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In their own words: students write on international justice

Other people’s past is our present, and to have a normal future, we must go through a complete social catharsis. The past of war is like a weight tied to our legs, slowing us down in our development and on our path to a normal life. ”

Maja Graca, First prize winner of the 2013 Essay-writing competition, Meša Selimović Gymnasium, Tuzla.

Throughout the years that the ICTY Outreach Programme has been engaged with young people in the former Yugoslavia, it has witnessed time and again their interest for the issues dealt with by the Tribunal. Essay-writing competitions were developed to give them a platform to express their opinions on post-conflict criminal justice.

The competitions organised in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2013 demonstrated that students feel a personal connection to the events which overtook their region in the 1990s and to the efforts to achieve justice after the war.

More than 200 students took the opportunity to make their voice heard by reflecting on the question “Should we hold trials for war crimes committed during an armed conflict?”

The teenagers whose works are presented here were born after the war. In their writing, they demonstrated how they feel the burden of the past, how they hope for the future, and how they view the role of justice in contributing to a peaceful environment.

We should make a little effort not to condemn love, uniqueness, life, or a smile, but rather we should condemn war and lock it up in a cell and be proud of ourselves for succeeding in that together.””

Sabina Poplata, Third prize winner of the 2013 Essay-writing competition, 2nd Gymnasium, Sarajevo.

Prize-winning essays are available for reading on the right-side of this page.