«Martina Fischer/Ljubinka Petrović-Ziemer Forschung DSF Nº 36 Dealing with the Past and Peacebuilding in the Western Balkans1 Martina ...»
Dealing with the Past and
Peacebuilding in the
Martina Fischer/Ljubinka Petrović-Ziemer
Forschung DSF Nº 36
Dealing with the Past and
Peacebuilding in the
Martina Fischer/Ljubinka Petrović-Ziemer
1 This report presents findings gathered by the research project Dealing with the Past and Peacebuilding in the
Western Balkans conducted by Martina Fischer and Ljubinka Petrović-Ziemer with support of Josefina Bajer (Berlin),
Srđan Dvornik (Zagreb), Katarina Milićević (Belgrade), and Ismet Sejfija (Sarajevo/Tuzla) in the period from March 2010 until March 2012. The editors are grateful to the German Foundation for Peace Research that funded the project.
Special thanks go to our partners in the region of former Yugoslavia. Apart from our colleagues and co-authors mentioned above, we got valuable support by Vesna Nikolić Ristanović and her team at the Victimology Society of Serbia: Jasmina Nikolić, Sanja Copić, Bejan Sarić, and Nikola Petrović. Josefina Bajer helped to compile an overview on interviewed organisations and to prepare a bibliography on Peacebuilding and Transitional Justice in the Region.
Hillary Crowe did a great job with final language editing and proof-reading of all the chapters. Furthermore we thank Marija Stojanović and Hana Dvornik for the translation of the final chapters and Duška Borovać-Knabe for translating the work papers. We are also grateful to Nenad Vukosavljević and Ivana Franović (Center for Nonviolent Action, Belgrade), Adnan Hasanbegović and Tamara Smidling (Center for Nonviolent Action, Sarajevo); Vladan Beara (Center for War Trauma, Novi Sad); Ahmet Alibašić (Faculty for Islamic Studies, Sarajevo); Sonja Biserko (Helsinki Committee, Belgrade) Katarina Kruhonja (Center for Peace, Osijek); Goran Bubalo (Sarajevo), Manda Prising (Sombor, Ravangrad), Judith Brand (Sarajevo), Natascha Zupan (Bonn) and Bodo Weber (Berlin) for comments on the research design.
We also want to thank the many representatives of organisations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia who contributed to create a sample of inspiring interviews. Finally we could rely on support by our colleagues at the Berghof Foundation: We thank Beatrix Austin and Hans J. Giessmann for comments on project outlines, work reports and previous drafts of this publication; Amy Hunter and Anže Bostić for helping with transcription; Ulrike Petri for administrative support; Claus-Dieter Wild and Mir Mubashir for their help in literature research and technical support, and Astrid Fischer for the layout and final proofreading of the section on references and literature.
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Sparkasse Osnabrück, IBAN DE77 2655 0105 0000 0012 30 ISSN 2193-794X Table of Content
Introduction: Political Context and Relevant Actors (by M. Fischer)......... 9 1.
1.1. Dealing with the legacies of the past as a local, regional and international challenge
1.2. Political context in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia
1.3. Actors in transitional justice and dealing with the legacies of the past............. 16 Theoretical Approaches and Research Design (by M. Fischer)................ 21 2.
2.1. Transitional justice, reconciliation and conflict transformation
2.2. Research design
Summary Analysis and Policy Recommendations (by M. Fischer).......... 27 3.
3.1. Coherence and compatibility of concepts and approaches…………………….. 27
3.2. Interaction of different actors and linkages across levels
3.3. Further perspectives and challenges
3.4. Policy Recommendations
Sample chapter: Analysis of Interviews with TJ Institutions: ICTY, 4.
Domestic Judiciary and Commissions for Missing Persons (by Lj. Petrović-Ziemer)
4.1. Relevance and dynamics of dealing with the past
4.2. Potential, legitimacy and acceptance of TJ mechanisms
4.3. Guiding concepts
4.4. Learning processes and suggestions
4.5. Partners and forms of cooperation
4.6. Further perspectives and challenges
About the authors
Forschung DSF is published irregularly. The authors alone are responsible for the content of the publications.
Abstract The study investigates initiatives for reconciliation and “dealing with the past” which were undertaken by international organisations, legal institutions and local civil society actors in response to the wars in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. The coherence of objectives and strategies and their implications for peacebuilding, forms of cooperation and learning experiences, and the political resonance of the various approaches were a particular focus of interest. The research concentrated on Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia, which are linked by their history of ethnopolitical conflict and are signatory states to the Dayton Peace Agreement (1995), under which they committed to cooperate in order to overcome the effects of war. The inter-country case study was carried out with input from local partners from civil society organisations and academic institutions in 2010 and
2011. In all, 150 interviews were conducted in 28 municipalities.
The results can be summarised as follows: Compared with other post-conflict societies, “dealing with the past” initiatives began very early in the Western Balkans and were very well-resourced by the international community. The Dayton Peace Agreement and various UN resolutions established the basis for this process. In a situation in which local institutions were unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity to an adequate extent, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague has made an important contribution and has successfully supported local capacity-building for this purpose. The importance of legal processes for the investigation and prosecution of the crimes committed were recognised by all the interviewees without exception, although assessments of the work of the relevant institutions vary; not all of them, by any means, enjoy unlimited confidence.
Surprisingly, the assumption that peace activists would be more sceptical about processes under criminal law was not confirmed by the findings of the research. In fact, all of these actors take the view that the crimes committed during the war must be investigated in a judicial process and those responsible must be brought to justice. Furthermore, civil society actors, by and large, show little difference in their assessment of the legal institutions. The assumption that the representatives of the courts would be sceptical about the establishment of a regional truth commission, seeing it as undermining their work or challenging their authority, was also refuted by the empirical findings. However, representatives of the official Commissions for Missing Persons in particular were highly sceptical towards such an approach, for the reasons stated.
The various TJ protagonists were united in their view that dealing with the past processes cannot remain a task for the criminal justice system alone. International actors in particular have focused strongly on legal processes and especially the role of the criminal justice system. Restorative forms of justice, by contrast, have received much less attention. The same applies to restorative forms of truth-finding as a contribution to healing, trust- and relationship-building. Initiatives in this field have largely been undertaken by civil society actors. However, their proposals for the development of restorative approaches are highly diverse.
The campaign for a Regional Commission for Truth-seeking and Truth-telling about War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia (REKOM) was initially a common denominator uniting numerous civil society actors (fact-finding). However, among the groups and individuals which support a REKOM and/or have joined the campaign to lobby for its establishment, there are highly diverse notions of the potential afforded by this type of inter-country mechanism. Some would like it to be equipped with a more far-reaching mandate. That being the case, there is disagreement among the groups of actors investigated whether a REKOM would lead to gains in terms of truth and justice for the groups suffering most severely from the effects of war (victims and their relatives, refugees and displaced persons) and whether it could influence social dialogue on the past in a constructive manner. The same applies to transitional justice strategies developed by governmental institutions in consultation with civil society actors and with international support.
As regards interaction, a number of effective networking arrangements and partnerships were identified between the various levels of action (international/regional/local, governmental/ non-governmental). However, initiatives at the political and societal level tend to run in parallel to each other, rather than being linked. Multi-level approaches focusing on inclusive cultures of remembrance are still absent and are urgently needed.
The REKOM initiative, which is being pursued intensively, not only by numerous NGOs from the region itself but now also with the support of several high-ranking politicians, offers potential in this regard. But the process is still in a state of flux, and it remains to be seen whether an institutionalised, transboundary mechanism can genuinely be established in which bottom-up and top-down initiatives meet and create synergies. Above all, it is essential to promote initiatives which are supported by political and civil society actors alike and complement each other.
Further perspectives and challenges:
The field research shows that criminal justice mechanisms to prosecute war crimes in the countries under investigation must be further expanded. Witness support mechanisms and information strategies must be improved. In order to fulfil their tasks effectively, judicial institutions need to foster cooperation on a regional level. Furthermore, monitoring of legal and state institutions by civil society and international institutions remains crucial.
Complementary activities which promote restorative forms of truth and justice also require further support. Measures to investigate the still unresolved cases of missing persons in the region continue to require international funding. Supporting the return of refugees and IDPs and the payment of compensation to these groups remains a crucial issue for regional and international cooperation. And finally, it is still an open question whether war crimes’ victims will see any reparations and who will provide the funds for this.
Restorative approaches must take account of the region and its complex war history but, at the same time, also aim to change cultures of remembrance, particularly at the local level (e.g. in cities and municipalities). Marking of sites where war operations and atrocities took place remains a challenge in the region, especially in many areas of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
There is a need to develop inclusive forms of remembrance that acknowledge all of the victims regardless of their “ethnic” (cultural, religious or political) affiliation.
Special emphasis should be placed on social areas where perceptions and interpretations of the past are formed, with a particular focus on educational institutions. Initiatives that contribute to opening space(s) for exchange of personal experiences and different views on the past are crucial, as are learning spaces for peace education that help to develop individual and social capacities for respect, tolerance and nonviolent conflict transformation.
The research has been conducted in 2010-2012 and the research report has been finalised in December 2012. The following chapters present a shortened version of an extended study that has been published in 2013 as Berghof Report 18, “Dealing with the
Past in the Western Balkans”, available as a pdf-file at the Berghof Foundation’s website:
Im Rahmen des Forschungsprojekts wurden Initiativen für Aufarbeitung und Aussöhnung untersucht, die von internationalen Akteuren, juristischen Instanzen und lokalen zivilgesellschaftlichen Akteuren in Reaktion auf die Kriege der frühen neunziger Jahre im ehemaligen Jugoslawien ergriffen wurden. Das Erkenntnisinteresse richtete sich auf die Kohärenz der Ziele und Strategien und ihre Implikationen für Friedenskonsolidierung, Kooperationsformen und Lernerfahrungen und die politische Resonanz der jeweiligen Ansätze. Im Fokus standen die Länder Bosnien-Herzegowina, Serbien und Kroatien, die eine ethnopolitische Konfliktgeschichte verbindet und die sich 1995 als Signaturstaaten des Friedensvertrags von Dayton zur Kooperation bei der Bewältigung von Kriegsfolgen verpflichtet haben. Die länderübergreifende Fallstudie wurde 2010 und 2011 unter Beteiligung lokaler Partner aus zivilgesellschaftlichen Organisationen und akademischen Einrichtungen durchgeführt. Dafür wurden 150 Interviews in 28 Gemeinden durchgeführt.
Die Ergebnisse lassen sich wie folgt zusammenfassen: