Never Again?

Ronnie Landau looks at the latest charges of genocide over Bosnia and wonders how often history must repeat itself.

What on earth has happened to the much-trumpeted plans to bring war criminals in Bosnia to an early trial? Is there any evidence to suggest that such an announcement has been taken seriously by the protagonists? Has it made any difference to their conduct? Or indeed to that of other abusers of human rights elsewhere in the world?

That an international war crimes tribunal may be established to investigate and bring to justice those held responsible for 'war crimes' and 'crimes against humanity' in the former Yugoslavia was certainly a welcome announcement. It may even prove to have far-reaching implications for the future, especially the future safety of minority groups. But if it is to have the desired preventive and 'educational' effect, it would be as well to examine the mistakes of the past forty-five years: in particular, the consistent unwillingness and apparent inability of the member-states of the United Nations to intervene in the 'sovereign affairs' of one of their own number; and their consequent failure to invoke – even once – the United Nation's Genocide Convention of 1948.

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