Academic journal article Northwestern University Law Review

Some War Crimes Are Not Better Than Others: The Failure of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to Prosecute War Crimes in Macedonia

Academic journal article Northwestern University Law Review

Some War Crimes Are Not Better Than Others: The Failure of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to Prosecute War Crimes in Macedonia

Article excerpt


The atrocities committed during the Holocaust impelled the world to cry "never again." The Nuremberg Tribunal was set up in 1945 to prosecute and convict the individuals responsible for those horrific actions. "Never again," however, lasted less than fifty years.

The breakup of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY or Yugoslavia) in 1991 brought inter-ethnic violence to the territories of the former republics, with the exception of the Republic of Macedonia.1 A surge of nationalism upon the demise of communism in Yugoslavia was the root of this violence.2 Yugoslavia was a communist country composed of many ethnic groups3 and, in most republics, one ethnic group dominated.4 For example, Serbs were the majority group in Serbia, and Croats were the majority in Croatia.5 However, members of the same ethnic group were often separated by the political borders of the republics.6 One by one, the republics proclaimed their independence from Yugoslavia; the conflicts became more violent and many atrocities were committed.7 Most shocking were the numerous violations of human rights and crimes against humanity; in scale and scope, the killing of members of other ethnic groups was so systematic that it often resembled genocide.8

Although the Republic of Macedonia did not experience such tragedy when it proclaimed independence, it faced an insurgency in the spring of 2001.9 Macedonia is composed of a majority of Macedonians and minorities of Albanians, Serbs, and Turks.10 Some Albanians, a Muslim minority, formed a paramilitary organization, the National Liberation Army (NLA), modeling it upon the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA)." The NLA's goal was to achieve greater rights for the Albanian minority in Macedonia.12 The NLA's methods used to achieve this goal involved armed guerilla attacks on government security forces, local police officers, and the border patrol.13 This violence was primarily in the western and northwestern part of Macedonia.14 The NLA also attacked civilians.15 These attacks included forcing Macedonian civilians from their homes, kidnapping them, torturing them, and, on some occasions, murdering them.16 Macedonian security forces also committed war crimes in retaliation against Albanians.

Although Albanians and Macedonians committed these atrocities, they have not been prosecuted by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY or Tribunal).17 The majority of the suspects in custody of the ICTY and against whom ICTY prosecutions have been commenced are Serbs'8 who committed human rights violations in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo.19 The Serbs, however, were not the only ones who committed war crimes;20 there were violations of human rights by all ethnicities-Croats, Bosnians, Albanians, Macedonians, and Serbs.21 Yet, the Tribunal's prosecutions and formal investigations have targeted mostly Serbs.22 Crimes committed by non-Serbs have often been overlooked, ignored, or have received a mere slap on the wrist.23 The ICTY knows of the NLA's and Macedonian security forces' actions in Macedonia24 and the Prosecutor of the ICTY has visited Macedonia numerous times since the conflict ended in August 2001.2S Yet the ICTY has not begun any evidentiary investigations of these alleged criminals for violations of human rights in Macedonia, nor has it brought any formal charges against them.26

This Comment will argue that the Prosecutor of the ICTY27 should prosecute all persons suspected of committing or ordering the commission of a war crime or a violation of the Geneva Conventions, regardless of their ethnicity or their status as an ethnic minority or majority in their country.28 First, lack of uniformity in the prosecutorial process violates the mandate of the ICTY, as developed by the U.N. security Council.29 second, the failure to prosecute violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the U.N. Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors, and the U. …

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