ICTY's Meron looks back at Srebrenica, forward to MICT

08 July 2015 by Stephanie van den Berg and Janet H. Anderson, The Hague (The Netherlands)

In the lead-up to the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre of nearly 8,000 Bosnian Muslims, IJT spoke to the president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Judge Theodor Meron answered questions about the genocide and efforts to close the ICTY and hand over its remaining functions to the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), where he also serves as president. 

ICTY and MICT president Judge Theodor Meron speaks to IJT (Photo: Stephanie van den Berg)
Image caption: 
ICTY and MICT president Judge Theodor Meron speaks to IJT (Photo: Stephanie van den Berg)

What significance do the Srebrenica cases have for the ICTY?

Theodor Meron (TM): The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide is a very skeletal convention: the norms which it states are at a very high level of generality, of abstraction, and it took very hard work to give the necessary judicial gloss and interpretation to this convention without introducing any new, law-making elements. Because the convention against genocide was interpreted by the International Court of Justice a long time ago as one which reflects customary international law, we must be very careful not to upset that part.

I was greatly honoured that I presided over the appeal of the first genocide case at the ICTY, the case of General [Radislav] Krstic in 2004. It was an extremely important judgement because it decided for the first time in the history of international law that genocide can be committed even in a fairly limited territory. And it was the first case of this kind of importance that dealt with the definition of what is a ‘part’ of a protected group.

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