UN refuses to acknowledge it as a genocide. Genocide is as an action that “presupposes the intent to destroy a group, at least in part”, as said by judge Peter Tomka, of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). During Croatia’s secession from Serbia, many people were killed or forced to leave their homes during various attacks. Most of the people who died were Croatians. Earlier this month, Tomka rejected both the Croatian claim and the Serbian counter-claim, on the basis that both sides had suffered loses and there wasn’t any distinguishable evidence of a genocide.

This is the result that both Croatians and Serbians were expecting. However, it is difficult to understand why this case is making a reappearance now, nearly sixteen years after the incident. Even now, after the genocide claims have been lifted, it is still apparent that both sides did force minority ethnic groups out of various areas, as reported by the ICJ. Croatia’s initial case was filed in 1999, and then Serbia responded with a countersuit in 2010. However, now, leaders of both countries have expressed their interest in peace with each other.

The UN rejected the claims with rulings that argued the differences between ethnic cleansing and genocide. Simply put, ethnic cleansing is just a more specific form of genocide. Ethnic cleansing is done with intent of creating an ethnically homogenous area, and genocide is done with the intent of destroying an ethnic group.  The UN also says that genocide, by far, is the most difficult international crime to actually prove.

In recent years, the situation between Croatia and Serbia has greatly improved, but there have definitely been bumps in the road. There are certainly still a lot of mixed feelings, and past occurrences come up frequently. One of the first incidents was when Serbia was apparently partaking in ethnic cleansing in Vukovar. During this conflict, 20,000 Croatians died, and many more were displaced or injured. This conflict embodied Croatia’s original genocide claim. Then in 1995, Croatia forced nearly 200,000 ethnic Serbs to move while they started a new military operation, this problem was the focus of the genocide counter-claim that Serbia filed in 2010.


The UN court ruling may not have brought justice to the hundreds of thousands of people who were killed during these conflicts. However, the ruling has brought peace to Serbia and Croatia, in terms of international relations, and rules out any future genocide that may occur between these countries.


Prathusha Yeruva hails from the Great Lake state and is currently a sophomore at Troy Athens High School. She has an interest in biology and journalism, as well as in female empowerment. She founded a She's the First chapter at her high school (an organization that sponsors girls' education in the developing world), and that opportunity has definitely given her a more developed lens on women's issues globally. In addition to writing for Her Culture, she also writes for the women's issues column at She Speaks Media. She challenges herself academically with AP classes, participates in a wide variety of clubs, and values her Indian culture. In her free time, Prathusha drinks an abundance of coffee, listens to indie bands, and uses ampersands & parentheses excessively. She's so excited to be writing for Her Culture! 


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