ICJ’s decision in the case Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Serbia and Montenegro

Reactions of young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina

, by Nermina Cocalic

ICJ's decision in the case Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Serbia and Montenegro

February 26, 2007 was a historic day for Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The verdict said: Serbia is not guilty of committing genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was such a sad, sad day. I have never seen more disappointment, sadness, anger and pain in one place. Of course in one part of our country people were happy. But the best way to get an overview of the atmosphere in BiH after the verdict is to hear what young people have to say about it. So here I present you some of the opinions given by young people from BiH.

Haris (26) from Sarajevo

“The conclusion: whoever fights for justice ends up being a loser. Nowadays success is not measured by the number or amount of the evidence you have but by the fact how thick your wallet is, so you can afford the likes of Johnny Cochran. If he was able to set OJ Simpson free, he could have brought victory to us as well. We have been losers since 1992, and if we haven’t realised so far that we are constantly losers, then we will never realise it at all. Right or correct are not the words guaranteeing success…they never were, I think that is more then obvious. We should look up to Kosovo. People are getting their own country. They even had America fighting for them. Well done! But they were fighting at the right place – in Washington DC. Unity and strong lobby - a simple formula but in our circumstances where everybody is cautious not to make anybody angry, that formula is impossible. That child in the schoolyard – the role model of a generation, beautiful, smart, but weak – will always be the last to get the food for his break. If we learn to respect ourselves, others will have to respect us as well.”

Anonimous from Nevesinje in Republika Srpska

“I don’t understand why everyone is so shocked with the ICJ verdict, because it was very clear from the start that Serbia and Serbian people will not be convicted for something they didn’t do, i.e. we didn’t do. What happened in Srebrenica can not be put as collective blame on the Serbian people, Serbia or Republika Srpska. When it comes to abolishing RS, those are just dreams. There is no basis to justify that and especially not to do that.”

Admir (26) and Jelena (25) from Sarajevo

’’We were very sad about the verdict, but we weren’t surprised. Great part of the blame is on our legal team who didn’t offer enough evidence. We also heard about some evidence that were not available to our legal team and evidence that ‘died’ together with Milosevic. The only positive thing about the verdict is the fact that the blame is now on Bosnian Serbs, which can imply certain positive or negative reactions inside BiH itself. One comment by our colleague was: ‘’I am not jealous of Srebrenica, but I was also under siege for four years’’. The verdict is simply awful. We were even thinking to send rice pies we were eating during the war to Judge Higgins. We are very upset and disappointed but this is how things are. We are used to being slapped in the face. Those people who brought the verdict certainly don’t know what it is like to be under siege for more then 1000 days. We could not expect anything more from rotten UN and I (Admir) also think that this verdict is one way a compensation for Kosovo. We simply need more strength to keep our minds sane.”

Amir (28) from Tuzla

"The verdict was expected to be the way it is, because sentencing Serbia would bring along many questions that are ’not to be mentioned."

Jasmina (24) from Bijeljina, Republika Srpska

"People in RS are very content with the verdict. And that is 49% of the BiH territory and should not be ignored…"

Edin (23) from Sarajevo

’’I expected the verdict to be in our favour because everything points to that. Why would Milošević sign the Peace Agreement if he wasn’t part of anything? Or why was he arrested? Why were there sanctions? Those are the questions that should be asked...’’

Nihad (25) from Sarajevo

"Democracy, justice... Those are the concepts that "Heads" talk about every single moment. You see, Iranian nuclear energy activity is maybe a potential danger, but what happened in Bosnia during 90ies is genocide. Could you imagine thousands of women crying for their brutally killed sons, thousands massacred babies and raped women, destroyed lives and burned villages? That is in short what happened in Bosnia in 92-95. Sick minds in Serbia wanted to destroy my country. Why? No reasonable explanation. Why terrorist’s today attack in USA, in Britain, in Iraq...? No reasonable explanation indeed. My country is now in rapid progress, recovering from the war destructions. We are a modern and prospective society, having thousand year long culture with Roman, Ottoman and Austrian visible signs. People of different religions and political views have been living here in harmony for centuries. Until 90ies when Serbian Authorities decided to destroy Bosnian Muslims and other people who love peace and multiculturalism. That terrible concept of genocide had been carefully prepared by Serbian leaders in ex-Yugoslavia. Unfortunately political leaders in most powerful countries today do not want to see the TRUTH of Bosnia. “Serbia-guilty not for committing but for preventing genocide in Bosnia”-said the judges in The Hague. Absurd decision! This is a shameful decision and embarrassment of leaders and authorities and shame of modern, democratic society! "Genocide happened in Srebrenica. Thousands of Bosnian Muslims had been brutally murdered," The Hague says. Who is guilty? The ICJ didn’t say directly who. But I will tell you. Serbian Authorities and Government attacked Bosnia with clear purpose to commit genocide over Bosnian people…for no reason. Why is then decision of The Hague so wrong? What’s happening in Iraq today? Some American soldiers kill innocent people and children while the rest of the world is silently watching. Why? Iraqi nuclear weapon hasn’t been found at all. Palestinian children are being murdered for years; their homes are being destroyed with most powerful weapons. Ask yourself if this is justice."


As you can see the ICJ verdict brought us no good. It only brought us more nationalism, more hate, bigger gap between US and THEM and if there are a few of those who think with their clear head they are waiting in front of embassies trying to get the papers to leave this country forever. So soon instead of asking ourselves if there was genocide in BiH we will ask ourselves if Bosnia and Herzegovina – SOVEREIGN AND INDEPENDENT country exists at all.

The winner writes the History. I wonder if our children will ever know that there was Genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


This article is a summary of opinions of young people from different parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina and their reactions on the decision of the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The magazine decided to leave the statements unabridged to show how normal young people perceive the situation in their every day life. The magazine is not responsible for the content of the answers.


 Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro), Judgment of 26 February 2007

 Serbia failed to prevent Bosnia genocide, Court rules; source: Euractiv


 Rows of graves in Srebrenica, source: Flickr.

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