Syria: Lessons from Bosnia

On September 13, 2012, ACBH hosted the "Syria: Lessons from Bosnia" event on Capitol Hill. Recently, there have been several comparisons in the media about what is happening in Syria to the conflict that occurred in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) in the 1990s. The event focused on the current state of affairs in BiH and offered some lessons learned that policymakers might consider in the case of Syria.  


Refik Hodzic, Director of Communications, International Center for Transitional Justice, underscored the priority of ending the mass atrocities being committed against the Syrian population. "A lesson from Bosnia for long lasting peace would be to acknowledge the atrocities committed and to take proper steps to delegitimize the policies and political figures that brought about the mass atrocities. This did not happen in BiH and today, despite the numerous court rulings on war crimes, there is a growing trend of genocide denial and the revival of war criminals which breeds hate and serves as a catalyst for a future conflict," stated Hodzic.  


Patrick McCarthy, ACBH Board Member, Founder of St. Louis Bosnian Student Project and co-author of After the Fall: Srebrenica Survivors in St. Louis, highlightedthe duty to protect civilian populations, an emerging international human rights standard that was developed in aftermath of the genocide in Bosnia. "The 'Responsibility to Protect' holds states accountable for shielding their own populations from genocide, war crimes, and related crimes against humanity – and requires the international community to step in if this obligation is not met," McCarthy remarked.  


Lastly, Reuf Bajrovic, President of the Emerging Democracies Institute and co-founder of ACIPS – BiH's leading think tank – stated that the assistance offered to the people of Libya last year that toppled the regime of dictator Muammar Gaddafi, as well as the prevention of genocide in Kosovo in 1999, is a direct result of a promise that the United States made of never allowing for another Srebrenica to occur. "Syria has the support of the same individuals in U.S. Congress that advocated for the lifting of the arms embargo on BiH during the war in the 1990's" stated Bajrovic.


The program received coverage in the Bosnian media that can be viewed online at: Syria: Lessons from Bosnia