Bosnia and Herzegovina
H.E. Mr. Haris Silajdžić, Chairman of the Presidency
23 September 2008
© UN Photo
Click for caption and to enlarge
HARIS SILAJDŽIĆ, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, called on the United Nations to help right the error made by the international community in 1992 when it opposed a request from that country to defend itself against Bosnian Serbs.
The denial of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s request, due to the arms embargo imposed by the Security Council in 1991, resulted in genocide that culminated in Srebrenica in July 1995. Citing International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) data, he said some 200,000 people had been killed including 12,000 children. Some 50,000 women had been raped and 2.2 million people were forced to flee their homes.
Through its acts and omissions, the United Nations, by its own admission, bore a part of the responsibility for the crimes committed at Srebrenica and that the International Law on State Responsibility mandated corrective action on crimes against humanity and genocide. He said the international community owed it to victims of crimes against humanity and genocide to send a strong message to would-be perpetrators: “do not even think about it, your terror will not pay off”.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said, had an opportunity to send such a message through the consistent implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, which ended the aggression, stopped the genocide and brought peace. The Agreement was also meant to reverse the effects of genocide and ethnic cleansing, however, it had been violated and “ethnic apartheid” had taken root. It had not been the implementation of Dayton, but the violation of its core principles that had led to that result. It would be a grave mistake if this result was recognized as lawful, he said.
“It is the responsibility of this Organization to make it right,” he continued, saying that, unless the United Nations helped address past wrongs, this year’s celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights would be hollow.
His country was set to start work on the new Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the outcome of the process would deal with many of the issues he raised in his presentation. Rewarding genocide would send a dangerous message throughout the world and undermine the chances of peace and stability in both Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region, he added.