UN Designates July 11 as Srebrenica Remembrance Day Despite Serbian Opposition

Southeast Europe | May 24, 2024, Friday // 11:06|  views

The United Nations has officially designated July 11 as an annual day of remembrance for the victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. This decision came despite intense lobbying against the resolution by Serbia. German and Rwandan representatives successfully pushed the proposal through, which was approved by 84 member states, while 19 voted against and 68 abstained.

Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic criticized the resolution as politically charged, arguing it risked unfairly labeling Serbia and its people as collectively responsible for genocide. Nevertheless, the resolution has brought relief to the families of the more than 8,000 Bosniak Muslim men and boys killed by Bosnian-Serb forces in the Srebrenica massacre. The forces, under the command of Ratko Mladic, separated men and boys from their families and executed them. Efforts to conceal the atrocity involved relocating bodies from mass graves, complicating identification for years.

The International Commission on Missing Persons used pioneering DNA technology to identify over 7,000 victims. They praised the UN resolution, highlighting its importance in honoring the memory of the victims and survivors. The resolution serves as a stark reminder of the enduring impact of genocide.

President Vucic, however, warned during the UN General Assembly debate that this resolution could lead to further divisive resolutions on other genocides, noting the absence of UN resolutions for Serb victims of genocide during World War II. He argued the Srebrenica resolution could reopen old wounds instead of promoting reconciliation.

Despite Serbia's official stance, the resolution explicitly stated that only individuals were convicted of genocide, not entire ethnic or religious groups. The International Court of Justice had ruled in 2007 that genocide occurred at Srebrenica but did not hold Serbia directly responsible, though it condemned Serbia for failing to prevent it. Serbia's National Assembly issued an apology in 2010, and Vucic himself visited Srebrenica in 2015 to pay respects, despite facing protests.

In contrast, Milorad Dodik, president of Bosnia's Serb-majority Republika Srpska, has repeatedly denied the genocide, defying Bosnian laws against such denial. His inflammatory rhetoric may have influenced the UN's decision to affirm the massacre as genocide, countering nationalist narratives.

Dodik's threats of secession following the resolution's passage were dismissed by many familiar with his frequent secessionist claims. After the vote, he declared the resolution's approval, which lacked an absolute majority, a failure to label Serbs as genocidal. This narrative of victimization continues to be a tool for nationalist politics.

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Tags: Srebrenica, Serbia, genocide, UN, Vucic


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