Croatian lecturer examines war crimes justice in former Yugoslavia

Posted on November 02, 2007 by Staff Writer

Vjeran Pavlakovic will present a lecture, “Unwanted Justice: Public Attitudes toward War Crimes Tribunals in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia,” at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5 in Sweet Briar College’s Tyson Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Pavlakovic is the Croatian liaison for the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation. He holds a doctorate from the University of Washington and is an expert in Yugoslavian history. He is researching issues related to war crimes and the war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Pavlakovic will explore the goals of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which sought justice for war crimes victims, deterrence of future instances of ethnic cleansing and reconciliation in a region devastated by the conflict of the 1990s. He will address its activities and reaction by the people of the Yugoslav successor states.

“Even [people] in those countries [that] initially supported the creation of the tribunal have become disillusioned with the ICTY’s work,” Pavlakovic wrote in a description of the presentation.

“The tribunal’s lack of credibility seriously threatens to undermine the work it has achieved so far. Many indicted war criminals remain heroes among the local populations, and issues of conflicting historical narratives, European Union expansion policies, and great power influence continue to affect the work of the ICTY beyond the judicial sphere.”

The presentation will show the political ramifications of the tribunal in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia, and explain some reasons why it is perceived so negatively in the region. It also will offer insight into the current political situation in the former Yugoslavia, and the difficulties these societies have in coming to terms with the recent past.

For more information, please contact John Ashbrook at or 381-6174.