Post-war justice and reconciliation in the region of former Yugoslavia

The dissolution of the former Yugoslavia was accompanied by three major wars: in Croatia (1991-1995), Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992-1995) and Kosovo* (1998-1999). In addition, there were two smaller-scale, shorter conflicts in Slovenia (June-July 1991) and in "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (January-August 2001). These conflicts were marked by gross human rights violations, including ‘ethnic cleansing' and atrocities unseen in Europe since World War II.

The legacy of this violent past still lingers across the region of former Yugoslavia endangering the full enjoyment of human rights, democracy and rule of law. The return to normalcy has been slow and major obstacles remain. The lack of a systematic approach across the region to tackle past gross human rights violations has resulted in impunity and the erosion of rule of law. Concerning war-related criminal proceedings, witness protection systems remain limited in their capacity and reportedly fail to inspire confidence and trust among existing and potential witnesses. War victims do not have access to adequate, effective or proportionate reparation for the harms they have suffered.

During his country visits and continuous dialogue with national authorities and civil society in the region, the Commissioner takes note of the progress achieved. He also identifies obstacles to the effective resolution of the pending issues concerning post-war justice and reconciliation and provides advice on ways to ensure the respect for human rights and thereby durable peace in the region of former Yugoslavia.


Case law of the European Court of Human Rights
  • Ališić and others v. BiH, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” - Grand Chamber final judgment of 16 July 2014, concerning to non-payment of ‘old savings’ accounts denominated in foreign currency
  • Zornić v. Bosnia and Herzegovina - judgment of 15 July 2014, concerning ineligibility to stand for election to the second chamber of the State parliament and to the collective Head of State
  • Jelic v. Croatia - jugment of 12 June 2014, concerning no adequate investigation into the death of husband killed by the Croatian police
  • Marguš v. Croatia - final judgment of 27 May 2014, concerning the application of amnesty on a war-related crimes case
  • Maktouf and Damjanović v. BiH - Grand Chamber judgment of 18 July 2013, concerning the retroactive application of criminal law laying down heavier sentences for wartime crimes than the law in force when the crimes were committed
  • Kuric and others v. Slovenia - Grand Chamber judgment of 26 June 2012, concerning the ‘erased' persons
  • Janowiec and others v. Russia - Grand Chamber judgment of 21 October 2013, concerning missing persons in the Katyn case
  • Palic v. Bosnia and Herzegovina - judgment of 15 February 2011, concerning a state's procedural obligation to investigate into a case of missing person
  • Jularic v. Croatia - judgment of 20 January 2011, concerning inadequate and ineffective investigation into the circumstances surrounding the killing of the applicant's husband
  • Skendžic and Krznaric v. Croatia - judgment of 20 January 2011, concerning ineffectiveness and the lack of independence of the authorities involved in investigating the disappearance of the applicants' close relative
  • Đokić v. BiH - final judgment of 4 October 2010, concerning the right of the applicant, a former member of the armed forces of the former Yugoslavia, to regain the possession and register the ownership of his pre-war apartment in the Federation of BiH
  • Čolic and others v. BIH - final judgment of 28 June 2010, concerning the non-enforcement of final domestic court decisions ordering payment of war damages
  • Sejdic and Finci v. Bosnia and Herzegovina - Grand Chamber judgment of 22 December 2009, concerning the applicants' ineligibility to stand for election to the House of Peoples and the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the ground of their Roma and Jewish origin
  • Radanović v. Croatia - final judgment of 21 March 2007, concerning the applicant’s right to her property which was allocated for use to another person during the war in Croatia
UN Treaty Bodies jurisprudence 
  • UN Human Rights Committee, Communication No 1510/2006, Dušan Vojnovic v. Croatia, Views of 30/03/2009 (case concerning proceedings in relation with the termination of the author's specially protected tenancy)
Documents by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers 
PACE resolutions and recommendations relating to the post-war justice 
Council of Europe treaties 
Case law of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

* All reference to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.