11 May 2015
Brussels ESI moderates debate on the International War Crimes Tribunal for former Yugoslavia
Alexandra Stiglmayer (left). Photo: ESI
Alexandra Stiglmayer (left). Photo: ESI

ESI Senior Analyst Alexandra Stiglmayer moderated a debate following the screening of the film "The Serbian Lawyer" in the framework of the One World Film Festival in Brussels. This annual human rights film festival is organised by the Czech NGO People in Need.

The documentary film "The Serbian lawyer" tells the story of Marko Sladojevic, a young Serbian lawyer who joined the defence team for Radovan Karadzic, the former leader of Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Karadzic stands trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), accused of war crimes including genocide committed against the Bosniak community in Bosnia during the 1992-1995 war. As Marko said, he accepted the job offer in order to find out what actually happened in Bosnia, but he became entangled in the web of claims and counter-claims and "emotionally numb". Over four years, the film shows Marko's reflections on his work, legal principles of neutrality and detached analysis, the question of responsibility for what happened in Bosnia, and the concept of "truth". It also shows how Marko's work intruded in his private life as his wife and liberal friends questioned what he did professionally.

The guests at the debate afterwards were Marko himself and Izabela Kisic, Director of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia. The panel talked about Marko's experience, but also the question of ICTY's effectiveness in establishing what happened, and contributing to reconciliation. Alexandra talked about ESI's research into this issue, concluding that this depended on the country and sometimes even the region. ICTY had a positive effect in Croatia, she said, helping Croats realise that their side too committed crimes, and also in Central Bosnia where Croats and Bosniaks fought each other during the war; in Serbia, however, ICTY has been always rejected by the elites and its effect is limited.

The screening in Brussels was organised with the help of the Human Rights House Foundation and took place at the Norwegian Mission to the EU.

ESI has explored the question of ICTY's effectiveness in Croatia in the film Twilight of Heroes – Croatia, Europe and the International Tribunal (2012)

About us
Photo credits
Alan Grant is an Irish photographer who travelled extensively in the Balkans and other countries and regions of the world. Thanks to him, ESI is able to show fascinating pictures of the Balkans: the facades of Tirana, the painted mosques of Travnik, the fabulous old houses of Plovdiv and the spectacular blue of water - dark in the Bay of Kotor, emerald in the river valleys of Bosnia, deep blue in Ohrid, twinkling in the Aegean Sea and on the Bosporus.

You can find out more about Alan Grant on his websites:
Jonathan Lewis lives between London and Istanbul. He moved to London and spent many years studying photography and now specialises in photojournalism, documentary photography and commercial work for a wide variety of private and commercial clients in the UK, Europe and Turkey. His work has appeared in a number of magazines and publications and is used on the ESI website as well.

You can find out more about Jonathan Lewis on his website www.jonathanlewisphoto.com