Why we are excavating the dead of Srebrenica

Kathryne

On 9 July The Guardian published an article by ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger on the work done by ICMP over the last two decades to help families of the missing, the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and domestic and international courts locate and identify the victims of Srebrenica.

Following is the text of the article.

On Saturday, world attention will focus for a few hours on the town of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia. The systematic killing that took place 20 years ago constitutes the only recognized genocide on European soil since the Second World War.

Weeks after the killings, the perpetrators returned, excavated the mass graves with mechanical diggers and transported bodies and body parts to secondary graves in an attempt to disperse and conceal evidence of the crime. This was an enormous undertaking considering that almost 8,000 people had been executed.

For nearly two decades, the International Commission…

Masculinities and Practices of Memorialization

Memorial for the Missing Perons in Argentina
Memorial for the Missing Perons in Argentina

Bojana Djokanovic and Rachele Sbrissa examine the impact of gender on memorializing the missing.

Globally, the majority of people who go missing from armed conflict and human rights abuses are men  and boys. This means that memorialization practices are mostly centered on the experiences and practices of women mourning and commemorating the death or enforced disappearance of male family members. While recognizing this fact, this article seeks to consider the practices of male commemoration and memorialization and to offer some thoughts on why these practices differ from those of women.

R.W. Connell, one of the most prominent theoreticians of the studies of masculinities, argues that gender and masculinity have to be understood as social practice structures reproduced within daily actions and historical settings ―masculinity is inherently relational and does not exist except in contrast to femininity. Thus, like femininity, masculinity is a social construct and is defined as everything…

Truth and Justice Will Prevail

2015 07 11 Srebrenica 20th Anniversary4

ICMP Commissioner Queen Noor of Jordan spoke at the commemoration in Srebrenica marking the 20th anniversary of the genocide. ICMP Chair Thomas Miller, and Commissioners Wim Kok, Knut Vollebaek and Alistair Burt also participated at the ceremony, which was attended by world leaders and 50,000 mourners.

“We do not stand with you only to mourn, but to continue the long and steady process of seeking – and securing – truth and justice,” Queen Noor said.

She noted that almost 90 percent of around 8,000 who went missing from Srebrenica in July 1995 have been identified and buried with dignity. “Accounting for the missing has been indispensable in the struggle for justice; in the quest to answer lies with truth, to confront a monstrous crime with the steady, strong and certain application of the rule of law,” she said.

Queen Noor said the women of Srebrenica have endured the most painful adversity with…

ICMP Work Plan reflects new international status

2015 07 31 Comms with Regional Representatives

In Sarajevo on 10 July, the Commissioners of the International Commission on Missing Persons held their 17th plenary meeting since ICMP was founded in 1996, and their first meeting since the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Sweden and Luxembourg signed a Framework Agreement in December last year establishing ICMP as a treaty-based international organization.

Former US Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Thomas Miller chaired the meeting, which was attended by Commissioners Queen Noor of Jordan, Wim Kok of the Netherlands, Knut Vollebaek of Norway, and Alistair Burt of the UK. Commissioner Rolf Ekeus of Sweden was unable to attend. ICMP Directors attended the meeting led by Director-General Kathryne Bomberger.

The Commissioners adopted Rules of Procedure in accordance with ICMP’s new international agreement and elected Thomas Miller as chair of the Board of Commissioners. They also reviewed and adopted ICMP’s work plan for the next three years.

In the period 2015 to 2018,…

Justice and Truth Will Prevail

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Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan today commended the “strength, compassion, trust and tolerance” of the Mothers of Srebrenica, whose conduct she said is testimony to “the power of faith and humanity to triumph over evil.”

Her Majesty, who is a Commissioner of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), was speaking at the commemoration in Srebrenica marking the 20th anniversary of the genocide. ICMP Chair Thomas Miller, and Commissioners Wim Kok, Knut Vollebaek and Alistair Burt also participated at the ceremony, which was attended by world leaders and 50,000 mourners.

“We do not stand with you only to mourn, but to continue the long and steady process of seeking – and securing – truth and justice,” Queen Noor said.

She noted that almost 90 percent of around 8,000 who went missing from Srebrenica in July 1995 have been identified and buried with dignity. “Accounting for the missing has been indispensable in…

A Systematic and Effective Challenge to Lawlessness

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The Daily Telegraph published an article today by ICMP Commissioner Alistair Burt, on the “political and moral failure on a catastrophic scale” that took place 20 years ago when 8,000 people were murdered in the UN-protected enclaves of Zepa and Srebrenica in Eastern Bosnia. He describes the Srebrenica genocide of July 1995 as “a brutal and dangerous challenge to the rule of law” adding that “when the rule of law is challenged anywhere it is challenged everywhere.” Commissioner Burt argues that the way to address “people who equate killing with strength, who equate murder with virtue” is to deal “in demonstrable facts – not contending ideologies or opinions but hard facts – and we should uphold the rule of law.” He explains that ICMP’s work, that has made it possible to account for tens of thousands of missing persons, including almost 7,000 of the victims of Srebrenica, has been…

Authorities Will Sustain Search for the Missing

2015 10 07_Commissioners metting with BiH PM Zvizdic

The Commissioners of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) met with the Chairman of the BiH Council of Ministers in Sarajevo today.

The Commissioners noted that Bosnia and Herzegovina has accounted for more than 70 percent of the missing – around 23,000 people. No other country has matched this. ICMP has helped to identify more than 14,500 of the missing using DNA.

The Commissioners assured Chairman Zvizdic that while ICMP will move its headquarters from Sarajevo to The Hague this year, it will maintain a program in the region and continue to support the effort by the BiH authorities to account for 8,000 people who are still missing. The Commissioners briefed Chairman Zvizdic on key steps that ICMP believes need to be taken in order to sustain this effort.

Commending the authorities for signing the Declaration on the Role of the State in Addressing the Missing Persons Issue, along with Serbia,…

Commissioners Discuss ICMP’s New Global Role

2015 10 07 Commissioners in Sarajevo

In Sarajevo today, the Commissioners of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) held their 17th plenary meeting since ICMP was founded in 1996, and their first meeting since the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Sweden and Luxembourg signed a Framework Agreement in December last year establishing ICMP as a treaty-based international organization.

In the period 2015 to 2018, ICMP’s core objective will be to strengthen the capacity of the global community to address the problem of missing persons, by defining the nature and extent of the challenge and formulating and applying effective strategies to meet it. ICMP will move its headquarters to The Hague in 2015, but will continue its Western Balkans program at least until the end of 2016.

After their plenary meeting, the Commissioners met representatives of the Regional Coordination of Associations of Families of Missing Persons from the former Yugoslavia. Congratulating the Regional Coordination on their successful…

Process of Asserting the Rule of Law Continues

ICMP Commissioner Knut Vollebaek during his visit to BiH
ICMP Commissioner Knut Vollebaek during his visit to BiH

Oslobodjenje daily newspaper published an article today by ICMP Commissioner Knut Vollebaek on the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. “This crime, in its scale and systematic execution, challenged the rule of law not just in a small Bosnian town but far beyond,” Vollebaek wrote. “It is imperative that this anniversary does not pass simply with hand-wringing and expressions of sorrow.” He noted that the perpetrators had “acted as though the law had been neutered” but that while “the process of asserting – or re-asserting – the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been slow and incomplete, it has continued steadily for almost two decades. It is in the interest of civilized societies everywhere to understand what happened in Bosnia and Herzegovina in July 1995 and why it happened. The law that was cast aside then is the same law from which we seek protection today.” The…

Why we are excavating the dead of Srebrenica

Family members gathered at Srebrenica memorial cemetery
Family members gathered at Srebrenica memorial cemetery

The Guardian published an article today by International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) Director-General Kathryne Bomberger on the work done by ICMP over the last two decades to help families of the missing, local Bosnian authorities and domestic and international courts locate and identify the victims of Srebrenica. “This has made it possible for families to bury their dead with dignity,” she wrote, “and it has made it possible to piece together what happened and to prosecute some of those who were responsible for the murders.” Noting that on Saturday, at a ceremony that will be attended by world leaders as well as tens of thousands of mourners, more than 100 newly identified bodies will be laid to rest in the cemetery at Potocari, near Srebrenica, Bomberger wrote that “those who killed in Srebrenica in July 1995 believed they could get away with murder. They thought they could erase…