March 2015

Peace Is More Than the Absence of War

I lived a childhood of peace. I experienced war as a teenager. And as an adult, I see how the aftermath of violent conflict transforms communities. Unfortunately, the death and suffering of war does not end when the last bullet whizzes by. Ending a war takes more than stopping the active hostilities. The return to true peace takes many decades.

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Are Heads of State the Real Victims in Africa?

The current President and Vice President of Kenya are being tried by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of organizing post-2007 election violence that killedmore than a thousand, including a group of women and children who were burned to death huddling together in a church in Kiambaa that was intentionally set on fire. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the pair is using their considerable political power to fight back against the ICC and the possibility of going to jail for crimes against humanity.

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Whitewashing Genocide

The United Nations, which is supposed to represent the best of our collective aspirations for justice and human rights, yesterday represented the worst. Yesterday, the United Nations put on a passion play for genocide deniers, creating a political spectacle that tried to rewrite history.

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Terminus for the Terminator?

The fight against impunity for mass atrocities may have scored a victory this week.

Bosco Ntaganda, one of the most wanted war criminals in the world, unexpectedly has surrendered to the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda and asked to be sent to The Hague to face trial at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

The question now is whether his wish will be granted.

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Shining a Light on Human Rights and Justice Projects

Without justice, there are no human rights. Justice is a necessary component of human rights. When there’s no justice, there’s no peace, and there’s no freedom. Justice itself is a human right and it guarantees the protection of other human rights. When we look around the world to places where human rights are violated, we see broken justice systems; we see a lack of fairness; we see lawlessness or laws meant to protect only a privileged few.

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A Changing of the Guard at the ICC

Last week, I was a witness to the changing of the guard at the International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor. Luis Moreno-Ocampo is stepping down after the end of his nine year term as the inaugural Prosecutor of the court, and Fatou Bensouda will succeed him in just a few short days. It’s a rare moment in the history of international criminal justice, and I was able to meet with both prosecutors at their offices in The Hague as this transition of power takes place.

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I Was Born in the Land of Blood and Honey

Angelina Jolie has made a powerful movie about the Bosnian conflict that I will never go see. Her film In the Land of Blood and Honey tells the story of a Bosnian woman who is now a captive in a prison camp overseen by a Serbian soldier who was once her lover. The film won the “Cinema for Peace Award” at Cannes and seems destined to win many other awards. I hear it’s a really powerful and well-made film: a difficult story about a very difficult time for the country in which I grew up.

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It’s Time for Justice to Take New Forms in the Balkans

This is what international justice looked like Friday, July 29: Jovan Divjak, the 74-year-old Bosnian army general, reunited with his wife after five months apart. Held since March in Vienna, Mr. Divjak flew home to Sarajevo after an Austrian court ruled that it would be impossible for him to receive a fair trial in Belgrade.

The ruling demonstrates that the international rule of law can trump the nasty politics of revenge and marks another important milestone in the long recovery and reconciliation of the Balkans. Years of war and decades of mistrust do not pass easily into history, but they must if once-great and diverse cities like my hometown of Sarajevo are once again to flourish. There is no reconciliation if it is not based on justice, truth and facts.

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Politics and Justice: The Outrageous Case of Jovan Divjak

It is time for Jovan Divjak to come home. For five long months, this hero and humanitarian has been unable to leave Vienna and return home to Sarajevo while Austrian courts sort out bogus Serbian accusations against him.

As they did with Ejup Ganic last year, nationalist Serbian politicians are abusing the international justice system to level baseless charges at an innocent man in an attempt to muddy up their own brutal history. As the English judge concluded in the almost identical Ganic case last year, the criminal allegations lack support and the evidence indicates that the Serbian prosecutor is politically motivated.

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Ratko Mladic Capture Helps Balkans Move Forward

It surprised almost no one that Ratko Mladic, the most wanted man in Europe, turned up Thursday living in a quiet Serbian village an hour’s drive from Belgrade. But the very fact that the army general accused of ordering the massacre of thousands of civilians was captured and will stand trial for war crimes should warn mass murderers around the world that they will not go unpunished.

And maybe now my homeland can finally start to move forward.

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