Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Sarajevo Hosts Genocide Conference

By Merdijana Sadovic in Sarajevo (TU No 510, 13-July-07)
Bosnia’s capital this week played host to a major genocide conference, which discussed issues ranging from coping with trauma to the punishment of crimes and their prevention.

Organised by the International Association of Genocide Scholars, IAGS, and the Institute for Research of Crimes Against Humanity and International Law of the University of Sarajevo, 400 genocide scholars and experts from all over the world came to Sarajevo from July 9 to 13.

Though the discussion was wide-ranging, one major focus was prevention.

“Genocide is a constant threat to the unity of the human race. We must learn to overcome it. We commit ourselves not only to study genocide, but to prevent it,” said IAGS president Israel Charny in his opening statement.

The Hague tribunal’s chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte also addressed participants, saying that “genocide is a crime very difficult to prove” which can be “very frustrating for the victims”.

“Unfortunately, prosecutors always deal with the consequences of genocide and try to bring perpetrators to justice. But prevention of this horrible crime is far more important,” she said.

Muslim member of the Bosnian state presidency, Haris Silajdzic, said that “it’s not politically correct to talk about genocide committed in Bosnia” these days and that many hope this crime will be eventually forgotten.

“But that will not happen,” said Silajdzic

Merdijana Sadovic is IWPR’s Hague programme manager.

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