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

© ic-mp.orgThe 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. (More)

Post-war justice and durable peace in the former Yugoslavia
(Press release)

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Positions on post-war justice and durable peace in the former Yugoslavia

A summary of conclusions and recommendations concerning post-war justice and durable peace in the former Yugoslavia based on the Commissioner’s country-monitoring reports, viewpoints and human rights comments.


Issue paper

The right to leave a country (2013) [in bulgarian] [in french] [in serbian]

Case law of the European Court of Human Rights

Maktouf and Damjanović v. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Grand Chamber judgment of 18 July 2013, concerning retroactive application of law in war crime cases

Marguš v. Croatia, judgment of 13 November 2012, concerning the application of amnesty on a war-related crimes case (not final)

Kurić and others v. Slovenia, Grand Chamber judgment of 26 June 2012, concerning the ‘erased’ persons

Janowiec and others v. Russia, judgment of 16 April 2012, concerning missing persons in the Katyń case

Palić v. Bosnia and Herzegovina, judgment of 15 February 2011, concerning a state's procedural obligation to investigate into a case of missing person

Jularić v. Croatia, judgment of 20 January 2011, concerning inadequate and ineffective investigation into the circumstances surrounding the killing of the applicant's husband

Skendžić and Krznarić 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

Sejdić 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

Latest News

Slovenia: justice has to be done for all the erased (19.10.2013)
The Srebrenica genocide: victims still await justice (11.07.2013)
Bridging interethnic divisions should be a top priority in “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”
Slovenia: The human rights violations suffered by the ‘erased’ still not fully redressed (29.01.2013)

Human Rights Comment

Justice and reconciliation long overdue in the Balkans (09.07.2013)
Governments should act in the best interest of stateless children (15.01.2013)
Round-Table on post-war justice and durable peace in the former Yugoslavia, Sarajevo (18.03.2012)
The right to leave one’s country should be applied without discrimination (22.11.2011)
Only genuine justice can ensure durable peace in the Balkans (03.11.2011)
Countries of the former Yugoslavia need to step up their efforts to resolve cases of missing persons (14.12.2010)
List of the Commissioner's Viewpoints related to post-war justice and reconciliation in the region of former Yugoslavia

Speeches and statements

Srebrenica Summer University. Address by Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights (11.07.2013)
"Addressing the human rights challenges underlying the criminalisation of irregular migrants and national minorities in Europe " (28.02.2013)

Country monitoring

Reports and press releases classified by country

Issue Papers

UN Treaty Bodies jurisprudence

UN Human Rights Committee, Communications Nos 1917/2009 etc, Fatima Prutina et al v. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Views of 28 March 2013 (case concerning enforced disappearances and effective remedy)

UN Human Rights Committee, Communication No 1510/2006, Dušan Vojnović v. Croatia, Views of 30/03/2009 (case concerning proceedings in relation with the termination of the author’s specially protected tenancy)

Case law of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

Documents by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers

2011 Guidelines on eradicating impunity for serious human rights violations

2009 Recommendation on principles concerning missing persons and the presumption of death

PACE resolutions and recommendations relating to the post-war justice

Resolution 1096 (1996) Measures to dismantle the heritage of former communist totalitarian systems

Resolution 1785 (2011) on the obligation of member and observer states of the Council of Europe to co-operate in the prosecution of war crimes

Resolution 1786 (2011) on the reconciliation and political dialogue between the countries of the former Yugoslavia

Resolution 1784 (2011) on the protection of witnesses as a cornerstone for justice and reconciliation in the Balkans

Recommendation 1880 (2009) on history teaching in conflict and post-conflict areas

Council of Europe treaties