Recognizing Inhumanity

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The United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution Thursday, establishing an annual memorial day for the 1995 Srebrenica genocide in Bosnia, a historic vote that comes amid strong opposition and fears from Serbia and Bosnian Serbs that it will mark them as “genocidal people,” Euronews reported.

The vote in the 193-member General Assembly was 84-19 with 68 nations abstaining – and 22 failing to appear for the vote – a reflection of concerns among many countries about the impact of the vote on reconciliation efforts in deeply divided Bosnia, the Associated Press wrote.

The resolution, which designates July 11 as the day of commemoration, was sponsored by Germany and Rwanda and aims at recognizing what many consider the worst massacre in Europe since World War II. The massacre occurred on July 11, 1995, during the Bosnian War, when Bosnian Serb forces overran a UN-protected safe area in Srebrenica and systematically executed more than 8,000 Bosniak men and boys.

The special court that tried crimes perpetrated during the Yugoslavian conflict, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), labeled the Srebrenica massacre as genocide. The UN’s highest tribunal, the International Court of Justice, also determined in 2007 that the acts committed in Srebrenica constituted genocide.

Observers said the ICTY tribunals and General Assembly’s resolution could also set the standard for how future genocide trials and their perpetrators are dealt with.

The resolution will also condemn any denial of the Srebrenica genocide and actions glorifying convicted war criminals. It received support from the US, France, Italy, and other Western nations.

However, the vote sparked political tension, particularly in Bosnia and Serbia, Politico noted. Serbian leaders have consistently denied that the massacre in Srebrenica was genocide.

On Wednesday, Milorad Dodik, the leader of Bosnia’s Serb-majority entity Republika Srpska, reiterated his threat to secede from Bosnia and Herzegovina, a move that would further destabilize the region

Meanwhile, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić had launched a vigorous diplomatic campaign against the UN resolution, including press conferences, stakeholder meetings and billboards proclaiming, “Serbs are not genocidal people.”

Vučić emphasized the importance of the vote for Serbia’s international relationships.

However, groups representing the victims’ families said the UN vote signifies a measure of justice, while Bosnia’s ambassador to the UN, Zlatko Lagumdžija, urged Serbia to recognize the resolution as a condemnation of individual criminals, not an entire nation.

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