Legacy website of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

Since the ICTY’s closure on 31 December 2017, the Mechanism maintains this website as part of its mission to preserve and promote the legacy of the UN International Criminal Tribunals.

 Visit the Mechanism's website.

President Meron's Address on the Occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide

(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)
The Hague, 11 July 2005

President Meron's Address on the Occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide

Please find attached the full text of the President's speech delivered in Potocari on 11 July 2005 at the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide.

Upon the Commemoration of the Genocide at Srebrenica

This is a day, I think it is safe to say, that we all wish we were not commemorating. Not because the commemoration is inappropriate; on the contrary, it is the least we can do. But the occasion is a sorrowful one, the events we remember traumatic. Each of us shares in the fervent wish that they had never occurred.

But they did, and we are here today to pay tribute to those who died and to reflect on the causes and consequences of their tragedy. And in remembering, we hope to prevent such atrocities from occurring again. That, indeed, is one of the principal goals of the International Tribunal: to achieve justice through reason rather than force; to uphold the basic principles of human rights and due process; to eliminate impunity not through vengeance, but through the rule of law.

The judges of the Tribunal have been clear about what happened here. As the Appeals Chamber stated in the case against General Krstic, the Commander of the Drina Corps of the Bosnian Serb Army, after a painstaking examination by the ICTY of all the relevant evidence:

"By seeking to eliminate a part of the Bosnian Muslims, the Bosnian Serb forces committed genocide. They targeted for extinction the 40,000 Bosnian Muslims living in Srebrenica, a group which was emblematic of the Bosnian Muslims in general.

They stripped all the male Muslim prisoners, military and civilian, elderly and young, of their personal belongings and identification, and deliberately and methodically killed them solely on the basis of their identity. The Bosnian Serb forces were aware, when they embarked on this genocidal venture, that the harm they caused would continue to plague the Bosnian Muslims.

The Appeals Chamber states unequivocally that the law condemns, in appropriate terms, the deep and lasting injury inflicted, and calls the massacre at Srebrenica by its proper name: genocide. Those responsible will bear this stigma, and it will serve as a warning to those who may in future contemplate the commission of such a heinous act."

These words of the Tribunal's Appeals Chamber are unmistakeable: the crimes that were committed here were not simply murders; they were targeted at a particular human group with the intent to destroy it. They were so heinous as to warrant the gravest of labels: genocide. It is our responsibility at the Tribunal to see that justice is done for those who lost their lives here, and that the people responsible for these unspeakable offences are tried and punished.

The Tribunal's work in bringing justice and contributing to reconciliation in the region will go unfinished, and the record will remain incomplete, so long as the most prominent indictees remain at large. It is fitting on this occasion to call once again for the arrest and transfer to The Hague of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. Those who continue to shelter these fugitives only further the cause of impunity and show contempt for the memory of the victims we honour today. In delivering up Karadzic and Mladic to the Tribunal, the Serbian authorities would not only be responding to international legal obligations, but they would also be serving their people's best interests. The fugitives' time in hiding must end, not next month, but this month; not tomorrow, but today. The victims of Srebrenica deserve it; justice requires it.

The human imagination cannot truly grasp the reality of the crimes that were committed here ten years ago. This much is certain: mere words can neither capture nor convey the horror of these atrocities. The meaning of what transpired is written in the lives that were lost, the prayers that still go out, the hearts that continue to weep. In solidarity with the victims and their loved ones, we at the Tribunal will persist in our efforts to render justice and uphold basic principles of human rights. And through our work we strive to pay a humble but fitting tribute to the victims we remember today.