ICTY 20th anniversary conference in Sarajevo concludes
A two-day conference, held as part of a sequence of events that have taken place this year to mark the Tribunal’s twentieth anniversary, concluded yesterday in Sarajevo. Over 200 local and international stakeholders gathered together to debate and discuss aspects of the Tribunal’s legacy in the former Yugoslavia.
In his keynote address to the conference, ICTY President Judge Theodor Meron said: “All that we have accomplished in The Hague would not have been possible without … the tireless efforts, dedication, and courage of people here in Sarajevo and elsewhere in the countries of the former Yugoslavia. These are the people whom I wish to honour today for their contributions to the work of the ICTY over the past twenty years.”
The conference included one day of working level meetings, followed by a day of public events and discussions. Themes addressed during the conference’s meetings and panels ranged from the ICTY’s overall accomplishments and the challenges it has encountered, to its contribution to the promotion of the rule of law in the region, the mechanisms of victim and witness protection in war crimes trials, and the importance of regional access to the Tribunal’s archives.
In closing, the Tribunal’s Deputy Registrar Kate Mackintosh summarised the debates by saying: “For the ICTY, this conference has been not about talking but about listening. Listening to you, the people of the former Yugoslavia, speak about how you want to move forwards and build upon the work done by the ICTY over the past 20 years. I hope and believe that the ideas shared, worked on and developed here during the conference, about witness protection, about open access to the Tribunal’s judicial archive, and about the crucial issue of reparations for victims, will be taken forward here, in the region, as a basis for the work to be done over the next 20 years."
In addition to high-level representatives of the Tribunal, conference participants included Representative of the BiH Presidency Bakir Izetbegović, President of the BiH Court Meddžida Kreso, Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor Vladimir Vukčević, Director of the ICMP in BiH Kathryne Bomberger, Nataša Kandić with Project RECOM, Mayor of Sarajevo Prof. Dr. Ivo Komšić as well as ambassadors, local authorities, experts on transitional justice issues, representatives of NGOs, academics, and other stakeholders from the former Yugoslavia.
Sandra Orlović, conference participant and Executive Director of the Humanitarian Law Centre in Serbia reflected on the conference saying: “This conference provided an opportunity to discuss about what were the expectations from the ICTY, to what extent has the Tribunal brought about facing with the past and acceptance of the legacy of the crimes at the level of entire society, at the institutional level and by individuals.”
The conference was organised by the ICTY Outreach Programme and was made possible through the generous support of the European Union, the Governments of Switzerland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and the Republic of Korea, as well as the Open Society Justice Initiative.